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Winners & Losers

21 touches for Haaland! Winners, losers & ratings as Man City's machine breaks down against Brentford to open the door for Arsenal

15:28 GMT 12/11/2022
Erling Haaland Manchester City 2022-23
An anonymous afternoon from the City striker set the tone as Guardiola's men suffered a shock defeat thanks to two goals from Ivan Toney

This wasn't meant to happen. Manchester City were expected to cruise to victory against Brentford in their final match before the World Cup, but instead they've left the door wide open for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal.

Erling Haaland hardly touched the ball as Brentford's centre-backs had a comfortable afternoon against the usually ruthless Norwegian machine, who was clearly missing a cog or two in his first start since late October.

To be fair, the warning signs were there early doors. After missing two chances inside the opening 10 minutes, Ivan Toney struck. Snubbed by Gareth Southgate and with a point to prove, the Brentford forward caused problems for the City defence all afternoon and would add a second to claim a historic win for Thomas Frank and his troops.

Sixteen of City's megastars will now head to Qatar, although they won't be going there with a beaming smile. It was an uncharacteristically poor performance from Guardiola's side, who could now have five points to make up when the season gets back underway.

Here's GOAL's winners, losers and ratings from an utterly miserable afternoon for the Premier League champions.

  • Phil Foden Manchester City 2022-23

    The Winners

    Arsenal:

    Was he watching? Surely he was?! Mikel Arteta can lead his Arsenal side into the international break an incredible five points ahead of City, if they can get the job done against Wolves later on Saturday. It's an unbelievable position for the Gunners to be in prior to the World Cup break, and one that their fans probably would never have imagined in their wildest dreams at the start of the 2022-23 season. Could Arteta really guide his side to their first Premier League title win since 2004? They may not get a better chance. What a time to be a Gooner!

    Phil Foden:

    Are you watching, Gareth? You better have been! If Foden doesn't start for England at the World Cup it will be an absolute travesty. The 22-year-old is a generational talent and he came up big when Guardiola needed him. In truth, like many of his team-mates, Foden had a pretty forgettable first half. That was until we hit stoppage time. As Kevin De Bruyne's corner bounced towards him, Foden unleashed. It was an unstoppable strike with flawless technique that arrowed past David Raya and into the top corner. City may have lost here, but you certainly can't blame their homegrown forward.

    International managers:

    As with all top-flight games taking place across the globe this weekend, international bosses will be praying for no late injury issues that could disrupt their plans just a week before the World Cup gets underway. Indeed, City have the joint-most number of players heading to Qatar (16, level with Bayern Munich) and fortunately for them, and the likes of Gareth Southgate, Luis Enrique, Fernando Santos and all the other national team bosses that rely on the Premier League champions' vast talent pool, everyone appeared to come away unscathed. Well, almost. Aymeric Laporte was down for around seven minutes as he received treatment on a nasty gashed head, but that certainly won't keep him out of Qatar. He's a warrior, is the Spain international.

  • Ilkay Gundogan Manchester City 2022-23

    The Losers

    Erling Haaland:

    It just wasn't Haaland's day. Restored to the starting XI, City's goalscoring freak would have been hungry to make a big impact in his final game before over a month off, but he was largely anonymous. It's difficult to criticise the Norwegian, given the gargantuan impact he's had since joining the Premier League champions, but Brentford's three centre-backs will go home and put their feet up in the knowledge they were rarely troubled by the 22-year-old. And you don't say that very often when Haaland's involved. The battling, bruising and ultimately brilliant focal point of a striker just wasn't on show at the Etihad today. The service to him wasn't great, granted, but Haaland wasn't in the groove either. Unfit? Maybe. But he certainly won't want to use that as an excuse. He had just 21 touches all game, the second lowest of all players who started the match and even fewer than both goalkeepers, Ederson and Raya. The former Dortmund forward's afternoon was summed up perfectly when, in the first half, he lay flat on the ground bemoaning how he'd failed to grow tall enough to connect with a cross from Foden, not realising De Bruyne had swung over another delivery that may well have been on a plate for him.

    Ilkay Gundogan:

    Scoring is Haaland's job, not Gundogan's, but boy could City have done with the midfielder wearing his shooting boots today. The Germany international had at least two presentable chances in front of goal in the second half and he wasted both of them. Woefully, in fact. First, he blazed over as he struggled to sort his feet out following Haaland's clever touch inside, before he again ballooned over the bar when well positioned in the box. Look, we're not expecting the same numbers Gundogan managed a couple of seasons ago - that saw him score 17 in all competitions - but he really should have done a whole lot better here, and his wasteful finishing ultimately cost his side the points. The former Dortmund midfielder's dismal afternoon was made worse when he allowed Toney to run off him to score the winner in second-half stoppage time.

