Manchester City will aim to overcome their two-match losing streak when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
City’s title defence seemed to be plain sailing until they suffered a shock defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers before succumbing to Arsenal in consecutive away losses in the Premier League.
A timely International break should have allowed Pep Guardiola to reassess things, and they will look to bounce back tomorrow.
However, a flamboyant Brighton side, led by an equally exciting manager Roberto De Zerbi, have all the tools to halt the treble winners.
Brighton’s head-to-head record may not be in their favour, but based on the current form, City are well aware of the visitor’s tendency to put the big teams to the sword.
Manchester City vs Brighton Match Preview
Man City were handed a reality check that they can’t afford to sleep on the laurels following the back-to-back defeats against Wolves and Brighton.
Rodri’s absence through suspension coincided with City’s dip in form as the reigning champions looked a completely different side altogether without their Spanish midfield enforcer.
City’s struggles could also be attributed to Erling Haaland’s downtrend in form, with the Norwegian talisman outlandishly missing from the score sheet in the last two games.
Haaland also had a mixed fortunes during the international break as his double against Cyprus was overshadowed by Norway’s defeat against Spain, where the young striker prodigy hardly made an impact.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Haaland is still the top scorer of the league, and City will be hoping it is just a matter of time before their superstar striker returns to his best.
City’s midfield was out of sorts in the previous outings, but Guardiola can be happy with the return of Rodri, who will bring a lot of stability.
Julian Alvarez and Rico Lewis are the bright spots amid their late struggles as the duo has grown in stature for Guardiola.
Alvarez has alleviated the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, taking up more responsibility and delivering goods consistently. Having already bagged six goals and five assists this season, the Argentine World Cup winner is arguably City’s best player at the moment.
Currently, third in the table and three appoints adrift of leaders Tottenham Hotspur, a win could possibly take City to the top spot.
However, they have to remain at the top of their game to stop Brighton, who can go toe-to-toe with the Sky Blues in terms of a well-rounded squad and a tactically astute manager in De Zerbi.
The Italian gaffer has already shown that he is not a one-hit-wonder, and he has often drawn comparisons with Guardiola, the man who will be his opponent on Saturday.
De Zerbi has a big chance to prove such comparisons are worthwhile when he travels to the Etihad Stadium.
Brighton, perhaps, draw parallels to City in terms of form, as they have been winless in their last four games this season.
Nonetheless, they have been successful against the big teams, steamrolling Newcastle United and Manchester United.
They will also look to strengthen further their reputation as giant killers when they lock horns with Citizens.
Kaoru Mitoma, Pascal Gross, Simon Adingra, Joao Pedro and Evan Ferguson are the key figures to watch out for, and the Seagulls need them to rise to step up in order to overcome the hurdle against City.
Brighton are sixth in the table with 16 points, only four points off the top spot.
Manchester City vs Brighton Team News
De Bruyne remains the only absentee for City, while John Stones has also completed his recovery and is available for Saturday’s clash.
With Rodri returning to the starting eleven, Mateo Kovacic and Rico Lewis are expected to support them in the midfield.
As for the visitors, Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinan and Jakub Moder remain sidelined with injuries.
Manchester City vs Brighton possible lineups
Manchester City potential starting XI
Ederson; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Josko Gvardiol; Rodri, Mateo Kovacic; Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Jack Grealish; Erling Haaland
Brighton’s potential starting eleven
Jason Steele; Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Solly March; Carlos Baleba, Pascal Gross; Simon Adingra, Joao Pedro, Kaoru Mitoma; Evan Ferguson
We say: Man City 3-1 Brighton
The return of Stones and Rodri will boost Man City’s chances. We feel Haaland will end his mini-goal drought and help City return to winning ways.