Foden is stepping up to be Man City’s late season hero

Manchester City are embroiled in yet another title fight, but they may have not been in it were it not for Phil Foden.

The City star has stepped up to the mantle this campaign and been spearheading Pep Guardiola’s side through the busiest periods of the season, with his performances single handedly dragging the Champions to victory with his goals.

This type of scoring was something reminiscent of Ilkay Gundogan whilst at the club. When the German signed for Barcelona in the summer, many felt Guardiola was letting go of one of City’s most important assets. 

Gundogan was a standout player for City during his seven-year spell at the club. During an injury crisis in the 2020/21 season, the German midfielder played as City’s false nine and ended the campaign with 13 goals as City won the title. 

He always produced in massive games, none more so than his brace against Aston Villa two seasons ago which won City the title over Liverpool on the final day. 

His departure in the summer must have concerned some City fans, but they will most likely be at ease now with Foden’s form taking a turn for the better. The 22-year-old is delivering in the big moments and scoring for fun just like Gundogan was when City were battling for titles late into the season. 

Foden’s hat-trick against Aston Villa in midweek was the Englishman’s third for City in the Premier League, joining the likes of Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Cristiano Ronaldo.

To further highlight his form in front of goal this season; only Ollie Watkins, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane have more goal contributions than Foden this season across Europe’s top five leagues. 

His numbers this season, coupled with his ability to individually change games, shows the progression he has made to his game in such a short period of time. He’s filling the void left behind by Gundogan with such ease, but that is no surprise given the talent he possesses.  

Kevin De Bruyne, who has been hampered by injuries all season, has not felt like a major miss for City. That is just how important Foden has been whilst deputising in the Belgian’s absence.  

His performance from Wednesday was something the Citizens had got so used to seeing from Gundogan in the past. With City deadlocked at 1-1, Foden scored three superb goals – his first, a cleverly crafted free-kick, his second, a guided finish off the post, but his third was the pick of the bunch. He picked possession outside Villa’s box and rattled the ball into the top corner to complete the rout. 

It’s not the first time this season that Foden has hauled City back into games. Back in December, Guardiola’s men found themselves 1-0 down to Everton at Goodison Park but an inspired second-half performance from Foden, who scored the equaliser and played a part in winning City a penalty, meant Guardiola’s men escaped unscathed. 

Foden’s brace against Manchester United back in March as well as his hat-trick against Brentford were other notable occasions the England star has stepped up when others have floundered.

The City academy graduate is no longer just an option in attack for Guardiola, he is quickly becoming one of the manager’s most trusted players. If he can nail down his best position on the pitch, the only way for Foden is up. 

His preferred position has been the subject of much debate among fans of both City and England in recent months – with Guardiola and Gareth Southgate rotating him between the wing and the attacking midfield position. 

Foden told TNT Sports after the Villa match: “I seem to have some really technical play in the pockets and out wide, I can do that job, but I prefer it in the middle.” 

That was the area of the pitch that Gundogan strived in for City and it seems like Foden feels it’s where he can be most threatening.  

He continued: “This year, I’m growing into the game. The manager spoke on showing rhythm and slowing the game down. I’ve added that to my game. 

“He said, ‘you’ll grow into that position’. Because before I was going so quick, attacking every action. Now I’m getting the balance just right.” 

Foden’s maturity will only improve the older he gets, and it’s important to note that the likes of Gundogan and De Bruyne enjoyed their best goal scoring seasons in their late 20s. 

Foden is still just 22 and that further illuminates how much better he can get over the next decade of his career. City’s midfield seems to be in safe hands for years to come.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Latest

To Top