Guardiola walks on Garcia
Pep Guardiola said that Eric Garcia and those around him felt how important he was to Manchester City amid strong interest from the former Barcelona club – and this was seen in the Brighton match sheet.
John Stones had exactly the kind of uneventful night in Newcastle that any central defender wants, and it was a natural progression to replay him on Saturday night.
However, the manager chose instead to bring Garcia and Aymeric Laporte for the fourth time in five possible games since the restart. This should be seen as a clear sign of Garcia’s current position in the city’s hierarchy, and follows Guardiola’s comments that Fernandinho can now be used in the midfield.
The 19-year-old in turn showed exactly why there was a fight for his future, calmly dealing with the physique and pace of Aaron Connolly and getting a white sheet.
Barcelona’s call to a player who has gone through their academy is obvious, but City is doing everything it can to show Garcia what his future may look like playing with this team.
Brighton vs Manchester City
This season has certainly been a learning curve for Rodri, but he showed Amex in a minute how he had improved.
Its size gives the team additional attack power and its lighting at the near post in a corner almost offered his teammates an excellent opportunity. There was nothing to complain about when the ball hit the home team, and he ran back and cut the danger before he could reach the City box, nodding towards Ederson to defuse the threat.
There was a strange, wobbly moment, but overall it was excellent again, absorbing any threats that appeared in the City box and spreading well.
Laporte exorcises the demons
It was against Brighton at home that everything went wrong for Laporte and City, the Frenchman suffering from the injury that would have paid for the defense of the title and most of his season.
Helped by the delay in the campaign, the Frenchman is now going back on his keenness and spent a comfortable evening accumulating another white sheet alongside Garcia.
If City is to succeed in its knockout competitions this season, they will need Laporte at the heart of the defense. His physical condition also allowed Fernandinho to return to the midfield, the veteran replacing Rodri for the last moments of the match.
Frustration de De Bruyne
It sounded like a matter of timing rather than whether Kevin De Bruyne was going to break Thierry Henry’s attendance record when restarting football. With ten games left, he needed four to tie the 20 mark and five to pass it, having managed 16 in the first 28 games.
With only three games left, however, he’s stuck on 18. City scored a bunch of goals last month, but they’ve been incredibly useless every time De Bruyne has put it on a plate for teammates for the second consecutive game, he should have had at least two assists.
Three games remaining with Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich mean the record remains firmly within reach, but should have been cashed out now.