Erling Haaland’s goal against Brentford means he has scored against every opponent he has faced in the Premier League.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the prolific Norway international’s Manchester City record.

Full house

Chelsea, Liverpool and Brentford were the only teams not to concede to Haaland in his astonishing debut season in England, when he won the Premier League Golden Boot with 36 goals in 33 games.

He ticked off Chelsea and Liverpool in successive league games either side of November’s international break and, having failed to score in this season’s first meeting with the Bees, has had to wait until Tuesday’s postponed return fixture to complete the set of 21 opponents he has faced.

He has yet to play against Luton, having missed December’s fixture while injured, so April’s game at the Etihad Stadium will bring the chance to add a 22nd name to his perfect record.

Tuesday night’s effort means Haaland now has 53 goals in 55 Premier League appearances.

Favourite opponents

Haaland’s best Premier League scoring record is against derby rivals Manchester United as well as Fulham, with five goals in three games against each.

He hit a hat-trick at home to United last season and a double at Old Trafford this term, while scoring in both of last season’s meetings with the Cottagers and adding a treble in September.

He has four goals against each of Crystal Palace, in two appearances, and Nottingham Forest, West Ham and Wolves in three apiece and Everton in four, with hat-tricks against all but the Hammers and Toffees.

He has three against both Brighton and Southampton while he has scored in every game against Fulham, Everton, West Ham (three games each), Palace, Saints (two), Leicester and Sheffield United (one).

Aston Villa, Brentford, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Tottenham, in three games each, Liverpool in two and the Blades in one have conceded only once to Haaland.

Record books

Harry Kane also scored against every Premier League opponent he faced, a total of 32 clubs, during his time with Tottenham – a brief loan at Norwich early in his career did not yield any of his eventual 213 goals in the competition.

Frank Lampard holds the record for scoring Premier League goals against the most clubs overall, with his 39 one more than Andy Cole, but neither player scored against every opponent they faced.

Third on that list with 37 opponents is the league’s record scorer Alan Shearer, whose 20 goals against Leeds is the most by one player against a single opponent.

Pep Guardiola admitted his side needed the killer instinct of Erling Haaland after they edged out Brentford 1-0 in a nervy encounter that left his side one point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Haaland settled the contest in the 71st minute when he punished a slip from Kristoffer Ajer, running from the halfway line to slot the ball under the unfortunate Mark Flekken, who had another outstanding match against the reigning champions.

After a week in which Guardiola had to answer questions about the Norwegian star, whose misses proved costly in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Haaland made no mistake with one of the very few clear chances a well-organised Brentford side afforded City on the night.

“If I had to choose one (player), I choose this one,” Guardiola said of the moment.

It was Haaland’s third goal in seven games since returning from the foot injury that sidelined him for two months. Last week, he mourned the death of his grandmother Tone Rascal, mother of his father Alf-Inge, at the age of 80.

Asked if he had needed to speak to the striker, Guardiola said: “We spoke about the moment and I realised this later, but he didn’t say anything about the passing away of his grandmother. We talked about how he feels and of course for his father.

“In this type of game like Brentford, you need Erling. With not much space, you can play with a typical striker.”

City struggled to break down a determined Brentford side. Kevin De Bruyne was kept on the bench throughout the night, not even emerging to warm up with the game in the balance, and Guardiola revealed the Belgian playmaker had a hamstring issue, having already missed five months of the season.

“Today we could not use Kevin because he had niggles in his hamstring and I didn’t want to take risk,” he said, adding: “He’s okay. It’s just a precaution but he didn’t feel comfortable and so after five months off we didn’t take any risk.”

Brentford had defended doggedly before the goal, more than once having all 11 players inside their own box in open play. Bernardo Silva headed a glorious chance wide before Oscar Bobb created space only to shoot straight at Flekken, but otherwise there were few real opportunities.

Having taken six points off City last season, Brentford threatened to do damage to their title bid again this time before Haaland stepped in – he has now scored against all 21 opponents he has faced in the Premier League.

