• Tom Cayless

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Brighton Preview

After last week's trip to Anfield and the annual refereeing controversy, Manchester City return to Premier League action this weekend as they face 8th-place Brighton at the Etihad on Saturday at 15:00 (BST). The game will not be televised live in the United Kingdom.

A win for the Blues could mean they finish the week just one point behind surprising table-toppers Arsenal.

 

Team News and Predicted XI


In his press conference, Pep Guardiola provided updates on City's injury list. The boss confirmed the return of John Stones after he was taken off for England in the last round of international fixtures; the City defender was also photographed training with the squad this week. As for Kyle Walker, Guardiola stated that he didn't know if the full-back would be fit enough for next month's FIFA World Cup. Kalvin Phillips is another player that has been sidelined recently for the Blues but Guardiola said he was 'recovering really well', however, didn't confirm his place in the squad.


With a packed fixture list on its way, Guardiola would have been happy with the break his side got midweek after their fixture with Arsenal was cancelled due to a rearrangement of the London side's Europa League clash against PSV. The Catalan stated:

"One advantage in seven years, not a problem. We are used to play until the last stages of competitions; all the teams who don't play in Europe have advantage over teams that do play in Europe."

As a result of no game midweek, it's anyone's guess for the lineup that Guardiola will choose on Saturday. However, it is worth noting that City travel to Dortmund on Tuesday for their fifth UEFA Champions League group-stage affair.

One player that may feel hard done by Guardiola's rotation is City's £100m man, Jack Grealish. The former Aston Villa captain had had a good run of games in City's attack before the manager decided to drop him for the visit to Anfield. He may come into the attack with Guardiola less likely to be as conservative as he was against Liverpool.

As for the Walker-less defence, Joao Cancelo is almost a guarantee to start. Ruben Dias will more than likely keep his place in the defence with Manuel Akanji alongside him, and I believe we will see Sergio Gomez come into left-back, as he cannot play in City's next game on Tuesday due to suspension.


In the midfield, it's likely to be more of the same with Rodri holding and Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him with either Ilkay Gundogan or Bernardo Silva on the other side – unless Guardiola throws a spanner in the works and drops Phil Foden or Grealish into the three to accommodate for Riyad Mahrez or Julian Alvarez up front, but that seems improbable.


And, you can bet your bottom dollar the big Norwegian will be the number 9.


Predicted XI:


Ederson, Cancelo, Akanji, Dias, Gomez, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Grealish, Haaland, Foden

Photo courtesy of Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
 

Opposition


Winless in their last four games, Brighton come to the Etihad in a bad run of form since former their manager, Graham Potter, left for Chelsea. New gaffer, Roberto De Zerbi has struggled to even get his side to score a goal in their past three games since the 3-3 at Anfield. A 1-0 defeat to Spurs at home, a 2-0 loss at Brentford last Friday, and a goalless draw against relegation fodder Nottingham Forest at the Amex in midweek have all created a slight cause for concern amongst the Brighton fanbase.

However, the stats show that chance creation isn't really the problem for the Seagulls but more the finishing. The visitors to the Etihad on Saturday have amassed an xG of 4.33 in their last three games, so it's very surprising that their fans haven't had a goal to celebrate.


De Zerbi has typically lined his side up in a 3-4-3/3-5-2 formation, with either Solly March or Tariq Lamptey as the right-wingback and Leandro Trossard or Pervis Estupinan on the left. Spanish goalkeeper, Robert Sanchez will start in net with a back-three of Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster likely to start in front of him. Breakout star Moses Caicdeo will partner Argentinian international Alexis Mac Allister in the midfield with Pascal Groß playing slightly further forwards, with either former Manchester United player Danny Welbeck or Dennis Undav starting up front.

Photo courtesy of Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
 

Head-to-Head


Played: 28

Won: 18

Drawn: 4

Lost: 6


Over the past few years, City has played Brighton in a few high-profile games including an FA Cup semi-final and a Premier League title decider with most encounters resulting in goals galore. The most recent meeting between the two sides resulted in a 3-0 home victory for City in April of this year.


On the final day of the 2018/19 season, Pep Guardiola's side travelled to Brighton as they looked to wrap up the most intense title race in Premier League history with anything other than a victory meaning Liverpool would have won the title. The Blues got off to the worst possible start with Glen Murray scoring early for the Seagulls. Still, City turned it around with Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte, Riyad Mahrez, and Ilkay Gundogan getting on the scoresheet to secure City's fourth Premier League title.

Just over a month before that game, Brighton and City met at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final. Once again, City ran out as winners but this time only 1-0, and were perhaps lucky to not see Kyle Walker sent off after a wild high-footed challenge. The Premier League champions went on to win the FA Cup that year, thrashing Watford 6-0 in the final and became the first-ever English side to complete a domestic treble.

 

Match Officials


Referee: Craig Pawson

Assistants: Marc Perry & Scott Ledger

Fourth Official: Tony Harrington

VAR: Lee Mason

Assistant VAR: Ian Hussin

Photo courtesy of George Wood/Getty Images
 

Written by: @TomCayless_


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