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Preview: Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Premier League clash between champions Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion, with predictions, team news and a full preview.
By , Editor | 9mo

Manchester City could temporarily move top of the Premier League table on Saturday when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Etihad Stadium.

The defending champions have dropped just two points from their opening six outings so far this season, and will be heavy favourites to add another win to their tally against a Brighton side without a victory in five.


Man City

Manchester City have the chance to equal their best-ever start to a Premier League season in this match, and few would bet against them keeping with the pace they set at the start of their record-breaking campaign last term.

The difference this season is that City do not lead the way at this stage of the campaign, but they have a chance to leapfrog the so-far perfect Liverpool on Saturday with the Reds not playing until later in the day.

Indeed, Liverpool's trip to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge means that at least one of the only other two teams yet to lose this season will drop points, making it all the more important for City to avoid a slip-up against the Seagulls.

Pep Guardiola will be wary of complacency creeping into his side, although that does not appear to be a problem and the ability to chop and change some of his best players without losing much quality from the starting lineup helps not only to keep those players fresh, but also on their toes.

Last weekend provided a prime example as David Silva was amongst the star names left on the bench, yet City still managed to cruise to a 5-0 away win over Cardiff City, with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva both shining in the Spaniard's absence.

Cardiff may be favourites for relegation this season - while the midweek EFL Cup win did not exactly provide stiff opposition in the shape of League One strugglers Oxford United either - but City have now won two away games by an aggregate score of 8-0 within the past week, having made 10 changes between those two games too.

Guardiola's side now return to the Etihad, where they will be keen to make amends following their shock 2-1 Champions League defeat to Lyon in their last home outing, which was surprisingly their fourth defeat in their last 10 outings in front of their own fans.

The champions have taken 58 points from the last 63 on offer at the Etihad in the Premier League, though, and they have lost just one of their last 34 in a run which stretches all the way back to December 2016.

City also have a sensational record playing at 3pm on a Saturday, and should they avoid defeat this weekend then they would equal the all-time Premier League unbeaten streak in that kickoff slot; their current run stands at 32, just one behind Chelsea's 33-match streak from February 2006 to February 2009.

Of course, matches against their top-six rivals rarely, if ever, fall into that slot, and things will get tougher for City, who face four of last season's top seven in their next five games after this - including a trip to Anfield next weekend.

Upcoming Champions League matches against Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk have now also taken on an even greater significance following their defeat to Lyon, although Guardiola has already shown that his side have the strength in depth to deal with the packed fixture schedule.

Recent Premier League form: WWDWWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWLWW


Brighton

Premier League matches do not come any tougher than a visit to the Etihad Stadium right now, and Brighton will not make the trip with particularly high hopes of ending what is now a five-game winless run across all competitions.

Even ignoring Man City's substantial quality for one moment, Brighton's away form would make them underdogs as visitors to almost any Premier League ground and their primary objective on Saturday could well be damage limitation from the off.

It is now almost 10 months since Brighton last picked up an away win in the Premier League, picking up just five points from a possible 48 on the road since their 1-0 triumph over Swansea City on November 4.

The Seagulls may have beaten relegation by seven points last term, but if only away form counted they would have finished rock-bottom, with the fewest points, wins and goals scored in the division.

Indeed, home and away Brighton have only won two of their last 15 Premier League outings stretching back to March, although both of those victories have come against top-class opposition in the form of Manchester United.

Beating Manchester opposition may give Brighton a glimmer of hope heading into this match, and they can also take encouragement from their performances in other meetings with top-six teams so far this season.

Last month's memorable 3-2 triumph over United may be Brighton's only win of the season so far, but the Seagulls have since pushed both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all the way and could consider themselves unlucky to have come away from those matches empty-handed.

There was even some encouragement on the road in their last away game, with Hughton's side launching a stirring second-half comeback to draw 2-2 with Southampton, having been two behind at St Mary's.

City at the Etihad are, of course, a completely different proposition, though, and this match pits one of the league's worst defensive records - Brighton have conceded 11 times and are yet to keep a clean sheet this season - against its best attack.

Recent Premier League form: LWLDDL
Recent form (all competitions): WLLDDL


Team News

It takes a special squad to be able to leave David Silva out and still win 5-0 away from home in the Premier League, and such were the performances of Bernardo and Gundogan that the Spanish playmaker may find it hard to earn his place back.

Guardiola made 10 changes for the EFL Cup win over Oxford in midweek - including starting John Stones in a defensive midfield role - but the likes of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Kyle Walker, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho are all expected to return this weekend.

Saturday's match is likely to come too soon for Benjamin Mendy, meaning that Fabian Delph is likely to be deployed at left-back once again.

Sergio Aguero was given the night off on Tuesday too and is expected to lead the line once again having scored 14 goals and registered three assists in his last 10 league outings at the Etihad.

There could be rotation with Hoffenheim looming next Tuesday, but Guardiola could also name an unchanged team from last weekend's rout of Cardiff, such is the quality at his disposal.

Brighton, meanwhile, will be without two key midfielders as Dale Stephens and Pascal Gross miss out with hamstring and ankle problems respectively.

Florin Andone continues to push for his debut, but he is unlikely to usurp Glenn Murray - the Premier League's top-scoring Englishman - in the starting lineup.

The division's most prolific partnership this season has been the unlikely duo of Anthony Knockaert and Shane Duffy, who have set each other up for a combined three goals already in 2018-19.

Man City possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph; Bernardo, Fernandinho, Gundogan; Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Brighton possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert, Propper, Kayal, Bissouma, March; Murray


Head To Head



Brighton's only league win against Man City in their last 11 attempts came in the old Second Division in 1989, with City winning seven of those including both last season.

The corresponding fixture last term saw City run out 3-1 winners in May, having opened what would become their record-breaking campaign with a 2-0 win at the Amex.

The Seagulls have never won an away game against Man City in any competition, losing six and drawing two of their previous eight such meetings.


We say: Man City 4-0 Brighton



Brighton have made it difficult for some of the bigger teams in the league already this season, but City are beginning to fire on all cylinders now and they rarely slip up in these type of matches. We're going for a convincing home win.






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