Pep Guardiola praised the “exceptional” Phil Foden after Manchester City beat Brentford 1-0 in a game that left the manager complimenting the opposition for how tough they made it.
Man City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League table to eight points with their 10th consecutive win in the competition. Foden scored the only goal of the game.
City did get a second via Aymeric Laporte late on. But unlike Foden’s goal which had also been checked, VAR ruled it out for offside.
It did not matter in the end and City won. And with Liverpool and Chelsea both dropping points on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, City will be heading into the New Year optimistic of retaining their title.
There is a long way to go yet, but they are in pole position. And it is thanks to “exceptional” players like goalscorer Foden.
“(He was) exceptional. With Phil he is a football player, and we don’t have doubts about that, about his quality,” Guardiola said on Amazon Prime.
“Always since he came up to training and played with us he has been exceptional.”
Foden was not the only player to impress his manager. Indeed, Guardiola praised how his side performed despite there being an overall lack of chances.
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“In general the team was brilliant in many, many aspects,” Guardiola said. “The game was not exceptional in terms of chances, but you cannot create more when one team play 10 players in a small small space and the strikers are so close to the holding midfielders.
“The space is always impossible so in that situation you have to be patient and not concede goals on the counter attack.”
But Guardiola was generally complimentary of the fight that Brentford put up.
“The opponent was really tough,” he said. “We knew it, we felt it – especially in the beginning they had one clear chance but after we didn’t concede one shot on target.
“In this stadium, the way they play is so difficult and Brentford deserve a lot of credit for what they have done.”
Foden willing to work for Guardiola
The goalscorer himself was happy to repay Guardiola’s faith again after being restored to the starting lineup.
He echoed his coach’s views on how tough the game was. What’s more, he even felt his goal might not have counted.
But it did, and that allowed him to take in the praise that followed. He consequently vowed to always give his best.
“It was an important win today,” Foden told Amazon Prime. “Brentford made it really difficult. They are a physical team and are dangerous off set-pieces. We had to keep going to the final whistle. I am proud of the team for doing that.
“I have had a few this year that have been ruled offside. So I wasn’t too confident. I thought I went a bit too early, but thank god the goal counted. I am really happy. There were a few when I went a bit early and was offside. We could have won by more. We kept working hard.
“Round Christmas you have to keep your foot on the gas and keep focused. This team is doing that.
“Wherever the manager puts me, I will do my best for the team. I started on the left. It is good I am adaptable.
“This is the most challenging league in the world and it goes to show that you can drop points at any time. The team remain focused and we’re happy.”