Phil Foden enjoying 'best form in Man City shirt' after hat-trick against Brentford

Pep Guardiola's team fight back to register 3-1 win and close gap on leaders Liverpool

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Phil Foden scored a brilliant hat-trick for Manchester City and then said he is in his best form, as Pep Guardiola's team fought back to earn a 3-1 win at Brentford and close to within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

While City applied constant pressure, Brentford led with a Neal Maupay goal after 21 minutes. Thereafter, it was the Foden show as he levelled just before half time and then added two more excellent goals.

Liverpool, beaten by Arsenal on Sunday, lead the table on 51 points from 23 games but City are up to 49 from 22 and Arsenal on 49 from 23.

Foden was overjoyed with the result and credited his manager for giving him more responsibility.

The England international has now netted 14 times this season and is enjoying playing more centrally than he has in the past under Guardiola.

"Really delighted with my performances, delighted with the way I'm playing," Foden told Sky Sports.

"Playing more inside, where I want to play, as well. [It is the] best form I've had in a City shirt for a long time, consistently."

At 23, Foden already has a personal trophy cabinet that would be the envy of most clubs. In the six years since making his debut as a 17-year-old, Foden has a Champions League, five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, four League Cups, the Club World Cup and 31 appearances for England to his name.

However, throughout that time he has had spells on the sidelines as City's superstar midfielders took centre stage. But this season, following the lengthy absence of Kevin de Bruyne, he has raised the bar.

"This is the most influential he has been in the team," Guardiola said after the victory.

"He has always had that threat in the box, he had that sense of an amateur player, like kids playing in the street. It's how he moves in the small spaces and when he's there now he can score or make an assist and that's difficult to find."

Foden added: "I've been getting goals and assists recently. I've been playing more centrally so I think that's why. It's the most consistent I've been for a long time.

"I'm a person that adapts and plays a lot of positions when needed. I'm enjoying playing in the middle and that's where I see myself. Hopefully I can get more game time playing there. I don't score a lot of headers so I'm delighted with that one.

"All I set myself is to try to better last year's stats and just try to improve every year – more goals and more assists. I need to keep going and showing this level of performance more often."

Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken was in inspired form to frustrate the champions in the opening 45 minutes as he made nine saves before the break.

The Bees went in front on 21 minutes. Flekken got the assist on top of his heroics at the back as from his goal-kick, Ivan Toney blocked off Nathan Ake, allowing Maupay to run clear and score for the fifth consecutive game.

Erling Haaland had a huge chance to mark his first start for two months with a goal moments later, but could not beat Flekken when sent clean through on goal.

In total City had 17 efforts on goal with 10 on target in the first half and finally made their final one count.

Ethan Pinnock headed De Bruyne's cross straight into the path of Foden, who controlled on his chest and swept the ball low into the corner. Eight minutes into the second period a De Bruyne delivery this time picked out the head of Foden directly to head past Flekken.

City made sure of an 11th victory in their last 12 games 20 minutes from time. Haaland may not have got his goal, but the Norwegian played his part with a perfectly weighted pass for Foden to bear down on goal and slot coolly past Flekken.

Updated: February 06, 2024, 5:39 AM