Manchester United went into the International break on the back of a bitter defeat to Leicester City in the FA Cup, ending to their 2-month unbeaten run. But with one competition less to play in amid the exhausting end-of-season schedule, the Red Devils aim to keep up their good form in the Premier League & stay ahead of Leicester in the top-2 battle.
While on paper their next home game against bottom-dwellers Brighton Hove & Albion might seem a walk in the park, reality says otherwise. The Red Devils have really struggled against bottom-table clubs at home this season & are eager to turn around that dismal record with a compelling win against the in-form Seagulls.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, McTominay, Pogba, Greenwood, Bruno, Martial, Cavani
Marcus Rashford remains a doubt after suffering an ankle injury prior to the International break.
Brighton Likely XI
Sanchez, White, Dunk, Veltman, Gross, Lallana, Bissouma, Moder, Trossard, Maupey, Welbeck
Solly March is the only absentee for Brighton.
Manchester United vs Brighton Preview
The last time Man United faced off against Brighton ended up being one of the most bonkers game of the Premier League season. A Bruno Fernandes penalty after the final whistle had rung separated the two, giving the Red Devils their first win of the season.
A lot has changed since then as United have climbed up to second place – while Brighton are still fighting to survive a relegation threat. But that doesn’t make this game any easier for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
At home this season, the Red Devils have already dropped points against the likes of Crystal Palace & Sheffield United! If those two can get away point from Old Trafford, an attacking team can Brighton can do the same. United must be wary of the threat the Seagulls possess.
Somewhat fortunately for them, Brighton doesn’t have the negative mindset as some of the other bottom dwellers. Their manager Graham Potter believes in possession-based, attacking soccer and isn’t afraid of taking the games to even the biggest of sides. That could end up making this a much more open-ended game, something to favor the Red Devils – who also have key players returning to fitness.
Anthony Martial is slowly rediscovering his confidence from last season & desperately needs a goal or two. The Frenchman should get some opportunities to score against Brighton, but needs to be clinical with his finishing & clever with his movement to break his goal drought.
Edinson Cavani should be raring to go and is well suited to torment the visitors. Be it his clever movement inside the box or goal-scoring instincts, the Uruguayan will look to carve out chances for himself to get back to scoring ways. Mason Greenwood finally broke his goal duck against Leicester & looks to maintain his sublime form by being ruthless in the final third.
But all eyes will definitely be on PL Golden Boot contender Bruno Fernandes. Being just one goal behind top-scorer Mo Salah, the Portuguese midfielder looks to up his tally against Brighton. With Paul Pogba back sharing the creative duties beside him, Fernandes should be free to play in a more advanced role where he’ll look to slip into clever scoring areas, takes more shots on goal or move into the penalty area repeatedly to get the goals.
While Pogba should assume the creative role with his incredible vision, Scott McTominay should look to be the destroyer who ends Brighton’s swift breaks & progresses the ball forward smoothly to his forwards.
However, Brighton’s threat cannot be underestimated one bit. The Seagulls have scored 7 goals in their last 3 PL games and their clever attacking style can undo the best of defences. With former United star Danny Welbeck & clinical Neil Maupey upfront, Brighton can make United pay for the silliest of mistakes.
Moreover, with their creative engine Leandro Trossard adding that extra goal-scoring threat & Adam Lallana acting like their driving force in midfield, the visitors have enough firepower to humble the Red Devils. It’s safe to say United can’t repeat the defensive mistakes they made against Leicester, as Harry Maguire & co need to be rock solid.
Unlike United’s other encounters against bottom-table sides at Old Trafford this season, this should actually be a thrilling, end-to-end bout. The Red Devils just have to withstand the pressure Brighton creates, be brave with their attacking style & take care of their chances to get a much-needed win.
United are normally very strong coming out of International breaks so I think they should shrug off the tough challenge which Brighton are guaranteed to pose. I’ll go for a 3-1 win for the Red Devils.