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Pep Guardiola lavishes Phil Foden with superlatives after hat-trick against Aston Villa

Pep Guardiola said Phil Foden can "do whatever he wants" in football after watching him fire Manchester City to a 4-1 Premier League victory over Aston Villa with a brilliant hat-trick.

With Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne dropping to the bench, Foden moved into a central position and orchestrated the demolition of Villa with an outstanding display, playing a hand in Rodri's opener and then taking the game away from the visitors after Jhon Duran had levelled.

Foden restored City's lead with a free-kick in first-half stoppage time when he found the gap that Nicolo Zaniolo left in Villa's wall, then won it with two excellent goals just after the hour, the last of them a shot into the top corner after he had lost the ball but quickly regained it.

His second hat-trick of the campaign moved Foden on to 21 goals for the season and kept the pressure on in the title race, with the champions one point behind new leaders Arsenal and level with Liverpool who host Sheffield United on Thursday.

"What can I say? Three goals," Guardiola said. "He didn't start well but I think the goal helped him a lot for the mood. When Phil plays in a central position he has a sense for goals and he proved it again.

"He can do whatever he wants. He's a real top-class player. We know it. But he is still open-minded, he has to understand the game, he has to focus on things, sometimes he's a bit distracted in exactly what you have to do offensively, defensively, but he has a natural talent - a gift - which is special.

"The work ethic is unbelievable and he has an incredible sense of goal. When he has the ball and he's attacking the back line he is going to score, you had that feeling. It is not easy to find it and that's why he's so special when he's

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