Playing careers and Premier League seasons are made of moments. Times when a player or team can go up or down. Erling Braut Haaland, 22, and his Manchester City team-mates face such a moment against liverpool at Anfield.
Last Saturday, Pep Guardiola’s lads faced a different kind of moment against Manchester United. The Manchester Blues dispatched their Crosstown rivals with relative ease. The Manchester Derby has become a showcase of the attacking force City have unleashed on the Prem in the person of Haaland, and a reminder of the distance that currently separates the bitter rivals.
Over the previous 5 seasons, the City vs Liverpool rivalry has become England’s most significant. Manager Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side are the only club to have seriously challenged for the title in this era, winning 1 and finishing second to Pep Guardiola’s side on 2 occasions. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and the Reds ran away with the league in 2019/20 and finished second by one point to City on the final day in 2019 and 2022.
This season, Liverpool have struggled to find their form initially. They have problems in midfield and defense and find themselves 10th in the table after winning just twice in 8 games. Man City are unbeaten in the Premier League and have not lost a game in any competition since falling 3-1 to Merseyside Reds in the pre-season Community Shield.
That Community Shield match at Twickenham in late July was Erling Haaland’s first moment at his new club. Of course, the team would have liked to win and build momentum to beat a rival for a trophy in the season. But more than that, Haaland was looking to announce his presence in the country in a national showcase.
Neither City nor their new striker achieved their goals for the game. Liverpool looked sharp and seemed to be taking every chance against the Blues. Haaland couldn’t take advantage of the chances he got and Klopp’s reds returned to Anfield with the silverware.
Perhaps an even bigger moment than the Community Shield is how the club and Haaland have responded. City haven’t lost since and won 10 out of 13 games. Haaland set the world on fire. In 12 games with Manchester City, the Norwegian international scored 20 goals and delivered 3 more. To say Worlds Destroyer Erling Braut Haaland has become the man of the moment in world football would be an understatement.
We are now greeted with the next big moment for Erling and his friends. The game at Anfield represents an opportunity for City to put more distance between themselves and Liverpool in the table. Liverpool fell behind early on, but they have the talent to get hot and have a serious run at the top. A road win would be a statement in itself, but it would also put the Manc Blues 16 points clear of the team that pushed them more than any other.
For Haaland, the job is different. Beyond the team goal, Erling needs a goal in this game. When Erling failed to score against Liverpool in July, the overreactions came at a blistering pace. His play has since quickly upended the original narrative, but a scoreless performance against the Reds would mean a whole new story again. The scenario where Klopp, Virgil Van Dyke and the Liverpool defense have the formula to stop the unstoppable force.
On the other side of that coin, Erling Haaland is gaining momentum and snagging a masterpiece at Anfield. Breaking Liverpool’s lines and terrorizing the Kop. Haaland has reached moments throughout his young career, and if you had to bet you’d bet he reached this one too, I think.
The Premier League still has a long way to go to tell the story of the 2022/23 season. Erling Haaland, Manchester City and Liverpool will each figure prominently in this tale, as always. Sunday’s game at Anfield won’t decide the title, but it could be a decisive moment in their pursuit.