“I think throughout the game we were brilliant, I’m very proud and pleased with the players’ performance,” Bees manager Thomas Frank said. “They believed and it gives me a lot of belief in them going forwards.

“The way we defended the whole game was magnificent in terms of structure, defensive principles, urgency. Before the goal, we gave away the header to Bernardo Silva and the Oscar Bobb chance and it was two big chances. If you can limit City to two big chances, you have done a very good job.

“If (Ajer) doesn’t slip I’m convinced it would not be a goal. Haaland is quick but Kristoffer is as quick. City are good so they don’t need the margins going their way.”

Erling Haaland came to Manchester City’s rescue as the off-colour champions eked out a nervy 1-0 win over Brentford in the Premier League on Tuesday.

The prolific Norwegian, who spurned a host of chances in a frustrating draw with Chelsea at the weekend, returned to form as he broke the deadlock in a tight encounter at the Etihad Stadium after 71 minutes.

The win lifted City above Arsenal into second in the table, one point behind leaders Liverpool, having played the same number of games in what is shaping up to be a tight title race.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the first half, but the second period was proving a frustrating affair until Haaland broke clear of the Bees defence to slot home a fine finish.

Brentford were the last team to beat City at home in November 2022 and, having also tested them in a 3-1 loss earlier this month, again caused them problems.

City, with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench, started the brighter, with Haaland shooting at Mark Flekken after just three minutes and Phil Foden also forcing a save and having another effort blocked.

But Brentford, to their credit, were not content to sit back and did pose a threat on the counter-attack.

Yoane Wissa was denied a chance to shoot by a fine John Stones tackle and Frank Onyeka should have done better than firing straight at Ederson after being played through on goal.

Ivan Toney also shot narrowly over from a free-kick, but the hosts then laid siege to the Bees’ goal and it was remarkable the opening period ended scoreless.

Julian Alvarez twice missed the target before Bernardo Silva planted a header the wrong side of a post from close range.

Manuel Akanji had a good strike from distance tipped over by Flekken and Ruben Dias saw a header pushed away.

Oscar Bobb looked certain to score after skipping around Christian Norgaard, but Ben Mee stretched to clear off the line.

Brentford ended the first half with another chance as an Onyeka header was claimed at full stretch by Ederson and City were surprisingly slow to get going again after the break.

Guardiola tried to enliven proceedings by introducing Jeremy Doku on the hour, but the Bees responded by sending on the abrasive Neal Maupay, who clashed with Kyle Walker in the sides’ recent meeting.

After Foden blazed an attempt well over, it began to look like it might take something special to break the deadlock and that moment duly arrived 19 minutes from time.

Brentford were pushing forward, but their attack was broken up and the ball quickly moved forward, with Rodri finding Alvarez and the Argentinian releasing Haaland.

The Norwegian still had more than half the length of the field to run, but he was quickly into his stride and breezed past a stumbling Kristoffer Ajer before slotting past Flekken from the edge of the area.

The goal was greeted with much relief, but Brentford were not done and Toney shot narrowly over after Dias gave away possession.

City might have had more late on, with Haaland having a header disallowed for offside and Flekken twice saving from Foden.

Pep Guardiola refused to blame Erling Haaland for wasting chances after Manchester City were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Chelsea on Saturday.

The normally prolific Haaland spurned a number of opportunities, including one glaring free header from six yards out, as the champions were held in a compelling Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium.

City ultimately needed an 83rd-minute equaliser from Rodri to rescue a point after their former forward Raheem Sterling had put the Londoners on course for an unexpected win with a 43rd-minute effort.

City manager Guardiola said: “It’s good to have nine shots and next time he’s going to score.

“I was a football player for 11 years and scored 11 goals. What stats! One goal a season. I’m not a proper man to give advice to strikers.

“We create the chances; he had the chances and next time he’s going to score. I don’t blame him. It’s football, it’s human beings.”

