The unthinkable has happened: Erling Haaland has failed to score in consecutive Premier League games.
Harry Kane has also blanked in two of his last three Premier League games, and it’s 2/1 that the pair fail to find the net again on Thursday night.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “Whenever Haaland goes a game without scoring, the focus seems to shift to how many times he touches the ball and that has predictably happened having gone 280 minutes in all competitions without a goal.
“In fact, he’s gone that length of time without a shot on target having just two low-quality efforts at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“Harry Kane also failed to score in a derby day defeat, but the striker, who was heavily linked with a move to Manchester City not so long ago, did make Aaron Ramsdale work on Sunday with three shots on target.
“We make him a 5/1 chance to outscore the Norwegian in midweek in a fixture where he bagged two goals in an entertaining clash 11 months ago.”
“The world class duo sit first and second in the Premier League goalscoring charts with Haaland priced at 5/1 to notch 50 or more top flight goals and Kane at 5/1 to bag at least 30.”
The issue for Pep Guardiola, so reliant on Haaland this season, of what happens when he doesn’t score has finally arisen, and it’s a concern.
While City were deserved winners against Chelsea, Haaland, especially in the first half, was peripheral, with Guardiola’s side registering just three shots on target, none which came from the Norwegian.
The game against Manchester United was more of a concern. Haaland again failed to register a shot on target, while his colleagues combined for a total of one – Jack Grealish’s opener.
Guardiola certainly shifted things tactically to accommodate Haaland, and it seemed to be working. The first nine games of the season saw Haaland bag three hat-tricks, with a ridiculous total of 15 goals and City were heavy favourites for the title.
The nine games since however have told a different story. They’re averaging just 1.625 points per game; replicated over a whole season it wouldn’t be enough to even secure Champions League football, never mind launch a title challenge, and with Arsenal now eight points clear at the top, City need to turn things around quickly.
Haaland had previously out-performed his xG in all but three of his league games this season – and he didn’t score at all in two of them – so perhaps a little regression is due, but when a team is so geared towards a certain player, it’s certainly a concern when that player doesn’t deliver.
His price for PFA Player of the Year has drifted from 1/3 to 4/6, while City are now underdogs for the title.
He’s still 1/12 favourite for Top Goalscorer, and a brace or hat-trick against Tottenham will change the conversation again, but Guardiola may need to find a way to win when Haaland doesn’t score. City average 1.2 points a game when he doesn’t score compared to 2.73 when he does.
Tottenham have been similarly reliant on the goals of one man, with Kane notching 15 in the league, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Son Heung-min and Rodrigo Bentancur are lagging way behind on four each.
Manager Antonio Conte has undoubtedly been hindered by the disappointing form of Son Heung-min as well as persistent injuries to Bentancur and Richarlison, but like City, they desperately need to turn things around.
Having picked up 17 points from their first seven games, Spurs have managed just 16 from their next 12, drifting to 3/1 to finish in the top four.
While City should have enough to get past Tottenham even if Haaland does fail to find the net again, Tottenham will surely need Kane on the scoresheet if they’re to get a result at the Etihad.
|Haaland and Kane combined goals||Odds|