Graham Potter admits he is almost at a loss as he ponders how to stop Manchester City this weekend.
The Brighton boss has been hugely impressed by how the champions have started the new Premier League campaign.
Potter’s side did produce a memorable fightback from 2-0 down to beat City 3-2 the Amex Stadium in May but the circumstances are markedly different as Pep Guardiola’s men return on Saturday.
On that occasion City had already been crowned champions and were preparing for the Champions League final. On top of that, they played most of the game with 10 men after Joao Cancelo was sent off in the 10th minute.
“It is a different game, a different season,” said Potter. “It was obviously a big result for us, it got us to 41 points but Manchester City, from what I’ve seen, have taken another step forward.
“They were so impressive in their performances against Liverpool and Chelsea. To pick up four points from those two matches away from home was incredible.
“We know the quality of the opposition – as good as anybody in the world.
“The goalkeeper can hit balls behind the defensive line from within his own six-yard box, the midfield is so fluid, the false nine challenges you in terms of how you defend, the width is incredible, the workrate of the team is amazing and it looks like they are getting better and better.
“They’re so good. How do you prepare? A lot of head-scratching is the honest answer!”
Brighton should at least go into the game high in confidence after making a positive start to the campaign themselves.
Albion sit fourth in the table having collected 15 points and lost just once in their opening eight games.
Potter also believes there is plenty of room for his side to get better.
“We know we can improve,” he said. “That’s not to say the points will follow, because that’s the beauty of football, but we know we have got a lot of work to do.
“The aim is to be a top-10 club – that’s been articulated clearly and often – but that’s not to say we are there now. We need to keep fighting, we have to keep improving and we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.
“But the expectations or goals about where we are at the end of the season are nothing for us to worry about now.
“We’ve got points to fight for, points to play for, so let’s just focus on the next match and keep it as simple as that.”