Man City 0-0 Brighton LIVE coverage of Premier League fixture
Manchester City return to the Premier League tonight against Graham Potter's Brighton side.
City are looking to keep in touch with the top of the Premier League table after Manchester United moved three points clear last night. The Blues have two games in hand over United and Liverpool, and their next six fixtures are favourable compared to the top two, who face each other on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola, however, will be without five players for the clash against the Seagulls, with Sergio Aguero still isolating after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Cole Palmer and Eric Garcia are still isolating after their own positive tests, while Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are still injured.
Guardiola might continue with a false nine again, even with Gabriel Jesus back, after seeing the tactic used so successfully in the last three impressive wins in the league, Carabao Cup and FA Cup.
Follow below for build-up, live match updates and post-match reaction from the Etihad tonight.
37' - City 0-0 BrightonSimon Bajkowski
Brighton are doing enough at the back to limit the exposure to the goalkeeper. Guardiola is doing what he can to advise the players from the sidelines - particularly De Bruyne, Gundogan and Cancelo - but no way through so far.
36' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Kevin De Bruyne has sent in a number of testing balls into the box today, and this latest is turned away from the feet of Riyad Mahrez who was looking to tap in at the back post.
Sergio Aguero would have been perfect for these kind of deliveries.
30' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Kevin De Bruyne takes the shot but Brighton are quick to come out and block.
29' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Brighton concede an indirect free kick for a backpass. City free kick 10 yards out.
28' - City 0-0 BrightonSimon Bajkowski
City are being made to work hard but are starting to find spaces in behind the Brighton defence, Mahrez finding Gundogan before De Bruyne finding Mahrez. They will be very happy while Brighton continue to play out from the back.
27' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
A lovely passage of small passes and good recovery work sees City move the ball around the edge of the area until Kevin De Bruyne goes over the top to find Riyad Mahrez's run. The winger slices wide from a tight angle.
25' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Riyad Mahrez swings a lovely ball over towards the back post and Ilkay Gundogan is running in to hook it back from the byline. Phil Foden is caught on his heels to react and Brighton clear.
20' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
A lone break from Leandro Trossard ends in a curled attempt around John Stones but there's not enough bend to test Ederson.
16' - City 0-0 BrightonSimon Bajkowski
So far, so good for Brighton who have been rewarded for their bravery.
City are like an anaconda trying to put the squeeze on the visitors in their half but twice already they have broken clear into the space near Ederson’s goal. Plenty for City to think about that they don’t normally have to.
14' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Lovely work from Kevin De Bruyne finds Ilkay Gundogan, who slips it back into the Belgian for a shot on the angle but the keeper makes himself big and blocks.
8' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
Bernardo Silva has dropped into midfield now and it seems to be Ilkay Gundogan in the false nine position.
Aleks Zinchenko has a shot from range as City look to build some pressure but it was blocked.
3' - City 0-0 BrightonSimon Bajkowski
Brighton have started aggressively, pressing City high up the pitch and it is causing some early issues for the home team. The danger of pressing high though, as City well know, is that it leaves lots of space in behind.
2' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
It's Bernardo's turn to play as the false nine tonight, with Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan in midfield and Phil Foden on the left.
As in recent games, Joao Cancelo is more of a sitting midfielder than a right-back.
1' - City 0-0 BrightonJoe Bray
After the players take the knee, we're underway.
It's a misty, rainy night tonight and City are in their waterproof jackets as they walk out.
Phil Foden starts his fifth game in six tonight. He was in and out of the team earlier in the season and out of favour, prompting more questions over his development, but this looks to be his best spell yet and his performance against Birmingham made it very hard for him to be left out.
The fact he has started so often is also testament to the work he has put into his physical condition - a very valuable trait for Guardiola, who adores players that he can trust to play three times a week.
What City have this game that they didn’t for the last is firepower on the bench.
Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres are all bonafide options to bring on that can make a difference.
They haven’t had that too often this season, hence why they haven’t scored many second half goals.
Ruben Dias' message to stay focussed doesn't appear to have reached Aymeric Laporte, who is injured tonight.
