Sunday 20th August, 2017
15.1
8 ℃ | 15 ℃Sydney
after-frustrating-start-manchester-city-finally-break-through-against-newcomers-brighton

BRIGHTON, England -- Three thoughts from Manchester City's 2-0 win away at Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League.

1. City hold nerve at Brighton

After their title rivals had lost their heads, Manchester City kept theirs. Victory at Brighton did not come easy to the Premier League title favourites, but at least they did not concede three goals like each of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have done on opening weekend.

Sergio Aguero's 70th-minute opening goal, set up for him by first Kevin De Bruyne and then David Silva seizing on a Dale Stephens mistake, and an own-goal by Lewis Dunk six minutes later from Fernandinho's cross set City up for a winning start, just as they were struggling to break Brighton's resolution.

Manchester City

The Amex Stadium, home since 2011, is Premier League ready and rocked with noise throughout. A pre-match film on the stadium's big screens reminded of the club's amazing journey after the coastal city had been awash with replica shirts. As kickoff approached, the stands rang out with chants of "Albion, Albion" and "Seagulls, Seagulls" that drowned out a pre-match interview with former goalkeeper Michel Kuipers.

Hughton's team set off with the intention of harvesting that fervour by firing straight into their aristocratic opponents with some Championship-style tackling, but soon found themselves on the back foot, only to eventually gain some territory at the end of the half, and in that flurry of chances before Aguero's goal.

City were certainly discomfited by Brighton's drive and endeavour. Their doggedness against the Premier League's most gifted opposition suggested they are unlikely to be a soft touch for anyone.

3. Guardiola's billionaires still looking for a blend?

The sight of Claudio Bravo on the City bench was a reminder of last season's goalkeeping calamities. Premier League debutant Ederson, the world's most expensive goalkeeper at £35 million, was under the spotlight his Chilean backup wilted under last season, though his new team's dominance meant this was not a match to fully test his mettle.

He did, though, save his first shot comfortably, a looping header from Dunk in the 45th minute. Such a simple thing appeared beyond Bravo last season, and though Ederson's lack of commitment to Suttner's cross in the 55th minute and the chaos that followed suggested he was not totally comfortable, a clean sheet is a good start.

Wing-back partnership Kyle Walker and Danilo were fellow debutants costing a combined £81.5m, playing outside a trio of central defenders in Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi. Danilo, on the left, took every available opportunity to cut in on his favoured right foot while Walker was always an outlet on his flank, though Silva and De Bruyne both seemed hesitant to use him. Playing through the middle seemed the order of the day, rather than using the flanks, which seemed a waste of two high-quality and willing wing-backs; Walker looked especially keen to get forward.

Meanwhile, Eliaquim Mangala being sat alongside Bravo conjured memories of another of City's many forgotten men. Three at the back cleared the cupboards of central defenders, and the Frenchman is current first reserve in the absence of any further summer additions. Added to that, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane were also on the bench, and so was £43m Bernardo Silva, a late sub for Aguero, when Sane had replaced Danilo with 22 minutes left on the clock.

City truly have a true embarrassment of riches but his team's toils at Brighton suggested that Guardiola is still seeking a blend.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.

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