Manchester City star Foden enjoying central role

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Phil Foden admitted he prefers playing more centrally following his stunning hat-trick against Aston Villa.

Kevin De Bruyne’s five-month absence due to a hamstring injury sustained on the season’s opening day has enabled the England international to occupy a place in the middle more often this term and he continues to thrive.

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He was the star turn against Villa with a first-half free-kick and two brilliant second-half strikes helping City to an impressive 4-1 win against Unai Emery’s men.

The victory moved City a point behind leaders Arsenal although Liverpool will return to the top of the Premier League if they beat rock-bottom Sheffield United at Anfield tonight.

Foden told TNT Sports: “I see myself as a really technical player in the pockets. Out wide I think I can do that job but I prefer to do it in the middle. This year I am growing into the game.

“The manager spoke on showing rhythm and slowing the game down so I think I have added that to my game too. Before I was going so quickly, attacking every action. But now I am getting the balance just right.

“I always try to arrive in the box, that is where the goals are. You get at least five a season arriving in the box late. I’ve been working on all aspects of my game in midfield, but like I said still a lot to improve on and I’m still growing in that position.”

His hat-trick goal, a powerful shot into the top right-hand corner, was his 13th in the Premier League this season, a personal best.

Foden added: “I’m just loving my football at the moment, playing with a smile on my face and trying to help the team. I know I am capable of scoring goals, and today I showed that so I am delighted.

“I always set myself [the aim] to do better than last season, get more goal contributions. I think I am up this year so I’m doing well.”

City boss Pep Guardiola was delighted with Foden’s contribution. He said: “His work ethic is amazing. He plays in central positions and has an incredible sense of goal – he has goals in his veins and we have to use him.”

Guardiola played down City’s chances of a record-breaking fourth successive top-flight crown but highlighted the importance of a top-four finish.

“They [Arsenal and Liverpool] have more points than us so they are favourites but it’s important to us to qualify for the Champions League next season,” he added. 

“We are close to that, qualification is important for many reasons. Beating Aston Villa is a big step.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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