You may discuss strategies, tense rivalries, and amazing skills, but is there anything more enjoyable than humorous football?
There are entire social media pages devoted to such things, which typically receive thousands of likes as a result of some godawful goalmouth scramble from the 1990s in which everyone trips over.
Erling Haaland’s first goal of a brace in Manchester City’s 3-1 victory over Brighton on Saturday was hysterically funny, even though that kind of thing definitely doesn’t light Pep Guardiola’s candle.
In all honesty, City’s situation had not been good. Guardiola did not appear to be at all misplaced in his pregame adulation for Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi.
Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and a roving Joao Cancelo were all crowded in the middle of the field as a result of the visitors’ man-for-man strategy.
Ederson, who is typically so commanding on the ball while contributing to City’s build-up, stood perplexed on a few instances, unable to identify a pass that would be useful as a press spearheaded by the renaissant Danny Welbeck made life a little difficult for City.
Ederson joined Ruben Dias, Silva, and Haaland for some tactical advice from Guardiola during an early break in the action. That thigh-slapping opener might have resulted from that.
Nedum Onuoha, a former City defender, said last week: “One we haven’t really seen yet is Ederson grabbing the ball and spraying a 70-yard diagonal to play [Haaland] through on goal.” These are items the City has in its arsenal.
It was the weapon they manufactured in minute 22. Haaland checked his run as if he didn’t believe the pass was coming. But when Ederson fizzed a shot over the top of Brighton’s defence, chaos broke out.
Haaland moved extremely quickly after starting from nothing. Robert Sanchez reportedly made the decision to avoid taking a shot from the Premier League’s deadliest shooter by darting out of his goal and beyond Haaland, missing both ball and man.
Lewis Dunk had the misfortune of being in the way of City’s number 9’s desire, and as a result, he was quickly destroyed. Haaland slid the ball home, and the VAR upheld the goal, possibly to demonstrate to Dunk and the kids watching that it is never a good idea to stand in front of an articulated lorry as it thunders downhill.
After a long week on Manchester’s blue side, it was undoubtedly hilarious and things began to feel like fun again. At Anfield, they suffered a painful loss to their increasingly hated rivals Liverpool, and the aftermath of the game has been, to put it mildly, toxic, tiresome, and regrettable.
It’s just a lot more fun to speculate about the magic Haaland and his accompanying cast might work next than to wonder what vile stanza from the Hillsborough songbook or how much change will be thrown at Guardiola’s head.
In Man City vs. Brighton, why was VAR used?
Riyad Mahrez nudged Adam Lallana in a beautiful moment of play to help City move to the right. Jack Grealish and De Bruyne exchanged passes, but the Belgian international was unable to finish. In order to make his thoughts clear, he would subsequently do it in a beautiful way.
Craig Pawson made what appeared to be a buck-passing decision by neglecting to call a glaring foul on Silva while knowing he could call it from the screen a few minutes later. This allowed City to lead 2-0 at the break.
Haaland caught the ball, but as he moved toward the penalty spot, Guardiola was giving five of his players frantic instructions, a harsh reprimand, or both as he delayed Haaland’s successful penalty.
The City manager did not like a lot of what he seen on Saturday, but this was less true after halftime when Brighton showed signs of resurgence. After an amazing stop in the 73rd minute following a barnstorming run by the Brighton goal scorer, Leandro Trossard smashed home a 20-yard shot that was too scorching for Ederson to handle. On that particular occasion, Welbeck yelled in vain for a pass, and a few minutes later, De Bruyne shot from 25 yards and found the top corner.
For the first time in Manchester, Manuel Akanji truly looked like a central defender playing out of position at right-back in this game where City frequently looked undermanned in defence, City relied on the presence of three out-and-out centre-backs to get the dirty work done by any means necessary. They didn’t have the typical shape, form, or elegance to their assaults, but Haaland, De Bruyne, and the other regal soloists in blue and white made sure that didn’t matter too much.
How many goals has Erling Haaland scored in the Premier League?
Guardiola slouched back in his chair during stoppage time, the result all but assured, and said something to his aide Rodolfo Borrell. The short Haaland era already feels disorienting; with 17 goals, he is already just six short of last season’s Premier League Golden Boot total; with three games left before the World Cup, he might reasonably achieve that amount. However, you can tell that Guardiola is still getting used to it.
City had to be perfect a lot of the time without a striker for the better part of two seasons. As it was on Saturday, they can now be outplayed and out-thought for short periods of time yet still exploding out of difficulty. Guardiola’s lineup at Anfield the previous Saturday tended toward recent control, but this victory over Brighton again made it seem like embracing a little more anarchy could be the best course of action.
It will be interesting to see how the most accomplished tactician of his time works out those wrinkles, and he will definitely have learned something from this riveting duel with De Zerbi. Haaland, though, who lifted the cloud City carried back from Merseyside last weekend by pacing the field in a one-man lap of honour at the end of the game, will continue to be the centre of attention.
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