After a masterful performance in the Carabao Cup, Manchester City seamlessly switched gears, and returned to the Premier League to dispose of a Brighton side that managed to trouble City for short spells.
Most of City’s games consist of one-way traffic. Today’s match was no different, and City forced Dunk and Duffy into some tricky tackles and blocks early in the match. One must give credit to the pair for being so resilient even after being called upon time and time again.
Despite their valiant efforts, Brighton were not able to keep out City for very long and Sane and Sterling combined for the first goal of the match. Sterling met Sane’s pass across goal and Mat Ryan had no chance of saving the shot.
Brighton looked to work their way back into the match by asking questions of Guardiola’s choice at left-back, Oleksandr Zinchenko. Brighton’s efforts to overload the left side through the likes of Knockaert were smart, but the execution was lacking. Furthermore, Zinchenko was up to the task despite Brighton’s doubts.
City decided early in the second half that if Brighton wouldn’t answer their goal, they would continue their efforts. Unsurprisingly, their efforts were quickly rewarded again by Aguero who found the cross of Sterling, the familiar face who managed to score the first goal.
Substitutions for both Brighton and City late in the match had no real effect on the game. Brighton were pinned in their own half of the field for the rest of the match while City continued poking around the Seagull’s defence, preying upon any lapse in concentration or foolish mistake.
Despite the loss, Brighton will be happy they did not lose by a larger margin. While Hughton’s men may not have done anything particularly spectacular, they at least attempted to slow Guardiola’s blue machine. City on the other hand, will be satisfied with another win at home. It may be routine for them, but the clean sheet and the goals will undoubtedly continue building confidence in a side that looks to challenge in the Premier League and in the Champions League.
Manchester City: A Tale of Two Wingers
Both teams heavily utilised their wingers in today’s match; however, the pair that made the difference in the scoreline was Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Wingers are an absolutely critical part of the way Guardiola’s Manchester City plays, and although they are Guardiola’s preferred weapons in attack, there was an air of uncertainty surrounding the whereabouts of City’s wingers. In particular, Leroy Sane.
At the beginning of the season there was speculation over when Raheem Sterling would work his way back into the team after the World Cup, and many assumed Leroy Sane would start the first game of the season, due to the fact he was not called upon by Germany for what turned out to be a forgettable World Cup campaign. Time passed and Leroy Sane was still on the bench accompanied by Raheem Sterling. Meanwhile, Bernardo Silva took his opportunity, making it seem that he might have won over Guardiola.
Now, however, both Sterling and Sane have worked their way back into the team, and they have made all the difference in recent matches. The pair has picked up where they left off last season, and their pace and skill on the ball was something City lacked in matches against opposition that prefers to absorb pressure. Their dynamism was missed, and although their place in the team was in question early in the season, it is magnificent to see both players working in tandem once again.
Brighton: The Idealists
Brighton played against Tottenham last week and Manchester City this week and were not completely overwhelmed in either match. Rather, Brighton were looking to go toe to toe with these Premier League heavyweights. Granted, their efforts were hardly elegant, but nevertheless, they were admirable. Their late goal against Tottenham, showed an effort to fight even when the chances of winning or even drawing were non-existent. This week against Manchester City, they showed an effort to be proactive while also being very organised in defence.
Brighton wasn’t expected to win against the juggernaut that is Manchester City, and perhaps, Brighton didn’t expect to win either. Still, Brighton looked to counterattack, to claw themselves back into the match in any way possible. Considering the fact Huddersfield was steamrolled by City not too long ago, Brighton should be praised for keeping the scoreline respectable and for at least attempting to impose their style of play upon the reigning Premier League Champions.
Manchester City: Missing a Key Ingredient
Admittedly, Manchester City haven’t seemed quite themselves so far this season. It’s almost as if someone or something is missing. Ah yes, Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgium magician has been sidelined for some time now, and although, City have still been winning their matches, they don’t seem as convincing as they did last season.
De Bruyne produces passes that split back lines apart and his set pieces leave nothing to be desired. He’s a unique player and clearly one of the best in the Premier League. Without him, Manchester City will find it difficult to challenge a Liverpool that has brought in new signings and looks unstoppable in the Premier League.
Last season, De Bruyne made the difference against top teams like Chelsea, where he scored the winning goal. He might not have had the same luck against Liverpool last season, but his team will need him to arrive back from injury with the determination to deliver the performances he did last year. In fact, they- and the fans- will be looking for an improvement from last season, and although it’s hard to make room for improvement in De Bruyne’s case, he has a knack for surprises.
Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling
It’s hard to understand why Raheem Sterling is so criticized, especially after watching a performance like the one he put on today. Scoring the first and assisting the second, Sterling looked involved in everything City produced today. The man in form will be one to watch in upcoming matches, and he will surely be relishing another opportunity to silence his critics.