Manchester City fans could perhaps count on one finger the number of times Pep Guardiola has played a formation ending in a 2 but you would need more than ten fingers to record the occasions he has fielded two forwards in the same team.
Gabriel Jesus was a prime example of this, the attacker often playing on the wing when Sergio Aguero was selected through the middle. The same has happened with Julian Alvarez albeit in a different position, despite concerns over whether he and Haaland could fit into the same line-up given Guardiolas preference for a sole striker.
However, amid Kevin De Bruynes long-term absence, Alvarez has often sat in behind Haaland. The pair have already chalked up a combined total of 28 individual goal contributions, with Haaland scoring 13 in 15 outings.
Six of Alvarezs seven goals this season have come in the supporting striker role, having also tallied five assists – two of which have been for Haaland.
The Norway star has himself teed up two goals for Alvarez, which has prompted the Argentina World Cup winner to address their on-pitch relationship. We have shown this season that we can do it. In fact, the previous season, too, the striker – who assisted Haaland twice last season – told club media.
Whenever we have played together, we have scored goals and contributed with assists between us. I am happy for what he has achieved.
Alvarez has not only played well as the supporting striker, but thrived there. To many, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Jack Grealish would be natural choices to come in for the absent De Bruyne.
Alvarez would have been lower down on the list. However, Guardiola thought differently and City are yet again benefitting from a player who can operate effectively in more than one position.
Alvarez did have some experience in the role having played there a handful of times for River Plate, but not consistently by any means. His malleability has meant he has been able to strike up a fruitful relationship with Haaland without the need for Guardiola to field two striker positions.