£50 million man Kyle Walker impresses in debut, City see off Brighton
Manchester City, the Premier League's most consistently high finishers over the last seven seasons, began at Brighton looking like a side intent on finishing right at the top of the pile this time out. A patient, professional display of passing and possession saw off a lively but horribly blunt Brighton side, celebrating their return to top flight action after 34 years away.
The signs for the season are clear for all to see. Significant renewal is in the air, talented players fill every position and it is difficult to see any weak links in the side. The new system at the back worked without upset, with Kyle Walker and Danilo playing so far up, both were the most advanced players on a number of occasions.
Total control of an away game at a Premier League debutante on the opening day of the season. Apart from five brief minutes between the 50th and 55th minutes, when Brighton attempted to ruffle City's feathers, there was nothing doing for the home side. Judgement on the capability of City's back three to withstand proper pressure will have to wait until the Everton match. Whether the profligate finishing will also be a feature will soon become apparent too.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Pep Guardiola chose to field a side so stacked towards scoring goals that the home side spent 85 minutes of their debut desperately trying to find a way out of their own half, as City's patient passing game opened them up to danger time and time again. Bringing on Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Bernardo Silva as subs suggested the manager was not satisfied with a two-goal win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Ederson Moraes, 6 -- Might as well have been on the Copacabana for this one. First kick out was misplaced and one punch did not connect, but his first clean catch did not come until the 75th minute, so underworked was he.
DF Vincent Kompany, 7 -- Quiet marshalling role for the captain on the right of the back three. One excellent flying interception proved his hamstrings are ready to be tested.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Quiet afternoon, tracking the occasional and erratic forays of the Brighton attackers. Often found in midfield alongside the dawdling Fernandinho.
DF John Stones, 7 -- Strolling, confident performance, although a little too casual on one occasion when giving the ball away centrally.
MF Kyle Walker, 9 -- A major threat throughout a punishing first half from City. His first romp up the wing featured a run from his own box to the edge of the opposition area and he kept this attacking intent right up to the end. Always keen to get into the box and interact with David Silva.
MF Danilo, 7 -- For a short time was the best City player on the pitch, forcing Solly March into a torrid first half of back-tracking, but fell away in the second period and was replaced by Leroy Sane after 67 minutes. Keen to cut in and use his right foot.
MF Fernandinho, 7 -- Almost redundant in a first half of total City control, sitting in the hole in front of the back three, mopping up quietly and professionally. More active in the second half both defensively and in the attacking third.
MF David Silva, 8 -- Delivered a typical Silva game, prompting and prodding away in front of a wall of blue and white striped shirts. Epitomised City's patience in face of bewildering defensive numbers. Brilliant assist for the opening goal.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 7 -- Craftsman in the little spaces. Often marauding through the centre, he failed from the dead ball and fluffed his early passes, but was instrumental in making the breakthrough when he nicked possession to feed Silva for the first goal.
FW, Gabriel Jesus, 7 -- Easing himself back into things, he had the most City chances (4) and "scored" twice only to have them ruled out each time. Some lovely touches and increased work rate bode well for the season.
FW Sergio Aguero, 8 -- Chased and harried and never gave up the fight. Having missed a one-on-one with Maty Ryan, he kept at it and, when put through by Silva's ball, finished coolly into the corner. Could be league top scorer with this kind of service behind him.
MF Leroy Sane, 6 -- Arrived as replacement for the tiring Danilo and managed a number of acrobatic failures as he tried to get into the game.
MF Raheem Sterling, NR -- Replaced Gabriel Jesus on 78 minutes. Booked for blocking a Brighton break-out through the middle late on.
MF Bernardo Silva, NR -- Replaced Sergio Aguero on 83 minutes and was lively in his attempts to connect with his namesake David, but without great success.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.