When a Norwegian Viking was sailing to the shores of England, many believed that his innate ability to thrive in different climates was mere folklore and unreasonable.
There was a section of non-believers who doubted his skills, but when this Viking unleashed himself on the opening weekend of the Premier League, there was only silence, a deafening silence that one can hear before a raging storm.
Erling Haaland has announced himself to the realms of English football with two goals on his debut for Manchester City. The current champions of England are now gunning for a third title in three years and have armed themselves with a forward that has terrorized teams in Germany.
Haaland was Borussia Dortmund’s most feared and lethal forward. Pep Guardiola, who was on the market for a centre-forward, saw Haaland’s pace and guile and immediately brought him to England. With his dominating height, muscular strength, and ponytail hair, Haaland was everything that one could expect out of a striker.
Coming from Bundesliga, the 22-year-old was often seen running into acres of space left by the teams in Germany, which would cause a flurry of goals. Many critics came to the fore that it was only possible for the Norwegian to score innumerable goals in Germany because Bundesliga defenders always leave an empty pitch behind them for Haaland to run into.
And if he knocks on the doors of the Premier League defenders, they will own him (read: Bundesliga Tax). Unfortunately, one should be careful what they wish for before making any assertive statements without the possibility of retracting their opinion.
In the game against West Ham United, Haaland was on his toes, willing to attack and always contemplating a pass from his midfield and the Hammers’ defenders misjudged Haaland as a lightweight when they came forward to press in the middle of the pitch. And the inevitable happened.
A significant gap opened up behind the defensive line, which Haaland masterfully exploited after receiving the ball from Kevin De Bruyne and turning it into a goal, giving City an unflinching lead.
For all the years that the fans of English football have panned Bundesliga as an inferior league or farmers league that allows the strikers to operate at will, no one expected Haaland to exploit the defence in the same way that he is used to, especially in the league which people refer to as the best in the world.
The notion that the Premier League defenders will eat Haaland alive or frustrate him was slowly put to bed on Sunday. The people who defend Premier League as numero uno were completely red-faced and the Bundesliga fans realised that they have found ‘space’ to take their case.
The screenshot of Haaland’s run into empty space clearly depicts English defenders making the same mistake as their German counterparts in Bundesliga. This was enough to reignite the debate whether the Premier League really is the toughest spot for a striker to perform.
It is no secret that the teams will adjust to Haaland’s ever-increasing pace, but the young forward has held up a mirror to anyone who said that the English defence system can outsmart a German one. But the bigger question that the Norwegian raised was that who would you now consider a Farmers League?