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A touch of class from Phil Foden coupled with Manchester City’s newfound defensive solidity proved the difference, as Manchester City recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Brighton on Wednesday night.
After two flawless campaigns to win titles, Pep Guardiola’s team could hardly muster a challenge for the Premier League title last season, with Liverpool out of control, and the vulnerability of the Citizens at the rear was a factor. important that it contributed to not defending their crown.
After an unconvincing start to the 2020/21 campaign, City have recovered somewhat lately. His win over Brighton was his seventh on the rebound, and his recent success has built on a solid new defensive foundation.
Ruben Dias, evidence to suggest that if you throw enough money at a problem it might go away eventually, and John Stones have forged a really nice central defensive partnership, the pair complement each other well. They’re safe, calm, and collected, and you’re not afraid they have a bug in them … a concern that Stones has previously been guilty of.
The Dias and Stones center-back pair have kept 11 clean sheets in the 14 games they have started together. With City’s bottom line finally settled and orderly, they have been able to prosper into the future.
This was not necessarily the case against Brighton. Having put on sumptuous attacking performances against Chelsea and Manchester United in early January, City were a bit more subdued going forward Wednesday night.
This is partly a credit to Brighton, who was compact, stubborn and frustrated Guardiola’s team for long periods of the game.
But this is where Foden’s class shone.
The Manchester City youngster has not been used as generously in the Premier League as expected following David Silva’s departure in the summer.
However, Foden had been the heart of City’s recent victories over Chelsea and United, and he proved to be the winner of the match on Wednesday as well.
The 20-year-old walked past Joel Veltman and picked up a Kevin De Bruyne pass at the edge of the box, before beating Adam Webster with a fabulous first touch. Having created the space within the area on his own, Foden found the bottom corner with a low and punctual effort.
It was a demonstration of the enormous importance of Foden in the City, who would not have taken the three points against Brighton if it were not for the moment of quality of the English international.
In this season’s weirdest title race, coming within four points of first place with a game in hand, a solid and consistent defensive base and clock-winning capabilities, Foden is a pretty healthy position to be in.