EPL

It is bad news – Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi expects Man City to bounce back

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi insists the upcoming clash against Manchester City on Saturday afternoon is “bad news” despite the Premier League champions’ recent form.

The Seagulls are aiming to break their recent run of four games in all competitions without a victory, but in their way stand Pep Guardiola’s side.

City have been going through a tough spell themselves, according to their lofty standards, losing three of their last four matches in all competitions, but return to the Etihad Stadium where they have a 100 per cent record so far this season.

Asked whether it is a good time to face the treble winners, De Zerbi admitted the opposite.

He told a press conference: “It is bad news. The big teams are not used to losing three games in the last four, but anyway we have to think for ourselves.

“We have to improve in the quality of the play because we are not playing enough for our level and to compete for our target. We have to understand if we want to win or want to compete we have to play better than the last games.

“Without the quality of the play, we can’t reach any target and we have to be clear.”

Brighton have gone from strength to strength since De Zerbi walked through the door at the Amex Stadium, having delivered European football to the fans for the first time in the club’s history.

Many have compared the Italian’s achievements so far to the boss in the opposite dugout and De Zerbi admits he would love to do what Guardiola has done throughout his managerial career.

“I’m happy when I listen to Pep speak about me. I feel a bit embarrassed, but we are a work in progress,” De Zerbi added.

“I think we are playing well, fighting well but we have to improve, progress and adapt a new challenge and new season.

“Pep is a boss. I would like to do something the same because for many years he won in Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Man City, but the way which he won is different to other coaches. The world will remember him not only for the victory but the way he wins, it is unique.”

Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland has not found the back of the net in his last two league appearances which many fans have not been used to since his arrival into the league.

But De Zerbi is extra wary of Haaland’s threat as he looks to break his mini duck.

He added: “The big strikers when they are not scoring so many goals, they are more angry to score and have a chance to score, but its not only Haaland because Doku is a great player for them, and Alvarez.”

Earlier on Friday, Brighton announced highly-rated winger Kaoru Mitoma had signed a new contract.

The 26-year-old, who arrived in 2021, has been a key player in Brighton’s success and will now stay on the south coast until 2027.

De Zerbi said: “It’s great news. Kaoru is our top player.”

Technical director David Weir added: “Ensuring that a player of Kaoru’s quality will remain with us for the long term is fantastic news. Kaoru adapted to the Premier League last season and has quickly become one of our most important players.”

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  • Mainoo hails Man Utd togetherness as Red Devils stun rivals City in FA Cup final Mainoo hails Man Utd togetherness as Red Devils stun rivals City in FA Cup final

    Kobbie Mainoo lauded the togetherness demonstrated by Manchester United as they stunned rivals Manchester City 2-1 to claim the FA Cup.

    Mainoo and fellow teenager Alejandro Garnacho were on target at Wembley to deny Pep Guardiola's side the double after they secured their record-breaking fourth successive Premier League title last weekend.

    Although Erik ten Hag's job was reportedly on the line - regardless of the result - United defended brilliantly to largely keep City at bay, despite Jeremy Doku's late strike for the Citizens.

    The Red Devils subsequently held out to end a disappointing season on a high, securing a place in the Europa League next term with their first FA Cup triumph since 2016.

    And Mainoo, who was named in Gareth Southgate's provisional England squad for the forthcoming European Championship, saluted the efforts of United's players and staff.

    "[It means] absolutely everything," he told BBC Sport. "It's been a tough season of ups and downs. All the fans had to look forward to was this final. Last year, I was in the stands watching. I couldn't be involved.

    "We knew we had to come together. The staff and the players, the preparation has been amazing. We showed that we can compete, we can come together and win on such a big stage."

    Garnacho also paid tribute to his team-mate, who became the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, while dedicating the victory to United's supporters.

    "Just incredible; I say he's the best player in the squad, and he's the youngest. I'm so happy for him," the Argentine said of Mainoo.

    "[It is an] incredible feeling. Nobody believed in us, but we are together, here with these fans. An incredible moment for us, also for me and Kobbie to score the goals, but all together, we fought like it was the last day of our lives. We're so happy.

    "The fans were incredible. They're always there – home games, away games, now Wembley. We won for the fans."

  • Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: Garnacho and Mainoo fire Red Devils to FA Cup glory Manchester City 1-2 Manchester United: Garnacho and Mainoo fire Red Devils to FA Cup glory

    Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo were the heroes as Manchester United pulled off an upset to beat rivals Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final.

