Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 29 September 2018
Referee: Lee Mason
Kick off: 15:00
UK TV: Not on UK TV
What a difference a week makes, eh? This time last week, City fans were in meltdown after the Lyon loss, but a convincing domination in Cardiff followed by an exciting victory for a young City side at Oxford have turned the tables and the club is filled with positivity.
Brighton represent a different challenge for City and will not be easy for the hosts.
My Betting Sites have the tasty odds ahead of this clash. If you did fancy a flutter on the away side, they are a staggering 35/1 with the bookmakers. If you would rather play it safe, stick with City, whereas the draw is a good price of 49/4.
A CHANCE TO CLOSE THE GAP AT THE TOP
The big headline across the Premier League this weekend is not Manchester City, but their closest rivals in terms of the title. Chelsea host Liverpool in what promises to be an exciting evening of action at Stamford Bridge. With Liverpool two points ahead of City, a draw or Chelsea win could see City go top, should they beat Brighton (which, shouldn’t be taken for granted, as beating Lyon seemed to be).
It may still be early days in the season, but to end the weekend top of the table would be a pleasing site for City fans. If nothing else, going to Anfield next week not chasing points would be ideal, meaning a draw could be a positive result for Guardiola’s men.
Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo remain in the category of ‘lengthy period on the sidelines’, whilst the extent of Benjamin Mendy’s injury is still relatively unknown.
Fabian Delph missed the Tuesday night trip to Oxford, while Brahim Diaz limped off in that fixture and will most likely sit out of the Brighton game.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, however. Sergio Aguero is likely fully fit again after his minor injury suffered against Fulham. The Argentinian has managed good chunks of minutes in the Lyon and Cardiff games since and will likely start again on Saturday.
Brazilian full back Danilo returned to action after a lengthy setback suffered with Brazil in Russia, but Kyle Walker will be expected to retain his place in the starting eleven.
As for Brighton, star man Pascal Groß will miss the trip to Manchester, as will anchorman Dale Stephens. It will be the first Premier League game Brighton have played with neither of the two midfielders, which will be a huge blow.
Martin Montoya, who Pep gave a first team debut to at Barcelona, could feature at full back, with Beram Kayal expected to replace Stephens for his first appearance of the season.
Brighton are managed by Chris Hughton and enjoyed a positive first season in the Premier League, avoiding relegation with a good few weeks to spare. The goal for last season was obviously to stay in the top flight, but now the club has ambitions of growing into a solid mid-table side at the very least, which is evident from their summer business. The signings of Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Florian Andone and Yves Bissouma all represent tidy acquisitions for The Seagulls and this is testament to the ambitions of the club and chairman Tony Bloom, whom clearly has a plan to bring some big names to the south coast.
On the pitch, the new signings haven’t really featured too much, with Brighton being reliant on ‘the old guard’. Players who got Brighton to the top flight are still playing most weeks and make up the back-bone of Hughton’s side, such as Knockaert, Dunk and Stephens. Up front is Glenn Murray, who turned 35 this week. Although ageing, Murray is not slowing down, as he still proves to be a prolific goal-scorer – vital to Brighton’s successes.
The start to the season has been a mixed bag of results for Brighton, however. Just one victory in six is probably below the par Chris Hughton expects from his team, however you can cut them some slack when you look at their run of games, which has seen them play three of the ‘top six’. Most notably, which City fans will remember with a smirk on their face, Brighton toppled Manchester United with a 3-2 victory at the AMEX Stadium, proving they are fearless against big opposition.
Hughton’s side are a very good outfit but City should have enough for their third win against Brighton since their promotion.
I’m going to go 2-0 City with goals from Aguero and Sterling.