Brighton face arguably their toughest away game of the season this afternoon when they travel to defending Premier League champions Manchester City, writes Brad Stratton.
Albion’s trip to the Etihad comes on the back of a 2-1 defeat at the Amex to Tottenham last Saturday. In a scenario that almost mirrored their previous two results, it took going behind for the Seagulls to rally back into the match in the second half. Anthony Knockaert scored for the home side in added on time before almost leveling the scores with one of the last kicks of the game.
Conceding twice in three consecutive games will be of concern for manager Chris Hughton, however losing by that deficit will be considered not an awful result by most fans in their next game. Albion will be hoping for a similar performance as they gave against Liverpool in August and to keep the scoreline low against a City side that look intent on maintaining their grip on the Premier League trophy.
Bar a draw at newly promoted Wolves at the end of last month, it’s been a flawless start to the league campaign for Pep Guardiola’s side, who have shown the same ruthless edge in front of goal that saw them break countless top flight records during the 2017/18 season. They have already scored 19 times in their opening six games, with five of those coming in their last top flight game against Cardiff.
This season marks a decade since Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi Group bought City from former owner Thaksin Shinawatra, transforming their fortunes both on and off the pitch overnight. One of the more memorable games within the first month of City’s ownership changing hands was a League Cup tie against Brighton.
A late Glenn Murray equaliser during his first spell at the club took the game to extra-time at the Withdean Stadium, with Michel Kuipers’ goalkeeping heroics setting up Matt Richards to hit the wining spot-kick for the Seagulls in a penalty shootout and dump the newly minted Citizens out of the competition.
The last meeting between the sides saw Albion put in a spirited performance at the Etihad, battling from behind before eventually being beaten 3-1 back in May.
Pep Guardiola made ten changes from the win at Cardiff for Tuesday's victory at Oxford.
David Silva, Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany all played against Oxford, so could be rested this afternoon with City in Champions League action away to Hoffenheim on Tuesday.
Left-back Benjamin Mendy is again likely to miss the game and Kevin De Bruyne is still out.
Likely line-up: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Delph; Fernandinho, Gundogan, B.Silva; Mahrez, Sane; Aguero. Subs (from): Muric, Danilo, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Jesus, D.Silva, Sterling, Foden.
Albion are without midfielders Dale Stephens and Pascal Gross for the match.
Chris Hughton has a decision to make on whether he goes for a more defensive formation, possibly putting Leon Balogun alongside Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy in central defence, or if he sticks to his favoured 4-5-1 formation.
Florin Andone could get his first run out in an Albion shirt, either starting in place of Glenn Murray or coming off the bench. Club record signing Alireza Jahanbakhsh is also pushing for his first Premier League start.
Likely line-up: Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert, Propper, Bissouma, Kayal, March; Murray. Subs (from): Button, Bruno, Bernardo, Balogun, Suttner, Jahanbakhsh, Andone, Izquierdo, Locadia.
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