A victory is what Manchester City need against Brighton & Hove Albion on the final matchday, to successfully retain their Premier League title.
The 2018-19 Premier League title race will finally see an outcome this Sunday. In what has been one of the most incredible title races in years, Manchester City and Liverpool have put up a battle for the ages and a conclusion will be arrived at this weekend.
Manchester City are currently a point ahead of their challengers and a win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday afternoon at the Amex Stadium should help them successfully defend their Premier League crown, irrespective of how Liverpool’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers ends.
Pep Guardiola’s side have already lifted the Carabao Cup and have made it to the final of the FA Cup as well. Having exited the Champions League, the Cityzens will be keen on ending the season with a domestic treble. Last time out, they were made to work hard for a win by Leicester City, but will be aiming to wrap things up in a more comfortable fashion on Sunday.
Brighton & Hove Albion have managed to win their battle for survival in the Premier League, following their 1-1 draw against Arsenal this past weekend and Cardiff City’s 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace. Chris Hughton’s men have lost just once in their last four matches and will be aiming to make life difficult for the reigning champions on their quest to retaining the title.
The Seagulls have faced Guardiola’s side twice this season, once in the Premier League and in the FA Cup semi-final last month and have ended up losing out on both occasions, having not scored even once and conceded thrice. They will be hoping to get at least a point against the league leaders on Sunday.
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Brighton & Hove Albion
Hughton will be without the services of winger Jose Izquierdo, while midfield mainstay Davy Propper is also set to miss out on Sunday afternoon. With their aim to end the season on a strong note, Brighton are expected to field their strongest possible side against Manchester City.
Mat Ryan is a guaranteed starter between the sticks and will be protected by the centre-back duo of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk. Bernardo will line up at left-back for the Seagulls, while captain Bruno, who will be retiring after Sunday’s game, should start at right-back.
Anthony Knockaert and Solly March will be tasked with providing the width going forward from the right and left wings respectively, while Pascal Gross will act as the creative outlet in the middle of the park. Dale Stephens should sit deep and shield the backline, while Yves Bissouma will provide the legs in the engine room.
With 12 goals to his name, including one in last week’s draw against Arsenal, leading goalscorer and veteran striker Glenn Murray should lead the line for Brighton against Manchester City.
Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo; Knockaert, Gross, Stephens, Bissouma, March; Murray
In what is quite a blow for the reigning champions, midfield anchorman Fernandinho has been ruled out of the title decider. Kevin De Bruyne is back in training and could play some part though, which is a boost for Manchester City. But, Benjamin Mendy remains unavailable.
There is no looking past Ederson Moraes between the sticks for the Cityzens, while Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko should start as the two full-backs. Club captain Vincent Kompany is likely to get the nod once again ahead of John Stones at the heart of the City defence to tackle the physical threat of Glenn Murray, with Aymeric Laporte alongside him.
With Fernandinho unavailable, Ilkay Gundogan will once again the don the role of the deepest of Manchester City’s midfield trifecta, with the two Silvas – Bernardo and David providing the creative presence and forward thrust from the centre of the park.
Raheem Sterling, who has been one of the success stories of the season, should slot in on the right flank, with Leroy Sane set to come in on the left-side, having not started in the last match. Star striker Sergio Aguero will spearhead the attack for Guardiola’s title-chasing outfit.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Zinchenko; Bernardo Silva, Gundogan, David Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane
- A win will guarantee Manchester City their fourth Premier League title, and sixth overall in the English top-flight. They would be the first team to retain the crown since Manchester United in 2008-09.
- Brighton have lost just one of their last five home games against Manchester City in all competitions (W1 D3), though it was in this exact fixture last season (0-2).
- Manchester City have won their last four meetings with Brighton in all competitions, already beating the Seagulls twice this season (once in the league, once in the FA Cup).
- Brighton have lost their last three final games of a top-flight season, losing 0-4 at Liverpool last term.
- Manchester City haven’t lost on the final day of a Premier League season since 2012-13, when Chris Hughton’s Norwich won 3-2 at the Etihad.
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Heading into the final day of the season, needing a win to secure the Premier League title, Manchester City will be under immense amount of pressure. But, one man will know what the situation demands, having been in a similar position back in the 2011-12 campaign and having delivered for the Cityzens when it mattered the most.
Sergio Aguero wrote his name in the Premier League folklore with ‘that’ goal against QPR on the last day of the season, back in 2012, which helped Manchester City beat local rivals Manchester United to the title on goal difference. And, Sunday’s game against Brighton demands another performance of a similar kind from the Argentine striker.
Aguero has 20 goals in the league this season and is currently two goals behind Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, who sits atop of the goalscoring charts. With a shot at winning the Premier League Golden Boot as well, the 30-year-old Aguero will be a man on a mission and is going to take some stopping from the Brighton defence.
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-2 Manchester City
Brighton will come into the game with no pressure, having managed to stave off the threat of relegation. Having managed to hold Arsenal to a draw last time out, Chris Hughton’s side will be in confident mood. They will also take confidence from the fact that they had stifled Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final last month, despite ending up on the losing side.
Manchester City haven’t been at their rampant best in recent matches, but have shown great grit and determination to grind out results in difficult situations, as was seen in their narrow 1-0 win over Leicester City last time out. Despite the enormous amount of pressure on them, Pep Guardiola’s side have the quality in their ranks to beat any team on their day.
Brighton will not make things easy for the Cityzens, but the reigning champions have been one of the two best teams in England this season and the gulf of class and quality should show on Sunday afternoon. We at The Hard Tackle are predicting a 2-0 win for Manchester City, leading to their coronation as the Premier League champions for a second consecutive season.