Premier League title favourites Manchester City held their breath as they waited to tame the Seagulls before they scored two goals which handed them victory on the south coast.
Said the former Barca and Bayern Munich coach: “The first game is always complicated, in my experience, even with Barcelona – especially against a promoted side when they have the passion and are under no pressure at all.”
He continued: “We saw what happened to Liverpool and Chelsea and we spoke about it. It was unexpected but this is the Premier League – I learned this last season.
A proud Guardiola concluded: “Here every game is a battle, but we controlled the game and it was always in our hands.”
The Seagulls had been in the cold for 34 solid years. They had exhibited remarkable organisation and determination to fend off Manchester City but this lasted for 70 minutes only as David Silva finally played in Sergio Aguero who put the ball in the net. Five minutes later Lewis Dunk ensured he got points to match Guardiola’s new-look side when he headed Fernandinho’s cross into his own net.
Brighton had a dismal 22% control and for the most part of the game pumped their energy in defending in their own half though they had opportunities with the score at 0-0.
The only time Manchester City was under pressure was when a shot by Shane Duffy was deflected widely and also after Ederson (the new City’s goalkeeper signed for £35m) panicked at the resultant corner, and Dunk’s two shots were obstructed in quick succession.
The day proved to be more of a test to determine if Guardiola’s revamped team was capable of breaking down an amassed defence.
This is something that did not happen during Guardiola’s first season at Manchester City as they did not do it adequately. However, they finally got their way through.
For Guardiola, a switch to a 3-1-4-2 formation was necessary after new players joined his squad. This is something that the City boss tried during their recent U.S tour.
It was not easy to accurately measure Manchester City’s new shape as Brighton remained deeply in their own half, hardly seeing the ball. But there are signs that City are not yet through adjusting to it.
As wingbacks, Kyle Walker and Danilo did a great job just as expected; they kept on getting forward, overlapping down the outside. The duo were signed for a total of £68m over the summer.
Many times, however, their runs were overlooked and Manchester City actually played the ball inside, where there was limited space just before the attacks broke down.
However, the best option for City to go forward was width and their two goals came about as a result of their moves along the right flank.
Walker was able to launch the attack that resulted to Aguero scoring – thanks to Dale Stephen’s mistake. Fernandinho on the other hand, provided the cross which Dunk delivered into his own net.
The cautious approach taken by Chris Hughton followed 20 minutes after they earned a point against City – a team which has greater talent plus resources yet couldn’t do the job. But finally, it is Manchester City who got the job done.
Hughton was reported saying: “For 70 minutes we played the game we had to play when you are up against the quality they have got.”
He continued: “City have got designs on winning the Champions League – our target is to make sure we are in this division next season.
He concluded: “For 70 minutes, we kept them to minimal good chances but probably the first moment we allowed ourselves to get really stretched as a team, they capitalised.”