Haaland looked frustrated at the end of the game and pushed away a TV camera, but it has been a difficult week for the Norway international after the death of his grandmother.

The result left City four points off the top of the table in third place, after title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal won earlier in the day.

City dominated the second half, but Guardiola felt they paid the price for a poor first-half display.

Guardiola said: “As a team and a group, the first half was not like we are.

“The demands are so high because no-one is going to give it to us, we have to do everything. We are Man City, so we have to do it for ourselves all the time.

“We had to improve the first half and the second half was unbelievable, how we played and how we made transitions.

“In general, it was really good after we conceded from Raheem but when we play teams with composure and prestige of Chelsea you have to perform at your best for 95 minutes.”

Chelsea’s season has been one of inconsistency, but manager Mauricio Pochettino felt they showed their true character against strong opposition.

Pochettino said: “We tried to prepare, all the coaching staff, to make the plan for the game but football is always a game that belongs to the players and today the execution and the performance was from them. They showed character.

“It was a really important game for us to keep the momentum to realise we are in a good way and improving.

“Still we are not at the level of Man City but that is our aim.

“We need to live this type of game to improve and to create the spirit we need. We show in every single game we want to be competitive.”

Phil Foden feels he is in the form of his life as he eyes a second successive treble with Manchester City.

The England midfielder stepped up in the injury-enforced absence of Kevin De Bruyne to thrive in a central role in numerous games in the first half of the season.

De Bruyne’s return to action over the past month has seen Foden’s position vary since but his performance levels have rarely dipped.

Playing alongside De Bruyne, the 23-year-old again excelled in Tuesday’s Champions League victory at FC Copenhagen, capping a fine display with an eighth goal in 10 outings.

“I think it’s the most run of games that I’ve played in a City shirt consistently,” said Foden. “I’m in good form, scoring consistently and helping the team as much as I can and I’m delighted with that.

“I want to keep doing that, that’s the goal every game. I’d say I’m playing my best football in a City shirt.”

Foden has been touted for big things since he was in City’s junior ranks but it is now over six years since he made his senior debut.

When prolific striker Erling Haaland joined De Bruyne on the sidelines in December, Foden felt it was time he took responsibility.

“I think I had to,” said Foden, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s Premier League win at Brentford. “They are two massive players for us, so key last year for us winning the treble. It was time for me to step up.”

City’s 3-1 win in Copenhagen in the first leg of their last-16 tie was their 11th in succession in all competitions.

They are strongly fancied to defend all three of the major trophies they won last season and Foden has no doubt the team have the hunger to do so.

He said: “We’re showing that we’re still determined and playing the same football as last year and still wanting to win all the games. Hopefully that continues and we don’t drop our level or form.

“We’re focused. We stick by each other and it’s a pleasure to be a part of this team. I look around the dressing room and I still see the determination and hunger.”

Foden has made no secret of his preference to play in a central position, something which became a matter of national debate earlier this season when England manager Gareth Southgate selected him in a wide role.

Foden said: “I’ve said previously that I prefer to play in the middle but I’ll do a job wherever the manager puts me. Tuesday I was out wide, and I got a goal and an assist. I’m delighted.”

Pep Guardiola has told Erling Haaland to focus more on getting his body language right than scoring goals.

The Manchester City manager admitted to being concerned about the prolific Norwegian’s demeanour since his return to action following a two-month lay-off with a foot injury.

Guardiola feels the striker has been preoccupied with adding to his remarkable goal tally and wants him to relax more.

He thinks Saturday’s victory over Everton was a good example, when Haaland had a quiet first half before netting twice late on to secure a 2-0 success.

Guardiola, speaking in Denmark at a press conference to preview Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash with FC Copenhagen, said: “Erling is young, playing in the most difficult position on the pitch surrounded by four or five players with minor space.

“In the first half maybe we didn’t have the special delivery players, like Kevin (De Bruyne) for example, who can find him.

