Manchester City moved up to third in the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Phil Foden opened the scoring just before half-time with a clever finish while Raheem Sterling came off the bench to miss a penalty in stoppage time.
Here are our main takeaways from the game at the Etihad Stadium …
Are City purring again?
All the title talk over the past 24 hours has been about the red side of Manchester, but the blue half tried to stake their claim for some attention tonight.
Manchester City were fluid and had no problem creating chances against Brighton tonight but there will be some disappointment in the dressing room that they only scored one.
One of the criticisms of Pep Guardiola’s side all season is their lack of ruthlessness in front of goal and that was certainly the case again tonight.
Brighton goalkeeper Robert Sánchez was forced into making five saves as the attacking foursome of Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez buzzed around the penalty area.
Raheem Sterling’s penalty miss was the perfect symbolism for the team just not being quite at it inside the 18-yard box at the moment but they are threatening to explode and it seems only a matter time before they do.
City are by no means ‘back to their best’ but with Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, West Brom, Sheffield United and Burnley as their next five fixtures – they could well get there and have a lead at the top by the time they meet Liverpool on February 6.
Phil’s coming of age
There hasn’t been any doubt over whether Phil Foden has talent – the questions were more around whether he was going to get a chance in this team and what role he would play when in it.
It might be time to start talking about him as a pivotal cog in this Manchester City machine.
Foden has now started the last six games and it is no coincidence that City have improved drastically in the last few weeks.
Stats from the game – his subtle touch to take him inside before he squeezed the ball inside Robert Sánchez’s near post was magnificent.
The 20-year-old is starting left in the front three or four at the moment but is doing a lot of his business inside and his inclusion also seems to have coincided with an improvement in form of De Bruyne but the next step for Guardiola will be integrating Sergio Agüero back into this set-up.
One player will have to give up his position at that stage but right now Foden is undroppable.
Bright performance from the Seagulls
There were positives for Brighton to cling on to from tonight.
The Seagulls may well end the night in the bottom three if Fulham win at Tottenham later on but this shouldn’t be a case of back to the drawing board.
Brighton looked threatening on the counter-attack throughout the night and came particularly close with a Leandro Trossard shot which flew past the post in the first half before Davy Pröpper recreated Paul Gascoigne’s near-miss from Euro 96 as he came within inches of stretching on to a cross.
Percy Tau made his Premier League debut for the club and showed glimpses at what he could offer Graham Potter in attack.
The South African winger completed all three of his dribbles as he threatened on the counter while also winning four out of five of his ground duels as he proved to be a useful part of Potter’s set-up.
It was the same old story in terms of not being clinical enough with the chances they had but there was a lot to take from the Etihad tonight.