Newly promoted Brighton will make its English Premier League debut against Manchester City to cap the action on what promises to be an eventful whole day of football on August 12th. This is their first meeting since Brighton won a League Cup tie on penalties back in September 2008. On paper, this might appear as a one-sided affair in favor of the Etihad Airways-backed club. Upon closer inspection though, Brighton is more than just a squad that was in the second tier last summer as it had 93 points with a +34 goal differential.
BRIGHTON vs. MANCHESTER CITY
3-Way: 1: Brighton +1100; X: +465 Draw; 2: Man. City -286
Spread +1.5: Brighton +102; Man. City +100
Total +2.5: Over -149; Under +149
Brighton & Hove Albion was just two points away from getting the top spot of the Championship last season, merely managing to draw against Aston Villa in the final week. But the club and Newcastle United made sure there was no doubting their competence as they had enough cushion between them and third place team Reading. Although Brighton has played at the First Division before, this is the first time it will compete in the English Premier League. While there may be a steep learning curve for the newly minted club, its lineup has plenty of experience, as well as a sprinkling of quality.
Manager Chris Hughton went to work to acquire reinforcements, with Mathew Ryan joining from Valencia and Pascal Groß and Mark Suttner arriving from Ingolstadt. Other new signings include Davy Pröpper (transfer, PSV Eindhoven) and Izzy Brown (loan, Chelsea).
Former Leicester winger Anthony Knockaert made a beeline back to England after briefly cavorting in Belgium with Standard Liège. He would be playing with a chip on his shoulder, especially against the Foxes. The 25-year old was named the Championship Player of the Year for 2016-17 after hitting 15 goals from midfield on the way to promotion. Knockaert possesses the kind of star quality that is required at the highest level. Glenn Murray led the club in scoring in the 2016-17 season, compiling 20 goals at the EFL Championship.
In the preseason, the club won three of their friendlies, drew two, and lost one against Atlético Madrid. The club’s main aim will be survival, but its stretch goal is to compete as the roster is capable of springing a few upsets along the way.
Sam Baldock and Beram Kayal will miss their club’s debut due to injury. Kayal will be out for 12 weeks with a leg injury.
Pep Guardiola failed to deliver a Premier League title in his first season at the helm of Manchester City and, after getting to know the lie of the land in England, the Catalan will be even more determined to win the title in 2017-18. Third on the table is his lowest finish as a manager.
The disappointment of missing out last season has led to a squad overhaul, with the club spending over 200 million GBP on new players and a host of established team members departing. Gone are Gaël Clichy, Jesús Navas, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Fernando. Joe Hart is on loan to West Ham United.
New signings Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy, Ederson and Bernardo Silva add strength to key areas, and the Premier League Manager of the Month in February 2017 will expect them all to make an immediate impact as City challenges for honors on several fronts. Ederson would most likely slide in as Claudio Bravo’s reliever, and the things Pep will ask him to do mean there is scope for error. Walker was probably the best right back in the division last season, and he has his second PFA Team of the Year award to prove it. Left back Mendy is an epic watch as he powers down the flank with speed and purpose, and his crossing is going to be a source of creativity.
As for those who remained, Nicolás Otamendi, John Stones, and Vincent Kompany give Manchester City depth at the center back position; Fernandinho and Yaya Touré would man central midfield. David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne, and Leroy Sané would take their post on the wings. Sergio Agüero has been the established best striker in the Premier League for some time, winning the league golden boot in 2014-15 and scoring 33 goals in all competitions last season. He has five goals in six previous opening-day matches for the Citizens. Agüero and EPL Player of the Month August 2016 awardee Sterling were the only ones who had 10 or more goals in 2016-17.
If the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Gabriel Jesus can stay fit, there are few teams that can rival them. Jesus scored seven goals in 10 league appearances last season, but his debut campaign was frustratingly disrupted by a foot injury. The 20-yearold is set to play a major part in Manchester City assault on the Premier League title in 2017-18. With a full preseason under his belt with his new club, he will be a tantalizing prospect. If he can make good on the early promise he showed in January before his injury, he will be one hell of a weapon to deploy.
Manchester City has won each of its last six opening matches of the Premier League, the best current run in the competition. In this year’s International Champions Cup, the club finished with two wins and a loss. It also won a Super Match against West Ham. Aside from the third place finish in the EPL, it also reached the semifinals of the FA Cup and round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.
Brighton vs. Manchester City Match Prediction
Indeed, this is what you call a baptism of fire for the new kids on the block as Manchester City broke the bank yet again in order to field a competitive first 11. However, a large transfer war chest does not a champion squad make. But if there is one manager who is able to work with high profile talent, it would be Guardiola.
Manchester City needs a lot of adjusting as the lineup works on its chemistry. But skill and talent usually prevails against lesser competition, and it might show in this contest. City’s firepower will test not just Brighton’s defense but the home club’s resolve as well. If Albion unravels early, expect The Sky Blues to pounce.
My pick: Manchester City AH +1.5 (+100)
Additional Pick: Over 2.5 goals (-149)
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