Talking Tactics

How lethal Alvarez can shine without Haaland

By Adrian Clarke 29 Mar 2023
Julian Alvarez Talking Tactics

Adrian Clarke says Man City forward's versatility can threaten Liverpool

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Player analysis - Julian Alvarez

Could this be Alvarez’s moment to step out of the shadows and make an impression on this season’s title race?

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With Erling Haaland failing to recover from a groin injury in time to face Liverpool in Saturday’s early match, Pep Guardiola has turned to his talented FIFA World Cup 2022 winner.

The Argentinian striker has found the net 11 times in competitive action for Manchester City  this season, including five goals in six Premier League starts.

Alvarez stats 2022/23
Competition Starts Goals Sub apps. Goals
Premier League 6 5 14 0
UEFA Champions League 4 2 3 0
FA Cup 3 3 1 0
Carabao Cup 2 1 0 0
Total 15 11 18 0

Alvarez is yet to score in 18 competitive substitute outings.

The only time he has scored from the bench was against Liverpool in the Community Shield in July.

While he has performed sharply as a substitute, Alvarez has not been a consistent second-half game-changer under Guardiola.

The 23-year-old makes a greater impact when in the starting XI.

Limited opportunities

In cup competitions Alvarez has led the line as a lone striker to great effect, but in Premier League action he has rarely been afforded those opportunities.

He did score a terrific individual goal from an Ilkay Gundogan through-ball in a 2-1 home win against Fulham, running off the shoulder of the last defender to lash a fierce effort in off the crossbar.

In his only other league start as the main striker he failed to make an impact in a 1-0 win at Leicester City.

When Haaland is fit to play, there is also an option to deploy Alvarez behind the Norwegian as a floating No 10.

When used in that role Alvarez scored twice against Nottingham Forest and found the net in wins against Tottenham Hotspur and AFC Bournemouth too.

Alvarez's goal v AFC Bournemouth

Four goals in three matches suggests that this is a role in which he thrives.

The only time Alvarez and Haaland have started a Premier League fixture together as a front two pairing was in a 1-0 defeat at Spurs.

That 4-4-2 shape has not been repeated by Guardiola since.

Alvarez brings a vibrancy to Man City whenever he is involved.

Whether it is coming short to receive a pass, spinning in behind, or making up ground to get on the end of opportunities, he averages a team-leading 22 sprints per 90 minutes.

Top Man City sprints/90
Player Sprints/90*
Julian Alvarez 22.2
Phil Foden 21.5
Kyle Walker 18.1
Erling Haaland 17.5
Joao Cancelo 16.0
Kevin De Bruyne 14.9

*minimum 500 minutes

Haaland comparison

Alvarez’s minutes-per-goal ratio of 147.6 is way off Haaland’s average of 75.6 but is still the second-fastest rate by a City player.

His 3.3 shots per match is also second among his team-mates behind Haaland.

Alvarez may have only had limited chances to shine but he is a lethal penalty-box finisher who has scored four of his five top-flight goals from within seven yards of the goal.

His movement is bright, and he snaps up rebound or half-chances instinctively with either foot.

With the opportunity to start against Liverpool, Alvarez's record in 2022/23 indicates he is ready to make an impact.

Also in this series

Part 1: Fred can dictate in Casemiro's absence against Newcastle
Part 2: Rice and Ward-Prowse duel key to vital clash at the bottom
Part 4: Stellini must plug the gaps in Spurs defence

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