Dan Fitch expects Manchester City to start the season with a comprehensive victory over Brighton...
"Guardiola’s side have been leading at half-time in their last two friendlies, as they beat both Spurs and West Ham by a 3-0 scoreline."
Brighton v Manchester City
Live On BT Sports 1
Seagulls handed tough start
Newly promoted Brighton are the third favourites to be relegated at [2.58] and have been handed a tough start to the season against the team most fancied to win the title.
Having been one of the most consistent sides in the Championship over recent seasons, Brighton now must target survival. The likes of Bournemouth and Swansea point the way towards how a relatively small, but well-run club can establish themselves in the Premier League.
Brighton have made some potentially shrewd investments this summer, signing the Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan, set-piece specialist Pascal Gross and Davy Propper from PSV. What seems lacking is a striker who will find the net regularly. Last season's top scorer Glenn Murray has failed to translate his prolific Championship form to the Premier League during spells with Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.
The Brighton boss Chris Hughton only has two unavailable players for the visit of Manchester City. Kayal Beram is out for several weeks, while Sam Baldock misses Saturday's game with a calf injury.
Will City's soft centre hurt title bid?
It's been a busy summer for Manchester City as the current managerial regime tries to rectify past mistakes.
Poor planning has resulted in City having all four of their full-backs leave in one transfer window, with Danilo, Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker having been drafted in as replacements. Yet it is the spine of the team that remains the biggest concern. Pep Guardiola will hope that his new goalkeeper Ederson will fare better as Joe Hart's successor than Claudio Bravo, but he's still to rectify the problems in central defence and defensive midfield.
History suggests Vincent Kompany will succumb to injury before the season is out, leaving City without a reliable central defender. Guardiola has also neglected to buy a defensive midfielder, instead opting to add Bernardo Silva to a squad already well stocked with playmakers.
One of the players that Guardiola might task with anchoring the midfield is Ilkay Gundogan, but the German remains injured having suffered knee ligament damage last season. City will also be without their new signing Benjamin Mendy who has a thigh problem.
Manchester City are the favourites at [1.34], with the draw at [5.7] and Brighton out at [12.5].
It's hard to envisage this game being anything but a baptism of fire for Brighton, as they try to cope with the most potent collection of attackers in the Premier League. There's not much value in backing a City win, but the odds of [2.08] to win Half-Time/Full-Time are appealing.
Guardiola's side have been leading at half-time in their last two friendlies, as they beat both Spurs and West Ham by a 3-0 scoreline.
Over 2.5 goals is the big favourite at [1.64], with unders at [2.46].
The price for overs is just about big enough to consider, though Over 3.5 Goals at [2.6] should at the very least provide a good platform for trading.
Another bet to consider is Both Teams To Score at [2.0]. It proved to be a profitable bet when City played last season and as mentioned, there are still major question marks regarding the quality of their defence.
Sergio Aguero leads the betting at [1.83], ahead of Gabriel Jesus at [2.0], though an issue with backing either this season could be the possibility that either could be left on the sidelines by Guardiola.
For Brighton, Glenn Murray is the shortest price at [5.0], with Tomer Hemed out at [6.0].