United get the ball rolling for the Premier League’s third weekend and their second game of the season at Brighton tomorrow.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men travel for the first of two matches against Graham Potter’s men in the space five days.
With the teams’ Carabao Cup clash not until Wednesday, this Saturday’s curtain-raiser takes centre stage down on the South coast.
Kick-off: 12:30 [BST]
Venue: American Express Community Stadium
Referee: Chris KavanaghEmbed from Getty Images
Beginning their fourth campaign back in top flight, Brighton are looking to build on the foundations they laid last year.
Potter has his side playing stylish football and has transitioned the tricky team that won promotion under Chris Hughton into an attractive side, able to compete with most teams they face.
Following a loss in their first Premier League game, they’ve won the proceeding three, allowing them to build confidence and progress in the aforementioned cup competition.
In past home meetings between these teams, the Seagulls have pulled off a shock result, winning two of their three games in which they’ve welcomed the Red Devils.
That was before, just over two months ago, United thrashed them 0-3 in a one-sided affair during Project Restart.
However, their side looks largely different from that duo of wins, having notably added former Liverpool man Adam Lallana and previous Ajax defender Joel Veltman to their ranks.
The arrivals have also signalled departures for dependable squad members such as Dale Stephens (now of Burnley) and Glenn Murray (loaned out at Watford), the latter of which scored in another second weekend clash between the sides.Embed from Getty Images
League position: 8th
Previous result: Preston North End 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion (Jahanbakhsh, Mac Allister)
Top goalscorer: Neal Maupay (2)
One to watch: Leandro Trossard
To their current crop now and after putting up a valiant effort against Chelsea in their league opener, Brighton won 0-3 in convincing fashion at Newcastle United last weekend.
French frontman Maupay has started to build on a solid first season in the top-flight by grabbing two early goals at St. James’ Park.
He’s likely to start in a front three just in front with Trossard, who also had a decent first term in the Premier League. The Belgian boasts a goal and assist in his two appearances so far.
Floating between the lines, he’ll be hard to keep track of, so either Red Devils holding midfielder, Nemanja Matić, or Scott McTominay, will have to stay alert.
Someone United’s midfield won’t have to worry about is vital midfielder Yves Bissouma.
The underrated Malian tried to retrieve the ball with a kung-fu kick late on in the North East and will miss the next three matches after being sent off.
Aaron Connolly and Tariq Lamptey (below), two of the club’s young stars, are minor doubts after picking up knocks at Newcastle but should start.Embed from Getty Images
Republic of Ireland international Connolly’s pace in wide areas is dangerous, offering an alternative or extra threat to Maupay and Trossard.
Lamptey, on the other hand, has had a blistering start to the season, earning praise from many who’ve watched his performances at right wing-back so far.
Despite playing 4-2-3-1 and rotated teams at Deepdale in their cup win, Potter is expected to revert to a three-man back line.
In that defence will be Ben White, the highly-rated centre-back who played every minute of last and Sseason on loan at Leeds United to help them earn promotion from the Championship.
The 23-year-old, alongside ever-reliable Lewis Dunk and strong Adam Webster, helps Brighton build from the back, allowing their wing-backs to stay compress opposition full-backs.
That’s while giving wingers something to think about as if they beat Lamptey and Solly March, they’ll meet either White or Webster in the wide areas.
Lacking a real focal point, Trossard pulls the strings as the midfield duo – likely to be Steven Alzate and Davy Pröpper – add dynamism in the transition, often a key part of their game plan.
Despite being difficult to play against, Brighton have lost four of their last five home games, shipping at least three goals in each.
Potter’s men also only boast one win from their 10 matches at the AMEX in 2020.
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Florin Adone – Cruciate ligament (six months)
- Yves Bissouma – violent conduct (three matches)
- José Izquiredo – knee (four weeks)
- Christian Walton – ankle (four weeks)
(3-4-1-2) Ryan; White, Dunk, Webster; Lamptey, Alzate, Pröpper, March; Trossard; Maupay, Connolly
Quote from the boss
“We know the challenge, but you want to test yourself against the best teams and that’s what these game provides – a great test and an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and try to get positive results and we’re looking forward to both matches.” – Graham PotterEmbed from Getty Images
THE RED DEVILS
United dispatched Luton 0-3 at Kenilworth Roain midweek, setting up Wednesday’s tie in the Fourth Round.
Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford, and Mason Greenwood got the goals in a less than spectacular display as many fringe players featured.
After Crystal Palace shocked an empty Old Trafford last Saturday, the Red Devils desperately need a first Premier League win.
Only in their inaugural 1992/93 campaign have United lost their first two fixtures and a win would see the Red Devils become the first Premier League side since Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to win five consecutive away games without conceding.
Although United haven’t won their first away game in the last two terms, Solskjær has a 100% record when playing Potter’s Seagulls, winning all three of their meetings by an aggregate score of 8-2.
Having scored three times in both games last campaign, United should have the confidence to breach Brighton again – regardless of whoever plays.Embed from Getty Images
Despite an impressive debut, Dean Henderson is expected to drop back to the bench as David de Gea returns between the posts.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka seems match fit, while fellow full-back Luke Shaw should’ve had ample rest.
Victor Lindelöf was also rested midweek but having struggled and receiving heavy criticism recently, Eric Bailly’s solid display could mean the injury-prone Ivorian usurps him this weekend.
In his pre-match press conference, Solskjær said of Bailly: “Eric is fit again, a big, big plus, and we’re looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games.
“We’ve been waiting for him to be fit and play more regularly.”
He also commented: “I think our defensive record from last season showed with Eric and Harry how good a partnership they were.”
Matić’s presence was missed last weekend, so will likely get the nod over McTominay next to Paul Pogba unless Donny van de Beek makes another start.
Bruno Fernandes and Greenwood combined for one of the goals of the season at Brighton back in July and should both be in from the off.
Injuries/suspensions (estimated return)
- Phil Jones – knee (four weeks)
- Sergio Romero – unknown (TBC)
- Axel Tuanzebe – foot (three weeks)
(4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Bailly, Shaw; Matić, Pogba; Greenwood, van de Beek, Rashford; Martial
Quote from the boss
“We played them after the restart so we have some good memories from there and that game. Hopefully, we can show something like that.” – Ole Gunnar SolskjærEmbed from Getty Images
- Neal Maupay vs Eric Bailly
With Bailly likely to be given the nod, his first job will be to deal with the pacey Maupay. The United defender will have the physical edge but needs to keep his discipline against the Brighton talisman due to his capacity to cause chaos for the opposition backline.
- Tariq Lamptey vs Marcus Rashford
Having left Stamford Bridge in January for a reported £4m, Lamptey has found his feet with the Seagulls and is making the most of his chance. However, Rashford has given young English right-back a torrid time before and can knock his potential future international teammate down a peg tomorrow.
- Ben White vs Anthony Martial
With Martial’s tendency to drift to the left, he’s likely to meet White most of the match. The pair are both calm and collected players and it’ll be a battle of wits to get the better of one another.
Enjoy the match and let us know your thoughts ahead of the game!