Brighton vs. Man U
Venue: Amex Stadium
Kick off: 4PM
Manchester United will aim to make it two Premier League wins from two when they travel south to face Brighton & Hove Albion this afternoon.
The Red Devils kicked off their campaign with a slender 2-1 victory over Leicester City, while today’s opponents were soundly beaten by Watford in their opener.
There were very few positives for Chris Hughton to take away from the 2-0 loss at Vicarage Road, having seen his side fall to a couple of Roberto Pereyra strikes without offering anything in the attacking third.
Brighton failed to register a single shot on target in their opener, as their winless away run stretched to a 14th match since overcoming Swansea City in South Wales last November.
The Seagulls’ home form was enough to keep them up in their maiden Premier League campaign, collecting a more-than-credible 29 points from their 19 fixtures at the Amex Stadium – a record that only Everton can better outside of the top-six elite.
The highlight of last season was the 1-0 win over Man United in early May, with that victory taking Albion up to 40 points for the campaign and guaranteeing their place in the top flight for another year.
That was their only victory in 10 matches, however, and things do not get any easier for Hughton as he prepares his side for games against United and Liverpool over the next week.
It took Brighton four attempts to get off the mark in 2017-18 and, judging by Hughton’s comments post-Watford, it may take them a while to get going this time around, too.
For Manchester United, the season may only be one game old, but the importance of last week’s home win against Leicester cannot be overstated. Coming off the back of a turbulent pre-season campaign both on and off the field, Jose Mourinho was clearly relieved when Luke Shaw temporarily put his side two goals in front.
Today’s tie presents United with a chance to make it two wins from two at the start of a campaign for the fourth year in a row, so fast starts are certainly nothing new – especially not for Mourinho, who has had to spend this week batting away questions regarding Paul Pogba.
All is clearly not well behind the scenes if certain media outlets are to be believed, yet the Portuguese has insisted that he has no problems with Pogba – captain for the day against the Foxes – and claims that press reports of a big bust-up were wide of the mark.
The bottom line, though, is that United’s squad looks stronger through the addition of Fred in central midfield, giving Mourinho a slightly different option in a key area, and last term’s points haul of 81 would been enough to win the title in many previous seasons.
A favourable run of fixtures to start 2018-19 is also an advantage, with Tottenham Hotspur the only member of the top six United face before the end of October, so Mourinho will be hoping to keep pace with champions Man City as autumn turns into winter.
Brighton possible XI: Ryan, Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bernardo, Jahanbakhsh, Stephens, Bissouma, March, Gross, Murray.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Young, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred, Pereira, Pogba, Mata, Lukaku, Sanchez.