Erling Haaland betters football greats in 30-year Premier League first

Erling Haaland, pictured here scoring for Manchester City against Aston Villa.
Erling Haaland's goal against Aston Villa gave him 10 in his first six Premier League games. Image: Optus Sport/Getty

Erling Haaland came with a massive reputation after scoring almost a goal a game in his 67 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, but the new Manchester City striker is taking his scoring exploits to a new level with a record-breaking start to his Premier League career.

His far-post volley from Kevin de Bruyne’s cross to open the scoring at Aston Villa on Saturday was his 10th goal in the opening six league matches – a feat only equalled once in the 30-year history of the Premier League (by Mick Quinn for Coventry in 1992).

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What’s even more astonishing is how quickly Haaland has adjusted to life in the world’s most competitive football competition, and how his early season goal blitz compares to some of the greats of the Premier League era.

How does Erling Haaland compare?

Manchester City legend Sergio Aguero took 11 games to reach double figures, with Thierry Henry taking 27 games and current England captain Harry Kane needing 31 Premier League games to reach the same mark.

In addition, the prolific Norwegian has already managed back-to-back Premier League hat-tricks – against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest respectively – a feat even England legend Alan Shearer failed to achieve during his illustrious career.

Although it’s probably too earlier to draw meaningful comparisons, to have achieved all this within four weeks of making his Premier League debut is impressive nonetheless.

So, are we witnessing a once in a generation goal-scoring talent, or is the fact that Haaland is playing for the best team in the country – who are creating more goal-scoring chances than anyone else – a more significant factor?

In truth, it’s probably a bit of both.

A frightening combination for Manchester City

It’s worth remembering that this Manchester City team scored more goals last season (99) than any other Premier League team, a record made even more remarkable given they played without recognised striker on many occasions.

As a result, Pep Guardiola’s men shared the goal-scoring responsibilities around, with no City player finishing in the top five scorers last season.

Haaland was brought in specifically to remedy this, and is undoubtedly benefitting from the sublime creative skills of De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva, who have eight assists between them already this season.

However, creating the chances is only half the battle, and Haaland has been exceptional at taking the opportunities he has been given to date.

According to data specialists Understat, Haaland’s xG (or expected number of goals from the chances he has received) is 8.20 in his six games to date. Given he has a return of 10 goals in those six matches, this suggests he is outperforming what is expected based on the data.

Interestingly, the same chart also shows that the next highest xG amongst Premier League strikers this season is Alexander Mitrovic’s 4.39, which means that Haaland is receiving almost twice the number of opportunities compared to anyone else.

The combination of a ruthlessly efficient finisher operating in front of the competition’s most creative midfield is a terrifying thought for City’s Premier League rivals.

Erling Haaland, pictured here after scoring for Manchester City against Aston Villa.
Erling Haaland celebrates after scoring for Manchester City against Aston Villa. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

More records to come for Haaland?

The big question now is can Haaland continue his prolific start to the season, and if so, how many other goal-scoring records can he break?

The next milestone to aim for will no doubt be the most goals in a debut Premier League season, currently held by ex-Liverpool forward Fernando Torres, who scored an impressive 24 back in the 2007-08 season.

Beyond that, Shearer’s Premier League single season record of 34 goals, set way back in 1993-94, could well be in the young Norwegian’s sights.

According to another ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen, who knows a fair bit about scoring goals having claimed 149 Premier League goals of his own, it may already be a foregone conclusion.

“This fella is going to break virtually every goal scoring record there is," Owen tweeted.

"He’s too big, too quick, clinical in front of goal and he’s playing in a team that create dozens of chances. All he needs to do is stay fit."

Haaland’s next test comes against Tottenham next Saturday - the first time in his fledgling Premier League career that he will come up against a ‘top six’ team.

Antonio Conte’s Spurs, still unbeaten this season, have only conceded five goals in their six matches to date. If Haaland can continue his rich vein of form against a Conte defence which will be specifically designed to stop him, then all bets may be off.

Whatever the outcome of Haaland’s season, his movement and clinical finishing in front of goal is sure to be giving Premier League defenders across the country sleepless nights, and it’s one of the main reasons City are favourites to retain their title come May.

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