    United boss Erik ten Hag's job was reportedly on the line whatever the result in Saturday's game, but a mix-up between Josko Gvardiol and Stefan Ortega was capitalised upon by Garnacho to hand the Red Devils the lead at Wembley Stadium.

    Mainoo's fine finish made it 2-0 shortly after, and though Jeremy Doku pulled a goal back late on, United held firm to claim the famous trophy for the first time since 2016 and deny City a double after they secured a fourth straight Premier League title last weekend.

    It now remains to be seen whether Ten Hag will suffer the same fate as compatriot Louis van Gaal, who was sacked as United boss after winning the FA Cup eight years ago.

    Pep Guardiola's men started the brighter, though it was United who went close first as Ortega got his body behind Garnacho's fierce strike.

    Garnacho was not to be denied with 30 minutes on the clock, though, as he pounced on a calamitous mix-up in the City defence.

    A long ball over the top was not dealt with by either Ortega or Gvardiol, who inadvertently nodded it beyond his goalkeeper, allowing Garnacho to tuck home into an empty net, becoming the first teenager to score an FA Cup final goal since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.

    And another teenager in Mainoo made it 2-0 before the break at the culmination a brilliantly incisive move.

    Garnacho was involved again as he burst down the right and cut back for Bruno Fernandes, whose deft pass teed up 19-year-old Mainoo to coolly slot past Ortega.

    Erling Haaland nearly halved the deficit when he rattled the crossbar after the interval, before Andre Onana made a superb stop to keep out Kyle Walker's ferocious long-range drive.

    Onana should have done better in the 87th minute, though. United's goalkeeper got down to Doku's hopeful attempt, but could only parry it into the corner.

    Yet United ensured Onana's mistake did not prove costly, as City's hopes of a double were dashed and the Red Devils claimed a stunning victory in what could have been Ten Hag's final game at the helm.

    United's teenage daydream

    United went into the game as outsiders, a fair view considering the 31 points that separated these city rivals in the Premier League table, but the Red Devils' youngsters turned up in some style at Wembley to lead their side to glory, as well as securing European football next season.

    Garnacho scored with one of his three shots on target, more than any other player on the pitch, while Mainoo's performance did no harm to his chances of making Gareth Southgate's final squad for Euro 2024, ruthlessly finishing his only big chance and again having an impact in both defence and attack.

    Mainoo's goal also made him the first English teenager to net in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981, and he looks set to be a big fixture for both United and England for many years to come.

    De Bruyne's dismal derby day

    Kevin De Bruyne finished the Premier League season with 10 assists and four goals in just 18 appearances, but he, alongside many of City's stars, looked well off the pace here.

    De Bruyne completed an uncharacteristically low 71 per cent of his passes before Guardiola had seen enough, hauling off the Belgium international for Julian Alvarez with over half an hour left.

    City ended their league campaign with nine straight wins to seal the title, but they looked a shadow of that side this time out and will finish the season with just one trophy, after claiming a treble last term.

    Doku did make an impact after his half-time introduction, but though he managed to cut into United's lead, it was too little, too late.

  • Man Utd's Garnacho and Mainoo become first teenagers to score FA Cup final goal since Ronaldo Man Utd's Garnacho and Mainoo become first teenagers to score FA Cup final goal since Ronaldo

    Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo have become the first teenagers to score in an FA Cup final since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2004.

    In the first half of Saturday's FA Cup final against Manchester City, 19-year-old Garnacho capitalised on a mix-up between Stefan Ortega and Josko Gvardiol to become the first teenager to net in the competition's showpiece match since Ronaldo did against Millwall in 2004, also for the Red Devils.

    Garnacho's goal made him the third teenager to score for United in an FA Cup final after Ronaldo 20 years ago and Norman Whiteside back in 1983.

    Then, just nine minutes later, a brilliant United move ended with Bruno Fernandes laying Garnacho's pass into Mainoo, who coolly finished to double United's lead at just 19-years-old.

    Mainoo's finish means United hold a 2-0 lead at half-time against the Premier League champions, while it's also the first men's FA Cup final to see two different teenagers net. Aged just 19 years and 36 days, Mainoo is the youngest English goalscorer in the game since John Sissons for West Ham in 1964.

    Mainoo is also the first English teenager to score in an FA Cup final since Steve MacKenzie for City against Tottenham in 1981.

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