Virgil Van Dijk tells Liverpool FC teammates how to stop Erling Haaland and Man City - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News
VVD knows it’ll be a tall order to keep Haaland off the score sheet in consecutive matches.
Van Dijk and his teammates successfully kept Haaland out in his first domestic appearance for City back in August as Liverpool beat the Blues in the Community Shield, but he has scored an incredible 20 goals in 12 appearances since then. And Van Dijk feels that initial criticism of Haaland after that blank at the start of the season was never going to stand the test of time — and he had defended Haaland himself after the game at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.
“It’s definitely not easy – he’s been on fire, you can’t say anything else,” Van Dijk said on Wednesday of stopping Haaland, in conversation with TV2.
“I remember after the Community Shield where a lot of people have been writing him off, I remember I was saying, ‘listen, this guy is going to cause so many defenders nightmares’. He’s shown it, he’s been showing a consistent level and obviously in a team like City where chances will always come.”
The City legend sees both sides of this individual battle being ready.
Speaking on Tuesday’s latest edition of Matchday Live, Goater insists both will be eyeing victory in the match and, also, in their own individual tussle out on the pitch.
He said: “Virgil van Dijk is not quite at his best at the moment but if you love the game, you want to see the two best players facing up to each other. You want to see the great teams facing each other when they’re both in form.
“But I think it’s one of those games where Virgil van Dijk himself, no matter what form he’s in, he wants to be raising his bar back to his best to say: ‘Today Haaland ain’t scoring. City ain’t scoring.’ He will be up for that.
“But at the same time, Haaland will be thinking ‘It’s about time they know about me, in terms of if they don’t already know, they’re going to know’.
"Who comes out on top?" @OfficialSGoater discusses Haaland and Van Dijk, ahead of the Liverpool fixture.— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 13, 2022
Tap to find out more
Despite reported interest, it looks like Man City will be keeping their Dutch Center Half at least through the end of the season.
Ake has emerged as one of the crucial players in Man City’s backline, and the club wants a continuation. As talk of a £45 million move accelerated, everything seemed agreed between the clubs. However, Guardiola insisted on keeping the 27-year-old, and the move has paid dividends this season.
Ake has found himself playing more games than before, and there’s trust placed in him by Guardiola. Many considered Ake to fall down the pecking order after the late arrival of Manuel Akanji. Still, the Dutchman is seemingly ahead of Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias in the pecking order.
Moreover, the constant fitness issues with John Stones have played well for Ake, who has grabbed his chance with both hands. He is inching towards becoming an automatic starter; hence, the club is uninterested in entertaining offers.
Rumours of interest from PSG and Bayern Munich have come around in the media. Man City remains uninterested. Ake has a contract until 2025, which puts the club in an excellent position to be relaxed about the situation.
And Ake let it be known he is pleased with his current situation.
Italian giants Inter have been linked in recent weeks, and sources have confirmed to 90min that they are not the only club to ask about Ake. We understand that Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are also among the clubs to enquire.
But City have no intention of listening to offers for Ake, who himself in recent days has made it known that he is more than happy to stay with the club following the collapse of his summer switch back to Stamford Bridge.
“In the end I’m happy to be here,” said Ake. “Sometimes these things happen [transfer links and rumours] and in the end I’m very happy that I stayed. You have to learn, and I have learned a lot over the years. It’s interesting and I had to get used to it in the first season but now I know it.
Man City tell Nathan Ake suitors that he is 'not for sale' in January.— Graeme Bailey (@GraemeBailey) October 12, 2022
Inter, Juventus, Bayern and PSG have all made enquiries - but Pep Guardiola is very happy with the Dutchman so far this season and Ake is very happy with his current role.
Alan Shearer makes bold Harry Kane and Erling Haaland claim amid fundamental Spurs difference - Lewis Pangratiou - Football.London
The best bold predictions are the ones that can’t be disproven.
If Haaland doesn’t suffer an injury, he could break several records before the season is out. Shearer justifiably believes he’s a sensational player but he also thinks Kane would produce similar numbers if he played under Pep Guardiola.
“It could all have been very different if Pep Guardiola got his way last season and they’d signed Harry Kane,” he wrote in The Athletic. “There might not have been room for Haaland and he may have been carrying out these incredible goalscoring feats somewhere else. But if Harry was in this City team, he would be scoring as many goals as Erling has.
“This is dreamland for any top forward. I’ve said it all along — a top goalscorer in this City team should score 40 goals. If Erling stays fit then he’ll get that and maybe even some more.
Alan Shearer even cites xG as he claims Kane would score Haaland numbers at Man City - Sarah Winterburn - Football365
Old Alan even brought out the advanced statistics to back his claim.
Shearer then goes on to cite xG, saying: ‘So far this season, Erling’s xG — the number of goals he would be expected to score from the quality of chances he’s had — in the Premier League is 9, whereas Harry’s is 6.1.
‘The non-penalty difference is even more stark: 8.2 vs 4.5. Digging down further, Erling’s non-penalty xG per shot is 0.22, while Harry’s is 0.15. In short, Harry is being provided with lower-quality chances than Erling.’
What Shearer neglects to mention is that Haaland has still contrived to score 5.8 more non-penalty goals than his xG, while Kane is ‘only’ over-scoring by 2.5 goals. Both are having excellent seasons but it’s clear that the Norwegian is truly excelling.
‘If you put Harry in that City team, they would encourage him to stay up top more rather than coming deep to get involved in the game. I don’t think they would have taken that away from him totally, but they would want him to be more of a focal point,’ continued Shearer.
We never thought we would see the day when Alan Shearer was citing xG. He argues that Kane would be logging Haaland numbers at Man City.https://t.co/ZzQ6FYGE3T— Football365 (@F365) October 13, 2022
Champions League 2022-23 Power Rankings: Barcelona & Juventus plummet as Mbappe drama leads to PSG drop - Stephen Darwin - Goal.com
And finally... The latest UCL Power Rankings are out and your Sky Blues remain in the top spot after their draw with Copenhagen.
1. Manchester City
Last time: 1st
No Erling Haaland, no party for City in Copenhagen on a night when refereeing decisions took centre stage.
A point away at Dortmund next time out will be enough to confirm them as group winners. If Haaland plays, expect them to do the business.
There you have it Cityzens. Two short days until Liverpool v City. Stay with Bitter and Blue for all the latest.