Brighton vs. Man City
Venue: Amex Stadium
Kick off: 8PM
Brighton & Hove Albion go into the second leg of English football’s most difficult double-header when they welcome Manchester City to the Amex Stadium this evening.
The Seagulls were beaten at home by champions Liverpool on Wednesday night and now take on a Man City side looking to halt a poor run of away form.
Inconsistent and mercurial are not words that have been used to describe Manchester City under Pep Guardiola – or indeed any Guardiola team in the past – but this season they have fitted both descriptions.
The former champions have won 17 matches by three or more goals across all competitions and nine by four or more, including three times in their last six outings and one against usurpers Liverpool.
The most recent example came on Wednesday night as they were majestic in beating Newcastle United 5-0, recording the highest pass completion rate since records began (93.7%) en route to blowing the Magpies away.
It is difficult to fathom just how that same team has been beaten nine times in the Premier League this season – more than Manchester United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal, the club’s highest tally since the 2015-16 campaign under Manuel Pellegrini and Guardiola’s highest tally ever as a manager.
There is also understandable bemusement at how one of the greatest teams in English football history can still find themselves 23 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, although that can largely be attributed to their away form.
Seven of their nine defeats this season have come on the road, including three in a row heading into this match – the worst run of Guardiola’s entire managerial career.
Not since April 2015 have they lost four away league games on the bounce, but they arrive at the Amex with only two goals in their last five such outings and having failed to score more than once in a top-flight away game since January 12.
Quite how they did not score against Southampton last weekend may still bemuse Guardiola, who watched his side have 26 shots without breaking the Saints’ stubborn rearguard action.
Regardless of that, Brighton will know that they cannot gift Man City chances like they did to Liverpool on Wednesday night, with two mistakes while playing out from the back seeing them fall two goals down inside eight minutes against the champions.
Ultimately there was no way back from that, although the Seagulls gave it a very good go and could well have come away with something from the game had all of their attacks been as clinical as the one which saw Leandro Trossard score.
Graham Potter will be pleased with his side’s display despite the result, and their performances since the restart do not really match the negative statistics which surround their form as a whole, with their tally of two league wins from 14 games in 2020 being the lowest in the division.
Brighton have also now lost back-to-back home games for the first time since April 2019 and have won just one of their eight outings at the Amex this calendar year.
However, that solitary win did come against Arsenal and they are in the midst of a very difficult run at home, facing Manchester United and Liverpool in their last two before today’s visit of Man City.
Fortunately for Potter’s side they have built a nice cushion between themselves and the relegation zone, and it would take an unlikely turnaround in form for a number of teams below them in the table for Brighton to be dragged back into the mire now.
The Seagulls are not quite safe yet, but they are much more likely to pick up the points they need to secure their Premier League status in upcoming matches against Southampton, Newcastle United and Burnley.
Brighton possible XI: Ryan, Lamptey, Webster, Dunk, Burn, Propper, Stephens, Bissouma, Mac Allister, Maupay, Trossard.
Man City possible XI: Ederson, Walker, Garcia, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Gundogan, D Silva, Bernardo, Jesus, Sterling.