Three goals, two games - Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic strives for a record vs Hull City
It is not uncommon for foreign talent to hit the ground running in the Premier League. Many players; particularly forwards, have found their shooting boots early and gone on to excel in the top tier. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic is no ordinary talent. The mercurial Swede even at the age of 34 is proving a big hit at Manchester United, having scored in all of his domestic outings for the Red Devils so far.
His strikes include a debut winner in the FA Community Shield against defending Premier League champions Leicester City, a long range goal on the opening weekend at Bournemouth and a brace against Southampton in his first appearance as a United player at Old Trafford.
Though as it turns out, not only do Manchester United supporters have another cult hero to cherish, who has more than hit the ground running since his introduction to José Mourinho’s revolution, but already the unpredictably brilliant forward is near to equalling a Premier League record.
His three goals in his first two Premier League outings have put the Swede a brace away from a record-equalling feat of five goals in a player’s first three Premier League games.
The record itself is held by a surprising candidate, former Fulham and Reading forward Pavel Pogrebnyak, a Russian international who hit his five goals in three top flight fixtures in the 2011/12 season after joining the Cottagers from Stuttgart in January. The journeyman scored against Stoke City and Queen’s Park Rangers before netting a hat-trick in a 5-0 rout of Wolves at Craven Cottage.
With his three goals plundered against Bournemouth and Southampton already under his belt, Ibrahimovic is a brace away from equalling the Russian’s record and a hat-trick away from breaking it.
The opposition standing in the way of his feat this weekend however is Hull City, who despite being in the midst of an injury crisis having made no summer signings with turmoil in the boardroom to boot, have won their opening two Premier League games of the season, even after the resignation of manager Steve Bruce days before the start of the campaign.
The interim boss at the KC Stadium is a man who not only has managed to pull the team together as a strong unit during testing times for the Humberside club, but he couldn’t wish to know anything more about the club coming to town this weekend. He is former Manchester United assistant manager Mike Phelan, who served under former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
Phelan will know all about the Red Devils and all about Mourinho from his time in the dugout attempting to pick apart the Portuguese’s tactics alongside Sir Alex, and his capacity to ensure his Hull side are well drilled and a potent threat on the counter and from set pieces will be what stands in the way of Zlatan in an attempt to foil him in his potentially record-breaking feat.
Though Ibrahimovic himself is a player who doesn’t talk much about records and statistics. His arrogance comes from his self-confidence and belief, and all that will be on his mind – as it is with every fixture – is securing the three points for his team. It is going out with that mindset and his instinct in front of goal which puts him in the right place at the right time so often, and coupled with the pieces of individual brilliance he is capable of pulling out of the hat at any time, this renders him a deadly threat in front of goal for any opposition.
Records are merely a bonus, but it may come as a little extra motivation, not that he is in need of any given his displays so far even though he is meant to be in the twilight years of his footballing career.
Were Zlatan to equal or even break Pogrebnyak’s record this weekend, it would be just desserts for a forward who like every club he has been at has had the impact of a miracle-worker in front of goal. Ever since he began his career at Malmo, Ibrahimovic has been prolific at every club he has played at. From Ajax to Juventus, to Inter, to Barcelona, to Milan and to Paris Saint-Germain, it has never taken too long to scratch his name onto the score-sheet.
With initial doubts over his age as to whether he could still perform in the demanding physical environment of the Premier League following his arrival at Old Trafford, Ibrahimovic has emphatically shown that there is no rust around the edges and defied logic and expectation once again. Now, as we have come to expect so often of the forward, he is already close to having yet another record to his name.
If his rich vein of form continues, expect there to be a new record in the Premier League by the end of the weekend, and even if he doesn’t quite get the brace or hat-trick he requires to equal or even better Pogrebnyak’s feat, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ibrahimovic getting himself on the score-sheet again this weekend, nor would it be surprising to see a few goals in the 17:30 late kick-off clash at the KC on Saturday evening.
What is for sure, is that Hull’s defence – who are still yet to concede a goal from open play in the league this season – are going to have a big job on their hands shackling a forward who is not only on form, but is in the breadth of the greatest current forwards on the planet, who will have as many accolades as possible in his sights. The only question that remains is: will he be getting this one?
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Doha Stadium Plus Qatar.
You may also like…
- ‘I beat myself up about it’: David Moyes admits he made a big mistake earlier this season
- ‘It’s looking increasingly likely’: Sky Sports reporter shares update on ‘top class’ Newcastle target
- Report: Newcastle rebuffed after Dean Henderson loan approach
- Rio Ferdinand urges Newcastle to go all out for Anthony Martial