It was after their spectacular victory at Chelsea on 3 January that Pep Guardiola declared his Manchester City had been back.
The 10 days since have bolstered that view, with spectacular younger England midfielder Phil Foden guiding the Blues back alongside the correct path.
It won’t have been very spectacular however the Foden-inspired 1-0 victory over Brighton at Etihad Stadium moved City into the Premier League’s prime three for the primary time this season.
“It definitely feels like we’re back to our best. We’ve taken confidence from the last few results,” the 20-yr-outdated stated afterwards, with City now simply 4 factors from the summit – having been eleventh in November.
It was additionally the primary time, this season or final, that City have gained seven video games in a row in all competitions, or gone eight with out defeat within the league or 14 unbeaten in all competitions.
Given leaders and native rivals Manchester United go to second-positioned Liverpool on Sunday and have a resurgent Arsenal amongst their subsequent opponents, whereas Jurgen Klopp’s men should additionally face Tottenham earlier than January is over, it could be a courageous man who dominated out City topping the desk by the top of a month through which they entertain Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Sheffield United, and journey to West Brom.
Foden to the fore as City deal with absences
In a season through which accidents and coronavirus have robbed Guardiola of so lots of his star gamers so usually, it has been a time for others to step up.
No-one has carried out that greater than Foden, who’s creating in the best way his supervisor all the time promised – even through the instances when his dealing with of the midfielder was being questioned as Jadon Sancho prospered having left for Borussia Dortmund and extra common soccer.
“It was another good performance. He is a guy with a special instinct close to goal, not just with the left foot, but with the right foot. He deserves to play. His standards are higher,” stated Guardiola.
“I try to judge the performance day by day and I have the feeling he lives his life 24 hours to play football. Today with a lot of distractions around our lives – clearly less now because we have to be at home – but when you see his face he is happy at training sessions and playing games.
“When that occurs the remainder is what everybody sees in his efficiency.”
Foden’s eighth goal of the season was a superb effort. Bernardo Silva and Kevin de Bruyne created the space but Foden spotted the opportunity, cutting inside the Brighton box before driving a low right-foot shot beyond Robert Sanchez.
“I do not rating too many with my proper foot,” said Foden, before revealing he was enjoying the responsibility currently being afforded to him.
It means he now leads the City scoring charts – and after Raheem Sterling’s injury-time miss from the spot, he can’t be too far down the list to take over penalty duties.
And if anyone has benefited from the European Championships being put back a year, it is Foden, who would have been a risk last spring but is almost certain to be in Gareth Southgate’s squad this year.
“In the previous few days, Phil has performed in opposition to [Chelsea’s Cesar] Azpilicueta, one of the vital unbelievable defenders within the Premier League, and was excellent. It was the identical in opposition to [Manchester United’s] Aaron Wan-Bissaka,” stated Guardiola.
“I’m fairly certain he can be chosen if it was me. Gareth, I do not know however I’m certain he was actually impressed by him, like all of us.”
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards, added on Match of the Day: “I believe he’s a famous person and genuinely among the finest English skills now we have produced for a very long time. “
‘Joy to watch’
If there was a moment in this match where it was clear City had found themselves, it came a couple of minutes before Foden’s first-half winner.
Goalkeeper Ederson – who was keeping City’s 15th clean sheet in 19 games – came out to collect a corner, then, with a basketball-style pass, sent De Bruyne sprinting straight down the middle of the pitch.
Foden appeared at his right shoulder in support, then as a tackle came in on the England man, the ball broke to De Bruyne who flashed a shot towards the Brighton goal.
“The greatest footballing staff within the league,” said former Scotland international Pat Nevin on BBC Radio 5 Live. “It’s stunning. Every time I stroll into the Etihad I really feel excited as a result of they’ve good gamers. They are a pleasure to watch.”
Predictably, Guardiola was extra circumspect: “In the final 20 minutes we struggled as a result of they’re actually good.”
After an unsure begin to a delayed marketing campaign, City now look something however strugglers.
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