“In that moment he has to be positive. When he scored a goal, he reacted but he doesn’t need to score because he helps us for many things.

“He is defined on goals but it is not just scoring a goal. As much it’s how he is clapping, encouraging his mates and the first intense press. This is what we need from Erling.

“But we cannot forget he has been two months out, which is a lot of time for a guy who is so tall.

“Back to the dynamic is not easy. He’s a huge competitor who wants to score goals. OK, we know that, so relax.

“If we don’t score today, or if he doesn’t score in 10 minutes, it’s OK. In the process he has to try because the team always wins when they overcome bad moments.”

Guardiola did stress this was a minor problem and he has no doubts about the 23-year-old.

“It looks like I am complaining about Erling but it was in general,” the City boss said. “How many games did Erling play and how many goals? His body language is not a problem.

“If he doesn’t score tomorrow, the day after or next week, it’s not a big issue.

“He’s so strong. It comes from nature. He’s coped perfectly because he’s so strong mentally. He scores one goal and wants a second and a third.

“You see his numbers at his age. In the Champions League not even (Lionel) Messi or Cristiano (Ronaldo) had these numbers at his age.”

City are hoping to silence a raucous atmosphere at Parken to take the initiative after the first leg of their tie against Copenhagen.

The Danes have not played competitively for two months due to their winter break but Guardiola expects a stern challenge from a side that finished above Manchester United and Galatasaray in their group.

He said: “I would say they are starving to compete and hungry and have full energy, fresh in legs and mind.

“I don’t know the rhythm but they have had lots of time to prepare for the game. Hopefully we can be in a good level to compete.

“It’s back to business in the competition but huge respect for the opponents. It was not an easy group and they did really well in all the games.”

Erling Haaland was pleased to get back on the scoresheet as Manchester City’s momentum continued to gather with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Everton.

The prolific Norwegian scored his first goals since returning to action from a foot injury as his late double finally saw off the resilient Toffees at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

It was the champions’ 10th victory in succession in all competitions and briefly took them back to the top of the table prior to rivals Liverpool’s defeat of Burnley later in the day.

With Haaland back in tandem with Kevin De Bruyne, who has also returned from his own lengthy lay-off, last season’s treble winners are in a strong position as they approach the decisive phase of the campaign.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” said Haaland, whose first 19 goals of the season came before he was sidelined in early December.

“It’s fantastic to be back and it’s also good to keep on winning. That’s important and we have to keep going.

“We have already been on quite a good run. It is a good thing to start to click now. That’s never bad. It’s in the next few months when you win things, so we keep going.”

City found it tough to break down the stubborn Merseysiders, who are caught up in another relegation battle after their 10-point deduction earlier in the season.

The breakthrough came soon after manager Pep Guardiola introduced the lively De Bruyne and Kyle Walker off the bench, and it was Haaland who delivered the blow as Everton struggled to clear a 70th-minute corner.

De Bruyne then played in Haaland to secure the result five minutes from time.

“Back to normal finally,” said Haaland. “It’s good to be back to normal.

“We knew how the game was going to be and they were going to make it difficult for us.

“But we knew if we trusted ourselves it was going to be really difficult for (Everton). That’s what we did and in the end it was fantastic to win.”

Everton remain in the bottom three despite having won enough points to have been in a comfortable mid-table position.

Defender James Tarkowski insists the players are not downbeat about the situation.

“There’s no drop-off here,” he said. “We’re ready to go again. Don’t worry about us. We’re ready to go no matter what.

“It’s been a good season for us. I’m not disappointed. We’re going well. We’ve got a few lads coming back soon, so the squad’s looking strong and ready to play.

“I felt we played really well and then just a couple of minor details cost us.”

Pep Guardiola felt his side had come through a tough game after grinding out a 2-0 victory over Everton on Saturday.

Erling Haaland struck twice in the latter stages to secure a hard-fought Premier League success for the champions at the Etihad Stadium.

It was City’s 10th successive triumph in all competitions and Guardiola said the manner of the win would stand them in good stead as they chase a repeat treble.

