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Five Things Learned: Brighton 0-4 Manchester City (Premier League)



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Manchester City calmly took care of business with a convincing 0-4 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday night at the Amex Stadium.

Phil Foden grabbed a brace en route to yet another Man of the Match performance, as the Sky Blues retained control of their own destiny in the Premier League title race, trailing Arsenal by just one point but with a game in hand. 

City grabbed the opening goal in the 17th minute when Kevin De Bruyne’s diving header found the top right corner, assisted by Kyle Walker and set-up by Phil Foden’s ball in-behind the defence. It was De Bruyne’s first ever headed goal in the Premier League.

The lead was doubled only nine minutes later when Phil Foden’s free-kick took a favourable deflection off Pascal Groß. It wasn’t the only bit of good fortunate for the 23-year-old, who was originally awarded the free kick despite slipping and only receiving minimal contact.

After the second goal, Brighton continued to try and play through City’s press. However, it resulted in gifting the third to the three-time defending Premier Leaguer champions in the 34th minute, dispossessed on the edge of their own box, which allowed Foden to jump on the lose ball and take a well-placed finish first time.

From that moment on it felt as though both teams began to take their foot off of the gas and coasted to half time, but it would be City to grab the next goal and extend their lead to four in the 62nd minute, when Julian Alvarez calmly slotted home from within 12 yards.

The goal was created by a long ball over the top of the Brighton defence and into the path of Kyle Walker, who in turn carried the ball forward into the box and played the ball back to Alvarez for the insurance goal.

Following the fourth, Pep Guardiola replaced Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, and Rodri to try and preserve some energy before the away trip to Nottingham Forrest on Sunday afternoon. 

Here are Five Things We Learned from Manchester City’s outstanding win over Brighton!

Phil Foden stakes claim for Player of the Season

Another big match, another excellent performance from Phil Foden. The 23-year-old helped set up the first goal and then bagged a brace to put the game out of reach, all in under 35 minutes. 

While technically deployed as a left winger, the Stockport-born midfielder marauded all over the pitch, at times played through the middle and occasionally found himself on the right wing as well.

Foden now sits on 16 goals in the Premier League so far this season, only four away from first placed Erling Haaland. The underlying numbers are even more impressive considering Foden doesn’t take penalties and has an xG of only 9.3.

Mateo Kovacic continues to improve

It’s been clear for weeks now that Mateo Kovacic is becoming more comfortable with Pep Guardiola’s system. The Croatian midfielder is starting to become one of the first names on the team sheet and played some truly elegant balls on Thursday night.

The first half was filled with several sequences of play with Kovacic and Kevin De Bruyne splitting through the Brighton press with perfectly weighted first-time passes. At times it looked like the 2017/18 season. The second season jump will be monumental. 

We’re ready for the run-in

Arsenal made a statement putting five past Chelsea on Tuesday night, with their dominant display giving them an even bigger advantage in terms of goal difference and put even more pressure on Manchester City to perform.

However, this isn’t new ground for the Sky Blues. An early barrage of goals hasn’t been the norm for the squad this season, but it looked like a trademark run-in performance with the match taken care of in under 40 minutes.

Manchester City still have a game in hand, and can continue to chip away at Arsenal’s goal difference. The Gunners are away to Tottenham this weekend and dropped points would certainly let City put one hand on the trophy. 

Kyle Walker rolled back the years

It was a rough start to the season for Kyle Walker.

A combination of poor performances and off-the-pitch issues caused the spotlight to be thrust onto the 33-year-old full-back. However, Walker has been in-form for most of 2024 and Thursday night’s performance was maybe his best of the season. 

The cross to Kevin Bruyne for the first assist was inch perfect, and his run in behind to set up for the fourth goal was perfectly timed. If only we could see this version of Kyle Walker every week…

Valentin Barco: The one who got away

There was a lot of buzz and excitement around the possibility of Manchester City signing the Argentine left-back when he was still playing for Boca Juniors. However, it was yet another transfer window in which a left back was not signed and Brighton swooped in.

The 19-year-old got his first start for Brighton on Thursday night and while he wasn’t perfect, there were plenty of glimpses of a phenomenal player. Barco calmly broke through Manchester City’s press quite a few times, and had more touches than anyone else in the squad minus the two centre-backs.

Rarely has a player that Manchester City have been unable to sign come back to haunt them, but Barco may well break that tradition in time.