Phil Foden winner at Brentford takes Manchester City eight points clear at top | Premier League
The Premier League title could properly have been determined in the identical week because the Ashes. After Liverpool faltered at Leicester and Chelsea have been depth-charged by Danny Welbeck, Manchester City enter 2022 with a fourth title in 5 seasons inside their grasp.
Victory at Brentford opened the hole to eight on Chelsea and 9 on Liverpool with their chasers to face one another at the weekend. With Brentford troublesome opposition, City didn’t shut out 2021 with a show of the fantastic pyrotechnics that gained final season’s title and had rattled in 17 objectives of their final three matches. Phil Foden’s early objective, coming from Kevin De Bruyne’s help, was all they required to flee west London with what they got here for, a tenth successive Premier League win.
On a floor the place Arsenal misplaced, Liverpool drew 3-3 and Chelsea squeaked a 1-0 win largely because of their goalkeeper, Pep Guardiola was not underestimating Brentford. The restoration to the beginning lineup of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish after their pre-Christmas drinks session mirrored the power of City’s choices. Drafting in Nathan Aké at left-back and selecting Gabriel Jesus over the in-form Riyad Mahrez did although counsel 1 January and Arsenal have been being saved in thoughts.
Brentford have solely been in a position to win one recreation a month since September and but finish the yr properly clear of the underside three. The choices of Yoane Wissa and Frank Onyeka in midfield noticed Thomas Frank plump for power over the artistic skills of Sergi Canós. Christian Nørgaard, their common midfield screener, was additionally suspended. Dealing with a coach Frank had known as the “biggest supervisor of the fashionable period”, was a staff ravaged by harm slightly than sickness. Just one participant, Vitaly Janelt, is at present on the Covid absentee listing.
As soon as a stadium-wide pre-match refrain of Hey Jude – additionally a staple at City’s dwelling – had rung out, the champions dominated possession with the revived Kevin De Bruyne to the fore. They didn’t fairly explode within the trend of the 4-0 lead they surged into in opposition to Leicester on Boxing Day. A heavy floor – with lengthy grass – at the Group Stadium, curbed their circulation. Jesus’s Tenth-minute mis-control was in no way the one suggestion of opposed situations.
Brentford weren’t fully restricted to their very own half. Onyeka and Mads Sørenson took early potshots earlier than Ederson was pressured right into a response save after Wissa had crashed the ball off the face of Rúben Dias. It then took a well timed Aké intervention to clear the hazard from a nook as Wissa once more threatened.
Inside seconds of that sixteenth minute flurry, Foden had the ball within the Brentford internet. De Bruyne delivered the ball from the appropriate with top spin, in a mode David Beckham patented, and Foden, onside by millimetres, slotted previous Álvaro Fernández. VAR supplied no mercy to Brentford. They’d paid the worth for pushing too far ahead, getting forward of themselves, and City’s important concern was what seemed a muscle harm to Ederson after he had caught a foot in that heavy tough. The Brazil goalkeeper proved tremendous to proceed, robbing Scott Carson of an opportunity to shine.
City’s interchangeable forwards continued to threaten, Foden wanting way more harmful than Grealish, whereas Brentford, urged on by Frank squawking from the touchline, have been diminished to last-ditch tackles. Dominic Thompson, on Jesus, delivered the decide of them. Simply earlier than the break, Ivan Toney and Fernandinho fought out a operating battle. Each fell theatrically to the ground however neither engaged the eye of the referee or VAR.
The second half started with De Bruyne once more teeing up Foden, this time for a header that screwed broad. The Belgian then crashed a shot in along with his left however did not beat Fernández. Foden did handle to internet a header, solely to be dominated offside. Brentford have been retreating ever backwards, pressed into errors on the uncommon events they did regain possession.
There have been cheers from the house crowd when the ball ultimately appeared within the City half as Frank urged his males to push outwards. That appeared to loosen the strain for a time just for City to step it up and De Bruyne’s low drive to rattle off the left-hand put up with Fernández crushed. City have been creating half-chances however Guardiola was getting fearful on the touchline. His staff have been dominating possession and but not having fun with the hustle and problem Brentford put opponents by means of.
That lack of a second objective opened the door on a late Brentford counter nicking a degree and halting City’s profitable run at 9 matches, although the house staff seemed exhausted within the dying levels, with Thompson pulling up with cramp. Aymeric Laporte had the ball within the internet late on, just for one other offside determination to disclaim City. Guardiola appeared reluctant to utilize his bench, leaving Mahrez and Raheem Sterling within the stand. They are going to turn out to be useful at the Emirates the place City can additional stretch their lead over their now distant chasers.