Manchester United will aim to ensure their second place with a win on Friday night as they travel to face Brighton & Hove Albion.
Brighton sit at 14th on the Premier League table, but are yet to reach the magical 38-point mark. Chris Hughton’s side could yet be dragged into the thick of things as far as the relegation battle is concerned and the manager will be aware that one win out of the three games left would ensure safety.
Manchester United are in a similar predicament, albeit as regards to second place. The Red Devils are five points ahead of Liverpool with a game in hand and can ensure they finish second on Friday night itself, if they manage to beat the home side.
Their last encounter was at Old Trafford in the FA Cup, where Manchester United registered a comfortable 2-0 win over Brighton. With both teams set for the Friday night fixture, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Brighton & Hove Albion
Steve Sidwell is the only injury issue for Brighton as they host Manchester United. Davy Propper has served his suspension and will be back in contention for a start on Friday. The midfielder should slot straight back into the starting lineup against United, with Chris Hughton likely to depend on his creative output to drive home a result, if possible.
Jose Izquierdo and Pascal Gross will be the main characters responsible for attack, with Glenn Murray upfront to sweep any bad balls and capitalise on set-piece situations and crosses with his aerial prowess.
At the back, Mathew Ryan should be in for a tasking day to guard the Brighton goal and he would hope the central defensive pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy would provide him with adequate cover.
Brighton are a very mixed bag in terms of the football level on display. Chris Hughton likes to keep it simple and the same will be the directive, albeit with a slight more focus on the defensive end on Friday.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Schelotto, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, Izquierdo; Gross; Murray
Romelu Lukaku’s absence will be a big blow for Manchester United, with Jose Mourinho confirming that the Belgian will not feature on Friday night after picking up an ankle injury against Arsenal.
While Marcus Rashford could be the obvious choice to replace Lukaku, recent reports have suggested that Mourinho will be using Martial in a central role as well to cover for Lukaku’s absence, which means we could see the Frenchman start on Friday night.
Other players that are doubtful for the game include Sergio Romero and Phil Jones. Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof should start again as the central defensive pairing, much to the frustration of Eric Bailly, who is reportedly feeling frozen out at Old Trafford.
The rest of the lineup is likely to remain the same, with Jose Mourinho casting one eye on shaping up his squad for the upcoming season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Herrera, Matic, Pogba; Mata, Martial, Sanchez
1. Manchester United to win @ 1.80
2. Anthony Martial to score anytime @ 2.37
1. Manchester United to win to NIL @ 3.00
1. Friday Fever – Brighton have won six of their previous seven matches on Friday.
2. Promoted Peers – Manchester United have already lost away to Newcastle and Huddersfield. The Red Devils have never lost all their away games at promoted clubs in a single top-flight campaign ever.
3. Paul Pogba has scored 3 goals in hist last 4 Premier League games.
4. Glenn Murray is having his best scoring season in the Premier League ever, with 12 goals to his name, compared to his previous best tally of 7 goals in the 2014-15 season.
Player to Watch
Lindelof is finally starting to get regular game time in the Premier League and his performances have been rather pleasing to the eye. The Swede could be in a shot to stake his claim to be a regular for the upcoming season with continued performances like the one against Arsenal.
Brighton 0-2 Manchester United
Manchester United have looked the part recently and will be looking to confirm their second-placed finish with a win on Friday. Brighton will be up for the task as the home side will have one eye on ensuring safety. But, United should prevail, considering the gulf in quality. A 2-0 win for the visitors.