Chris Sutton insists 'scapegoat' Erling Haaland was NOT the problem for Man City in their draw with Arsenal on It's All Kicking Off... as he reveals the 'bigger' issue for Pep Guardiola's side


Chris Sutton has claimed Erling Haaland is not the problem for Manchester City, after Roy Keane’s brutal criticism of the striker after Man City’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal. 

The Premier League’s top scorer endured a frustrating afternoon against the Gunners’ thrifty defence which restricted him to few touches in the game. 

However, Keane argued that the display is indicative of Haaland’s overall quality in open play and demanded that his all-round game improve. 

‘But for his general play for such a player, it is so poor, not just today, I think he has to improve that he’s almost like a League Two player. 

Erling Haaland endured a frustrating afternoon as he failed to make his mark on the game

Erling Haaland endured a frustrating afternoon as he failed to make his mark on the game 

It's All Kicking Off host Chris Sutton admitted that the striker hasn't been as good as last year but also identified the 'bigger problem' for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side

It’s All Kicking Off host Chris Sutton admitted that the striker hasn’t been as good as last year but also identified the ‘bigger problem’ for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side

‘That’s the way I look at him his general play has to improve and it will do over the next few years. There’s been this brilliant strikers fantastic. But he has to improve his all-round game.’

Despite the fact the 23-year-old had no shots on target, nor key passes, in the match, Sutton argues the criticism was unwarranted and discussed the ‘bigger problem’ for Pep Guardiola.

Speaking on It’s All Kicking Off, Sutton said: ‘Slightly harsh. You know, everybody’s looking for a reason for that and a scapegoat and I think it’s slightly unfair. 

‘Because we all know why Erling Haaland was signed for Manchester City. Why was he signed? To score goals.

‘Can his hold up play be neater? Can it be better? Can he be cleaner? Yes, he can.

‘But that’s not what he was brought for. I mean, the bigger problem yesterday for Manchester City, was that he said one shot on target. 

‘But how many chances did Haaland have? He had the big chance which, you know, he did fluff his lines, which is unlike him.

‘That’s very unlike Erling Haaland. But this season, I think it’s fair to say, he still had an excellent season, but he hasn’t hit the heights of last season. 

Haaland was well marshalled by Arsenal defender's throughout the clash at the Emirates

Haaland was well marshalled by Arsenal defender’s throughout the clash at the Emirates

Roy Keane (left) slammed the 23-year-old's general play and demanded that he improve

Roy Keane (left) slammed the 23-year-old’s general play and demanded that he improve

‘But those sort of heights are always gonna be difficult to hit. So I think the greater problem for City was the lack of creativity from other areas.

‘Haaland isn’t the problem, as far as I can see. I just think that, you know, Roy Keane, and the other guys in the studio, are just looking for something there. And to label him as a league two hold up player, well, that’s just not true. That’s unfair’.

Sutton’s co-host, Ian Ladyman, agreed with the sentiment and argued that Haaland’s sole role within the team is to ‘play his football in and around the penalty area’.  

Ladyman said: ‘You can watch City play and Haaland, if he’s not scoring, can be completely anonymous, which is weird for a bloke of his shape and size and distinctive long blonde hair and all the rest of it. 

‘I’ve been at games. I remember being at a game in Copenhagen when he literally touched the ball seven times in the first hour. But I think that is the way he is asked to play by Pep. I don’t think he’s asked to come and link play. 

Haaland embraces with Arsenal defender Gabriel after the clash at the Etihad on Sunday

Haaland embraces with Arsenal defender Gabriel after the clash at the Etihad on Sunday

Pep Guardiola's side struggled to create enough clear-cut opportunities against Arsenal

Pep Guardiola’s side struggled to create enough clear-cut opportunities against Arsenal

‘We all know the way Harry Kane plays. Harry Kane can be as effective 40 yards from goal as he can be six yards from goal. Erling Haaland is not that type of player. And Manchester City have these players who happen to be quite good at that stuff. 

‘Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, for example, who play their football 40 yards from goal. For Manchester City, Erling Haaland is asked to play his football in and around the penalty area. And I think that’s the top and bottom of it’.

Sutton replied: ‘I think that that’s an excellent point. You know, in the comparison with Harry Kane, you know, he’s totally different. Harry Kane likes to drop deep. He has that ability to get on the half turn and slide a pass. That’s not part of Haaland’s skill set. They want him high up, occupying the center halves.

‘And when de Bruyne gets on the half turn or Foden does, then he makes his movements. And, you know, that’s what his role was at Manchester City’.



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