Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League bow is here. Chris Hughton leads his side into battle against title favourites Manchester City; and what an exciting match it’ll be for their passionate fans. Pep Guardiola has been putting in the work in the off-season, and his team look ready for an assault on all fronts.
It just feels great to have the biggest and best competition in world football back on our TV screens. This battle between top and bottom is an intriguing encounter, that pits the guts and guile against flashy brilliance. Who’ll come out on top in this real David vs Goliath battle?
Three keys to the game: Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester City
Manchester City’s full-backs
Guardiola hasn’t shied away from spending an embarrassment of riches, particularly in the defensive third of the field. The Spaniard let go of all four full-backs over the summer, bringing in three, big-money replacements thus far.
Kyle Walker has Premier League experience, whereas Benjamin Mendy and Danilo are top players in their own right. However, how will they cope in a brand new system? Will they deal with the pressures that is placed upon them by their manager? Will they cope with the physicality of the Premier League?
It’s going to be a learning curve for them, and this first game will be a real test of their mental strength as well as their overall ability. I think they’ll all be huge hits in the long-term, and it’ll be interesting to see how they start.
How will Brighton cope with the pressure?
This is Brighton’s first ever season in the English top flight, and the majority of their players have never taken to the field in this league. Chris Hughton has been given time to build a side that earned promotion, and now, he’ll be tasked with keeping them in the division. He has been there and done it before and his attitude has to rub off on his players.
It’s quite simple, really. Will they sink or swim? Their more senior players like Glenn Murray and Steve Sidwell will have to lead the way and step up to the plate. We have to be honest, they aren’t anywhere near as technically gifted as the rest of the league, but they have to take inspiration from the likes of Burnley and AFC Bournemouth, who have shown what a bit of guts and determination can do for you.
How will the visitors start up top?
City’s front line is scary, and in fact, they probably have too many options. Sergio Aguero is one of the best strikers in the world, but yet, as soon as Gabriel Jesus came in, Guardiola seemed to favour the Brazilian.
In my opinion, the 3-5-2 is the tactic that suits them best as both strikers would be allowed to play and flourish alongside each other. But if they adopt that system, the likes of Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling will be struggling for minutes. City have the personnel to adapt and change depending on the opponent, and I’m curious as to what formation they’ll begin the season by using.