Phil Foden scored the only goal of the game as City capitalised on Chelsea’s draw at Brighton on the same evening and Liverpool’s defeat to Leicester the night before to extend our advantage at the summit heading into the new year.
The goal came within a minute of Brentford’s best period of the game.
Ederson had already been forced into a reflex save to prevent Ruben Dias diverting Yoane Wissa’s cross into his own net, when the Brazilian stretched out a toe to keep out a shot from the same player following a corner.
With Ivan Toney braced to turn in the rebound, Nathan Ake did just enough to put the striker off before Joao Cancelo headed the loose ball off the line and City swiftly turned defence into attack as De Bruyne’s curling cross from deep on the right was deftly steered home by Foden for his fifth league goal of the campaign.
City were rarely troubled after that and it was fine margins which prevented Foden from claiming a hat-trick.
The midfielder was inches away with a glancing header as De Bruyne delivered a carbon copy of the cross he provided for the opener, and when Gabriel Jesus turned provider with another inviting centre, VAR showed City’s No.47 had strayed marginally offside as he planted a header past Álvaro Fernández.
Offering little in going forward themselves, the spirited Bees made life difficult for City in attack.
De Bruyne cracked the foot of the post with a 20-yard drive, whilst Aymeric Laporte also had a header ruled out for offside by VAR and, whilst the one goal deficit gave the home side hope right up until the final whistle, City saw out the game to end the year on a high.
Happy New Year for City
The ruthlessness which characterised the three free-scoring victories which preceded this encounter at the Brentford Community Stadium may have been absent, but this was very much a job well done by Guardiola’s men.
Having won just two of their previous 10 league contests, Brentford made an encouraging start.
Ederson saved comfortably from Frank Onyeka after he raced clear down the left before making fine stops from Wissa in quick succession.
It was a nerve-racking few minutes, but City can conjure goals up an instant and from the moment Foden converted De Bruyne’s outstanding ball, we never looked like relinquishing our grip on the three points.
Thomas Frank’s side made us work hard for the win, and although the attacking fluency of recent performances may have deserted us, we completely nullified the opposition’s threat to complete a perfect December in which we won seven out of seven in the league.
The win is enhanced by the dropped points of our nearest rivals Chelsea and Liverpool. There is a long way to go, Guardiola has said as much, but heading into 2022 with an eight point cushion is certainly encouraging as we look to defend our Premier League crown.
Pep Guardiola: The best performance
"[This was] the best performance we could play. So intelligent because they are the best team in the Premier League on set-pieces with the chance they had on the first corner. The second half was much much better.
"We played the game in this stadium, against this team how it must be played. The quality of the players made the difference. It's a good victory. Now we recover as much as possible because at 12.30 on 1 January we have another game."
Man of the Match: Kevin De Bruyne
A typically classy performance from City's playmaker in chief, who is showing signs of his best form right now.
The Bees defended deep for the entire 90-minutes but his precise crossing meant that even when the visitors were unable to execute our intricate passing moves, we still carried a threat with a more direct approach.
- Of the 34 players to have scored at least five Premier League goals this season, none have scored a higher share away from home than Foden (80% - 4/5).
- This is the fourth time we've had a run of 10+ consecutive league wins under Guardiola. No other manager in Premier League history has had more than two separate runs of 10+ wins.
What it means
City end 2021 having record 36 victories and 19 away wins in the league, both of which are English top-flight records.
It leaves us eight points ahead of second placed Chelsea and nine points clear of Liverpool, who have a game in hand.
BRENTFORD: Fernandez, Pinnock, Jansson (C), Sorensen, Roerslev, Baptiste, Jensen, Onyeka (Bidstrup 75’), Thompson (Ghoddos 82’), Wissa (Canos 69’), Toney.
SUBS: Forss, Peart-Harris, Stevens, Cox.
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