    The City fans:

    They came to see Haaland. He did little. They certainly expected all three points. They got none. Throw in some controversial VAR calls and it was a hugely frustrating afternoon for City's supporters. Indeed, many of the decisions could have quite easily gone their way. Rico Henry's handball looked to be on the line, and thus a penalty, although a conclusive camera angle wasn't available to reverse Peter Bankes' original decision of a free-kick. De Bruyne, too, will argue he was clipped as he ran through. The Belgian was deemed to have dived, no penalty awarded. Store that one firmly in the 'seen them given' category. Their team remain behind Arsenal in the table, a gap that could extend to five points by the time a ball is even kicked in Qatar. City fans aren't used to it and they won't like it. Improvement needed in the second half of the season, especially if they're finally going to halt their Champions League duck.

  • Aymeric Laporte Manchester City 2022-23

    Man City Ratings: Defence

    Ederson (7/10):

    Made two top early saves to deny Frank Onyeka and Ivan Toney as Brentford started on top but could do little to keep out either of the latter's goals. He may not be Brazil's No.1 but he remains one of world's top goalkeepers and Guardiola certainly wouldn't swap him for anyone.

    John Stones (5/10):

    He's just not a right-back. Stones wasn't majorly at fault here but he doesn't provide anywhere near the same attacking threat as Kyle Walker. Will head off to Qatar now safe in the knowledge he'll be restored to his familiar centre-back role.

    Manuel Akanji (4/10):

    Beaten in the air by Ben Mee as the Brentford centre-back's towering header led to Toney's opener. It was a key moment in the match and ultimately helped the visitors claim all three points.

    Aymeric Laporte (6/10):

    Couldn't stop Toney from opening the scoring as his attempt to clear ultimately saw the ball loop into the net. Shades of Terry Butcher as he was patched up with a bandage around his head in the second half and did incredibly well soon after to divert the ball away to stop Brentford scoring a second.

    Joao Cancelo (4/10):

    What's happened to the buccaneering, assist machine of last season? Back in the XI after his midweek ban, Cancelo struggled to provide the attacking threat from left-back that we've become accustomed to. A really quiet afternoon for the Portuguese and he was even booked for diving.

  • Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 2022-23

    Midfield

    Kevin De Bruyne (5/10):

    Tried to pull the strings and get City moving forward but wasn't able to stamp his authority on the game as well as he usually does. His passing accuracy was an alarmingly low, for him, 69%, although he did stop Brentford adding to their goals tally with an incredible goalline clearance late on.

    Rodri (6/10):

    You can't really blame Rodri for this one. His passing was excellent as he kept trying to move his team forward, but ultimately he was on the losing side.

    Ilkay Gundogan (3/10):

    This wasn't a typical Gundogan performance. He hopelessly shanked a shot when Raya was miles off his line in the eighth minute and then squandered two more presentable chances in the second half that could've turned it all in City's favour. Way, way below his best.

  • Erling Haaland Manchester City 2022-23

    Attack

    Bernardo Silva (5/10):

    Was unfortunate not to earn a penalty when VAR ruled his clever piece of skill that led to Rico Henry handling occurred outside the box. Harsh. He kept plugging away but ultimately couldn't find a way through a solid Brentford defensive block.

    Erling Haaland (4/10):

    Not how Haaland would've planned to sign off before his holidays. He had just 21 touches during a subdued 90 minutes as Brentford's defence marshalled him well. Summed up his day when De Bruyne crossed only for a sprawled Haaland to fail to get up in time to attempt to convert as he reflected on failing to connect with Foden's initial delivery.

    Phil Foden (7/10):

    What. A. Goal. The 22-year-old delivered as City struggled to find their rhythm in the first half, smashing home a sensational strike in first-half stoppage time that brought his team level. He couldn't produce something similarly heroic in the second half but he certainly looks in decent shape ahead of the World Cup.

  • Pep Guardiola Man City 2022-23

    Subs & Manager

    Julian Alvarez (5/10): Came on for the final minutes but it was too late for him to be able to make a telling impact.

    Pep Guardiola (5/10): "Don't call me!" That was Guardiola's advice to any international managers who dared to consider asking him to rest their players before the World Cup, and he won't want to answer his phone to anyone after that. It's hard to blame him, he picked his strongest XI here - with 10 of them flying to Qatar next week - but they just didn't deliver. Advantage Arteta, advantage Arsenal.