The Big Match Tactical View: Brighton v Man City

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola is on the brink of becoming the first manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to win back-to-back Premier League titles
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An away win, and Manchester City are champions. Michael Cox and Alan Thompson preview the action...

"Right-back Bruno will be playing his final game for the club and might be thankful he won’t be facing players as quick as Leroy Sane any more"

Brighton v Manchester City
Sunday 15:00, Sky Sports Main Event
Match Odds: Brighton 20.019/1, Man City 1.182/11, The Draw 9.417/2.

37 games down, one to go. Liverpool will push Manchester City all the way, and are odds-on to take advantage if City slip up here. But ultimately, a victory for City away at Brighton will be good enough for them to retain the Premier League for the first time.

Can Brighton do Liverpool a favour?

Brighton's form in recent months has been somewhat troubling, although they were surprisingly impressive last weekend in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal, perhaps playing without pressure after Crystal Palace's win over Cardiff meant that Chris Hughton's side were mathematically safe. Brighton won't seek to outplay Manchester City, but they are capable of sitting deep and frustrating them.

Hughton is unlikely to make many changes from the side that could easily have defeated Arsenal. Mat Ryan made some good saves in that game, and Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy - Brighton's second top-scorer behind Glenn Murray - defended the box well. Expect a few blocks from that pairing here. Right-back Bruno will be playing his final game for the club and might be thankful he won't be facing players as quick as Leroy Sane any more, while Bernardo offers speed down the left flank.

Knockaert may return

In midfield, Dale Stephens will sit in front of the defence, with Yves Bissouma springing forward sporadically but probably spending more time coping with Bernardo Silva, while Pascal Gross will be tucked into an inside-right position in the midfield trio, and might find David Silva positioning himself in pockets of space behind him.

Out wide, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Alireza Jahanbakhsh drop out after a quiet display at the Emirates, where he also conceded an early penalty. Anthony Knockaert would come in on the right flank, while Solly March would continue on the left. Upfront, Murray has led the line well this season but Florin Andone might be the better option against a City side likely to dominate possession.

Back to the default system for City

Pep Guardiola has tended to stick to City's default 4-3-3 system in the second half of the campaign with relatively few tactical surprises. Vincent Kompany will probably continue alongside Aymeric Laporte at the back, with Ederson in goal. Kyle Walker will push forward from right-back but Oleksandr Zinchenko may drift infield to become an extra central midfielder and guard against Brighton's counter-attacks.

Fernandinho has a small chance of being involved, and Ilkay Gundogan is likely to play his holding role, ahead of the two Silves. Phil Foden played reasonably well against Leicester but might find himself omitted here as Guardiola returns to his more attack-minded 4-3-3, with Sane and Raheem Sterling either side of Sergio Aguero, a front three offering an overwhelming level of speed that Brighton's backline might struggle to cope with.

I'm struggling to make a case for Brighton getting anything out of this game and doing Liverpool a favour - they might frustrate City with their last-ditch defending and blocking, but I simply can't see them holding out against one of the Premier League's all-time great attacking forces.

I think this could be a game for Sterling, whose ability to pop up at the far post to convert low crosses has been a key part of City's gameplan this season. I'll back the FWA Footballer of the Year to open the scoring at 4.67/2.

The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson

Manchester City head to the Amex stadium knowing that a win will assure them of being the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League trophy. City haven't conceded in their last four league starts and against a goal-shy Brighton side, who are now safe for another season, it's hard to see the home side troubling the City back-line.

The two sides met recently in the FA Cup semi final, where City won 1-0, thanks to an early strike by Gabrial Jesus. They have been making their fans sweat after drawing 0-0 at half time in their last three starts, beating Manchester United 2-0 but only beating Burnley and Leicester City by narrow 1-0 victories.

The Seagulls have gone 10 fixtures without a victory in all competitions and can be backed at 20.019/1 to pull off some major final day drama or if you fancy them to keep City to a draw 9.28/1. Despite what we have seen in the Champions League this week, I am finding it hard to believe that either of them are possible.

It worked for me last week against Leicester City so I am going with it again. I will be splitting my stake 80/20, 80% will be going on Manchester City to win to nil at around 1.910/11 and the remainder on Draw/Man City in the Half Time/Full Time market at 5.04/1.

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