"What would that mean? Less control and more transition. More possessions changing hands," I posited. "It would require City to be willing to concede more goals for the benefit of scoring more. It would mean faster forward passing, at the risk of losing the ball more often, for the reward of capitalizing on all the space that Haaland is better than anyone else in the world at running into."
Last season, City's matches featured 83 possessions per team -- 10 fewer than the league average, and 17 fewer than rivals Liverpool, whose 100 possessions per game were second most in the league behind Leeds United. They were the slowest team in the league, and then they got even slower.
Six games into this season, City's matches have featured 76 possessions per team. They're doing everything they can to prevent the kind of transitional moments in which Haaland flourished with Dortmund... and yet, Haaland has flourished anyway. Six Premier League games and 10 goals in, it's clear that Haaland works atop City's possession machine: they're able to dominate the ball using just 10 players in possession, and then Haaland finishes everything off.
It's a scary proposition because we already know that Haaland can exploit the higher lines City might begin to face as the league schedule gets tougher. (They're yet to play any of the league's seven best teams, per FiveThirtyEight's Soccer Power Index.) All of the tactical worlds in which we might have imagined Haaland struggling to score goals have already been destroyed.
So, how many goals might he score this season? Let's have some fun.