How Haaland's play style and numbers have changed this season

Haaland has won the Premier League and Golden Boot in back-to-back seasons
Haaland has won the Premier League and Golden Boot in back-to-back seasonsProfimedia
Following Erling Haaland's miraculous debut season in England, breaking the previous single-season Premier League goal record set by Andrew Cole in 1993/94 (34, level with Alan Shearer in 1994/95) by scoring 36 goals in 35 league appearances, a statistical drop off was likely to occur.

Therefore, we want to look in detail at how the Norwegian's performances, not only goal-wise in 2023/24, have changed in comparison to the previous season.

Haaland numbers comparison
Haaland numbers comparisonOpta by Stats Perform

Haaland scored 52 goals despite accumulating an Expected Goals (xG) figure of only 41.1 in all competitions last season, meaning he overperformed his expected output by a whopping 8.9 goals.

Such huge overperformances are almost never sustainable, which his current season's figures show (with only the FA Cup final on May 25th against their Manchester rivals to go). 

In 2023/24, the striker has so far played about five games (477 minutes) less than in the treble-winning season of 2022/23, seeing his staggering xG overperformance drop to a slight underperformance.

Haaland has scored 1.3 goals less than expected, which is still an exceptional achievement, given he has still hit a total of 38 goals in the current campaign (at 39.3 xG). His chance conversion rate, however, regressed to a more normal 26 percent.

Indeed, the Norwegian has even increased his expected goals value per 90 minutes, which can be explained by his slight rise in shots per 90 from 4.0 to 4.4. As Haaland is shooting more often this season, his assists per 90 decreased by 25 percent.

Haaland is proving to be less clinical this season
Haaland is proving to be less clinical this seasonProfimedia

Nonetheless, as he seems to have accustomed himself even better to the Guardiola system (both his passing accuracy and the number of forced turnovers in the attacking third – in even fewer game-time – have increased), Haaland is also setting up more shooting opportunities for his teammates in 2023/24 (one per 90 as opposed to 0.9 last season).

Also given that as his expected assists per 90 remains unchanged from last term, it appears that his teammates have not been as clinical with the chances that Haaland has created for them, as compared to last season.

One touch is enough to finish?

Focusing more on shots and setting them up for Phil Foden and co., Haaland is a little less involved in duels, both in the air and on the ground this season. Also, City's number nine now averages only 24 touches per 90 minutes, which puts him into the first percentile among forwards in the top five European leagues over the past 15 years with such few touches. 

Haaland is less involved in City's overall game
Haaland is less involved in City's overall gameOpta by Stats Perform

Dribbling ability

Looking only at the Premier League, Haaland also has become slightly more direct. This season in the English top flight, the Norwegian directed 48.4 per cent of his total carry distance with the ball towards the opposing goal, which is roughly 10 per cent more than in 2022/23 (44.5 per cent).

One would think that the defenders in the Premier League have adjusted better to Haaland this season, but he appears to be as confident on the ball as ever.

Haaland in action
Haaland in actionProfimedia

Last term, 25 of Haaland's carries ended either in a shot (17), a goal (3) or a shooting opportunity (5) for a teammate. This season, in less game time and fewer total carries (113, as opposed to 128 in 2022/23), Haaland has produced more shots (19), goals (6) and shooting opportunities (7) following runs of at least five metres with the ball.

In this Premier League campaign, Haaland also tried to beat more defenders via a take-on following a carry (14) than in the 2022/23 season (10).


The heat maps from this season and last season across all competitions (see below) suggest that Haaland is becoming an even more extreme version of himself. This might be an overcorrection as he probably noticed that he is not scoring as many goals as in the previous campaign (ludicrously still every 96 minutes though).

Haaland heat map last season
Haaland heat map last seasonOpta by Stats Perform

His touches this season seem to occur more centrally and slightly nearer to the opponent’s goal as compared to 2022/23.

Haaland heat map this season
Haaland heat map this seasonOpta by Stats Perform

Either way, Haaland is netting as prolifically as one could ask and even though his goal figures have marginally decreased, his confidence apparently hasn’t taken a hit from that. Across the New Year celebrations of 2024, the Norwegian missed five league games due to injury, but scored a brace just two appearances after returning to the starting eleven (2-0 vs Everton in February).

In five of his last seven top-flight appearances, Haaland has scored, netting nine times during that run and helping secure Manchester City a record fourth consecutive league title.

Haaland goals last season
Haaland goals last seasonOpta by Stats Perform
Haaland goals this season
Haaland goals this seasonOpta by Stats Perform
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