There does not appear to be a glitch in the Erling Haaland machine. The Manchester City striker took his tally to 11 league goals from seven games, and 14 from 10 in all competitions, after scoring with robotic precision in a procession against Wolves. A one-sided contest was bookended by strikes by Jack Grealish and Phil Foden but it is Haaland’s borderline silly numbers that continue to raise eyebrows and generate a general sense of disbelief.
For Haaland, this season has so far amounted to one giant masterclass in finishing. By scoring here Haaland became the first Premier League player to score in his each of his first four away games. He has scored in each of his last seven games and has personally outscored Chelsea, Manchester United and 11 other top-flight sides. City led inside a minute and things went from bad to worse for Wolves when, trailing by two goals, Nathan Collins was sent off on 33 minutes for a wild kung fu kick on Grealish. City are now unbeaten in 22 Premier League away games – a club record.
When the visitors seized the lead after 55 seconds it spelled the start of a miserable afternoon for those in old gold. City streamed down the right, Foden back-heeling the ball into the path of the peerless Kevin De Bruyne, whose cross was typically masterly. The ball eluded Haaland at the front post but not Grealish at the back, the winger beating Jonny to the punch to register his first goal since May before wheeling away in celebration. Foden kissed Grealish’s forehead and Pep Guardiola, who this week defended Grealish’s form, simply took a few sips of water.
“Rightly so people have been asking questions,” Grealish said after the game. “I should be scoring more and getting more assists. I’m always going to have people talking about me because of the amount I got bought for [£100m] but, if you look at my whole career, I probably haven’t scored as much as certain people. It’s something that I do want to add to my game.”
By the time Haaland stroked the ball into the net on 16 minutes, having been allowed to wander into a vast hole of space, this match had become a non-event. The game was certainly up for Wolves when Collins made a high and rash challenge on Grealish that left the City midfielder nursing his hip and stomach, and Wolves with 10 men. Collins sloped off the pitch, livid and seemingly inconsolable as he headed down the tunnel via a fruitless pit stop with the fourth official, Tony Harrington, to argue his point. The pained expression on Bruno Lage’s face said everything but Wolves, to their credit, did not crumble. Their captain, Rúben Neves, filled in at centre-back and Gonçalo Guedes and Daniel Podence kept plugging away, the latter dropping a shot just past a post. But City never really needed to fret.
The visitors were in total control but it seems the more comfortable they are, the more Guardiola gets on the case of his players. He frantically flapped his hands around on the touchline with the demeanour of a man who had just been told his luggage has been lost. Approaching the hour mark, shortly after Guedes fluffed his lines after being picked out inside the box by Rayan Aït-Nouri, Guardiola shut his eyes and quietly stewed as City allowed Wolves to cling on to the idea of a comeback. It is safe to say those hopes were extinguished when Foden applied a deft finishing touch to another delicious cross by De Bruyne with 21 minutes to play.
Before Collins’s rush of blood to the head Pedro Neto pulled a shot wide after good work by Guedes, who is still searching for his first goal since signing from Valencia. He shuffled past John Stones and dispatched a shot that Ederson saved at his near post. Haaland may have breezed into double figures but Wolves, who have won just one of their past 14 top-flight matches, have mustered only three goals this season. “When you don’t score, it’s a worry,” Lage said. “I’m not happy because we lost the game but I see good signals.”