The City manager said: “I love to win this type of game. The difficulty is there. We knew it, we talked about it.

“Always Everton here at home is really complicated. We’ve lost a lot of points over many years.

“What pleased me the most is something the people cannot see – the body shape, the positivity, the body language.

“In the first half we were complaining. I know a 12.30 (kick-off) is more difficult but our body language was not good. The chemistry between the players, when they lose a ball or something is not going well, has to be better.

“But in the second half it was much better. In general it was well deserved.

“I like to win this type of game – suffering and knowing how difficult everything is – because we learn the lessons for what’s coming.”

With Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne, who have both had lengthy lay-offs this season, now back in tandem and the rest of the squad fully fit, City’s momentum could be ominous for their rivals.

After last season’s achievements, doubts were cast over City’s durability as they stuttered in the autumn but Guardiola never had any concerns.

He said: “With Erling and Kevin we are stronger, that’s obvious, but when a team loses the consistency, we have to be worried with the way they train, behave and run.

“But it (good attitude) was always there. When that happens the team is alive. I was never concerned. Since day one I didn’t have the feeling.

“There are ups and downs, it’s normal, but I still liked what I saw.”

The defeat left Everton in the bottom three and without a league win in almost two months.

Manager Sean Dyche accepted his side had been beaten by a master finisher in Haaland, who broke the deadlock on 71 minutes and then wrapped up victory five minutes from time.

Dyche said: “That’s why he is who he is. He doesn’t have many touches in some games but he scores and that is the key.

“His finish for the first one – I have been speaking to the players recently about this – footballers scoring ‘trendy’ goals – whippers, dippers, clippers.

“He doesn’t think about that. Just score a goal. That’s the trendiest thing you’ll ever do. And he showed that, a good technique. Just smash it and don’t worry about anything else.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has dismissed talk of a repeat treble by saying he is “99.99” per cent certain it will not happen.

The champions are favourites to win a fourth Premier League title in succession and are also in strong contention to retain the Champions League and FA Cup.

Winning those trophies in back-to-back seasons would be unprecedented and therefore Guardiola, whose silverware haul in the past year also includes the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, feels it is unlikely.

The Spaniard said at a press conference: “Sextuple, ‘seventuple’? It’s a fairytale. It’s more complicated than that.

“We have 99.99 per cent possibility that we are not going to win the treble because it has never ever ever been done. The chances to do it again are like this (shows tiny gap between thumb and index finger) – minimal.

“If it was easy, another team – (Manchester) United in that time – would have done it again. It’s not easy.

“Everything is so difficult in this business. What we have done in the past is absolutely no guarantee of anything.

“What I like is that we are still there. We are close to the top of the league, we are in the other competitions.

“Hopefully we will arrive in March and April with the same feeling and if we have the same feeling, we will fight for the titles in May. This is the target.”

City have won their last nine games in all competitions and appear to be gathering familiar momentum at the right time.

Yet while the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have earned praise for their form, and Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne have returned from injury, Jack Grealish’s levels have dipped.

The England international was one of the key players in last season’s treble success but has not hit the same heights this term and has not started City’s last four games.

His most recent subdued form comes after an unsettling incident in December when his home was burgled, while his fiancee and members of his family were in the property, as he played in a game at Everton.

Guardiola accepts that could have affected him.

He said: “I’m pretty sure (it did affect him). After a few days hopefully he forgot it but I’m pretty sure. I was affected too and I would have been affected too.

“It is not easy what happened with him, his girlfriend and family, so I’m pretty sure (it affected him).

“But he handled it really well. He is an incredible person with incredible humanity.

“Here, with security and people at his disposal, we have tried to help him but it happened. We haven’t spoken lately about that subject so hopefully it is fine.”

Guardiola pointed out Grealish’s lack of action was largely due to the form of other players.

