Brighton will be no pushovers for City
Brighton & Hove Albion will make the long trip up to the north-west to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium for an early Wednesday evening kick-off in the Premier League. Although the Seagulls are struggling for points and sit 17th, they rarely look as though they're going to be outclassed in many matches, and have ran many of the more favoured sides in the top tier very close already. The hosts have improved their goal output in recent games from a very uncharacteristically low base, but will nevertheless have to be watchful of a more tactically astute opposition than has been the case in previous meetings. Read our preview here:
Foden is more than Phil-ling in
The blue half of Manchester haven't tasted defeat in 10 matches in all competitions (since being sucker-punched by Tottenham Hotspur), and breezed through both domestic cups last week with relative ease. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola and his squad have had to cope with recurring instances of players contracting COVID-19 in the winter months. Sergio Agüero is self-isolating after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive, but it could be argued his peripheral return isn't quite as necessary as it appeared in the early weeks of the season. Raheem Sterling is a fitness doubt for the game, so Phil Foden should retain his place in the left half-space of the attacking midfield trio behind Gabriel Jesus. The 20 year old is beginning to add more goals to his game, including scoring against neighbours United to book City's place in the final of the EFL Cup. Already earmarked as David Silva's 'replacement' for quite sometime, he's not a carbon copy of the legendary Spanish playmaker, but nevertheless has many strings to his bow. Bisecting Brighton's leaky back three will not fall squarely on his shoulders, and expect him to thrive without that sole responsibility.
Both teams have a litany of individuals ruled out for the clash. Tariq Lamptey and Yves Bissouma's absences through injury and suspension respectively are huge blows to Graham Potter's gameplan, but the quality in the roster is more widespread than has hitherto been the case as a Premier League outfit, and there are genuine goal threats in the XI (the plural being important), as evidenced by their tally of 21, which is actually more than Arsenal despite the Gunners' resurgence. Neal Maupay has bagged six whilst leading the line superbly. Far from a target man, he has still carved out a niche, and there are reliable outlets from set pieces, too. At left wing-back, Solly March has been another stand-out performer, and up against the defensively reluctant Riyad Mahrez and the wandering Kyle Walker, there should be situations where he can profit. Having the ability to dribble past players but also be useful when cutting inside is now the staple of the role when making the transition from the second phase of play.
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Having come through a bruising encounter with Newport County that went all the way, a match against City fewer than 72 hours after squeezing through via the lottery of a penalty shoot-out would not have been high on Potter's wishlist, especially when five likely names for Wednesday featured for at least 90 minutes against the League Two outfit. City are improving, even within their own parameters, but Brighton are now always at least competitive in the Premier League, and will attempt to make the most of any infallibilities on the counter and from set pieces. 888sport are offering odds for the 'double' of both teams to score and over 2.5 goals of 2.45.