After three high scoring victories against Leicester City, Newcastle United and Leeds United, it felt like a comparatively low-key affair in West London, where Phil Foden’s precise volley saw Pep Guardiola’s men chalk up a 10th consecutive win in the Premier League.
City had chances – Foden glanced a header inches wide and Kevin De Bruyne hit the woodwork – but were unable to replicate the devastating attacking form of recent weeks against the high energy and stubborn home defence.
However, whilst the one goal margin made it feel like Brentford had a hope of getting something from the game, City were rarely troubled after a brief scare in the opening 15 minutes and controlled the contest with 78% possession.
Goater felt we were missing the intensity which characterised our stunning win over Leicester on Boxing Day, but believes Guardiola’s men deliberately slowed the game down to quieten the home crowd.
“It was almost a masterclass of managing the whole game,” he reflected on Matchday Live.
“You could hear the crowd for six or seven minutes and the reason we didn’t hear them for large portions of the game is because of how City played and how they managed it.
“There wasn’t a great deal of pace and zip about our game, like at Leicester, but I think it was controlled.
“I think it was purposely controlled to keep their fans quiet. They were saying boring City and I felt this would have been the game plan.
“It was brilliant how we managed it, without creating tonnes of chances but also stopping them getting loads of chances and set pieces.”
City could have won by more.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game, with De Bruyne providing a brilliant, curling cross from deep on the right and Foden displaying excellent technique to guide a deft volley past Álvaro Fernández.
Goater was particularly impressed with the eye-catching strike, praising the Academy graduate for having the presence of mind to steer the ball home rather than trying to power it beyond the Bees’ goalkeeper.
“He just has that quality,” added the former City striker.
“The pace is all on the ball, he knows he’s just got to deflect it at goal. Anyone who is not an experienced finisher will try and meet energy and that’s not what you need to do.
“It was beautiful because he knows a delicate touch is all it needs. His timing of his runs is so perfect, he just knows.
“It was beautiful.”