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Man City can finally unleash a secret weapon to help Erling Haaland navigate the next seven games

Man City can finally unleash a secret weapon to help Erling Haaland navigate the next seven games

On the one hand, Manchester City could use the next seven games to get the most out of Erling Haaland before he goes to the World Cup in six weeks.

On the other hand, there are only 22 days between City’s match against Brighton on Saturday and the final Premier League game before the World Cup, which is against Brentford.

Pep Guardiola has suggested that Haaland’s fitness still needs to be carefully managed, so his game time may need to be managed in the next three weeks.

Fortunately for City, there is a useful mix of winnable and difficult fixtures, all spread out to allow Haaland to rest for the more important games.

At the same time, Julian Alvarez has an opportunity to demonstrate why City signed him and promoted him to the first team ahead of schedule.

City need to get back on track after losing to Liverpool last week, and Haaland has had a week off since then.

He will almost certainly start and, assuming City maintains control of the game, could be substituted before the end.

The following week, City travels to Borussia Dortmund, where they need a point to top their Champions League group.

Dortmund will advance to the last-16 if they win, or if Sevilla and Copenhagen draw, they will advance regardless of how they perform against City. 

Haaland will be eager to make his return to his former club, and City knows that with him leading the line, they have the best chance of winning.

He’s played three games in a week before, but City know they can afford to prioritize the next two games, with a trip to struggling Leicester following the Dortmund match.

Starting Haaland would be preferable, but Alvarez has proven to be a capable replacement.

With a (hopefully) dead rubber against Sevilla coming up, Alvarez can take over for Haaland, giving him some well-deserved minutes while also resting Haaland for the final three games before the World Cup.

Alvarez, of course, is expected to travel to Qatar in order to get back into shape for Argentina’s campaign.

Following the Sevilla game, City will host Fulham, which they should win, so they can shape their team again in preparation for the following Carabao Cup visit of Chelsea, where Haaland may be prioritized to start depending on his fitness levels.

This gives Alvarez a chance against Fulham, whether starting or coming off the bench, as well as against Brentford in the final game.

Alvarez has shown he can be ready to step in whenever called upon, averaging a goal every 93 minutes for City prior to the difficult job he had as lone striker in Copenhagen, with the Blues down to ten men for an hour and barely looking to attack. 

The upcoming games could be ideal for letting him loose against unwitting defenses that may let their guard down without Haaland starting.

Haaland can be used more now that he has six weeks to recover from the next three, though he won’t be able to play every minute.

Alvarez is a useful alternative, but he has been relatively untested at City since his arrival in the summer, with cameos when Haaland has won the game or starts when he hasn’t been the main focus of the attack.

He has only started one game without Haaland, and that was in Copenhagen, so City have yet to put Alvarez through his paces and see if he can effectively act as a ‘secret’ weapon over the next seven games.

Man City can finally unleash a secret weapon to help Erling Haaland navigate the next seven games

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