He said: “It’s not a big, big problem – completely the opposite. He is competing with players at a high level. He is making steps to get his best (form). We need everyone and we need Jack.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has challenged Real Madrid to make an offer for Erling Haaland if they really want him.

There were reports in Spain last week that Haaland dislikes life in Manchester so much that he wants to leave the club.

Perhaps inevitably, it was suggested Real Madrid were monitoring the prolific Norway striker’s situation.

The suspicion at City is that this could have been an attempt by Madrid-leaning media to unsettle the 23-year-old and edge him towards the Bernabeu Stadium.

Yet Guardiola, who has seen such activity before, is confident it will not work and suggests any interested club should just say so.

Guardiola said: “For one report, for one journalist or one Twitter account, one Instagram account, do you think they are going to change something that is going to happen? It’s not going to happen.

“It’s going to happen when Erling decides to extend the contract or not, when the club decides to extend a contract or not, or when we have potential offers to him or not.

“If someone wants Erling, it’s easy. Call Man City and ask. It’s what we do when we want to sign someone. It’s not more complicated than that.”

If Guardiola has his way, the answer to any enquiry would be a firm no.

Haaland scored 52 goals in a stunning first season at the Etihad Stadium and had already netted 19 this term before being sidelined by a foot injury early in December.

Guardiola said: “What do you think? That we don’t want Erling to stay here for one decade?

“We want him – for a long, long time at this club. For a long time. We are in love with him, we want him.”

Yet Guardiola admits he does not know what the future will bring.

He said: “I don’t have info. He arrived last season and the impact was incredible. The beginning of this season, the numbers were really good too. He’s had two months injured.

“What happens in the future? Honestly, I don’t know. We are happy to have him, hopefully he’s happy to be with us. That is what we know. And the rest? I don’t know.”

Guardiola insists he ignores transfer rumours but concedes having players linked with big clubs can be flattering.

He said: “It’s normal that Real Madrid want the best players, and Barcelona want the best players, or (clubs) in Italy, or PSG want the best players.

“We want the best players and United want the best players, and Liverpool and Arsenal and everyone. It’s normal, it’s not a surprise.

“A link like that is an honour for us. It means that we did a good job, and especially Erling. In his case he made an incredible job.

“Is it true? I don’t know. It’s just to make a little bit of noise. It’s fine. Of course I ignore it. It doesn’t bother me at all.

“As long as the players are focused on what they have to do, the rest is not important.”

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are coming up against an “exceptional player” in Ivan Toney as they travel to Brentford on Monday.

Toney, who scored twice when the Bees won at the Etihad Stadium last season, recently returned to action after serving an eight-month ban for breaching betting regulations.

The 27-year-old forward has struck in both appearances since completing his suspension and Guardiola is pleased to see such talent back on the field.

The City manager said: “He’s an exceptional player. Not just with the long balls, with keeping (the ball) and set-pieces, with the penalties as a guarantee.

“For many things they can link with him and he’s an extraordinary player.

“I’m so happy he is back and hopefully that period is forgotten in his life and for his family. Exceptional players always are more than welcome in the Premier League.”

Brentford beat champions City home and away in the Premier League last season.

The Toney-inspired first of those victories came in the final game before the World Cup break, as City endured an indifferent spell in the autumn.

The second, at the Gtech Community Stadium, was on the last day of the campaign as City, having already wrapped up the title, were preparing for the FA Cup and Champions League finals.

Nevertheless, Guardiola sees them as a serious threat as City look to maintain their recent momentum after eight successive wins.

He said: “We know in the past how difficult they have been. Even when we won it was always tight and we lost the two games we played last season.

“So we know the difficulty for the way they play, the standards that they have. They are clear and they believe it and they apply really well.

“It’s another game to face, a new challenge.”

City have a full-strength squad available with defender Manuel Akanji back in contention after a knee injury.

Erling Haaland could make his first start in two months after returning from a foot problem as a substitute against Burnley in midweek.

Pep Guardiola has dismissed suggestions from Spanish media that Erling Haaland is unhappy at Manchester City.

