Manchester City crawled back from an early deficit to grab a commanding win against Brentford as the Sky Blues continue to push up the Premier League table.
Phil Foden grabbed the second hat-trick of his career to put Manchester City two points behind Liverpool, with a game in hand.
Pep Guardiola’s side successfully capitalised on Liverpool’s defeat in north London over the weekend with a crucial 3-1 victory in west London on Monday evening.
Neil Maupay broke the deadlock midway through the first-half after Ivan Toney dummied a goal kick to give the French striker a clear path to goal. It was a well worked move that looked straight off the training pitch.
Despite the deficit, Manchester City continued to create chances and Phil Foden finally grabbed the equaliser in the final moments of the first-half. Brentford’s inability to clear a Kevin De Bruyne cross allowed Foden to calmly level the match.
Brentford began to open up more in the second-half and Manchester City were able to take advantage. It took less than 10 minutes for De Bruyne to find Foden making a run in behind, and the 23-year-olds well timed header found the side netting to grab the lead.
From there it was apparent the hat-trick was on, Foden’s teammates did everything they could to try and get him his third and it finally came together in the 70th minute when Haaland played a perfect pass into the path of the 23-year-old for a composed finish.
Jeremy Doku and Matteo Kovacic were brought on for Bernardo and Haaland after the third goal, as Pep Guardiola looked to keep his squad fresh with a busy February slate of games ahead.
Here are the Five Things We Learned from Manchester City’s comeback win against Brentford!
Phil Foden is staking his claim for Player of the Season
It was a little less than six months ago when Kevin De Bruyne went down with an injury and all eyes (and expectations) were on Phil Foden. It was a slow start, like most City seasons, but it’s hard to deny he has been Manchester City’s best player this season.
His 23 goal contributions in 33 appearances this season have already equaled his production from last year, and he is now only three away from tying his career best in 20/21. With a little less than half of the season remaining, and City still competing in three competitions, it’s safe to assume that he will comfortably surpass that tally.
Manchester City are now in control of their own destiny and if Foden continues to perform like this for the rest of the season, he has a golden opportunity to capture his first Player of the Season award. If we’re lucky he’ll carry that momentum into the Euros.
Return of the Dias
The Portuguese defender looked like a shell of himself a few months back. However, he has absolutely turned it around as of late. Dias will need to stay consistent for City to continue to push to defend their treble, especially with Stones’ fitness issues this season.
The rest of the matches in February are relatively manageable and should serve as a way to ensure fitness and sharpness with an incredibly vital March on the horizon.
Josko Gvardiol has found his rhythm
When Gvardiol joined from RB Leipzig in the summer, it was hard to imagine he would be trusted to feature this much in his debut season. However, he has featured in 18 of 22 league games and 27 times across all competitions.
It hasn’t all been perfect. While his on-ball ability has never been a doubt, there have been defensive errors, many of which led directly to goals.
Yet, the Croatian is having his best run of performances so far. Despite being a centre-back by trade, the defender occupied the left side of City’s attack for the entire match allowing Foden the freedom to roam centrally.
Having only just turned 22 last month, it looks like we are just beginning to see his potential.
Is this the trademark winning run?
Since the loss to Aston Villa, City’s unbeaten streak now stands at 12 games and the treble-winners have won their last nine. It’s a familiar feeling: a slow start caused by a rushed pre-season and injuries, but players figuring it out by the winter period en route to a massive winning streak.
The remainder of February’s games is Everton (H), Copenhagen (A), Chelsea (H), Brentford (H), Bournemouth (A), and Luton (A). All winnable fixtures that could see Manchester City on the brink of a 20 game unbeaten streak before the Manchester Derby in the first week of March.
Alvarez, De Bruyne, Foden and Haaland surprisingly played well together
A LOT has been said (and asked) about Manchester City’s attacking line-up this season. How can Alvarez and De Bruyne play together? Is Foden or Alvarez better behind Haaland? What is Pep going to do with De Bruyne now that Foden is playing so well through the middle?
For the first time this season they were all healthy and shockingly all started together. De Bruyne and Bernardo occupied the right hand side, while Alvarez and Foden were essentially given the freedom to take control of the space behind Haaland, with Gvardiol out wide left.
When the line-up dropped it almost seemed like a mistake, but for the most part the attack was rather fluid. If it wasn’t for a truly special goalkeeping performance Manchester City could’ve had two or three more goals.
While they won’t always play together, it was a great sign that Pep has found a way to put all of this attacking talent on the pitch at the same time without compromising the build-up.
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