It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Who WIll Score More Goals, Haaland, Nunez, or Jesus?
There was a lot of movement this summer with strikers in the premier league. Gabriel Jesus made his way to London to join Arsenal, Darwin Nunez left Benfica for Liverpool, and Erling Haaland, the most wanted striker in quite a while, made his way to Manchester City. It begs the question, which of these strikers will score the most goals for their new team? I am here to give my prediction.
If you would rather listen to a podcast episode where we talk about this same topic, here you go :) :
Let's start with who I believe will have the fewest goals and why. And don't get me wrong, I think all three strikers will score over 15 league goals, so I'm not trying to say any one of them will flop. In fact, I believe the three will have successful first seasons.
With that said, in third place, I have Darwin Nunez.
I am actually a big Nunez fan. He's a natural goal scorer with elite movement and goal-scoring instincts. He has some refining to do technically, but at 23 years old, what striker is already perfectly well-rounded? With that said, the reason I have Nunez at third has more to do with Liverpool than it does him.
What I mean by that is that Liverpool's playing style is optimized for Mohamed Salah. And rightfully so, he's proved he's one of the greatest goal scorers in history. It means he's the first option players look for in tight situations and the club's primary penalty taker. If Salah weren't already Liverpool's primary penalty taker, I would have Nunez higher on this list. Perhaps Nunez would have benefited if my proposed rule change were a thing, which you can read all about here:
Final prediction: 16 goals
In second place, I have Gabriel Jesus.
It might be surprising to some that I have him second, considering I am a big supporter of expected goals. And the metric says over his premier league career, Jesus has underperformed what is expected of an average striker by 18 goals. Simply put, the data suggests Gabriel Jesus is a well below-average finisher.
So, why do I have him in second? Context. That context is that despite playing in six premier league seasons for Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus only started five or more league games in a row eight times. So out of 228 possible games, Jesus has only been allowed the rhythm of consistent starts a few times. And anyone who has played the sport at a competitive level can tell you the difference regular playing time can have in confidence and performance. And if you're thinking, well, maybe if he played better, he would have started more games, that would be wrong. Across those eight occasions totaling 46 games, Jesus contributed an efficient 24 goals and 12 assists. Even more impressive when you consider a significant chunk of those games came from a wide position and not as the focal point of the attack.
At Arsenal, Jesus will receive consistent starts for the first time in his career, and he'll be the focal point of one of the most dangerous attacks in the league. We saw a glimpse of this opportunity in a preseason campaign that saw him score seven goals in five games.
Final Prediction: 18 Goals
By process of elimination, you would have realized Erling Haaland is my vote to score the most goals of the three.
And yes, I watched the Community Shield final that might go down as the worst debut ever. In fact, it was that performance that confirmed my belief that Haaland will not only outscore Gabigol and Nunez but the entire league on route to a record-setting season.
Yes, I mean record-setting. You can read all about it here:
My confidence in Haaland is deeply rooted in the fact that against one of the best defenses in the sport, Erling Haaland received enough quality chances to have a "bad game." For a striker to have a bad game, the scoring opportunities have to be there for him to miss, and in this case, Haaland generated near two XG just by himself against the incredible duo of Matip and Van Dijk.
Add that so far in his career, Haaland has proven to be one of the best finishers in soccer, with a resume backed by XG revealing he's scored 12 more league goals than expected of the average striker. So, if he routinely outperforms what's expected of him by the end of the season, and City generated two expected goals for him against one of the best defenses in Europe, what will happen across a 38-game premier league season where the majority of the games are against teams that aren't anywhere near the quality of Liverpool and Manchester City? Yeah, it could get plain disgusting how many goals he scores.
And if you're still not convinced, a bonus detail is that Norway did not qualify for the World Cup, so for those two months in November and December, Haaland will get to rest and remain fresh for the second half of the season.
Final prediction: 34 goals
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