It was the Phil Foden show at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, where Manchester City beat Aston Villa to capture the Carabao Cup once again.
While yes, we all expected Manchester City to come out on top in the Carabao Cup final today against Aston Villa, it was still an intriguing match to tune into, especially with some of the quality that the relegation-threatened side possesses.
One of the biggest surprises on the teamsheets was the inclusion of youngster Phil Foden for Manchester City, who has only been a small part of Pep Guardiola’s starting XI’s over the last couple years, despite his obvious talent and need for more minutes.
Foden started on the right-wing, a relatively unfamiliar position for a natural midfielder, but he gave a very good account of his abilities at Wembley, being arguably the best player on the pitch.
“Unstoppable” might be the right word to describe the Manchester City youth product’s performance. Everything he did seemed to turn to gold, whether it be on the ball or off the ball, in the final 3rd or the middle 3rd, in transition or in possession.
His individual match statistics pop off the page and pretty much confirm how good the performance was – something you could see just by watching the match. 2 key passes and 1 assist highlights his creative abilities in the final 3rd, even against the low block that Aston Villa put in front of Manchester City throughout the match. He also completed 3 of 4 dribbles and won 7 of 10 duels. Foden also pitched in off the ball, with 2 tackles and an interception.
It’s becoming blatant now that Manchester City doesn’t need to dip into the market to replace David Silva this summer. It has been ages since a decent prospect came out of their academy to star for the first-team, and Foden is somebody who should be given every chance to succeed in the position that Silva will soon vacate.
With other players in his age group such as Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Bukayo Saka getting regular minutes for their respective clubs, Foden risks falling behind in his development unless he begins to break into the first-team. Pep Guardiola, or whoever is at the helm at the Etihad next year, needs to give Foden the keys to the castle and start him in midfield regularly.
Despite falling well behind Liverpool in the Premier League and seemingly conceding their title to Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City still have the chance to end the season strong. This Carabao Cup win, their 3rd in a row, is a good piece of silverware to pick up, and of course, Pep Guardiola’s side is still in the hunt for both the FA Cup and the Champions League.