EPL

Guardiola not taking credit for 'nice guy' Haaland's lethal Man City start

By Sports Desk September 16, 2022

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City did not have to "add many things" to Erling Haaland's game following his arrival from Borussia Dortmund, describing the in-form Norwegian as an "exceptional striker".

Haaland won the Premier League's Player of the Month award for August on Friday, having scored an incredible nine goals during his first calendar month in the competition.

The Norwegian has continued his goalscoring exploits in September, downing Sevilla with a Champions League double before haunting his former club Dortmund with a spectacular acrobatic finish as City beat the German side on Wednesday.

Having scored in City's last Premier League outing at Aston Villa, Haaland could become the first player in the competition's history to net on each of his first four away appearances when he lines up at Wolves on Saturday.

Asked whether 22-year-old Haaland is already the perfect forward, Guardiola said: "He's an exceptional striker, I said many times.

"But the age he is, I think his ambition is he wants to be better, and he will be better. He's a perfect person, a nice guy, this is the most important.

"With the quality he had before he came here, he has just continued to do what he has done. We didn't add many things."

Since losing both of their league meetings with Wolves in the 2019-20 season, City have won each of the teams' last four head-to-head fixtures by an aggregate score of 13-3.

Although Wolves have managed just one win from their first six games of this campaign, Guardiola is impressed by Bruno Lage's attempts to move them towards a more possession-based style of play, and expects a tough challenge.

"It's a completely different team than it was the previous seasons, they played five at the back with [Conor] Coady, now they decide to play with four," Guardiola said.

"I'm really impressed by the way they play, their position in the table is because football is unpredictable and sometimes you don't get what you deserve. They have a lot, a lot, of good things.

"They are one of the toughest opponents we've faced in the last seasons, and tomorrow will not be an exception. We had less recovery, so we have to be mentally prepared. Otherwise, it will be difficult.

"Give credit because what I've seen is completely different to previous seasons, [they would] sit back, just defend, have that transition with Adama [Traore], [Pedro] Neto.

"They still have that, but they added a completely different approach to the past. I respect Wolves a lot for what happened in the past but especially now for what they are trying to do."

City could be the first team to face Diego Costa since his return to the Premier League, with Lage revealing on Friday he hoped to have the former Chelsea striker available.

Asked about the potential presence of the fiery forward, Guardiola said: "Diego Costa has had an incredible career here and in Spain, we know his quality. We'll adapt in case he'll play."

Guardiola refused to be drawn on the debate surrounding a prospective Premier League all-star match, the idea that was suggested by Chelsea chairman Todd Boehly this week.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp declared fans would not want to see that particular addition, but Guardiola would not join him in criticising the idea.

"I don't have an opinion, not at all," Guardiola said. "If they give me the dates they will play, it should be nice. But I don't have an opinion."

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