City went back to the top of the table above Arsenal thanks to goals from Nathan Ake, Haaland and Phil Foden. Haaland’s goal was his 35th in the Premier League, setting a new benchmark for goals in a single campaign and surpassing a record held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.
1. City back on top of table on Haaland’s historic night
In a record-breaking season for Erling Haaland, the Norwegian striker has broken another. His goal in the second half here was his 35th in the league, setting a new benchmark for Premier League goals in a single season. It’s the most goals anyone has scored in a top-flight campaign in England since Ron Davies got 37 for Southampton in 1966-67.
Haaland still has another five games to break that. The bigger picture is that his goal against West Ham — a delicate clipped finish from Jack Grealish‘s through ball — helped send City back to the top of the table after Arsenal’s 3-1 win over Chelsea 24 hours earlier.
Guardiola maintains that Haaland’s goals will mean nothing to him unless he ends the season with silverware, but it’s the form of the former Borussia Dortmund man that has got supporters dreaming of a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble.
Haaland has scored in 10 of his last 11 games, only missing out in the comfortable FA Cup semifinal victory over Sheffield United at Wembley. City have tough games to come in their hunt for three trophies but with Haaland on fire, it’s very difficult to see anyone stopping Guardiola’s team.
2. Ake an unsung hero among City’s big names
There are plenty of players to admire in this City team and more than a few used to grabbing the headlines but, quietly, Nathan Ake has been one of Guardiola’s star men this season. After two frustrating seasons following his arrival from Bournemouth in 2020, he turned down a move to Chelsea in the summer to stay and fight for his place.
It was a gamble which has paid off. Ake is approaching 40 appearances in all competitions this season and has slotted in so well at left-back that Joao Cancelo’s shock departure to Bayern Munich in January has almost been forgotten. It shows how important Ake has become this season that when he was ruled out of the game against Arsenal because of injury, it was viewed as a major blow.
Back in the team against West Ham, he scored City’s vital first goal with a header from Riyad Mahrez‘s cross just after half-time to release some of the tension that had started to build inside the stadium. It wasn’t quite Vincent Kompany against Leicester City in 2019 but if City hold off Arsenal and win the title, Ake will have played his part.
3. West Ham focused on relegation fight and ECL run
West Ham haven’t won at the Etihad Stadium since 2015, so it’s understandable that Moyes may have looked at the game as a lost cause, even before Declan Rice, Nayef Aguerd and Tomas Soucek fell ill after arriving in Manchester. It’s not that West Ham are already safe — they’re not — but they’ve got more winnable games on the horizon and also have a European Conference League semifinal against AZ Alkmaar to contend with.
After facing Manchester United at the London Stadium on Sunday, their last three league games are against Brentford, Leeds United and Leicester and they only need another four points to reach 38 points and all but guarantee safety.
After finishing seventh last season, it has been a tough league campaign for Moyes, who at different points has flirted with the sack, but if he can steer West Ham clear of the drop and book a European final then it can still be painted as a success. West Ham haven’t won a major title since 1980 and if they lift the Europa Conference League trophy in Prague on June 7, a year battling against relegation can probably be forgiven — as long as things improve next season.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Erling Haaland, ST, Manchester City
He had barely been in the game before clipping his finish over Lukasz Fabianski to score his record-breaking 35th Premier League goal.
BEST: Nathan Ake, DF, Manchester City
Returned from injury to score City’s crucial first goal early in the second half after a frustrating opening 45 minutes.
BEST: Jack Grealish, MF, Manchester City
After a slow start, he was good in the second half and got an assist for Haaland’s goal.
WORST: Pablo Fornals, FW, West Ham
Spent most of the night chasing shadows and struggled to get on the ball.
WORST: Michail Antonio, ST, West Ham
Had a tough job up front on his own and got very little to work with before coming off midway through the first half.
WORST: Danny Ings, ST, West Ham
It showed what kind of night it was for West Ham that he came on in the 67th minute and only had eight touches.
Highlights and notable moments
History achieved with this cool and calm finish.
ERLING HAALAND BREAKS THE PREMIER LEAGUE SINGLE SEASON GOAL-SCORING RECORD!
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) May 3, 2023
After the match: What the players/managers said
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola on Erling Haaland’s feat, to Sky Sports: “It’s unbelievable. How many important goals he’s scored to win games, we are so satisfied. … He’s a unique person and he’s so special. He deserved the guard of honour because it’s an incredible milestone. Another day he might break his own record. He’s scored a lot of goals!”
Haaland on his record, to Sky Sports: “I can’t keep thinking of these records or my head would go crazy. I will go home, play some video games, eat and then sleep. Tomorrow I must think about Leeds.”
Manchester City’s Nathan Ake, on Haaland: “It’s crazy. The way he came in and does this every day. He deserves everything he gets, he works so hard and he’s a top player. He works hard for the team and hopefully, he can score even more.”
– Erling Haaland (35) breaks Andy Cole’s (34) record for most in a debut Premier League season.
– Before Haaland, the last player with 35 goals in a single season in the English top flight was Ron Davies for Southampton in 1966-67 (37 goals).
– Haaland’s 51 goals in all competitions this season are now the second most goals in a season by a player in the English top division. He is 12 behind Dixie Dean for the record, set in 1927-28.
In addition, a closer look on Haaland’s incredible season:
How he scored his goals
Left foot: 23
Right foot: 6
Where he scored
Inside the penalty area: 34
Outside six-yard box: 22
Inside six-yard box: 11
Outside the penalty area: 1
Type of goal
Regular/open play: 22
From a corner kick: 5
From counter-attack: 1
Who assisted on his goals
Kevin De Bruyne: 8
Jack Grealish: 4
Riyad Mahrez: 3
Phil Foden: 2
Seven players with 1 assist
Manchester City: Hosting league strugglers Leeds United on Saturday before traveling to Real Madrid for Tuesday’s big Champions League semifinals first-leg clash.
West Ham United: Back at London Stadium for Saturday’s home match against Manchester United.