Manchester United will be aiming to continue their winning run when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Old Trafford on Saturday.
Premier League action will continue this weekend with Gameweek 23 of the 2018-19 season. The second game of the weekend will be played on Saturday at Old Trafford, where Manchester United will play hosts to Brighton & Hove Albion, hoping to make it seven in a row under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Manchester United have been a side transformed ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of an underperforming unit as the caretaker manager. And, the Red Devils passed their first test under the Norwegian as they beat Tottenham 1-0 at Wembley last weekend to establish their credentials in the top four race.
Brighton, on the other hand, had been building up a decent run of form, having gone four games without a defeat. But, their unbeaten run was snapped by runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool last week in a 1-0 loss, which has seen them being stationed at a cautious 13th on the table, with 26 points.
The reverse fixture, played at the Amex Stadium in August last year, ended in a 3-2 win for Brighton, with Paul Pogba scoring a late consolation goal for Manchester United. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not have many pressing injury concerns ahead of the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion. On Saturday, the Manchester United caretaker boss is set to be without just three first-team players, none of whom have been regulars under him.
Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling have resumed light training, and are likely to be available within the next couple of weeks. Marouane Fellaini though, is set to be unavailable for at least another month due to a calf injury.
Meanwhile, Solskjaer is unlikely to make any changes to the side that saw off Tottenham in a spirited effort last week, with Romelu Lukaku set to remain on the bench once again. Marcus Rashford should thus, lead the line for Manchester United, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard being the wide men.
Alexis Sanchez has returned to training this week, but is only likely to be fit enough to make the bench. In midfield, Paul Pogba will continue to be Manchester United’s creative force even though reports suggested he was unavailable for training on Thursday due to the birth of his first child.
Nemanja Matic has shown a creative side to his game as well. The Serb will also share the defensive workload with Ander Herrera, with the duo aiming to keep Pascal Gross quiet. At the back, Solskjaer seems to have zeroed in on his preferred four-man defence, with Ashley Young and Luke Shaw being the full-backs.
Phil Jones will partner the colossal Victor Lindelof at the heart of the Manchester United. David de Gea was the man-of-the-match against Tottenham, but should have a quieter evening on Saturday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): de Gea; Young, Jones, Lindelof, Shaw; Herrera, Matic; Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial
Brighton & Hove Albion
Chris Hughton has only two serious issues hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to Old Trafford. Against Manchester United on Saturday, the Brighton & Hove Albion manager will be without just four first-team players, with Yves Bissouma set to face a late fitness test on a hip complaint.
Alireza Jahanbaksh and Mathew Ryan are on international duty at the AFC Asian Cup, while Bernardo (hamstring) and Jose Izquierdo (knee) will miss out due to their respective injuries, although Hughton has enough quality cover to compensate for the absence of the duo.
In Bernardo’s absence, Gaetan Bong will likely be Brighton’s left-back against Manchester United while Jurgen Locadia has filled in for Izquierdo. On the opposite flank, Martin Montoya will be the full-back, who will aim to bombard up and down the right wing and put the pressure on Shaw, who seldom gets supported enough by Martial. Montoya will have the in-form Solly March in front of him.
March will aim to create overloads in central areas, allowing Montaya space on the right flank, while Pascal Gross will be the creative figurehead for the visitors, with Glenn Murray hoping to use his strength against Jones. In midfield, Dale Stephens and Davy Propper will hope to keep a lid on Manchester United’s output, particularly that of Pogba’s.
At the back, Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy will hold the key, especially in their bid to thwart Rashford, while David Button should be a busy man in the Brighton goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Button; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Bong; March, Stephens, Propper, Locadia; Gross; Murray
1. Manchester United Asian Handicap – 1.5 @ 1.930
2. Marcus Rashford to score antyime @ 2.40
1. Both Teams to Score in 1st Half @ 5.50
- Manchester have never lost at home to Brighton & Hove Albion (W8 D2) and have won the last four meetings at Old Trafford without conceding.
- Brighton though, could become the first team to win three consecutive league games against Manchester United since Swansea in 2014-15.
- Ole Gunnar Solskjær could equal the longest Premier League winning streak by a manager from the beginning of his reign at a club: six by Carlo Ancelotti for Chelsea in 2009 and Pep Guardiola for Manchester City in 2016.
- Defeat against Manchester United would be their 100th in the English top flight for Brighton,
- Chris Hughton has lost all five away matches as a manager against Manchester United by an aggregate scoreline of 0-14.
Player to Watch
Manchester United have been practically unstoppable as an attacking force lately, with their sole goal against Tottenham being more down to their willingness to defend their slender lead resolutely instead of Spurs’ defensive brilliance.
Brighton thus, have a major task at hand to contain the Red Devils, particularly at home. Lewis Dunk’s output will, therefore, be the most crucial, with the 27-year-old hoping to keep things tight at the back.
The Englishman’s presence in the Manchester United box during set-piece situation will also be a factor to keep an eye on, making Dunk one of the most important players on the day.
Manchester United 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Manchester United have won six games in a row under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer without much of a fuss, although they did have to work really hard for all three points against Tottenham. Sides like Brighton though, have barely posed a threat to the Red Devils under their caretaker boss thus far.
Additionally, with Chelsea and Arsenal playing each other later on in the day, Manchester United also have the chance to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea, in addition to moving up the table. Brighton, on the other hand, do not look like they stand much of a chance, judging by their diminishing attacking output lately.
The Hard Tackle reckons it will be another comfortable evening for Manchester United, with Solskjaer’s men coasting to a 3-0 win at Old Trafford on Saturday.