Connect with us

Match Coverage

Five Things Learned: Luton 1-2 Manchester City (Premier League)



| Last Updated:


Manchester City returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon after a four-game run without a victory through three points against Luton Town at Kenilworth Road. 

Despite control throughout the first-half, Manchester City were unable to muster that many clear opportunities on goal. Phil Foden had the two biggest chances of the opening 45 minutes, both of which forced the Luton goalkeeper to make commendable saves. 

City maintained that control until the closing moments of the first half, when a costly turnover of possession from Joško Gvardiol gave Luton one final chance of their own, with Elijah Adebayo rising highest to head home a cross at the far post to give Luton the lead.

While it wasn’t an immediate response in the second-half of the game, Manchester City came alive around 15 minutes after the restart, starting with Ruben Dias who smashed an effort off the crossbar from close range.

Fortunately it didn’t take long for Manchester City to get another chance. Three minutes later, Bernardo Silva curled in the equaliser with a lovely first time effort into the bottom corner of Thomas Kaminski’s goal.

The goal was set up by Rodri, who dribbled through the Luton midfield and carried the ball into the box. The Spaniard collided with a Luton defender, but before City could even appeal for a penalty, Bernardo Silva bounced on the ball and took his chance.    

Manchester City grabbed the goal that would turn out to be the winner just two minutes later, after their suffocating press allowed them to regain possession in midfield and attack on the counter. 

Phil Foden played Julian Alvarez through on goal, and instead of firing a shot from a difficult angle, the Argentine crossed it to Jack Grealish making a run towards the far post, who calmly finished it between the keeper’s legs to give Manchester City the lead.

It was a deserved goal and capped off one of the more grueling stretches of Manchester City’s time under Pep Guardiola. Luton initially responded well after the goal, but were unbanked to create anything of substance in the final 30 minutes of the game.

Here are the five things we learned from Manchester City’s crucial comeback win at Luton to end their challenging run of form in the Premier League!

Foden flourishing in midfield

Following his excellent midfield performance against RB Leipzig, Phil Foden once again had an excellent performance in a central role.

The 23-year-old looked more comfortable on the ball than perhaps his Argentine counterpart Julian Alvarez has in recent matches. With Erling Haaland out through injury, Foden was given the opportunity to shine and show Pep Guardiola that he deserves to feature there more. 

While Foden has not had the opportunities to play centrally as often as some Manchester City fans expected with Kevin De Bruyne out injured, his performance on Sunday, against RB Leipzig, and earlier in the season against Newcastle have shown that he has been very successful when deployed there, despite how irregular it has been.

Grealish continues to shine in big moments

While it hasn’t been the best start to the season for Jack Grealish, between fitness issues and the emergence of Jeremy Doku, the former Aston Villa winger has been regaining his form and now has goals in back to back matches for only the second time in his Manchester City career.

His absence against Aston Villa was one of the reasons for the truly horrid performance, and once again he popped up exactly when he was needed.

Over the past 18 months, Jack Grealish has gotten a knack for scoring vital goals in big moments. While Luton away is far from a Premier League title decider, scoring the match winner after failing to win four matches in a row, secured a necessary three points to keep City within striking distance of the top of the table. 

No Haaland? No Problem

With Erling Haaland potentially out for a few games due to a “stress” in his foot, Julian Alvarez looks more than competent in his stead. 

The Argentina international hasn’t been able to play much in his natural position this season due to Kevin De Bruyne’s injury. However, it became apparent early on in the match that the advantage Alvarez brings to the side allows for more fluidity in the match. 

His ability to drop deep, not as well as a false nine, but much better than Erling Haaland, allowed Manchester City to play some of their slickest football since the 2021/22 season. Obviously there will be a finishing drop off without Haaland in the squad, but the tactical flexibility of his awards them is invaluable. 

Defensive Solidity Needed

Manchester City have only been able to muster five clean sheets in all competitions this season. Defensive solidity was something that defined the treble winning team which barely gave up any goals in the final months of the season. 

There’s still plenty of time left for Pep Guardiola to figure it out. However, in just a little under halfway through the season Manchester City are on their way to their highest goals allowed tally since 2016/17. 

Right Wing depth desperately needed

The Kyle Walker overlapping full-back experience has not been successful. Maybe if another full-back is brought in to replace him, like Manchester City academy graduate Jeremie Frimpong, then it won’t be as big of an issue. But currently, there is no true answer to City’s right sided attack. 

Phil Foden will play well wherever he is deployed, but it’s detrimental to his development to constantly be used as a Swiss Army Knife. Bernardo brings composure to that side, but his lack of presence in the central areas of the pitch causes more harm than good.

Pep Guardiola has continued to bang the drum about Jeremy Doku improving on the right, and maybe that’s the answer moving forward.

However, that’s just one player, perhaps two if you count Phil Foden once Kevin De Bruyne returns. Matheus Nunes is currently serving as right wing depth which helps no one at the moment. It’s doubtful Manchester City make an impact January signing despite how badly they need it, but this is an area that Txiki Begiristain and Pep Guardiola need to hone in on.