Men's Team

Phil Foden: An Irrepressible Force

Phil Foden will begin his sixth season as a first team player when the 2022/23 campaign begins.

He is likely to pass 200 appearances for City in the coming year and will almost certainly pass 50 goals, too (he is currently on 169 and 45 respectively).

It’s a remarkable achievement for a player who has only recently turned 22.

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To illustrate his year-on-year impact, we focus on each area of the England playmaker’s progress to date as he continues to push the boundaries and become ever more indispensable to Pep Guardiola with each passing season…

Appearances

You’d expect Foden’s appearances to have increased over the past five years, and of course, they have.

He managed 10 in his breakthrough season, more than doubling to 26 in 2018/19.

A season later, it was up to 38, showing clearly the carefully planned integration by Guardiola for this most precocious talent.

In 2020/21, Foden clocked up a half-century of games, though injuries meant it was five fewer in 2021/22.

In each of the last two years, however, the games started has remained at 36 – exactly double that of 2019/20.

Minutes Played

Since 2017/18, Foden’s minutes on the pitch have increased almost 100%.

From the 330 of his first campaign, the year-on-year minutes went to 1112 (2018/19), 1741 (2019/20) before doubling to 3375 in 2020/21.

It was slightly less due to the aforementioned injuries last season, at 3185 minutes – some 52 hours and 25 minutes of action.

Goals

Though Foden didn’t score in 2017/18, he managed seven in his second season.

Eight more followed in 2018/19, before he doubled his quota in 2019/20 to 16 – a superb tally for an attacking midfielder.

Last season, he managed 14 more goals to make it 45 in total and 30 in the past two seasons.

Combine the past two years and his total is 30 goals in 95 appearances – a fraction shy of a goal every three games.

Assists

The past three years have seen Foden provide numerous assists for team-mates.

Though he managed just three in his first two campaigns, he has increased each season since, providing 9, 10 and 11 in the last three seasons at an average of 10 assists each term

Goal involvements

While Foden’s goals and assists are impressive enough, combining them both to get an overall goal involvements figure makes those stats look even more incredible.

The number was in single figures for the first two seasons (1 & 9), leaping to 17 in his third year and then a rock steady 26 and 25 for 2020/21 and 2021/22.

That means that for every 127.4 minutes last season, Foden was involved in a goal, either creating one of scoring himself.

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Big chances created

Continuing on the creative theme, the big chances Foden created for others could have sent his numbers off the chart had they been converted.

What’s even more impressive is that he played five fewer games last season than the season before, yet he created more opportunities, underscoring what a crucial team player he is.

From 50 appearances last season, he made 13 big opportunities, whereas he increased to 18 big chances made from just 45 appearances last term – five more, from five fewer games.

This could indicate Guardiola is encouraging Foden to trust his instincts even more with his extensive range of passes, dribbling and vision all being allowed to flourish.

Passing accuracy

One area of Foden’s game that has remained remarkably consistent is his passing.

Over all five seasons, his passing accuracy has never wavered below 86.4%, peaking in his debut campaign at 88/2% - from best to worst over five seasons, that’s only a slight deviation range of 1.8% and remains one of his prime attributes.

Tackles

Another indication of how Guardiola is fine-tuning Foden’s game can be seen in his tackling statistics.

His tackling success rose year-on-year for his first four seasons – 3, 18, 25 and 43.

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The 2021/22 total was 24, suggesting that the youngster has been told to tackle when he can, but focus more in hurting the opposition over stopping them.

24 is not quite half the tally of 2020/21’s 43, but it suggests a definite shift in the tactical use of Foden defensively.

Interceptions

Intercepting play is another important defensive transition for any player, but as with tackles, the stats suggest Foden is not being asked to focus on stopping the opposition as much as his first four seasons.

His tackling increased for each of his first four seasons – and so did his interceptions, with totals of 2, 6, 13 and 23.

The 2021/22 tally of 16 again is an indicator that perhaps Guardiola wants Foden to focus slightly less on prevention, and slightly more on creation.

Dribbles completed

Our final category provides irrefutable evidence of Foden’s evolving role in the team.

The defensive statistical deviations could come from the numerous times he played as a false nine during 2021/22.

Ever adaptable along the front three or deeper if required, Foden’s opportunities to dribble have therefore been less.

The seasonal rate of increase had been astounding – almost doubling each campaign, from 11 to 28 and then from 48 in 2019/20 to 75 in 2020/21.

Still his second highest tally yet, his 2021/22 total of 55 fits in perfectly with the apparent fine-tuning of Foden’s increasingly specific role in the City formation.

The 2022/23 numbers of our back-to-back PFA Young Player of the Year should make fascinating reading.

Phil Foden

2017/18

2018/19

2019/20

2020/21

2021/22

Appearances

10

26

38

50

45

Starts

3

11

18

36

36

Minutes

330

1112

1741

3375

3185

Goals

0

7

8

16

14

Assists

1

2

9

10

11

Goal Involvements

1

9

17

26

25

Mins/Goal Involvement

330.0

123.6

102.4

129.8

127.4

Wins

7

23

32

38

31

Win %

70%

88%

84%

76%

69%

Draws

1

2

3

4

8

Defeats

2

1

3

8

6

Big Chances Created

1

6

8

13

18

Passes

262

664

996

1667

1466

Passes Successful

231

575

874

1464

1266

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