There could be five different options for Guardiola to be tonight's central attacker.
Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva have all played their recently, while Ilkay Gundogan has been touted as an option there in the past by Guardiola.
Whoever does 'lead' the line, expect plenty of rotation in those front five positions, with potential for Joao Cancelo to reprise his role as an extra midfielder in attack to further confuse the Brighton defence.
It has chucked it down all day and the rain is unrelenting as the players warm up at the Etihad.
It is a night to be glad you are watching rather than playing football. We’ll have to wait and see what effect the rain has on the pitch - some will make the ball zip but too much - even on a surface as good as the Etihad - could hold it up.
No real surprises in the City team is a sign that it is picked on form - you can’t really argue with any of the players in the XI or on the bench.
That in itself is a very strange position to be in with a Pep Guardiola team but shows how players have risen to his challenge.
Ruben Dias is urging his teammates not to look any further ahead than tonight's tricky test against Brighton.
He told BT:
I think we're in an incredible moment, but the moment we start to think about it too much is the moment we start to go in a way that we don't want to.
Even though Brighton's position is not the best we know we're up against a good team with really good principles and we are just as sharp as we can be. We know it won't be an easy game and they've got their strengths so we need to be at our very best to win the game today.
The boss says Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus have been dropped as the club manages their recovery from Covid.
This is what he said:
I think all the clubs are fighting for the strange situation. The team who adapts better will have more chances of winning games.
I don't know. We don't know what are the side effects or what happens after but they play especially the early ones that came back Gab and Kyle almost played 90 minutes and after 3 days I prefer to handle their conditions.
It was nice, it is always a struggle but hopefully for his confidence it will be good.
Potter and Brighton
It is a joy to watch, a positive team. it doesn't matter what you want to play, sometimes it is not possible because the opponents is good but their stats are really impressive. I don't think the results show the performances they have done so far and every time that we play against them last time we won 4-0 against them but we struggled. We played good away but the year before at Swansea we were 2-0 down. He is a top manager.
Great, both sides have a Bernardo playing...
Guardiola has gone strong to face the Seagulls tonight.
The player tasked with the pre-match interviews is more often than not in the starting line up. It's no real surprise to see Ruben Dias in that role today.
Kevin De Bruyne is two assists away from equalling Teddy Sheringham's record of 76 Premier League assists, and a place in the top ten assisters in the competition's history.
Whether it's tonight or an upcoming game, De Bruyne's rate for assists per game and goal involvements per game is comfortably more than any of the other top ten players (statistics courtesy of William Hill).
Manchester City fans are hoping Pep Guardiola will make three changes from their last Premier League victory against Chelsea when they face Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday night.
City turned on the style at Stamford Bridge 10 days ago with their best display of the season to date and City fans want to see the bulk of that same XI restored.
One alteration is in goal, with Zac Steffen starting the last three games for City in the place of Ederson, who has been self-isolating.
Read the full story here.
In his programme notes tonight, Pep Guardiola says 'six or seven' players did well against Birmingham on Sunday:
"At the weekend Kyle Walker and Gabriel Jesus came back after illness and Benjamin Mendy played for the first time in a while. Zack Steffen was able to get another 90 minutes from the start and the way the match went we were also able to give some of the younger players time on the pitch that will help them progress and improve.
"So, for six or seven players, Sunday was really good. Every game we play, we try to win whilst keeping the players as fresh as possible for all the other games that are coming up.
"In the next week we have three matches here at the Etihad all in the Premier League and our aim is simple – to win them all and make more progress up the league table. Of course, it will not be easy because as we have seen already this season the Premier League is so competitive. It is possible to drop points at any time."
"But we have been improving steadily and since we lost at Spurs in November, we have gone 13 games in all competitions without defeat. We hope to make that 14 tonight but just because we have been playing well in wins at Arsenal, United and Chelsea does not mean we have the right to succeed against Brighton, too.
"We must find our tempo. play with the rhythm and intensity we have shown recently and continue to take our chances when they come."