Manchester City won on the opening day of the new Premier League season against a spirited Brighton and Hove Albion side. It is never easy to go away from home to a newly-promoted team during the opening weekend and Pep Guardiola’s men found the Seagulls hard to break down on Saturday.
They started with a 3-5-2 formation and they managed to monopolise the ball, but struggled to create clear-cut chances until late in the match. Here are three things that we learnt from the match at the Amex Stadium:
The new Manchester City full-backs improved the team
There have been a lot of laughs had at the expense of City’s recruitment this summer, as they have spent an incredible amount on full-backs. However, they were the two weakest positions in the squad and it was crucial that they sorted them out during the summer. Pep Guardiola ignored them last summer and that error in judgement may have cost the club a serious title challenge.
It was clear on Saturday that City would be a more balanced and dangerous team this season with the additions of quality players in the full-back positions. Guardiola opted to use them as wing-backs and it worked, as they stretched the play and created space for the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva to influence the game. Kyle Walker was excellent on debut and Danilo was tidy in possession. One problem on Saturday was the lack of a left-footed player on that side of the pitch. Danilo kept having to cut inside and that did make life easier for Brighton. Benjamin Mendy will make this team even better when he is fit.
Brighton will be tough to beat this season
The Premier League is a tough league and Brighton are among the favourites to be relegated, but they showed enough on Saturday to show they can compete at this level. Chris Hughton had them well drilled and difficult to break down. The defending this weekend in the league has been shocking, but the Seagulls performed well in that department.
Although they conceded two goals, Hughton will be happy that they came from individual errors rather than a systematic flaw. Manchester City will be one of the best teams in the league this year, but Brighton managed to restrict them to few clear-cut chances. It was always going to be difficult to maintain concentration levels for the entire match considering City had 78% possession, but there were positives to take from the match. The atmosphere was great and no team will look forward to visiting the Amex Stadium this season. If they continue to deliver committed performances such as this one, they will have a chance of survival.
David Silva remains a joy to watch
The Spaniard is no longer the centre of attention at Manchester City, as there are several other exciting attackers in the squad. However, he is still a crucial player for the team and he reminded the world of his talent on Saturday. Silva was sporting a new look after shaving his head during the summer, but he remains the same player that is exciting to watch.
The 31-year-old played in one of the central midfield roles and ran the game from the first whistle. He had a passing accuracy of 93% and completed five key passes during the match, which was more than any other player on the pitch. The Spanish international contributed the assist for the opening goal with a perfectly executed ball into Sergio Aguero. It was good vision to spot the Argentine, but an even better piece of skill to find him.