The Ped New Season Report Brighton 0-2 City
The pre-season is over - now it's for real and after the usual array of unusual results it was City's turn to rock up at Brighton to hopefully give the division's newcomers a taste of things to come.
Having suffered the expletives of dear Susan following Watford's late gift, courtesy of some sad Liverpool defending, and Chelsea's sacrifice not only of three points but also of various players due to red cards, what exactly would lie in store for City at the Amex Stadium? It was a cauldron of noise with blue and white flags in abundance as the locals welcomed their heroes to a Premier League they hadn't visited before and a top flight from which they had been absent since, what 1983?
With the Premier League commencing with goals in abundance, the City faithful were in anticipation of Brighton needing snookers to get anything from this match, but Guardiola sent out an experimental eleven to see if it was wing backs or the tried and tested route of wing forwards.
Ederson was to make his debut leaving last season's flop, Bravo on the bench. A three-man defence saw Kompany play on the right, Stones in the centre and Otamendi on the left. Fernandinho was the guard with new signings Danilo and Walker providing width, Silva and De Bruyne the craft and Jesus and Aguero the threat.
From minute one it was clear that City should pick off three points more or less at will. Brighton, last season, were not generous in surrendering points at the Amex and inevitably set out to stifle City, getting close to the dangermen, tackling early, but having no general ambition to take the game to the Blues.
With the pace of Sane and Sterling consigned to a bench that cost more than most other teams, Brighton probably missed a trick as City clocked up around 75% possession in the first half, without really threatening the Seagulls goal. Yes, Jesus had one disallowed for a handball that for reasons best known to Oliver Hardy saw him yellow carded, while the attempt from Aussie net minder, Ryan, to get a free shot at him with no attempt to play the ball went unpunished.
In addition the normally precise Aguero issued an air shot, largely due to Silva and himself looking for the same ball and the first half ended at an unlikely 0-0.
This was a compact City designed to prevent the generosity of last season where they attacked at will with a profligacy that left the door open and left them susceptible to goal concession with the associated problems of recovering. Brighton never looked as though they would provide a threat, apparently happy to avoid getting tonked.
With Danilo essentially a right-footer playing in a left-sided position, Brighton could afford to take a chance down that side and concentrate on the threat provided by the excellent Walker whose pace and power down the right highlighted something that was missing from City last season.
This meant that they had an extra man to cover Aguero and Jesus and therefore deprive City of clear cut chances. The attack was crying out for the direct threat that Sane brings, as every time he got the ball Danilo had to cut inside and was therefore predictable. At no point did he take on Brighton "round the corner" and this game was significantly easier for the new boys than they would have thought when the fixtures came out in the middle of June.
Once Sane was introduced things changed. No longer could the Seagulls take a chance down the left flank and having to move people around to try to overcome the different threat that Sane causes, finally left some space in the middle.
It was significant that in more or less City's first attack after the introduction of Sane, the Mighty Atom that is Sergio Aguero found the inches of space that he needed and, bingo, City took the lead. When it arrived it was one of City's incisive moves honed by the usual suspects. De Bruyne played it into Silva, who instinctively knew that Aguero was making his trade mark run into his trade mark position and having received another "blind pass" scored his trade mark goal from the inside right position into the far corner of the net. The adrenaline valves were released and the Blues were on their way to another opening day three points. For all their endeavour, Brighton were moved, maybe to the position they expected to be in and effectively had nothing in the tank.
Forced to chase shadows and spend vast amount of time without the ball, the fatigue crept in and within five minutes, their situation was irrecoverable against a City side whose goalkeeper didn't get a feel of the ball for the first half-hour.
Within five minutes, City once again moved the ball down the right where they had looked dangerous all evening. Fernandinho had made the run pulling the cover with him before sending in a killer cross to Jesus. Brighton defender, Dunk, slam dunked his defence diverting the cross past Ryan and ending all hope that the hosts might have harboured of creating a shock on the opening day.
City strolled to the end of the match which ended with a generous scoreline as far as Brighton were concerned. Yes we would have liked to have seen what would amount to bonus points with a big result for City, but Guardiola got his chance to blood his new acquisitions, Mendy apart, and show off the potency that his bench contains.
It is difficult to read anything into this result. City were expected to win and probably by a bigger margin, but we'll take a 2-0 away win as a first week match against a team new to the league which is always a tricky event.
There will be sterner tests starting next week again Everton and two weeks later against fellow Scousers, Liverpool, although Sue is fearing the worst as the Coutinho and Van Dijk situations look as though they will drag on until the final moments of deadline day with the potential of giving Jim White a yellow-tie orgasm.
I like the look of Danilo. He looks a class operator although I think he will ultimately provide more of a threat to Fernandinho than Walker or Mendy. Bernardo Silva looks as though nothing in the world phases him and looks a useful addition to a squad that still has Gundogan to make a comeback, hopefully against Girona this week.
We can't say anything about Ederson. Some of his forays looked a bit shaky today, but he wasn't really under any genuine threat. There will be bigger challenges ahead.
With Liverpool surrendering 2 points at the death today and Champions Chelsea suffering 2 red cards and a 3-2 deficit against Burnley, a team not noted for away wins, the table looks a little odd tonight with the mashed potato men from Yorkshire, Huddersfield, sitting above all others. No doubt my great friend, Roger Davies, a revered singer/songwriter from Kirklees and Calderdale and also has a song called "Huddersfield Town" will be astonished at their achievements.
The Stretfords open their campaign this weekend and the insignificants like Herrera reckon they want to win everything. No doubt his usual tactics of booting people will prevail as a thuggish-looking Stretford outfit begin their business.
Sue's boys move on to Champions League business with an awkward looking tie against Hoffenheim, a side not too generous on their home 4G, but I think they'll have enough to get through over two legs as we wait with baited breath to see who along with either Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern, the Blues will face in the group stages.
Ahead of this we look forward to the visit of Everton on Monday week. They escaped the Etihad with a 1-1 draw last season after a miraculous performance by their goalkeeper and trounced City easily at Goodison. We owe them one.