Gabby Agbonlahor 'wants to see' Manchester City start a game without Erling Haaland up front, names replacement
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Manchester City have been told to drop star striker Erling Haaland from the first XI to see if they are better off without him.
The Norway international has scored a whopping 25 goals in 19 Premier League games since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.
It's a tally that'd be enough to win Haaland the Golden Boot in 16 previous seasons. Despite his exploits, several pundits aren't convinced by his overall contribution to the team.
City are currently second in the table, five points behind Arsenal, who have only been beaten once this term. Pep Guardiola's side have lost three times already, the same amount as they did in the entirety of 21/22.
They played most of that campaign without an orthodox striker following the departure of club legend Sergio Aguero. After chasing Tottenham Hotspur star Harry Kane, Guardiola settled on a rotating cast up top.
Phil Foden filled in, as did Kevin De Bruyne and summer arrival Jack Grealish. De Bruyne finished as their top scorer with 15 goals, a distance from Golden Boot winners Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min.
Should City experiment with Haaland out of the team to try and recapture that fluidity they had up top? Gabby Agbonlahor thinks so.
Speaking to SPORTbible and Grosvenor Sport, the former Aston Villa forward admitted he wants to see City play without the 22-year-old and see if any other players chip in with goals.
He said: "I want to see Manchester City play, maybe not tonight [before the 4-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur], but in the next few games play without Haaland and play the formation and the team they played last season.
"I want to see Foden as a false nine. I want to see Grealish on the left, [Riyad] Mahrez on the right and the midfield of [Ilkay] Gundogan, De Bruyne and Rodri.
"And then you can sort of like see if are they better without Haaland? Because in the last few games I've seen Haaland, I'm thinking it looks like he's just waiting for someone to put a pinpoint De Bruyne, David Beckham-esque cross in and to score it. He's not coming and linking up with play. He's not receiving the ball, bullying the defender and taking a player on."
Foden's form has undeniably dipped in recent months. He's not scored a league goal since returning from the World Cup and was substituted in appearances against Chelsea and Manchester United.
Agbonlahor also stressed Haaland can be criticised despite the insane number of goals he's scored.
Using Haaland's role during his time in the Bundesliga as an example, he continued: "At Dortmund, I saw Haaland receive the ball on the halfway line, do a one-two and run through. I'm not seeing that at the moment. I'm seeing someone who's just waiting really for a chance to be put on his plate.
"Manchester City, they've been used to playing where everyone can go in the box. Gundogan, how many goals did he score getting into the box? The midfielders took turns running into the box. Defensive set ups against that last season didn't know who to pick up.
"With Haaland, two defenders keep him quiet, last season was like there's no one to pick up. There's no one playing right as a deep striker. Everyone's moving positions and you know it's one of them options that maybe Pep might look at."