Pep Guardiola is adamant Erling Haaland will adapt quickly following his move to Manchester City, telling the media there can be no doubt over the Norwegian’s goalscoring abilities.
Haaland ended a two-year stint with Borussia Dortmund to join the Premier League champions ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, and is in line to make his league bow when City visit West Ham.
While Haaland disappointed during a Community Shield defeat to Liverpool last time out, Guardiola is confident the 22-year-old will hit the ground running when the league season begins.
“I don’t know how many goals he’s going to score and I don’t care,” Guardiola said.
“We are not going to win for Erling and we are not going to lose for Erling. He has to be himself. From what I’ve seen he’s going to adapt quick. If people have doubts he’s going to score goals, he’s going to score goals.
“The chances are always there. He’s a good finisher, so just adapt the way he plays and we’re going to do that to him. At the same time, I don’t have any doubts it’s going to happen.”
While City have lost just one of their last 28 league games (W23 D4), West Ham boss David Moyes is hopeful his side can compete, even if the addition of Haaland should boost the visitors’ attacking strength.
“I think what they’ve added is a prolific goalscorer, maybe the most up and coming young striker not just in this country, but in the world, so it’ll be interesting,” Moyes said.
“But I thought last year we competed a bit more in some of the games against the bigger sides and showed that we could give them a game on any given day.
“We will need to play really well against Man City to get a result because they’re really difficult side to beat and they’ve made the odd audition which could probably improve them as well.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
West Ham United – Gianluca Scamacca
Among players to have scored 15 or more goals in a top-five European league in 2021-22, only three were younger than 23-year-old Scamacca, namely Haaland (22 goals), Vinicius Junior (17) and Dusan Vlahovic (24). The towering striker will be key to West Ham’s hopes of an upset.
Manchester City – Erling Haaland
Haaland has been involved in seven goals in his last three games played on the opening weekend of a league season – one assist with Red Bull Salzburg in 2019-20, two goals with Borussia Dortmund in 2020-21 and two goals and two assists with Dortmund last season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– West Ham United have faced Manchester City on three previous occasions in their opening top-flight game of the season, losing all three and failing to score a single goal (conceded 11).
– Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 13 Premier League meetings with West Ham (W10 D3), only versus Fulham (14) are they currently enjoying a longer unbeaten run against sides in the top-flight in 2022-23.
– Only Tottenham (38) have lost more Premier League games against reigning champions than West Ham (36). Meanwhile, of all sides to have played 20+ such games in the competition, only Aston Villa (7.4%) and West Bromwich Albion (7.7%) have a lower win rate than the Hammers (9.6% – won 5/52).
– West Ham have won just one of their last seven Premier League games (D2 L4), with that victory coming at already relegated Norwich in May (4-0). The Hammers are winless in their last nine Premier League games against reigning champions (D2 L7), since a 1-0 win against Chelsea in December 2017.
– Man City striker Erling Haaland could be the seventh Norwegian to score on his Premier League debut, and the third to do so in the opening game of a season (Tore Andre Flo in 1997-98, Adama Diomande in 2016-17). His father – Alf Inge Haaland – made 181 Premier League appearances between 1994 and 2001, with the last of those coming for Manchester City against West Ham United in April 2001.