Why is Haaland underperforming for Man City this season?

18 Feb 2024

We assess the numbers that confirm that the Norwegian is struggling in front of goal in 2023/24

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Erling Haaland is the clear leader for the Premier League Golden Boot again this season as the top goalscorer with 16 goals after 25 matches, but a closer look at the statistics shows clearly that the Manchester City striker is struggling to replicate his record form of last season. 

In City's 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday, Haaland had nine shots but failed to convert any of them. It was the most shots in a Premier League match for the Norwegian without scoring and seemed to represent his relative malaise in front of goal.

He's only scored in one of his last six matches, a brace against Everton in Matchweek 24.

In setting the Premier League record of 36 goals in the 2022/23 season, Haaland outperformed his Expected Goals (xG) rating by more than seven goals. Yet this season, he is underperforming compared with his xG, having scored 16 goals when he was expected to have scored close to 18.  

Haaland's xG compared
Season Matches played Goals Expected Goals
2022/23 35 36 28.65
2023/24 19 16 17.93

Not only is Haaland scoring fewer than his xG suggests, He’s averaging fewer goals per 90 minutes this season with 0.91 and his 1.58xG against Chelsea is the 13th occasion this season he’s underperformed in this metric, which is nearly as many times as last season, where his tally stood at 15 matches.

And as the graphics identify, Man City's No 9 is some way off matching his records from 2022/23.

Is there cause for concern?

But while these numbers might concern some, most experts including his manager, Pep Guardiola, seem confident that Haaland is merely going through a blip and the form of last season will soon return.

"I was a football player for 11 years and scored 11 goals," said Guardiola. "What stats! One goal a season. I'm not a proper man to give advice to strikers.

"We create the chances, he had the chances and next time he's going to score. I don't blame him. It's football, it's human beings."

Former Man City striker Daniel Sturridge also backs Haaland, saying that strikers can have these days in front of goal.

"Of course, he's going to analyse his game when he goes home and say, 'What could I have done better?'" Sturridge told Sky Sports. "A player at his level, who goes onto the pitch with an expectation of scoring goals, he's going to be going home feeling down about himself, that he could have been the person who won the game for his team today.

"But it's the life of a striker. You have these type of days where nothing goes right for you. You know your job is to provide the goals. Haaland has that weight on his shoulders. Although the goals are spread around he knows what he was brought here for, and we know what his talent level is and his personal expectations are."

Another ex-Man City star Micah Richards believes that Haaland shouldn't worry about his recent struggles in front of goal, as long as the chances keep coming.

"I never worry about Haaland because his mentality is completely different to most strikers in world football," Richards said.

"He always gets an opportunity. He misses a lot of chances but he scores more often than not. If he wasn't getting these chances, that's when I would be worried."

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