Liverpool vs Man City: Five things we learned as Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling star

Liverpool 1-4 Man City

Lawrence Ostlere
Sunday 07 February 2021 19:07 GMT
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring against Liverpool
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring against Liverpool (Pool via REUTERS)

Foden delivers on the big stage

There is little to say about Phil Foden that hasn’t already been said: we know he is a brilliant dribbler, a wonderfully balanced footballer with an eye for both an assist and a goal. And yet what this game showed was that on the very biggest of Premier League stages, when it could not matter more, he delivered on all of that promise in abundance. His role in the crucial second goal which effectively sealed victory was magnificent, gliding into the box beyond Jordan Henderson's attentions with the ball glued to his left foot before teeing up Ilkay Gundogan in the box. What an extraordinary footballer City – and England – will get to enjoy over the coming years.

The title is City's to lose

It is a remarkable stat that the last Premier League manager to take any points against Pep Guardiola is Beijing Guoan head coach Slaven Bilic, then in charge of West Bromwich Albion. It is a 10-game winning run that has transformed what was a team in mid-table to champions-elect, and even at this early stage of the season with plenty of games to be played, they seem unstoppable. The winning streak is reminiscent of Chelsea under Antonio Conte, who won 13 games on the spin to charge clear in the title race. This surely is the form of champions too.

Should Ederson take penalties?

Gundogan was the latest player to miss a penalty for City, something which has become a real problem. Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling have all missed from the spot at times over the past couple of years, and so is it really so crazy to imagine Ederson stepping up next time? The goalkeeper is said to be exceptional from the spot in training and could surely not do any worse than the current batch.

Sterling penetrates Liverpool line

Raheem Sterling has not had his most prolific season so far, with seven goals being a relatively lowly tally for his high standards under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage. But he came into this game with three goals in his past four matches, and looked supremely confident as he took on Trent Alexander-Arnold time and again. Here it was not initially his goalscoring but his incisive dribbling which caused trouble, winning the penalty which was missed by Gundogan, before dribbling into the box in the build-up to City’s first goal – this time scored by Gundogan. And Sterling got his goal late in the day, tapping in from close range with his head to seal a major victory. This was Sterling back to his best.

Is this Guardiola's best City team?

City’s winning run extended to 10 here, a streak in which every department of the team has looked exceptional. They are defensively resolute, relentlessly dominant on the ball, create chance after chance, and are ruthless in front of goal. Perhaps what’s most interesting is just how complete this City team is. Even in the season under Guardiola when they picked up 100 points, City conceded 27 goals. This year they have let in 14 and at the current rate it is hard to see them conceding more than 20. This perhaps is not quite as a fluent a team as one with David Silva and Sergio Aguero at their best, but it feels even more well-rounded and even closer the perfect football team – something Guardiola always desires.

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