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Manchester City v Brighton: Premier League – live!

The Guardian - Wed Jan 13 17:39


“Why is it that only 9s can be false?” asks a philosophical Phil Grey. “Couldn’t the defender on the right of a back 3 be considered a false 2, or an attack-minded right back a false 7, or a very defensive DM who slips into the back four a false 5?”

That’s one for Jonathan Wilson, I’m not touching that. Although it reminds me of the time I suggested to Arsène Wenger in all seriousness that Santi Cazorla was an “eight and a half” and he laughed in the mistaken impression I was making some sort of football positions-based joke.


The teams are coming out onto the pitch. Let’s see what they offer us today. Brighton are well coached and even with this makeshift team I can’t see them getting a thrashing, but it does feel like a pretty regulation 2-0 to City on the face of things.


Potter, who gives little away to the media, describes a “challenging” recent period. Brighton’s last league win was on 21 November at Villa.


Guardiola has always been very nice about Graham Potter and Brighton. I remember him falling over himself to praise them after last season’s fixture, which I covered at the Etihad. It did feel a bit much at the time given City had won 4-0, a bit like when Pep pronounces himself delighted with hefty defeats and so forth. But Brighton do play good, structured stuff. They just lack devilment in the final third and I don’t really know where it’ll come from today.


City fans: confident you’re over the hump and in this title race for the long haul? It was interesting to see Guardiola say their improvement owes in part to running *less* – not always what we hear in these days of hell-for-leather pressing.


Look away now, blue half of Manchester – this is how Marcus Christenson rates Man United’s title hopefuls against their decorated predecessors:


The self-isolating Sergio Aguero is among those absent for City, although Raheem Sterling is back on the bench. Looks like Pep Guardiola is going essentially strikerless to begin with ...

So are Brighton, by the looks of it, although it’s hard to tell exactly how they will line up. It’s a pretty defensive-looking side from Graham Potter and they miss Yves Bissouma, their influential midfielder, through suspension. Percy Tau, back from his loan at Anderlecht, may be the most advanced member of Brighton’s team – this will be the South African’s first start for Brighton, two and a half years after he signed.



Manchester City: Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko; Rodrigo, Gundogan; De Bruyne, Mahrez, Foden; Bernardo. Subs: Steffen, Walker, Sterling, Jesus, Torres, Mendy, Fernandinho, Harwood-Bellis, Mbete.

Brighton: Sanchez; Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Burn; Trossard, White, Propper, Bernardo; Mac Allister; Tau. Subs: Walton, Maupay, Gross, March, Zeqiri, Sanders, Jenks, Weir, Khadra.



What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Manchester City. Not Manchester United, they’ve already scaled the summit and are peering down on everyone else. But City are on quietly excellent form, winning their last six games in all competitions and starting to look like the side that once surgically dissected all who crossed their pat. Win tonight and they will be four points off the top, with a further game in hand. Could we be in for a three-horse title race when things all shake down?

Brighton will have something to say about that tonight, although we’ll see how much. While City are on a roll, Graham Potter’s men can’t buy a win – although they have drawn four of their last five top-flight outings and recovered well from 3-1 down against Wolves last time out. They were taken the distance by Newport in the FA Cup on Sunday night, though, despite fielding a strong side. So will they take the hit here and eye other battles in their quest to move away from the relegation question, or will they have a real go?

We will soon find out! Kick-off is at 6pm UK time – so stay close and get your emails/tweets in to the addresses above.