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Other SportsGuardiola: Foden in the best form of his career

Guardiola: Foden in the best form of his career

Pep Guardiola believes Phil Foden is enjoying his best season to date with Manchester City, with the England international continuing his fine form with a hat-trick to fire the champions past Brentford on Monday.

City fell behind during the first half at the Gtech Community Stadium, with Neal Maupay racing clear from Mark Flekken’s goal-kick before rolling his finish past Ederson.

However, Foden took control of the game from there as he starred in a central midfield role, latching onto Ethan Pinnock’s wayward header to equalise in first-half stoppage time.

Foden then stooped to head in Kevin De Bruyne’s inswinging cross eight minutes into the second half, before Erling Haaland’s lay-off sent him through to clinch his second career hat-trick and wrap up a 3-1 win for City.

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Foden now has 15 goal involvements in the Premier League this season (eight goals, seven assists), putting him just two shy of his previous best in a single campaign in the competition (17 in 2022-23).

Guardiola heaped praise on the City matchwinner in his post-match interview with Sky Sports, saying: “He played I don’t know how many games already for City.

“He’s a guy who has played lots of different positions and in these games, which are so tight, he has the ability in the pockets and in the centre of goal.

“He likes to arrive in the box, and when Brentford defend deep, it’s so difficult. Having players in these positions is so important.

“He has a sense for the goal. He loves to move into the 18-yard box and has a lot of weapons. I think he’s playing his best season since we’ve been together.

“The goals and the assists from him, playing in this central position, have been amazing.”

While Haaland turned provider for Foden’s third goal on his return to City’s starting lineup, the Norwegian endured a frustrating outing in front of goal and was denied by one fine one-on-one save from Flekken in the first half.

Guardiola has no concerns about Haaland requiring time to get up to speed after almost two months out with a foot fracture, saying Brentford make life difficult for every striker they face.

“He’s always an incredible threat. He had a chance, he had the assist for the third goal and he created space for others from his position,” Guardiola said.

“I don’t think there is a striker in the world who plays against Brentford, with the way they defend their box, and is comfortable.

“But he’s back, he played nearly 90 minutes after two months off. For the rhythm and everything, it was so important.”

While City are now within touching distance of Liverpool at the top of the table, Brentford remain 15th and sit just three points clear of the relegation zone.

Boss Thomas Frank, however, is certain things will pick up for the Bees in the coming weeks.

“We know that we can get a win against any team in the division, we’ve shown it before,” he told BBC Sport. “We’ve had good games against City and Tottenham.

“The performances have been good, we’ve got key players back and I see it as a matter of time before the points come.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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