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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Fantastic Foden stars once more as Man City beat Villa to close in on title

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Author [email protected] (Andy Dunn)
This post originally appeared on Mirror – Football

Now he can pick whoever he wants for the Euros, Gareth Southgate must have had a wide smile beneath his mask.

Then again, who would not be grinning when watching the impudent talent of Phil Foden.

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If you would like a young player to wipe the scowl from the face of football, look no further than this diminutive genius.

It is no exaggeration to say Foden is rapidly becoming as important to Manchester City ’s creative output as Kevin de Bruyne, who missed this one with an ankle injury.

Not only did he cancel out John McGinn’s opener with a tidy right-footed volley, he played a part in the build-up to his goal with a left-footed laser of a pass.

Phil Foden was mesmerising once again against Aston Villa
Phil Foden was mesmerising once again against Aston Villa

His array of talents appears to be expanding by the game. He is not only in Southgate’s squad, he is in his starting team.

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Unlike John Stones, you suspect.

There is evidence some of City’s most influential players have hit a flat spot. And spots of mediocre form do not come much flatter than when they belong to Stones.

Talk about feast or famine, Rolls-Royce or a three-wheeler.

He was not the only defender at fault when McGinn helped home Ollie Watkins’ clever pass after barely 20 seconds but his attempt to intercept Tyrone Mings’ routine pass was risible.

But that turned out to be the least serious of his crimes. His late, high challenge on a relatively unthreatening Jacob Ramsey obviously looked a lot worse on VAR and Pep Guardiola’s vehement protests might have had some reasonable grounds.

Gareth Southgate will have been less impressed with John Stones after he was sent off in the first-half
Gareth Southgate will have been less impressed with John Stones after he was sent off in the first-half
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But the fact is that it was ill-judged and reckless. It was daft.

And Stones has those moments.

In fact, considering the circumstances, it looked even sillier, City having taken the lead when Rodri met a cute Bernardo Silva clip with an equally cute header.

But after referee Peter Bankes was told to go to his monitor – effectively being told to send Stones off – just before half-time, City’s task looked to have become unexpectedly tougher.

Having said that, Villa’s eleven versus City’s ten is probably a fair match and so it proved.

Especially when one of those ten is Foden, who promptly levelled matters up once again – this time in terms of personnel – by drawing two yellow-card fouls out of a thoroughly tortured Matty Cash.

City helped by Cash, who would have thought it?

Manchester City are edging closer to a third Premier League title in four years
Manchester City are edging closer to a third Premier League title in four years

But if Guardiola expected the levelling of numbers to restore a significant degree of City comfort, he was wrong.

Stones’ departure, and Aymeric Laporte’s subsequent introduction, had disrupted their rhythm and although Foden continued to threaten, they had to be content to grind out the narrow win, albeit retaining the majority of possession.

There is now nothing narrow about their lead at the top of the Premier League, which now stands at eleven points.

The sailing towards the title might not have been as serene as most expected but with the likes of Foden in this sort of form, they are still cruising to glory.

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Fantastic Foden stars once more as Man City beat Villa to close in on title
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