Erling Haaland has been a near ever-present for Manchester City this season – but how have Pep Guardiola’s side fared on the rare occasions they’ve been without their talismanic striker?
The Norway international has played a starring role in City’s push for the treble this season, breaking all kinds of goalscoring records with a ludicrous tally of 42 goals in all competitions. But Man City are far from a one-man team, as their record without him underlines.
We’ve taken a look through the nine games that Haaland hasn’t started for Man City this season and how City have fared.
FC Copenhagen 0-0 Man City
Haaland notched a brace in City’s 5-0 mauling of the Danish champions the week before but was rested for the first time in 2022-23 season in the return fixture.
“He finished the game against Southampton so, so tired and didn’t recover well,” Guardiola explained.
“Yesterday was not good, today a little better but not perfect so we decided not to take the risk.”
In his absence as an unused substitute in the Champions League group stage clash, City looked a little blunt. They were reduced to 10 men after youngster Sergio Gomez was dismissed for a professional foul. Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty and City had to settle for a point after failing to find a breakthrough.
Leicester 0-1 Man City
A bruised foot meant that Haaland missed out on a place in City’s squad as they travelled to the King Power in late October.
The visitors put in a typically dominant display but weren’t at their most clinical around Leicester’s box. Ultimately it was a moment of inspiration from Kevin De Bruyne, with a world-class free-kick, that proved the difference between the two sides on the day.
Man City 3-1 Sevilla
City had wrapped up top spot in the Champions League group by the final sixth and final game at home to Sevilla came around so it was no big deal that Haaland sat the game out with the aforementioned foot issue.
Rafa Mir surprisingly put an off-colour Sevilla side ahead by the break but Guardiola’s men came roaring back in the second half, with goals from Rico Lewis, backup striker Julian Alvarez and Mahrez.
Man City 2-1 Fulham
Having sat out City’s last two outings, Haaland returned to action off the bench as a second-half substitute against surprise package Fulham in early November.
The game was interestingly poised when the Norwegian was introduced. Alvarez had put City ahead in the opening stages but Andreas Pereira levelled the scoring from the penalty spot, with Joao Cancelo dismissed for giving it away.
It looked as though 10-man City were throwing away two points until deep into injury time. But then Antonee Robinson tripped Kevin De Bruyne and super-sub Haaland stepped up to emphatically fire the resulting spot-kick home.
Never in doubt.
Man City 2-0 Chelsea
Guardiola opted to rotate heavily when it came to their League Cup third-round clash at home to Chelsea in November.
The striker was named on the bench but wasn’t required to come on as City completed a professional 2-0 victory in his stead. Mahrez and Alvarez scored the goals in five second-half minutes to give Guardiola’s side a well-deserved win.
Man City 4-0 Chelsea
Another third-round cup clash at home to Graham Potter’s beleaguered Chelsea and a familiar tale. Haaland was named on the bench and watched his team-mates produce an exhibition from the stands.
Guardiola once again opted against given the No.9 a run-out as Phil Foden, Mahrez and Alvarez ran rampant to see City comfortably breeze through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Southampton 2-0 Man City
A strange off-day from Man City, and a strangely excellent performance from Nathan Jones'(!) Southampton.
Haaland replaced Jack Grealish in the 56th minute with City two goals down at St. Mary’s but he failed to make much of an impact. City limply exited the League Cup after failing to register a single shot on target against Saints.
Bristol City 0-3 Man City
Haaland was back in City’s starting XI for City’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal in the fourth round but dropped back to the bench for the fifth round away to Championship side Bristol City.
The visitors lined up with a fearsome frontline of Foden, Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne and Mahrez behind Alvarez and they made no mistake with a routine 3-0 victory away to Nigel Pearson’s Robins.
Man City 4-1 Liverpool
The pressure was cranking up on City following the international break. A knock kept Haaland out of the home clash with old rivals Liverpool.
Things cranked up a notch when Mohamed Salah put Liverpool ahead on the break in the first half – raising the prospect of City falling 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Without their top scorer, City responded superbly. They equalised quickly, once again with Alvarez stepping up with a Haaland-esque one-touch finish from seven yards out. Further goals from De Bruyne, Gundogan and Grealish kept the pressure on Mikel Arteta’s Gunners.
Who needs a 50-goal-a-season striker anyway?
Erling Haaland enjoyed that Man City equalizer ✨
Can you tell? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/o2RPGoV0nl
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 1, 2023