In many ways, Sergio Aguero enjoyed a productive season opener for Manchester City against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.
After all, the Argentine struck the all-important first goal after a stubborn rearguard by the Seagulls, displaying excellent movement as he took David Silva’s precise pass and fired an angled finish beyond Mat Ryan in the Brighton goal.
At times he cut a frustrated figure in tandem with the precocious Gabriel Jesus, while appearing as though he was not entirely sure of what was being asked of him by the ever demanding Pep Guardiola.
The good and the bad for Aguero
Let’s start with the positives for Aguero, who managed to score decisively with one of only two attempts on goal during the game. While the other was a wild finish when well-placed, the Argentine showed his quality and ruthlessness in front of goal when it mattered the most.
Aguero was also full of running for the most part, completing three dribbles during the game and regularly looking to penetrate the minimal amounts of space in behind Brighton’s compact defence.
It is also fair to say that Aguero was at the heart of City’s most incisive moments, as he laid on two chances for his teammates and afforded Gabriel Jesus a wonderful opportunity to break the deadlock before half-time. From the inside right channel, Aguero fashioned a delightful cross (one of two he completed during the game) that his strike partner could only direct at Mat Ryan.
Despite these positives, Aguero did not seem entirely comfortable as part of Pep Guardiola’s two-man strike force. With Gabriel Jesus seemingly playing the more advanced and central role of the two, Aguero was often forced to operate slightly deeper and in the wide channels, which is primarily why he was restricted to just two attempts at goal during the 90 minutes.
This impacted on the speed and quality of his movement at times, as the Argentine is used to playing as a sole striker and being flanked by quick, wide forwards.
Aguero will also be disappointed with the quality and accuracy of his passing, as while this is not his strong-suit a completion rate of 68% is far below what is expected in a Guardiola side. City’s overall completion rate was 90%, and Aguero will need to improve this aspect of his game if he is to remain a first-team regular under the Spaniard.
Aguero remains a game-changer for Manchester City
Overall, Aguero delivered a mixed performance on the South Coast while he also looked slightly unsure of himself in the second striker role. Although he was full of running and positive intent, he struggled to gain a sight of goal and generally lacked a genuine cutting edge to his play.
Even allowing for this and the tactical uncertainty that may have hindered his performance, Aguero remains a game-changer and potential match winner for City. He certainly contributed decisively on Saturday, as he seized on the one real chance that he had in front of goal to break the resistance of the Seagulls.
Ultimately, goals are the currency against which Aguero will be measured, and in this respect the man delivered in spades on Saturday.