Man City to resume Premier League title quest at Brighton without injured Erling Haaland

Top-scorer, who missed FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea, is also unavailable for Thursday's game on south coast

Erling Haaland has scored 31 goals across all competitions for Manchester City this season. EPA
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Manchester City will be without top-scorer Erling Haaland when they resume their quest to retain the Premier League title against Brighton on Thursday.

Pep Guradiola's side go into the match third in the table, four points behind leaders Arsenal but with two games in hand on the North London club, who hammered Chelsea 4-0 on Tuesday. Second-place Liverpool could move level with Arsenal if they defeat Everton in Wednesday's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.

City have not played in the league since thrashing Luton Town 5-0 on April 13, having been preoccupied with cup competitions in their last two games. On Saturday, they battled to a 1-0 victory over Chelsea to reach the FA Cup final for a second successive season, where they will take on local rivals Manchester United at Wembley Stadium once again.

Three days earlier, City's reign as European champions was brought to an end when they were beaten in a penalty shoot-out by Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, a defeat which also killed off their hopes of sealing a historic double-treble.

Haaland came off at the end of 90 minutes in the Champions League due to a muscular issue, with Guardiola saying after the match that both the Norwegian and key playmaker Kevin De Bruyne asked to come off before the shoot-out due to fitness issues.

The Norwegian – who has 31 goals across competitions this season – was then absent for the win over Chelsea and Guardiola revealed on Wednesday that he will also miss the Brighton game.

But there was better news with defender John Stones and 22-goal attacker Phil Foden, who were also injury doubts. Stones was not fit enough to start against Madrid and was taken off at half-time at Wembley, while Foden was not involved in training on Tuesday but will be in the squad for Thursday's game.

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“Erling is not ready for tomorrow, the other two – they are ready,” said the Spanish coach. “I know it is not a big issue, but he is not allowed for this game.

“We have had a lot of problems with important players with injuries, but we are still there. We are in the final of the FA Cup, we made the latter stages of the Champions League and in the Premier League we are there.

“But you can arrive to the end like this and in one week lose all titles, but the team have behaved unbelievable this season again.”

Next up will a Brighton who have dropped down to 10th in the table having won just once in their last seven league games and were knocked out of the last-16 of the Europa League by Italian side Roma.

It has been a tough campaign for the Seagulls after the success of last season which saw them finish sixth and qualify for Europe for the first time in the club's history.

Key midfielders Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister were sold – to Chelsea and Liverpool, respectively – while manager Roberto de Zerbi has had to deal with the burden of midweek Europa League games and a lengthy injury list.

In their last outing – a 1-1 draw at relegation threatened Burnley where they needed a catastrophic error from Clarets goalkeeper Arijanet Muric to rescue a point – Brighton were already without nine first-team players after Pervis Estupinan limped off after just 13 minutes.

But De Zerbi remains a highly rated coach, having been talked about as a potential replacement for the outgoing managerial pair of Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool and Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich, with Guardiola ready for another tricky night at the Amex Stadium.

“Tomorrow is one of the toughest games of the season. Brighton away in my calendar is one of the toughest ones for the way we play,” he said.

“My admiration is growing [for De Zerbi] every season. They have had a lot of problems. Important players were sold. They have a lot of injuries and are playing in more competitions, but the way they play always they are there. He is doing an incredible job at Brighton.”

City will be back in action on Sunday when they tackle Nottingham Forest at the City Ground, when Haaland should be fit enough to return. In May, they face Wolves at home, Fulham away, Tottenham Hotspur away and then West Ham United at the Etihad on the final day of the season. The all-Manchester FA Cup final takes place on May 25.

Updated: April 24, 2024, 1:05 PM