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'Don't criticise Haaland – he will shut your mouth'


Erling Haaland celebrates with his team-mates after scoring for Manchester City against Brentford in the Premier League
Haaland’s 22nd goal of the season means he has now scored against every Premier League opponent he has faced

Pep Guardiola warned Erling Haaland’s critics “he will shut your mouth” after the prolific Norwegian boosted Manchester City’s Premier League title hopes.

That Chelsea setback came just days after Haaland’s grandmother died, and City manager Guardiola took the opportunity post-match to give his thoughts on recent critics – and journalists.

“With top scorers or strikers who score a lot of goals, don’t criticise because he will shut your mouth, that’s for sure,” said Guardiola. “Sooner or later, he is there.

“Definitely, if I have to choose one [player to be running through on goal], I choose this one.

“He was out with injury for two months and is not in his best shape and just had an incredibly tough week because he lost his grandmother. That is not easy for a human being.”

Guardiola, who said he never wanted to be a journalist, was asked what was wrong with being one and his response was immediate and cutting.

“I am a manager,” he said. “My life is better than yours.”

Guardiola also said Belgium playmaker Kevin de Bruyne has a hamstring issue, after already missing 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.

“He’s OK. It’s just a precaution but he didn’t feel comfortable, and so after five months off we didn’t take any risk.”

More history for Haaland

Another day, another piece of history for Haaland.

His crucial winner against Brentford on Tuesday not only boosted Manchester City’s title hopes, but meant he has scored against all 21 opponents he has played against in the Premier League.

Harry Kane was the only player in Premier League history to face more than one side and score against all of them, with 32 out of 32. Haaland now joins him.

Only two other players have played against 20 or more teams and only failed to score against one of them – Thierry Henry (34 out of 35) and Sergio Aguero (32 out of 33) – showing how impressive his and Kane’s achievements are.

Not that the Norwegian will be thinking too much about records after his priceless 71st-minute winner lifted a growing sense of frustration around Etihad Stadium, just when many home fans started fearing another ‘one of those days’.

It had been a rough few days for Haaland after a performance to forget against Chelsea at the weekend, following the death of his grandmother, spiced up an already very tasty-looking title race.

The 23-year-old spurned nine attempts at goal against the Blues – the most he has had in a single Premier League appearance without scoring.

It was also the sixth time in seven matches he had failed to find the target as some started to suggest – somewhat prematurely – he was struggling for form.

There was no sign of any struggles though, as he took advantage of a slip from Kristoffer Ajer to stride on to a through ball and sweep home the winner.

The goal moved him two ahead in the race for the Golden Boot on 17 for the season, and made it 53 in 55 Premier League appearances.

Not bad for a man out of form.

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