Manchester United will be looking to bounce back from their midweek disaster when they face Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Manchester United will hope to put their UEFA Champions League disappointment behind and defeat Brighton & Hove Albion, when the two sides meet in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup at the Old Trafford.
Manchester United will still be licking their wounds after being dumped out of Europe’s premier footballing competition earlier this week, following their 2-1 loss at the hands of La Liga side Sevilla. With FA Cup the only possible avenue for silverware for the Red Devils this season, manager Jose Mourinho will want to make sure his side qualify through to the semifinals.
Brighton also go into the game on the back of a loss, having been beaten 2-0 by Everton last weekend in the Premier League. Prior to that, however, the Seagulls were in solid form, having not lost even once in seven matches across all competitions. And manager Chris Hughton will be hoping that his side can cause a major upset on Saturday.
Team News & Tactics
Mourinho has confirmed that Manchester United will be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Daley Blind (ankle), Ander Herrera (hamstring), Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones (both knocks) for Saturday’s quarterfinal match.
Sergio Romero is expected to replace David De Gea betweeen the sticks as has been the case all season in domestic cup competitions. There is likely to be a reshuffle of the pack at the back for United with Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw coming at the full-back slots, while Victor Lindelof could start alongside Chris Smalling as the two centre-halves.
In the middle of the park, club captain Michael Carrick should make a rare start and help United control the game from the centre, while academy graduate Scott McTominay is likely to feature alongside the veteran Englishman. The youngster has been extremely impressive in his last few games and will be hoping to make his mark again on Saturday.
Juan Mata and Anthony Martial, both of whom did not start the game against Sevilla are expected to be handed starts against the Seagulls, with the former likely to slot in as the No.10, while the latter could start on the right-flank. Marcus Rashford should once again feature from the get go, this time on the left wing. His pace and directness will be a serious threat for Brighton.
Romelu Lukaku has been United’s best player in recent weeks and is expected to once again spearhead the attack at the Old Trafford on Saturday.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Romero; Darmian, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; McTominay, Carrick; Martial, Mata, Rashford; Lukaku;
Brighton & Hove Albion
Midfield mainstay Dale Stephens and left-back Gaetan Bong are doubts for Hughton’s side and are set to undergo late fitness tests to determine their availability. Winger Anthony Knockaert is suspended after being sent off against Everton last week, while Steve Sidwell and Jiri Skalak are long term absentees.
Survival in the Premier League may be the main objective for Brighton this season, but Hughton hinted that he is likely to go in with his strongest possible XI into the FA Cup quarterfinals at Old Trafford.
Matthew Ryan will line up in goal once again for the Seagulls, with the protection of a back four consisting of Ezequiel Schelotto, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk and Markus Suttner. The Brighton defence will be tested by United’s attack and they will need to be at the top of their game to come out on top against Lukaku and co.
With Knockaert ruled out, Solly March is expected to come in on the right-flank, while Jose Izquierdo will retain his spot on the left. Both the wingers have the pace necessary to trouble the United full-backs and could prove to be handful on Saturday. In the centre of the park, shielding the back four will be Beram Kayal and Davy Propper.
Pascal Groß has been a highly influential player for Brighton this season with his ability to score and create goals proving quite handy in attack. He will operate just in behind the main centre-forward position, which is likely to be taken up by veteran striker Glenn Murray.
The 34-year old, known for his physical style of play, has been in hot form coming into the game and could target United’s Lindelof who hasn’t been all that convincing at the back.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; March, Kayal, Propper, Izquierdo; Groß; Murray;
- Manchester United and Brighton haven’t met in the FA Cup since January 1993, when United won 1-0 with a goal from Ryan Giggs.
- Brighton have lost seven and drawn one of their last eight away FA Cup matches against top-flight opposition – their last away win of this kind was at Newcastle United in January 1986.
- Manchester United have been eliminated from three of their last four FA Cup quarter-finals, progressing only in 2015/16 against West Ham after a replay; they haven’t won a quarter-final without the need of a replay since 2010/11 against Arsenal.
- Manchester United have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches in the FA Cup.
- Man Utd have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches in the FA Cup.
Player to watch
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
The Belgian beast has been in very good nick of late, having scored three goals and registered two assists in his last four appearances across all competitions, having also netted the consolation goal against Sevilla during the midweek. In total, Lukaku, now has found the back of the net 24 times this term and also has eight assists to go along with and is definitely United’s biggest threat in attack.
Moreover, the Belgian has scored 11 goals in his last 10 FA Cup appearances – the only match he failed to score in of those 10 games was against coincidentally against United for Everton in the semi-final in April 2016. Brighton will be hoping that he has an off day on Saturday.
Manchester United 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester United are coming on the back of a huge loss that will have left a bitter taste. However, with their only hopes of silverware hinging on the FA Cup, they will step it up a notch on Saturday. Brighton will fancy having a go at the Red Devils with nothing to lose, but United should be able to see their challenge of with relative ease and we at the Hard Tackle predict a 2-0 win for the home team.