Manchester City earned a brilliant 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion at The Amex Stadium, with two rapid goals in the second half.
The opening week of the 2017/18 season has been quite unpredictable so far, but Manchester City have proven that they mean business as they got their Premier League season off to an excellent start. The 2-0 scoreline will usher in three crucial points and manager Pep Guardiola will be happy with the way his squad performed.
Brighton put up a magnificent defensive display. City had to fight pretty hard for the win since it took them 70 mins to take the lead. In fact, one might even say that Sergio Aguero capitalised on one of the very few opportunities they had. City were then gifted a second goal as Lewis Dunk headed into his own net, sealing the fate of the game.
Although the Citizens dominated possession, they struggled to break their newly-promoted opponents down for large parts, testing goalkeeper Mathew Ryan on just a couple of occasions before the first goal. THT takes a look at five talking points from the game:
Sergio Aguero is here to stay
The transfer window brought about several rumours of Aguero seeking an exit from Manchester City due to Pep Guardiola’s preference of deploying Gabriel Jesus ahead of the Argentinian. Several outlets claimed that Jesus is the new talisman for the club, and that Aguero will have to be content with a reduced role, if he stayed back.
Aguero, though, proved his class and dominance in the opening game itself. While it is true that Guardiola sees a very bright future ahead for Jesus and is keen on nurturing the young talent further, last night’s match shut down all speculation over Aguero’s future.
The 29-year-old continues to be the main marksman for City. The Argentine international played his typical game to put up a clinical finish after being found by David Silva.
Guardiola started with Aguero and Jesus as a front two but it was the former who made a mark. He did miss a great chance early in the second half but made up for it when he slotted in his second chance to make it 1-0.
Brighton – the new set-piece specialists?
Chris Hughton’s men may have lost the game but they definitely put up a gritty performance and did not go down without a tough fight. Considering the amount of money Guardiola shelled out this summer to assemble a formidable squad, Brighton gave them a good run for their money for large parts of the match.
One thing is for sure – Brighton are going to get a lot of goals from set-pieces this season. Lewis Dunk is a dangerous presence in both penalty boxes. Alongside his partner Shane Duffy, Dunk defended tremendously in the first half to keep an attack like City’s at bay. Duffy also attacked the ball and timed his runs well.
Additionally, Tomer Hemed and Glenn Murray both offer threat from dead ball situations while surging ahead. Pascal Gross can also be a potential threat although he didn’t have his most effective game. However, he did cause a few problems to the City back-line with his deliveries from set-pieces.
Kyle Walker is clearly happy to be at Manchester City
Kyle Walker’s big-money move to Manchester City from Tottenham saw his wages triple up, but the player seems to be living up to his billing. The full back looked extremely threatening going forward and also created numerous chances.
On Saturday, he wasn’t particularly tested but he looked comfortable and determined to do well. City’s fullbacks simply couldn’t do the job Pep Guardiola required last season, which led to an overhaul in the department. The addition of players like Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy has certainly been a step in the right direction.
Walker played as a wing-back at Spurs and looked instantly at home at City as well. The Englishman patrolled the area quite well and was pacey enough as he charged up and down the right flank. He was quite adept at playing wide but he also knew when to get back round to cover, thus making it a promising debut.
The resurgence of John Stones
John Stones’ debut season proved to be quite underwhelming after a £47 million move from Everton. It was quite a hefty amount for a defender and it is likely that Stones failed to perform well due to the amount of pressure and expectations he had to live up to.
To be fair, he was always deployed in an ever-changing back four, which left very little scope for him to develop his game further. This time round, with City playing a back three, Stones was at the heart of defence yet again.
However, there was a stark contrast in his performance as he seemed comfortable sandwiched between Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany. He was a responsible figure in the back – providing adequate support, being available and seemed quite comfortable both on the ball and off it.
It is likely that the player has matured after a rather difficult debut campaign last term. The new-look City formation has also proven to be ideal for him. A promising second season awaits.
Manchester City’s counter-attack remains lethal as ever
People were quick to admit that Aguero’s goal was a class act, but the entire incident was orchestrated from Brighton having the ball, the move breaking down, and City countering brilliantly.
Guardiola’s men were quick enough to recognize the opportunity, break forward with speed through Kevin De Bruyne, and then put a fitting end to an excellent move. Initially, it was all about speed and power but the rapid transition through the lines left Brighton’s men trailing behind.
More often than not, these charges fail to yield results but when the little bit of quality was needed at the end, City had that too, in the form of a sublime pass from David Silva, and Aguero’s solid finish.
Last night’s match was evidence enough that Guardiola has succeeded in putting together a Manchester City side that is fluid, patient and creative. Brighton deserve to be applauded for warding off an attack force like City’s for a good chunk of the match but they didn’t really offer anything going forward, thus resulting in a win for the Citizens.