Manchester City made a real statement on the south coast as they ran out 4-1 winners over Brighton & Hove Albion. While the hosts did manage to put in a good shift once the two sides came out for the second half, the first 45 minutes put the game beyond their reach as Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden scored three between them to ensure City remain hot on the heels of Chelsea in the Premier League title race.
City knew that they had to keep the ball on the deck and maintain a high press throughout the evening and that’s exactly what they did. They rarely took their foot off of the gas for the entire first hour of play and whether it was their lethal counter-attacks or quick release when in possession, the champions were regularly in the face of their opponents.
The long balls into the box were a constant threat and whenever the favourites sat back, they invited wave after wave of Brighton pressure that would’ve cost them if Graham Potter’s men had better finishing. They left some glaring gaps at times that were notably exploited when Brighton started to get going and their tendency to “switch off” was on full display for the penalty.
Manager ratings out of 10
8 — Pep Guardiola often unravels when getting inside his own head and with 10 minutes left to play, it seemed as if his hesitancy to make changes would come back to bite him. In the end, it didn’t prove too costly with his insistence on the constant high press further highlighting just how prepared this squad is in all areas of the pitch.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 5 — A string of impressive saves to keep the score at 3-0 will largely be forgotten after his needless challenge gave away a penalty that the underdogs subsequently scored.
DF Joao Cancelo, 8 — The ability of Cancelo to track back, while simultaneously looking dangerous in the final third, proves why he’s such an important cog in the City machine.
DF Ruben Dias, 7 — While he may have been more physical and somewhat complacent in the latter stages, Dias has wonderful decision making and unbelievable composure.
DF Kyle Walker, 6 — An early yellow card led to a less-than-vintage performance from Walker as he was regularly out of position and overshadowed by his fellow defenders.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, 8 — Switching the ball from side to side, tapping in the opener and picking out passes when nobody else can see them — a typical Gundogan showing.
MF Rodri, 7 — The 25-year-old was integral to the first goal and has a strong aerial presence, but his positional play isn’t quite as well-rounded.
FW Jack Grealish, 7 — Was double-marked for long spells but got an assist to his name and struck fear into Brighton’s defence whenever he approached the box.
FW Phil Foden, 8 — The England marvel was electric whenever City found space, he linked up with his fellow forwards well and even notched up two goals.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 7 — The defensive work of Jesus was almost as admirable as his constant harassing of Brighton’s defenders — although his finishing wasn’t quite where it needed to be.
MF Fernandinho, N/A — Looked rigid at times and didn’t do a whole lot to protect City en route to them holding out for the win.
MF Riyad Mahrez, N/A — Was kept quiet until the final seconds as he was left in acres of space and given the freedom to slot home for City’s fourth.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, N/A — It was a fairly quiet cameo for the Belgian outside of a really nice through ball to Foden in the last few minutes.