Phil Foden's Freedom Inspires Man City To 1-0 Win Over Newcastle United

He didn't get on the scoresheet, but he was integral to a vital win
22:00, 19 Aug 2023

Kevin De Bruyne’s four-month injury may have given Manchester City fans cause for concern. However, in their narrow 1-0 win over Newcastle United, those worries were alleviated by one man. 

Phil Foden. 

The Englishman’s talent has always been clear to see, but finding his best position has been a difficult dilemma for both Pep Guardiola and Gareth Southgate. He doesn’t have the searing pace of a natural winger, yet his ability on the ball in wide positions has seen him feature on the right and left flanks for club and country. 

It’s been productive, but in the hard-fought win over Newcastle, we saw Foden at his supreme best. Erling Haaland was the number nine and Jack Grealish played from the left, but Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez were allowed to cause havoc, with the Englishmman in particular given licence to roam from the right. 


It was a game of tight margins. It could be a title race of tight margins. And Foden flourishes in tight spaces, with decisive runs that simply cut the opposition apart. This was a decent performance from the Super Cup winners, but one that won’t catch the eye for many. 

However, they’ve secured a vital three points against a side that looks likely to challenge for the top four again. Newcastle were good. As always, Howe set his side up to cause City problems and although they only had a short period of sustained pressure in the second half, they competed throughout. Against this City side, it’s better than a lot of visitors to the Etihad will manage this season. 

Their season won’t be defined by this result, but they can take the positives from this performance. Harvey Barnes once again looked bright from the bench and if he can nail down a starting spot it could take their attacking threat to the next level, as we saw when they hit Aston Villa for five last week. 

But City do what City do best. Win. It’s only the second week of the season but with this amount of talent, they are going to be difficult to stop again. And with man of the match Phil Foden playing like this, the winning machine might have just got even better. Kevin De Bruyne’s absence is barely noticeable, and that's the biggest compliment you can give.

When he is given this freedom, albeit within the tactical constraints of Guardiola’s system, he is at his best. He dropped deep to provide the midfield with another option and with the shield of Mateo Kovacic and Rodri providing security in front of four centre-backs, Foden didn’t need to burden himself with defensive worries. 

Instead he popped up in the hole, flitted in and out of space and was just impossible for Eddie Howe’s hard-working midfield to pick up. It was his run inside the centre-back that created Man City’s only goal of the game. Foden exploited the space, then cut the ball back for Alvarez to come up with a sensational finish into the top corner. 

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