Phil Foden puts in potentially career-defining display in 4-1 win over Liverpool

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With the scores level at 1-1, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola decided to bring Gabriel Jesus on to try and grab a winner against Liverpool on Sunday.

As it turns out, this decision would change the game, though not in the way that one might expect.

In previous seasons, this exact substitution would likely have led to Phil Foden coming off, if the starlet had even been on the pitch in the first place. This time, things were different. Instead of dragging off the youngster, Guardiola opted to give Riyad Mahrez an early bath instead.

This is the same player that cost City £60m back in 2018; the same player who was crowned PFA Player of the Year back in 2016; the same player who is one of the best right forwards on the planet.

The fact that Foden was instead selected to remain on the field is testament to his incredible development this season, both in terms of his ability and importance in Pep Guardiola’s side. This campaign, he has already made 28 appearances, just ten shy of the amount he managed last season.

His output has greatly increased as well, with Foden registering ten goals and six assists, compared to eight and nine during the previous term.

Guardiola’s decision to trust his starlet against City’s fierce rivals paid off handsomely at Anfield. Although Alisson’s horrific pair of mistakes will understandably dominate the headlines, Foden’s display was potentially career defining.

After a quiet but industrious first half, he burst into life in some style after the break, making Fabinho look like a carthorse with an explosive turn of pace early on.

The Foden show continued throughout the second period with the forward finally having a decisive impact just seconds after he was spared from being substituted. Seizing upon Alisson’s comically poor pass, he drove towards the byline, leaving Andrew Roberton for dead – who 90min ranked as the world’s best left-back recently – and threading a delicate ball for Ilkay Gundogan to crash home.

Fabinho, Phil Foden
Foden caused the Reds serious problems | Pool/Getty Images

The highlight of Foden’s afternoon would come ten minutes later, when he produced a moment of magic that left the hoards of world-class players on the pitch jealous. Picking the ball up in an unpromising wide area, he asked questions of Robertson that left the Scotsman flummoxed, skipping into a half a yard of space and rifling the ball past Ederson.

Standing out in a team as blessed with attacking talent as City is an unenviable task. Yet, despite being just 20 years old, there was little doubt as to who the best player on the pitch was on Sunday. The outstanding display continued the trend of Foden progressing from ‘talent’ into Premier League starter in his own right.

However, it could be this performance above all others that we look back on in a decade’s time as the moment that Foden finally arrived as a superstar.

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