Manchester City’s stuttering Premier League title defence continues at the Etihad Stadium as Brighton & Hove Albion touch down in Bradford on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s quest to become the first manager to win four consecutive Premier League titles had enjoyed a dream start as his men won their opening six league games.
However, injuries to several first-team stars have taken the wind out of their sails, with the Cityzens losing back-to-back league matches for only the second time during the Spaniard’s trophy-laden regime.
While Guardiola may get over a 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers, a morale-damaging 1-0 loss to Arsenal last time out saw his former protege Mikel Arteta best him in the top flight for the first time.
October’s international break came at an opportune moment for the perennial champions, giving them a fortnight to regroup and prepare for this daunting-looking fixture.
Despite recent slip-ups, the hosts are still pre-match favourites to win here, and if you feel they’re up to the task, check out Winfair.org, one of the most exciting up-and-coming crypto casinos.
Brighton can throw a spanner in the works. There’s no doubt about that.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side spurned an early lead in a goal-glutted 2-2 home draw against Liverpool on the stroke of the international break but remained on the periphery of the top four during the pause.
Only one point separate the Seagulls from the coveted Champions League spots at the start of this round, yet their long-standing struggles in Manchester cannot inspire much confidence.
During the 99-year history of this fixture, they’ve never tasted an away victory over Man City, suffering as many as 11 defeats on their 13 visits to the city (D2).
Although they face the ominous risk of losing three Premier League games on the trot for the first time since Manuel Pellegrini’s tenure in 2016, Man City’s home record tells a different story.
Guardiola’s men have won all four competitive outings at the Etihad this season, including the last three in a row via multiple-goal margins.
Those triumphs form part of the Cityzens’ mind-blowing 20-game winning streak on home turf as they stand one win away from setting a new record for the longest home run in all competitions by a Premier League side.
Man City have won their last nine home encounters against Brighton by a combined score of 24-3, bolstering Guardiola’s bid to avoid losing three straight league games for only the second time in his managerial career.
Brighton must overcome a significant psychological barrier to upset the apple cart at the Etihad, knowing they’ve only won one of their 12 Premier League clashes against City (D1, L10).
However, both times they’ve avoided defeat against Guardiola’s side, their rivals had already been crowned the champions, including a 1-1 home draw in May.
It will take something special to fend off Man City’s formidable frontline, but since Brighton’s last Premier League shutout dates back to mid-May, that’s a pipe dream.
At the bare minimum, De Zerbi will expect his men to get on the scoresheet, with the Seagulls boasting the longest scoring run in England’s top flight, having netted in their last 23 games.
In an interview with beIN SPORTS, Guardiola has backed his talismanic striker Erling Haaland to challenge Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or, and the Norwegian will be out to prove his credentials.
But Man City’s assist provider Kevin De Bruyne remains on the sidelines as the only high-profile absentee in the home camp.
As for Brighton, Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinan and Jakub Moder won’t take this trip due to injuries.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Josko Gvardiol; John Stones, Mateo Kovacic; Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, Phil Foden; Erling Haaland.
Brighton & Hove Albion potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Bart Verbruggen; Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, Igor, James Milner; Solly March, Pascal Gross; Kaoru Mitoma, Joao Pedro, Simon Adingra; Evan Ferguson.
We Say: Manchester City 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
While we won’t go as far as to back Brighton to take three points at the Etihad, they have the quality to take advantage of Man City’s rotten patch and avoid defeat.