Defending Premier League holders Manchester City bid to avoid several unwanted feats as they welcome free-scoring Brighton & Hove Albion to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s quest to become the first manager in Premier League history to win four titles in a row had been off to a flying start, with the Cityzens establishing early control with six consecutive wins.
However, Rodri’s suspension and various injury setbacks saw Man City surrender their perfect league start at Molineux, suffering a 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers on matchday seven.
In addition to losing a first-ever Premier League game against his former protege Mikel Arteta, Guardiola has overseen consecutive top-flight defeats for the second time during his trophy-laden stint at the Etihad.
Only once during his storied managerial career has the Spaniard lost three league matches on the trot, a feat he’d be keen to replicate when Brighton visit Manchester this weekend.
While the Seagulls’ formidable start to the new Premier League campaign (W2, D1, L2) makes them a daunting opponent on paper, their track record against Man City away from home is scandalous.
They have never defeated the Cityzens in an away league encounter throughout the 99-year history of this fixture (D2, L11), losing their last nine visits on the trot by an aggregate score of 24-3.
But Roberto De Zerbi’s men seem capable of breaking their ‘Etihad hoodoo.’
Martinelli’s goal condemned Man City to their third defeat in their last four matches across all competitions (W1), but it’s worth noting that each loss came away from home.
They’re one win away from setting a new outright record for the longest home run in all competitions by a Premier League side, which would see them leapfrog Manchester United’s 20-game stretch under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Surpassing another record in Ferguson’s possession is not the only source of motivation for Guardiola. He risks becoming the first Man City manager to lose three successive league games since Manuel Pellegrini in 2016.
City’s rotten patch can encourage Brighton’s bid to make history on Saturday, plus post only their second victory against the Cityzens in their 13th league duel in the Premier League era (W1, D1, L10).
Intriguingly, both times they’ve taken points against Man City, their rivals had already been crowned the champions, testifying to a significant mental barrier they must overcome this weekend.
A clean sheet would be a welcoming boost, but since the Seagulls’ last shut-out in the Premier League dates back to mid-May, it looks like a tall order.
But Brighton have alleviated the impact of their defensive mishaps by scoring in their last 23 top-flight outings, including a 2-2 draw against Liverpool on the stroke of the October international break.
With Rodri serving the last of his three-match ban, John Stones’ return to the fold after a lengthy spell in the treatment room comes at the best possible moment for Guardiola’s side.
Kevin De Bruyne’s recovery cannot come soon enough, but Man City fans must be patient, with his return date set roughly for the start of 2024.
Julio Enciso, Pervis Estupinan and Jakub Moder are unavailable for selection in the Brighton camp, while James Milner should face his former side despite dealing with a minor muscle problem.
Manchester City potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji, Josko Gvardiol; John Stones, Mateo Kovacic; Bernardo Silva, Julian Alvarez, Phil Foden; Erling Haaland.
Brighton & Hove Albion potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Bart Verbruggen; Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, Igor, James Milner; Solly March, Pascal Gross; Kaoru Mitoma, Joao Pedro, Simon Adingra; Evan Ferguson.
We Say: Manchester City 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion
Given Brighton’s new mentality under De Zerbi, their long-standing problems against Man City may not necessarily slow them down at the Etihad.
With each of the visitors’ eight Premier League games this term seeing over 3.5 goals and both teams scoring, we expect another goal fest and potentially another City slip-up.
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