Man City’s roaming attacking quartet again proved Pep Guardiola has no need for a traditional striker with the fluidity and intelligence of Foden, Jesus, De Bruyne and Grealish slaying Brentford
- Manchester City defeated Brentford by a solitary goal to nil away from home
- Pep Guardiola’s side have now opened up a significant gap to their title rivals
- He remains unfazed about losing Ferran Torres, another centre-forward option
- It looks as though City will win the league without the need for another striker
When the question came Pep Guardiola was ready for it and armed with a sarcastic response.
‘I want to tell you something,’ he began, following another goal-filled Manchester City win, this time at Brighton in October.
‘One day we’ll lose and you’ll ask me do you need a striker. I bet you whatever you want. I don’t buy this question.’
Phil Foden and Jack Grealish showed intelligent movement overcomes a need for a striker
Pep Guardiola’s men look as though they will coast to the title without a traditional frontman
Two months on he still has no interest in buying a striker either.
And, to win the Premier League at least, nor does it look like he needs one.
Two summers ago City missed out on Harry Maguire and did not land an alternative target.
Given they were prepared to pay a considerable sum for the England defender that a cheaper Plan B was not lined up raised some eyebrows.
The fact they did not fill the defensive void left by the talismanic Vincent Kompany then proved to be a significant factor in them relinquishing their title the following season.
Ferran Torres was allowed to leave City and join Barcelona in a £55million deal
The centre-back they did eventually sign, Ruben Dias, has admittedly proved to be worth the wait.
The danger after failing to land Harry Kane from Tottenham this summer was that history may repeat itself in this season’s title race.
Especially with an even fiercer battle for the big prize expected. It has not turned out that way so far.
At the halfway stage, City were clear at the top having hit a half century of goals, a total only matched by Liverpool.
Ferran Torres’s £55m departure for Barcelona has removed another attacker from Guardiola’s options.
Yet, still, he remains unfazed. ‘We won’t bring in a striker in January,’ he insisted last week as Torres closed in on his return to Spain.
Fluidity will continue to be Guardiola’s preferred mode of attack rather than the familiarity of a traditional frontman.
City are now nine points ahead of Liverpool and eight points ahead of Chelsea
It has taken them eight points clear after 20 games so why change now?
Against Brentford, Jack Grealish started as the most central of City’s attackers, with Kevin De Bruyne joining him from midfield and Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus hugging the flanks.
But their freedom of movement of key. Swinging in high crosses and battling Brentford’s giant defenders was a waste of time without a focal point, at times rendering them redundant.
Instead, all four roamed, interchanged and to devastating effect for City’s opening goal.
Just when Brentford’s hopes were building City pulled out one of their trademark moves from the Guardiola playbook and Foden finished off a first-time De Bruyne cross with his own one-touch finish.
Like a clinical, seasoned striker you might say.
From the wide role he had primarily occupied, when the opportunity arose Foden had the intelligence and strikers’ instinct to spot a gap, move into the No.9 position ahead of Grealish, evade defenders and convert his chance.
Foden sums up the unpredictability and fluidity of City that is so difficult to defend
An intelligence all of Guardiola’s forwards need to possess to ensure this way works and City retain a cutting edge.
Foden – back in the starting XI for the first time since his ill-timed night out with Grealish – had two more headed opportunities from a similar close range to his goal in the second half, one flicked wide and another converted before it was chalked off for offside.
All showed the value of the unpredictability of City’s approach. One that makes Guardiola’s attackers hard for defenders to pick up and increasingly looks more than capable of taking them to a sixth Premier League title.
And reducing the chances of Guardiola being asked question again.