There have been claims that the prolific Norwegian striker dislikes the city – and its weather – so much that he wants to leave the club.

Perhaps inevitably, the reports suggest Real Madrid are monitoring the situation but Guardiola is not taking the rumours seriously.

“You have to ask the media from Madrid if he is unhappy,” said the City manager. “Maybe they have more info than we have.

“We don’t have that feeling that he’s unhappy. He was because he could not play – he was two months out injured – but maybe the media from Spain, especially Madrid, have more information than us.”

Haaland returned to action after 10 games out with a foot injury in the champions’ 3-1 Premier League victory over Burnley on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old could start as City travel to Burnley on Monday looking to add to the 19 goals in all competitions he has already scored this season and the remarkable 52 he netted last term.

Guardiola said: “We cannot say he didn’t adapt quickly and he was not fine since he arrived – it’s just the level he’s shown since day one.

“We cannot control what people say but the important thing is he’s happy. When he’s unhappy, he will take his decision.”

Haaland did not get on the scoresheet after coming off the bench against the Clarets but, even in his brief appearance, Guardiola felt his influence on the team was clear.

He said: “He played 25 minutes and every transition, every pass, all the players look at him. I know how important he is for us.

“We try for all the strikers to be happy, especially him, and it will depend how we play. If we play quite comfortable and good, he will get a lot of balls.

“This is what we want and after that he will do the rest.”

Haaland’s return to action coincided with Kevin De Bruyne’s first start since August and John Stones’ comeback from an ankle injury.

Asked if Haaland was now ready to start, Guardiola said at a press conference: “Yes, he’s ready.

“Everyone is ready right now because they are not injured as much. If they are on the bench, they are ready.”

Pep Guardiola admits he faces a selection headache now that all of his Manchester City stars are back fit as the Premier League title race heats up.

Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Burnley saw Kevin De Bruyne make his first start since the opening day of the season following a hamstring injury, while Erling Haaland returned from a foot problem as a second-half substitute.

But it was again Julian Alvarez who was the star for City, with the Argentinian World Cup winner scoring twice in the first half as City cruised to victory.

The hosts took complete control when Rodri added a third early in the second half before Ameen Al-Dakhil got a late consolation for Vincent Kompany’s men.

Alvarez has enjoyed an extended run in Guardiola’s side this season, in large part thanks to De Bruyne’s absence and his brace took him to 15 goals for the campaign.

“For his age, for the numbers in the Premier League, for what he gives to all the team it is unbelievable,” Guardiola said.

“He’s a world champion playing alongside (Lionel) Messi, (Angel) Di Maria and Enzo Fernandez. If you are not good you cannot play in that team.

“He can play in three different positions and have an incredible sense with the intensity to run. He’s really good.”

That versatility could be key to Alvarez’s hopes of retaining his place in the City starting eleven.

“They can play together,” added. “They are exceptional players. It gives me more of a headache for selection but they need to compete with each other.”

After missing 10 games with a bone injury, Haaland started the night on the bench and came on to replace De Bruyne in the 71st minute. His first attempt at goal was a mis-kick, but Guardiola was pleased with the way he led the line.

Asked if he needed to be eased back in, Guardiola said: “If it was 7-0 at half-time he would have played more minutes. If it was 0-0 maybe he wouldn’t have played a minute.

“I saw him sharp, the feeling that he was there. He didn’t have clear chances but he has three or four, and the moment when Jeremy (Doku) didn’t see him but he can score with his quality.

“It has been really good without him for the last two months but with him we are a better team and we are really pleased that he is back.”

Burnley, without a top-flight win away to Manchester City since 1963, probably knew what to expect from the night, but at least took consolation from Al-Dakhil’s late goal, their first at the Etihad since 2019.

But the loss leaves them still deep in trouble, seven points adrift of safety with only 12 points from 22 games.

“It’s never great when you lose,” former City captain Kompany said. “They’re a great side, we know that. It felt like a lot had to go our way for us to get something.

