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Erling Haaland puts ‘fraud’ claims to bed as Man City firmly take inevitable stride to Premier League title

Erling Haaland puts ‘fraud’ claims to bed as Man City firmly take inevitable stride to Premier League title

Erling Haaland hadn’t got the memo about Manchester City trying after Christmas, until Saturday, when brief ‘Fraudland’ claims were put to bed by a typically efficient and brutal display by the striker.

The same fixture last season was all about the tussle between Erling Haaland and Ben Godfrey, who had evidently been directed by then Everton manager Frank Lampard to engage the striker in a physical battle in a bid to throw him off his goalscoring stride.

Haaland scored, but only once in a 1-1 draw, with Godfrey deemed by many to have ‘won’. When asked whether the Norwegian was “upset” by the clear attempts to rub him up the wrong way after the game, Godfrey smiled and said: “Yeah, course he was, I think you saw his reaction.”

We were denied the joy of a second round as Godfrey lined up on the right side of defence and was barely seen in the same vicinity as Haaland, who was instead frustrated by James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite, until he decided to kick a ball as hard as it’s humanly possible through Jordan Pickford to score his first goal since November.

Haaland had gone four league games without a goal, his second-longest streak ever after a five-game drought for Borussia Dortmund in 2022. His previous longest goalless run for City was just two games, and make no mistake, a 419-minute stretch without finding the net was significant for a striker who has scored on average a goal every 88 minutes in his senior career. We assumed he was immune to such lulls.

READ MORE: The ridiculous goalscoring stats of Erling Haaland

The commonplace suggestion last season that City might actually be better off without the most deadly goalscorer in world football was a tad problematic given his consistent ability to prove himself to be the most deadly goalscorer in world football, and was made all the more dubious by the ensuing treble.

Amid a growing sense that such doubts over Haaland’s impact on the efficient running of the City machine were arising again, ahead of the Everton game, Guardiola said simply: “When one player scores 60 goals it helps you to win games.”

A fair point, and even before his double on Saturday Haaland sat at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts on 14 with Mohamed Salah, but the longer he went without one, the more questions Guardiola would have to field about his continued selection, given his lack of involvement in the game besides the obvious.

The inevitable City references to fraudulence were appearing on social media, with ‘Fraudland’ the genius chosen amalgamation by Manchester City haters, whose previous fine works include ‘Fraudiola’ and ‘Frauden’.

If anything you’ve got to applaud them for taking the one chance in Haaland’s City career to out him for being a sham, but they’re unlikely to hear said applause given how firmly Haaland slammed the door to that opportunity in their faces in the second half at the Etihad.

City had failed to register a shot on target in a half of football for the first time since August 2022, with Haaland innocuous. And while the striker’s lack of involvement didn’t change in the second half – he had 12 touches before the break and 13 after it – he did do that thing where he scores goals.

Haaland De Bruyne Foden Man City

Erling Haaland scored a brace to beat Everton.

He leathered the first in with his weaker foot, in what is something of a typical ‘hit the target bloody hard and I’ll score’ trope of his when the ball’s bouncing around the box. And having rediscovered his taste for it he produced arguably the most typical of all Haaland goals, running onto a Kevin De Bruyne through ball from halfway, shrugging off the not insignificant figure of Jarrad Branthwaite as though he was a rag doll, before running around the ball to slot it home with his left foot.

If the first hadn’t convinced us that he was back and put the frighteners on Arsenal, Liverpool and whomever else is pretending they’re in the title race, the second one certainly did, to put the seal on Manchester City’s tenth consecutive win in all competitions.

Manchester City are now well into their inevitable stride towards further titles, with their inevitable striker quickly and efficiently putting ‘Fraudland’ claims to bed on an afternoon in which he bounded to catch up with the rest of them.

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