In-form Foden firing Man City towards more silverware
Phil Foden is enjoying a standout campaign for Manchester City.
The 23-year-old is on course for his best-ever Premier League goal return, after netting a hat-trick in Monday night's 3-1 win at Brentford.
That took his tally to 14 for the season in all competitions, with nine assists to his name too.
Ahead of City's clash with Everton, we take a closer look at Foden's exceptional recent form.
It was not so long ago that Foden's place in Pep Guardiola's team was a major talking point.
In previous seasons, the youngster was often rotated in and out of the starting XI, with City able to call on several other top-quality attacking midfielders.
Now, though, Foden is one of the first names on the team sheet.
He has started 20 of the Citizens' 22 Premier League games so far in 2023-24 and is performing more consistently than ever.
His goal contributions have been even more important this season, with Kevin De Bruyne only recently returning from a long-term injury.
Since Christmas, Foden has recorded nine goals and assists in seven games across all competitions.
No City player has completed more through-balls (seven) or won more possessions in the attacking third of the pitch (19) during Premier League matches — evidence of his contribution both on and off the ball.
Unsurprisingly, Guardiola was effusive in his praise of Foden after his hat-trick at Brentford.
The Citizens boss said: "We needed it [Foden's performance] today.
"I think Phil is playing the most [influential] season for the team in terms of goals, assists.
"He has the pleasure to score the goals and the threat when he's close to their box. Always he is there.
"So he's an exceptional, exceptional player. He is young and already has more than 250 games for City — that shows the impact he has had since he arrived.
"I don't know his limits. He will decide. For him, football is the most important thing in his life. Of course aside from his family and kids, it is the most important thing.
"It depends on him but he enjoys it a lot. He loves to play football.
"When you see players like him playing in the street when you are a little boy, you have this sense of amateurism [in the way he plays]."
Foden's form, along with the return of both De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, is ominous for City's rivals.
The England international was excellent in City's Treble-winning 2022-23 season, scoring 15 goals in all competitions.
By comparison, he is on 14 goals already this term and well on track to score over 20 for the first time in his career.
Though City's first half of the campaign was not immaculate, there is a sense that their inexorable rise to the top of the Premier League has begun.
If a triumvirate of Foden, De Bruyne and Haaland can combine effectively, Guardiola's side will be difficult to stop.