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Man City player ratings vs Aston Villa: You can’t bench Phil Foden!

Man City player ratings vs Aston Villa: You can't bench Phil Foden!

So Manchester City might be better off without Erling Haaland and even Kevin De Bruyne after all… as long as Phil Foden is in form like this. Because while there will always be a debate about the Norwegian’s all-round play and the Belgian’s age and fitness, there is no question about their homegrown magician.

Pep Guardiola made two big calls by benching Haaland and De Bruyne among four changes on Wednesday, but Villa were also weakened by the fresh absences of Ollie Watkins and Emi Martinez in addition to missing John McGinn and Matty Cash.

Rodri rifled the champions into the lead early on, but Villa responded with a slick counter-attack finished off by Jhon Duran, who became the youngest visiting scorer at the Etihad in almost eight years. City quickly set out to restore their lead and did so right before half-time via a Foden free-kick that was helped by cowardly defending from Nicolo Zaniolo in the Villa wall.

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Douglas Luiz was denied an equaliser by Stefan Ortega early in the second half before Foden wrapped the game up. He slotted a first-time effort into the bottom corner after fine play by Rodri before hitting an absolute stunner into the top corner just seconds after being hauled to the floor to complete his second treble of the campaign.

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Goalkeeper & Defence

Stefan Ortega (7/10):

Tipped Luiz’s shot over to keep City in front. Calm on the ball and blameless for Duran’s superb finish.

Rico Lewis (6/10):

Gave City more presence in midfield but was vulnerable in defence and some of Villa’s best moments came down his side.

Ruben Dias (5/10):

Left flat-footed for Villa’s equaliser and looked indecisive on several occasions.

Manuel Akanji (6/10):

Comfortable on the ball and out of possession.

Josko Gvardiol (6/10):

Another strong performance from a player who has vastly improved as the season has progressed.

Midfield

Bernardo Silva (6/10):

His slick passing and dribbling ensured City were always on top.

Rodri (8/10):

Dominated the midfield and was clinical in the final third, scoring the opener and doing all the work in the build-up to Foden’s second.

Phil Foden (10/10):

Simply stunning. Played his part in Rodri’s goal before taking the game by the scruff of the neck and ensuring City won it on his terms. He might as well receive his Player of the Year awards now.

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Attack

Jeremy Doku (6/10):

Got his first assist since November by setting up Rodri. His trickery cut holes in Villa’s defence but he rarely knew what to do next.

Julian Alvarez (4/10):

Looked uncomfortable leading the line and missed so many chances to score himself or set up a team-mate.

Jack Grealish (7/10):

Recovered from his dressing down from Guardiola with an excellent and selfless display against his old club.

Subs & Manager

Matheus Nunes (6/10):

Nearly curled in a fine strike.

Mateo Kovacic (6/10):

Only had to hold the fort for the final 15 minutes.

Oscar Bobb (N/A):

A bright cameo from the 80th minute.

Sergio Gomez (N/A):

Missed a real sitter and his embarrassed face said it all.

Pep Guardiola (7/10):

Showed his character by dropping Haaland against a top-four opponent as well as De Bruyne, and his side played with more fluidity and freedom than with them.

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