Brighton vs. Man U
Venue: Amex Stadium
Kick off: 12:30PM
Manchester United will look to get off the mark in the Premier League at the second time of asking this afternoon when they take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.
Both sides beat Championship opposition away from home in the EFL Cup in midweek, but they suffered contrasting fortunes in their last league games with Brighton beating Newcastle United and Man United losing at home to Crystal Palace.
After a summer of frustration in the transfer market and off-field headlines for the wrong reasons surrounding a couple of their key players, Manchester United would have been desperate to get off to a positive start when their Premier League campaign belatedly got underway last weekend.
Safe to say, that did not prove to be the case; a 3-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace only increased the scrutiny on United’s summer dealings and undermined their hopes of closing the gap on the top two after a third-placed finish last time out.
It was only the third time that United had lost their opening home Premier League game, and it was also the first time Palace had scored more than twice in their past 40 league games, shining a light on the Red Devils’ defensive options.
A couple of controversial VAR calls – first to award Palace a penalty and then order a retake for David de Gea straying marginally off his line – left a taste of injustice, although Palace’s third goal drove home the point that United did not do enough to get anything from the match.
The result only serves to heap more pressure on bouncing back this weekend, particularly with Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal to come in three of their next four league games after this one.
United did at least pick up their first win of the season away at Luton Town in midweek, running out 3-0 winners in a scoreline somewhat embellished by late goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
That victory was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 50th as Manchester United boss across all competitions – a milestone he has reached quicker than Sir Alex Ferguson or Sir Matt Busby managed.
Indeed, his tally of 92 games in which to chalk up 50 wins is behind only Ernest Mangnall (78) and Jose Mourinho (81) in the United history books, yet anything other than a 51st win at the helm this weekend may just prompt more whispers regarding his suitability for the role.
The win over Luton set United on course for another potential clash with Saturday’s opponents, and Brighton’s triumph over Preston North End one day later confirmed that these two will face off twice in the space of just a few days, both games coming at the Amex.
Brighton will go into what would ordinarily be a daunting double-header full of confidence, not least as they have won two of their three Premier League home games against United.
The corresponding fixture last season was the exception to that as United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners, but that was their first league triumph away to Brighton since 1982 and the Seagulls go into this weekend’s clash in good form.
Like today’s opponents, Brighton began their campaign with a 3-1 home loss, but they still managed to impress in that match against Chelsea and since then have chalked up three wins in a row by an aggregate scoreline of 9-0.
EFL Cup victories over Portsmouth and Preston sandwich last weekend’s 3-0 triumph at Newcastle, which saw Neal Maupay score twice in the opening seven minutes before Aaron Connolly completed the job late on.
It is home form in the league which will be the biggest concern for Graham Potter at this stage, with the opening-day defeat to Chelsea leaving them with only one point from the last 15 available at the Amex and only one win in 10 top-flight home outings this calendar year.
By contrast, United are unbeaten on the road since January – a seven-game run which includes clean sheets in each of their last four such outings.
Brighton & Hove Albion possible XI: Ryan, White, Dunk, Webster, Lamptey, Propper, Alzate, March, Trossard, Connolly, Maupay.
Manchester United possible XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, Van de Beek, Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.