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Talking Points: Premier League kick-off

Manchester City open their eagerly-awaited Premier League campaign away at newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday. Here we take a closer look at the key issues ahead of the trip to the Amex Stadium.

1Strength in Depth

One thing Pep Guardiola will not be short of for this weekend's league opener are options.

With City having brought in several exciting new faces in the shape of Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Kyle Walker and Danilo and with Benjamin Mendy also to be thrown into the mix once he is fully fit, the Blues manager will be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting his starting 11 for the eagerly-anticipated season opener.

Pep has already suggested that he will operate a 'horses for courses' selection policy this term, hinting that he will mix and match according to the demands of both the opposition and competition as City prepare for what will be a demanding campaign across four competitions.

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It's a mouth-watering prospect for City - but one that could well fill opposition supporters with plenty of cause for concern.

2Bernardo factor

Ensuring new signing Bernardo Silva gets match fit as quickly as possible will be high on Guardiola’s list of priorities at the start of the new season.

The creative midfielder was part of the Portugal team that made it to the semi-final of this summer’s Confederations Cup, meaning his pre-season has been cut short.

He joined up with the squad for the first time last week and then made his first appearance in Blue on Friday, coming on as a second-half substitute in the 3-0 win over West Ham in Iceland.

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He looks set to be a significant figure for City. He’s the kind of player who can unlock a defence with a key pass or a moment of technical brilliance. There aren’t many with his kind of quality.

He can play off either the left or the right, or play as a No. 10, giving Guardiola plenty of options.

City fans should be very excited by his arrival.

3Testing times

It’s become a cliché in recent years but it’s perhaps never been truer: there are no easy games in the Premier League.

The increased TV money means every team in the division has the option to strengthen and sides traditionally viewed as being outside the elite can now buy top-class talent from across Europe.

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There isn’t another league in the world boasting such a spread of quality and finding the consistency to win the title has never been harder.

City will need to be at their very best right from the off to stand a chance of reclaiming the title they last won in 2014.

4Back in business

City's back-line already looks a completely different proposition thanks to the Club's summer signings.

A powerful new young goalkeeper in the shape of Brazilian Ederson, along with a trio of exciting defenders who relish pushing forward in Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo, have joined to compliment the steely resolve of Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones and it suggests a defensive unit which should both help bulwark the Blues' back-line and compliment their explosive firepower.

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Having shaken off their ring rust in the opening pre-season fixture against Manchester United, in subsequent matches against Real Madrid, Spurs and West Ham, City have looked solid and dependable when they have been threatened, conceding just one goal along the way.

Early days of course, but there's plenty of genuine cause for optimism about the way City's new-look defence is shaping up.

5Taste for travel

For many teams having to start their Premier League campaign away from home could well be a cause for concern.

However, under Pep Guardiola in his first season in charge, City proved a formidable machine when on the road.

City won a top-flight club record 12 Premier League games on their travels last term - second only to eventual champions Chelsea - often exploiting the extra freedom playing away from the Etihad afforded them.

Facing a fired-up Brighton back in the top-flight for the first time in 34 years in front of a sell-out Amex crowd will, of course, be a formidable challenge.

But if City can quell the initial storm that will surely come at them, their experience at what it takes to prosper away from home could eventually prove crucial.

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