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PL Preview: Manchester City vs. Brighton

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  • Manchester City has never lost to Brighton at home
  • Brighton has not kept a clean sheet this season
  • Manchester City has dropped four points in its last 12 matches

Defending champions Manchester City don’t currently own the top spot in the Premier League standings, but Pep Guardiola just needs one slip, one stumble, one opening by Liverpool to take control. In order to do so, City needs to take care of business.

The next bit of business is a home date with Brighton & Hove Albion Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

[ WATCH LIVE: Manchester City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion ]

Manchester City has rattled off three straight wins by a combined 10-1 score since drawing with Wolves back in late August. Guardiola is still missing Kevin De Bruyne, but the Belgian will return to training soon and is expected to return to the lineup in the near future. Benjamin Mendy, Eliaquim Mangala and Claudio Bravo are all still missing, but otherwise Manchester City is at full strength.

Meanwhile, Brighton sits in the crowded bottom half of the standings and has just one win on the season, earning just two points over its last four matches. The Seagulls are missing playmaker Pascal Gross who suffered an ankle injury against Fulham, plus Dale Stephens who came off midway through Saturday’s loss to Tottenham with a hamstring injury.

Each of Brighton’s last five matches have been either draws or decided by one goal. Before this past weekend’s 2-1 loss, Brighton had staged a pair of late, two-goal comebacks.

What they’re saying

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Brighton: “It’s a really good side, a good manager and they were together for a long time. They know exactly what they have to do. They are really well organized. It will be a really tough game, but we know that and we will try to do a good game.”

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on playing Manchester City: “Along with playing Liverpool away, I would say that this is the toughest game. We did okay in the Liverpool one and might’ve got a result there, so you always have to be positive going into games like this. No-one expects us to get anything from it, so that’s normal and that pressure is taken off, but we want to do as well as we can.”

Prediction

Brighton has put in a few very good performances and look a formidable opponent for anybody in the Premier League, but their defensive frailties have cost them numerous points over the last few games, and that will prove deadly against Manchester City. A few mistakes will turn into a multi-goal deficit, and this isn’t a team you can exploit late in games for a messy comeback. Pep Guardiola will earn a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Finlay goal gives Minnesota win over former club Columbus (video)

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It had to be him.

As Columbus continues to search for itself under new management, it’s no surprise that one of its old heroes broke its heart on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Ethan Finlay, he of the 166 Crew appearances before being traded to Minnesota United, said earlier this week, “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t want to beat up on them pretty bad.”

So of course Finlay scored a 70th minute tap-in to give his Loons a 1-0 win over Columbus on Saturday in St. Paul. It wasn’t “pretty bad,” but it probably felt pretty good.

The goal was Finlay’s first of the season for United, keeping the hosts unbeaten at home.

Columbus falls to 1-5 away from home under Caleb Porter, and has won just once in its last seven outings.

Brighton ready to pay release clause for Swans manager

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Brighton and Hove Albion is ready to bring one of England’s brightest managerial prospects into the Premier League.

The Seagulls are set to pay a $3 million release clause to lure Graham Potter away from Swansea City, one year after the manager left Swedish club Ostersunds FK.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

Potter was 35 when he was hired by the Swedish club in 2010, and helped Ostersunds to three promotions before moving to Wales in 2018.

Swans finished 10th this season, its first in the Championship after relegation from the Premier League.

Brighton regressed in a big way during the second half of this season, and remains in the top flight largely because Cardiff City was unable to take advantage of the Seagulls’ huge struggles.

The report says Swansea offered Potter a new deal to stay at the Liberty Stadium, but the manager wants to try the Premier League.

If he takes the job, Potter will manage against one of his former clubs; Potter played eight times for Southampton in the Premier League.

Pep: Domestic treble harder than winning Champions League

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Manchester City won its third tournament of the season on Saturday, battering Watford 6-0 at Wembley Stadium to add an FA Cup to its League Cup and Premier League titles.

[ RECAP: Man City 6-0 Watford ]

In doing so, City is the first club to win a domestic treble. Manager Pep Guardiola wants to win every competition he enters, but said winning all three is extra special.

“I love the Champions League but it is more difficult to do what we have done than to win the Champions League,” Guardiola said.

Wait, what?

From ManCity.com:

“It’s not easy being there every three days. We lacked a little bit of energy but it’s normal. It’s been so tough this week. We could not have had more energy but we kept it at the right time.”

Well, that makes sense. Whereas Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp risked less with his cup lineups, knowing his desire for the Premier League and Champions League, Guardiola’s lineups were aimed at winning everything.

And that’s largely why they’ve done it. City might’ve needed penalty kicks to beat Chelsea in the League Cup Final and a John Stones clearance to win the Premier League (or a Vincent Kompany thunderbolt), but the treble is impressive.

AC Milan boss Gattuso insists fifth “not a failure”

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For a solid four months, it appeared AC Milan was on track for a return to the Champions League for the first time in six years. Then, it all fell apart.

Still, manager Gennaro Gattuso is insisting their season is not a failure, adamant that a fifth-placed finish would not be considered a disappointment for the club. His reasoning will not be exactly endearing to fans.

“Fifth place absolutely wouldn’t be a failure, not because I want credit myself, plus what would Roma and Lazio say?” Gattuso said during his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s game against Frosinone. “There’s regret because for two months we’ve had our fate in our hands and we dropped so many points, but it’s not a failure.”

Milan was as high as third place in the Serie A table in mid-March and seemed close to wrapping up a return to Champions League play, but a stretch of one win in seven league matches saw them tumble down into the crowded battle below, with Atalanta, Roma, Torino, and Lazio all in a pack. AC Milan now sits sixth, and while they still remain in the mix for the fourth position, they would need to make up a three-point deficit in just two matches. Fifth-placed Roma drew today, so they can jump to fifth with a win against Frosinone.

Milan was a European powerhouse for decades until the club declined following its 2007 Champions League victory, ultimately falling out of the running for Europe’s top competition, with just a few Europa League appearances since 2014. Gattuso’s comparison to Lazio and Roma, two strong Italian clubs without Milan’s history, is bound to infuriate fans, along with his acceptance of the club’s shortcomings.

The late-season collapse has called Gattuso’s job security into question, but he said that will wait until the end of the season. “Both the club and I have put aside our small talk to reach our objective,” Gattuso said during the presser. “There will be time to talk about the future.”

“There are two games left and we’re still playing for our objective.”