It’s been an unbeaten start so far for Manchester City, and next up is Brighton and Hove Albion at home in an elusive three o’clock Saturday kick-off. Last season saw City beat Brighton three times; home, away, and at Wembley.
Brighton have yet to beat City since returning to the Premier League two years ago, but can their new manager change that? Like a seagull swooping down to steal chips from an unsuspecting passer-by, let’s see if Brighton can take points from our Champions.
PROBABLE FORMATION AND LINEUP
It’s been an inconsistent start for Graham Potter’s Brighton side while fielding a fairly consistent team. They’ve picked up a win, a draw, and a loss, featuring a 3-4-3 formation in every game, with only the forwards suffering from rotation. With that, their goal tally has suffered slightly too, as the Seagulls failed to score in their last game against Southampton – coming undone by Andone receiving a red card after Glenn Murray was dropped to the bench. This means we’re likely to see Murray start up front against City, with Brighton hoping he can open his goal account for the season.
In my opinion it will be Maupay – more problems for Man City. Along with the debutante Trossard, he’s had a lively start to Brighton’s campaign. Locadia has also looked dangerous on the left, starting against Watford in the opening game of the season and coming on to hit the post against Southampton. I can see any combination of these four making up the front three at the Etihad.
The rest of the team should remain the same with Mathew Ryan in net, and the defensive alliterative trio of Duffy, Dunk, and Dan Burn in front of him. In central midfield, you can expect to see Stephens and Propper, with Montoya and March playing further wide.
STRENGTH AND TACTICS
Solly March has looked promising for Brighton so far, controlling the ball well down the left of midfield and setting up attacks for Maupay and Trossard. I can’t see Brighton wanting to be too open against this City side though, so we’re likely to see a more defensively compact Brighton – looking to get the ball route one up to Murray, and perhaps attack the space created when City’s full backs move forward. The usual fair for away sides trying to pick their spot.
City won’t want to give Trossard as much time on the ball as they gave Lamela in the last game at the Etihad. Rodri, or whoever closest, will need to be quick in closing him down around the outside of the penalty area.
Set-plays are going to be huge for Brighton as well. They pose an aerial threat with Burn and Duffy moving forward for free-kicks and corners, or a slam from Dunk at the near post. We’ve seen City be exploited from set-pieces so much under Guardiola that this is where Brighton should pose the biggest challenge to City.
You can make the excuse that they were a man down for most of last week’s match, but Brighton were exposed far too easily for the goal conceded in injury time. They lost their concentration at the end of the game, which they must know they’ll be punished for against a team like City who will fight till the end.
The Seagulls back line were also vulnerable to Hernandez’s well timed runs in the West Ham game. If Sterling can stay onside and exploit that this Saturday, he’ll have a lot of luck against Duffy on Brighton’s right. Some well timed passes from David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne down that flank should see City in behind the defence often enough to take advantage.
THE XTRA VIEW
While they haven’t picked up points from every game, Brighton have looked dangerous so far this season. Despite not scoring last week, they had a goal ruled out through VAR, and again the week before that. They have a few different attacking options and City’s defence will need to be on the ball. I’m going to call a 3 – 1 win for the blues.
While both sets of fans will obviously be wanting a result, it would be nice just to have a game free of VAR… but we should fully expect the new blue screen of death to be making an appearance or two.
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