Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland were both on the scoresheet in Manchester City’s 2-1 win over Brighton, but there was another man starring.
A lot has been said about Man City’s attack this season, and most of it has centred around Haaland and Alvarez. Haaland was the goalscoring machine last season as Man City won the Treble, while Alvarez was the perfect supporting act.
It’s been a similar story this season too, with Haaland now on nine goals in the Premier League while Alvarez has netted four. The partnership between Haaland and Alvarez is a bit of a strange one too, as they didn’t really connect against Brighton.
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In took until midway through the second half for a pass to be completed between Alvarez and Haaland, with four eventually being exchanged. It can be easy to understand the lack of connection between the two as Haaland hasn’t been too involved in matches. Against Brighton, the Norwegian had 20 touches — his third lowest of the season — and completed 10 passes.
Three of those passes were to Alvarez, but two went to Jeremy Doku, who has become the unsung star of the Man City team.
A summer arrival from Rennes, Doku cost Man City £55.5m as a replacement for Riyad Mahrez and spoke himself of an eagerness to learn and improve under Pep Guardiola given his age.
It’s been a pretty standard start to the season for a Guardiola new signing with 403 minutes despite starting five matches. Against Arsenal before the international break, Doku came off the bench for just 22 minutes, and he had managed just one goal against West Ham.
However, that shouldn’t take away from the start he has had, with Doku shining outside of the standard goals/assists metrics. Already, Doku is proving himself tough to stop when he’s on the ball, completing more take-ons than any other Man City player with 20 so far this season.
Jérémy Doku's game by numbers vs. Brighton:
25 final third passes
10 touches in opp. box
8 duels won
5 successful take-ons
2 fouls won
2 chances created
— Squawka Live (@Squawka_Live) October 21, 2023
Across the rest of the Premier League, Doku has averaged more take-ons completed per 90 minutes than any other player with at least 200 minutes, at 4.47. As a whole, only Eberechi Eze (27), Luca Koleosho (24) and Marcus Rashford (22) have completed more take-ons than Doku in the Premier League this season.
Against Brighton on Saturday, Doku completed a match-high five take-ons, as many as the rest of the Man City team combined. He also won eight of his 10 duels, another Man City high with only Kaoru Mitoma (10) winning more in the match.
And, of course, Doku got his first Premier League assist for Man City, setting up Alvarez’s opener. It took just seven minutes and came from Doku picking the ball up on the wing and beating Pascal Groß, with a good stop and start, before playing a pass back to Alvarez.
Twelve minutes later, the lead was doubled thanks to Haaland ending a three-game goal drought, also keeping him two goals clear at the top of the scoring charts.
It was a bit rocky for Man City in the end, as they conceded to Ansu Fati and finished the match with 10 men following Manuel Akanji’s red card, but victory was secured. Momentarily sending them top of the Premier League, Man City have now won their last 21 home games across all competitions, setting a new record.
Going into the game, Man City were level with rivals Manchester United for most consecutive home wins by a Premier League side across all competitions, but they have now taken that outright.
They’ll be looking to add to that next month with home games against Bournemouth and Young Boys before the November international break.