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Five Things Learned: Manchester City 5-1 Wolves (Premier League)



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Erling Haaland’s four goals propelled Manchester City to a 5-1 win against Wolves on Saturday evening to stay in control of their own destiny in the Premier League title race.

The Norwegian striker grabbed a hat-trick before half-time to ensure the Sky Blues stayed within a single point of Arsenal at the top of the table, with a game in hand. The opening goal came in just the 12th minute when Erling Haaland converted a penalty. 

Wolves fought back after the early deficit. However, in the 35th minute, Haaland got on the end of a looping ball from Rodri to head in the second goal of the game. Wolves’ response saw them open up and attack more, abandoning defensive structure and City took full advantage.

Haaland was brought down from behind by Nelson Semedo, and was awarded his second penalty of the first-half. The 23-year-old put the ball in the exact same spot as the first, beating a diving José Sá. 

The second penalty gave Haaland a first-half hat-trick, meanwhile City’s press prevented Wolves from attempting a shot or corner for the entire first-half. Hwang Hee-Chan reduced the deficit to two with a fortuitous goal in 53rd minute.

Despite grabbing a goal back, Phil Foden played a lovely ball just seconds after the reset to Erling Haaland behind the Wolves defence. The Norwegian cut in on his left, and launched a curling effort into the top right corner to score to extend his goal tally to four for the day. 

With a 4-1 lead secured, the game effectively died. John Stones was brought on for Nathan Ake, and eventually Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Erling Haaland were all replaced by Jeremy Doku, Matheus Nunes, Jack Grealish and Julian Alvarez.

Despite only being on for a few minutes, it was the aforementioned Argentine forward Alvarez who scored the fifth and final goal of the game in the 85th minute with a lovely finish after Rodri played the Argentine through on goal.

Following another dominant display, Pep Guardiola’s side made it 20 matches unbeaten in the Premier League this season, and here are five things learned from Manchester City’s 5-1 win against Wolves.

Erling Haaland has found his 2022 form

Saturday’s performance was one of the few times this season where Erling Haaland looked like the machine we saw for the most part of the 2022/23 Treble winning campaign, and the Norwegian’s debut season for the club.

Just three games now sit between Manchester City and Premier League history, and a fully operational Erling Haaland could make these last few matches a breeze. Let’s just hope it stays!

Phil Foden was able to show off his playmaking 

Phil Foden’s goal-scoring ability has always been one of his best attributes, and this is one of the key reasons why the 23-year-old has spent most of his time under Pep Guardiola as a winger or false-nine.

However, in his limited time in deeper roles, Foden has shown an elite level of distribution. The performances against Atalanta and Club Brugge in the UEFA Champions League are two of the strongest examples. 

Saturday’s performance against Wolves was another. Both the pass to Bernardo Silva to set-up the penalty on Josko Gvardiol, as well as the ball over the top to Erling Haaland for the fourth goal were truly world class. The sky is the limit for the 2023/24 FWA Footballer of the Year. 

Mateo Kovacic and Josko Gvardiol is a must-see partnership

The two Croatian international signings from the summer transfer window have now come alive in the back half of their debut seasons, and are driving Manchester City towards yet more domestic silverware.

Both players ooze composure on the ball and brought some needed control during the first half. While it won’t be feasible to see them play alongside each other every week, it’s clearly a partnership that Pep Guardiola should go back to.

John Stones just might make it

After what was a career-defining year during the last season’s treble campaign, the last nine months have been incredibly cruel to John Stones, who developed himself to become a dependable option in defensive midfield.

His inability to stay fit has caused issues for City at various points, however fortunately both Manuel Akanji and Josko Gvardiol have taken their respective games to higher levels. But there isn’t enough depth at the back to accommodate for a defender to be out all season.

After a 20-minute cameo on Saturday evening, maybe John Stones is ready for the final three matches, and while he may not be the difference maker, it’s irrefutable that Manchester City are at their best with him in the line-up. 

Goal difference is now likely irrelevant

After putting five past Wolves on Saturday evening, Manchester City reduced their deficit in goal difference to Arsenal by a whopping one goal. The Gunners hold a six-goal lead in goal difference with two matches to play.

Goal difference would only come in to play if Manchester City were to draw one of their final three matches. If Pep Guardiola’s side were to be held against either Fulham, Tottenham, or West Ham, an Arsenal win would increase the goal difference to seven at the very least. 

In more simple terms, Manchester City would need to win, and win big in their two other games, while praying that Arsenal do not put four or five goals past either Manchester United or Everton.