Match Review – Brighton 0-2 Manchester City

mancity2017review

A packed Amex. A sea of blue and white. Millions upon millions of pounds worth of players on the pitch. One of the greatest managers in the history of the game in the dugout. 22% possession. Two shots on target. Welcome to the Premier League.

As introductions go, this was a particularly brutal one. While Huddersfield started with a gentle trip to Crystal Palace (hehehe), here we were facing the title favourites at home. And just for good measure, Pep Guardiola decided to start Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus up front together. That can’t have happened very often before, if it all. Cheers mate.

Speaking of Guardiola, one of the main questions to come out of the game was what the hell was he wearing? We’ve all spent the summer eagerly anticipating seeing the best players in the world and visiting some of the most famous grounds in the country, but nobody said we could also expect such fashion in the dugout. So relaxed was Guardiola at the prospect of facing Brighton that he stepped straight into the technical area after a relaxing round of 68 at Singing Hills.

By the final whistle, his laid back approach looked justified as Manchester City sauntered to a 2-0 victory. But for 70 minutes, the Albion defence held strong and resolute until City’s class eventually shone through. We were beaten by the better team, something we will have to get used to saying quite a lot this season you suspect.

Chris Hughton handed out five debuts and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Maty Ryan pulled off one outrageous save from Jesus from point blank range but then let Lewis Dunk’s header go through his legs. This was, in fairness, an excellent finish from Dunk. Ryan’s kicking at times would’ve made the watching Michel Kuipers blush. Speaking of the Former Dutch Marine (chef), he was seen by one of our readers to have been crying tears of joy before the game in the West Stand. It says much about the sort of club we are that we can elicit that sort of response from a bloke from the Netherlands.

Kuipers’ compatriot Davy Propper looked propper rubbish in the first half and improved marginally after the break. He will need to do a lot more against admittedly lesser teams than City to avoid joining Elvis Manu and Danny Holla in the list of recent failures from the land of clogs and Edam. The best debutant was Markus Suttner, the left back looking an upgrade on anything else we’ve had there since Stephen Ward in both an attacking and defending sense. Izzy Brown looked lively before he limped off with a hamstring injury and it was difficult to judge Pascal Gross given him and Tomer Hemed spent most of the game closing down City’s back three rather than doing anything remotely like attacking.

The Albion’s two chances of note came inside 30 second half seconds from a corner. Firstly Shane Duffy’s shot of the loose ball was deflected behind and then Lewis Dunk was inches away after Ederson flapped at the second ball in. If he is a £35m goalkeeper, I’m Selena Gomez’s boyfriend.

Dunk and Duffy were the two stand out performers for Brighton with the former arguably the Albion man of the match. The only time they looked susceptible before City scored their first was when the pace of Aguero and Jesus got them in around the back. No matter, they’ve only got to deal with Jamie Vardy next Saturday.

Despite the best efforts of the double D pairing, City should’ve taken the lead much earlier than they did. Aguero miscued once in either half the sort of chances he never does and Jesus punched the ball past Ryan into the goal. He got a clattering and a yellow card for his troubles as well as a crucifixion from the Albion support.

It was a quite brilliant pass from David Silva that played Aguero in for the first and then five minutes later it was two, Dunk heading in a cross for an own goal under pressure from Jesus. The sizable City contingent made some rare noise in cheering both goals but you sensed that was more out of relief at eventually overcoming a stubborn defensive display on a day when title rivals Chelsea and Liverpool fluffed their lines against Burnley and Watford.

Hughton said afterwards that not every game would involve 10 men behind the ball and that we will attack against the right teams, which is promising. One thing that will need improving on is what the Albion do with the ball. They were slopping in possession, giving it away with alarming regularity which you cannot afford to do against opponents of that quality.

It was very rabbits in the headlights stuff. The players need to settle down, not rush things and think a little more but you couldn’t blame them for being overawed by the occasion. Once again, we lost at home when the club gave our free flags.

But the wait to play a top flight game was well worth the 34 years. One of the toughest games of the season is out of the way and although we didn’t shine, we weren’t disgraced either. If Saturday is anything to go by, this season will be a great ride no matter what happens.

Bring on Leicester.

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