Joleon Lescott column: Stopping the supply only way to halt Haaland

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Premier League defenders have their hands full with Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland’s debut was a joy to watch — unless you’re a Premier League defender.

Seeing him run riot against West Ham, it got me thinking about how I would try to defend against him if I was still playing. And there’s no getting around it, it would be very difficult.

He’s going to make sure we see defenders actually defend this season, with those continuous runs he makes in behind always looking to stretch the back four and keep them on their toes.

You cannot go about it as an individual. It needs to be a collective effort from the backline and my top priority would be cutting off his supply at source.

The quality of the through balls on offer from those players behind him is sensational, so restricting the opportunity for them to be played is your best chance.

That’s easier said than done, though.

Last season, defenders probably felt more confident stepping out and engaging City’s midfield because there was no recognised No9 to worry about.

Now, they’re going to be terrified about leaving the Norwegian one vs one, which is a place no defender wants to be. I’m glad it’s not my problem!

Erling Haaland’s debut was a joy to watch — unless you’re a Premier League defender.

Seeing him run riot against West Ham, it got me thinking about how I would try to defend against him if I was still playing. And there’s no getting around it, it would be very difficult.

He’s going to make sure we see defenders actually defend this season, with those continuous runs he makes in behind always looking to stretch the back four and keep them on their toes.

You cannot go about it as an individual. It needs to be a collective effort from the backline and my top priority would be cutting off his supply at source.

The quality of the through balls on offer from those players behind him is sensational, so restricting the opportunity for them to be played is your best chance.

That’s easier said than done, though.

Last season, defenders probably felt more confident stepping out and engaging City’s midfield because there was no recognised No9 to worry about.

Now, they’re going to be terrified about leaving the Norwegian one vs one, which is a place no defender wants to be. I’m glad it’s not my problem!

Nottingham Forest’s Premier League return started with a 2-0 loss at Newcastle

A goal down at City or Liverpool, younger players may think, “We can still win this game 2-1” and desperately go for it — but really, you’re only doing more damage at times.

That can be a hard mindset to adapt to, especially when you’ve just came up and are used to winning every week.

Fulham and Bournemouth both started with really positive home performances and I’m quietly confident about both of their survival prospects.

The Cottagers caused Manchester City all kinds of issues in the FA Cup last season despite eventually losing 4-1, plus key players such as Aleksandar Mitrovic have top-tier experience to lean on.

Meanwhile, Cherries boss Scott Parker is a manager I would’ve enjoyed playing for.

He’s an honest talker who expects his players to play with passion and commitment and is very clear in what he wants and expects. He’ll also be wiser from his previous relegation with Fulham.

Time for my Matchday 2 predictions.

Joleon Lescott’s Premier League Matchday 2 predictions

Aston Villa vs Everton (Saturday, 12.30pm, BT Sport)

Joleon Lescott is picking Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa to edge out Everton this weekend

Joleon Lescott is picking Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa to edge out Everton this weekend

This is a big game for both sides after opening-day defeats and both will see it as a winnable fixture.

Although Aston Villa aren’t in a great place at the moment, I’d fancy them to nick this — purely down to having more players available in their preferred positions.

Anthony Gordon is an Everton boy so he’ll always do a job where needed, but I think Frank Lampard will want to get him back on the wing as soon as possible.

Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Everton

Arsenal vs Leicester (Saturday, 3pm)

I thought the manner of Arsenal’s victory at Crystal Palace last Friday was really encouraging, grinding it out but never really looking uncomfortable in the latter stages.

Previously, the Gunners have been a side who are dangerous in possession but a little fragile without it, so I’m sure supporters enjoyed the way they did it at Selhurst Park.

Brendan Rodgers seems to think his Leicester squad is a bit short as things stand and I expect the home side to win this.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester

Brighton vs Newcastle (Saturday, 3pm)

Pascal Gross grabbed a brace in Brighton’s 2-1 victory over Manchester United

It really annoyed me how little credit Brighton got for their victory against Manchester United — all the talk was about how poor United were.

Graham Potter’s side lost their two best players this summer, haven’t really replaced them and yet were brilliant at Old Trafford.

Newcastle will have been pleased with their start against Forest but without their terrific home support behind them, this will be more of a challenge.

Prediction: Brighton 1-0 Newcastle 

Manchester City vs Bournemouth (Saturday, 3pm)

This is exactly the kind of game I’m referring to when I talk about promoted sides sometimes needing to understand that a narrow loss isn’t a disaster.

City were brilliant against West Ham in terms of controlling the game and Bournemouth need to just make sure they avoid a morale-damaging defeat — keep it respectable.

Stopping this City side is easier said than done, though.

Source: Livescore

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