“In moments we were dangerous. We could’ve avoided the goals. We have to move on against Fulham (on Saturday).

“My job is to give the guys support in these moments and hold them accountable. But we’re playing against a team that exploits every mistake… we’re showing bits that should make us confident.”

Kompany indicated he is still hopeful of some business before Thursday’s transfer deadline, but admitted finding game-changing signings was highly unlikely.

“I hope something will happen tomorrow,” he said. “We have to rely on the boys we have. You can make miracle transfers but they’re very difficult to find.”

Julian Alvarez struck twice and Erling Haaland returned to action as Manchester City eased to a 3-1 win over relegation-threatened Burnley.

Argentinian World Cup-winner Alvarez, on his 24th birthday, netted twice in the first half and Rodri added a third as the champions went untroubled until Ameen Al-Dakhil grabbed a stoppage-time consolation at the Etihad Stadium.

City were further cheered by the sight of Haaland returning from injury as a late substitute while Kevin De Bruyne made his first Premier League start since August.

It was a miserable return to the ground for former City captain Vincent Kompany, the Burnley manager, with his side comprehensively beaten and left seven points adrift of safety.

Given their predicament and having conceded 37 goals in their previous nine visits to the Etihad, the Clarets were hardly expected to trouble the treble winners.

Yet this was an especially limp performance and City, aided by some poor defending, barely got out of second gear.

After 15 minutes of the home side calmly controlling possession, Phil Foden caught the visitors off-guard as he released Matheus Nunes with a flicked ball.

The Portuguese’s first cross was blocked but he was given all the time he needed to attempt it for a second time, and casually picked out an unmarked Alvarez to head home from close range.

Burnley were caught napping again just six minutes later as the striker doubled City’s lead from a cleverly-taken set-piece.

De Bruyne spotted a huge gap in the area as he lined up a free-kick and played a low ball in for Alvarez to turn and slot past former City youngster James Trafford.

It was a routine that had clearly been worked on in training as manager Pep Guardiola made a point of congratulating his assistant Carlos Vicens, a dead-ball specialist.

City threatened more as Nunes tested Trafford from a tight angle and a dangerous Jeremy Doku cross was turned behind.

Burnley had a rare chance when Lyle Foster curled an effort narrowly wide but City tightened their grip in the opening minute of the second half.

Foden was again instrumental as he raced onto a De Bruyne throughball and pulled back for Rodri, who nonchalantly passed into the net from the edge of the area.

Burnley had a fleeting opportunity as Zeki Amdouni blazed over and their frustration was evident as Connor Roberts got involved in a needless confrontation with Rico Lewis and Ederson.

After that the biggest cheers from City fans came as Haaland entered the fray 19 minutes from time.

He was unable to find the net despite some good runs and one air shot.

Burnley had the final say when Al-Dakhil turned in a cross from debutant David Datro Fofana’s cross but the outcome had long since been determined.

Erling Haaland is still out but Kevin De Bruyne is ready to start for Manchester City at Newcastle on Saturday, manager Pep Guardiola has said.

Striker Haaland is still troubled by the foot injury that has sidelined him since early December.

The Premier League champions, however, are boosted by De Bruyne’s progress after the playmaker’s return from a lengthy lay-off as a second-half substitute in last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Huddersfield.

City also expect midfielder Jack Grealish to be available after illness, but defender John Stones is not yet ready to return from an ankle injury.

City manager Guardiola said at a press conference: “Jack has been sick. Hopefully today he’s back. Erling is out and John is out.”

De Bruyne said last week he expected to be on the bench at Newcastle, but asked if he could start, Guardiola said: “Yes. What I saw yesterday he looks really good and dynamic.

“The minutes he played were really good, better than the training sessions before the Huddersfield game when he was a little bit not what he is.

“But that’s normal when you come from five months of injury. He had highs and lows in the training sessions, but that is completely normal. The important thing is he is getting better.”

Page 1 of 51
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.