Three things we learned from Manchester City - Brighton
Manchester City - Brighton ended in a narrow win for the hosts as they continue to surge towards the top of the Premier League table and are now in third place.
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Phil Foden’s goal just before the break won it for City as they edged past the Seagulls, but the game turned into an end-to-end encounter in the second half. Raheem Sterling blazed a penalty kick over in stoppage time, but it didn’t matter.
With the win Man City move four points behind leaders Manchester United and have a game in-hand. Brighton remain just above the relegation zone.
Three things we learned, Manchester City - Brighton
1. Foden arrives as a regular: He’s only started a handful of games in the Premier League this season but Foden has now staked his claim for a regular starting spot. His lovely goal right on half time was exactly what City needed and the silky English playmaker is finally playing week in, week out for City. Pep Guardiola’s wry smile when Foden slid home the winner said it all. He knows all of that hard work to create the next David Silva is paying off. Foden, 20, has all of the talent in the world but Guardiola asked him to be more ruthless, more clinical and more involved in games. He’s scored four goals and added two assists in his last five games and is City’s top goalscorer this season. We are watching the Stockport Iniesta come of age. He will be a glorious player to watch under Guardiola at City.
2. City’s defensive prowess powering title bid: For all of their swaggering play in attack led by the brilliant Kevin de Bruyne, the defensive improvement of Man City has been a welcome surprise for Guardiola. City’s central defensive partnership of John Stones and Ruben Dias has been a revelation, so much so that their best center back, Aymeric Laporte, will struggle to get back in this team. Stones made a fine last-ditch tackle to deny Neal Maupay and City’s defense is coming up big in key individual moments. That is the difference between a title win and a top four finish.
3. Same old story for Brighton: The year is 2031 and Brighton have played well, knocked the ball around nicely but have lost 1-0. Rinse. Repeat. How much longer can we keep saying that Graham Potter’s side are ‘great to watch and they deserved more’ before he is in trouble of losing his job for not getting results? Brighton have won two of their first 18 games of the season and they sit just above the relegation zone. Yes, they have injuries, but the Seagulls have lacked a cutting edge for the last few seasons and the clever possession-based play under Potter isn’t getting enough points on the board. Simple.
Man of the Match: Kevin de Bruyne - Oozed class on the ball and drove Man City on in central midfield. Set up the first goal and won a penalty late on.
City started with intent as they created chances and De Bruyne was denied by Robert Sanchez after some lovely slick passes.
Brighton were a threat on the break in the first half but just couldn’t pick out the correct pass as Leandro Trossard curled wide.
Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan almost snuck in at the back post on either flank, while De Bruyne had an indirect free kick from inside the box blocked after a back pass was picked up by Sanchez.
Foden gave City a deserved lead right on half time as De Bruyne played him in and he cut inside and trickled home a precise finish into the bottom corner.
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City clicked through the gears in the second half as Riyad Mahrez slotted a shot wide, then Bernardo Silva pulled off a silky nutmeg before he smashed the frame of the goal with an effort.
Brighton went close as Percy Tau set up Alexis Mac Allister and his powerful effort flew just over, while Davy Propper had a cross which just missed everyone.
De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo were denied by Sanchez late on as the game opened up.
Neal Maupay was lively off the bench and a great last-ditch tackle from John Stones denied him.
And Raheem Sterling blazed a penalty kick over in stoppage time as Lewis Dunk and Sanchez got in a pickle but were let off the hook.