Match Coverage

Three at the back can work but needs Mendy: What We Learned from Brighton vs. Man City

Photo: CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images

City eventually put away newly-promoted Brighton to secure the three points on the south coast this afternoon. The Blues were completely dominant in possession and although it took a while, they finally made it count to put two past Brighton and make a stellar start to Pep’s second season in charge.

Here’s what I learned from the game…

Three at the back is a genuinely viable option

OK, so it was a bit of a frustrating game and although we dominated possession we didn’t create too many clear cut chances, but the fact that we were able to control the game is something to shout about. We’re going to have to get used to teams parking the bus against us and looking to play out for a draw, and today was a clear example of times to come this season. Brighton were compact and disciplined for the majority of the game and were very hesitant to leave themselves vulnerable for a possible counter attack by not committing too many men forward. We saw plenty of today’s formation throughout pre-season and it was no real surprise that Pep decided to implement it for real in the first game. Although it took a while for the breakthrough to eventually come, we were in complete control of the game with the three men at the back. Kompany, Stones and Otemendi were a solid option to have facing any possible counter attack whilst Walker and Danilo were often the furthest players forward on the pitch. Walker was a candidate for man of the match, but Danilo struggled to make his mark on the game and was more frustrating than useful as the game wore on. Which leads me to my next point.

It’s viable but needs a left-footed wing-back

I was really impressed with Danilo in pre-season, but then again anything compared to Gaël Clichy is going to be an upgrade. The amount of times the Frenchman was in a prime crossing position last season and opted to play a simple pass backwards should have given me a brain aneurysm – but luckily it didn’t. Now we have chosen to spend big on full-backs and we should hopefully see the fruits of this throughout this season, but Danilo as a left wing-back provided some room for thought. Danilo is primarily a right-back and therefore is a right-footed player, which would have been obvious to the most casual of football watcher as the game progressed. I would have even fancied myself as the Brighton right-back against a player who is pretty much guaranteed to cut inside to his favoured right foot every time. I’m not saying he’s a bad player at all and it’s most likely to early to tell but the fact that Danilo was hesitant to try and take on the full-back on the outside any opportunity was a worry to me. Obviously City have just spent £50m to try and rectify this position by signing a certain Benjamin Mendy and if Danilo remains as cautious as he was today – effectively on the left wing – then the Frenchman can’t get fit soon enough.

David Silva is getting older

So obviously each player gets older every day and I am in no way saying that the greatest City player I have ever seen play is ‘past it’ by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we have to acknowledge that El Mago won’t be around forever. Everyone is entitled to have a below average game and today Silva wasn’t at his best – nothing to worry about. A few misplaced passes here and a wayward shot there is no reasons to panic that the man is losing his touch but perhaps this is the season where we witness the transition that was inevitable. Is this the season Kevin De Bruyne becomes a greater asset to the team than Silva? It wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen, KDB has every quality about him to become the greatest midfielder the Premier League has ever seen and David Silva has to retire eventually, right? With his namesake Bernardo Silva seemingly signed to play in a similar position, this season could be the year that we start to witness the beginning of the end of the 31-year old-midfielder. That or we could be witnessing a Sampson-esque situation from the Bible…

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