It’s the FA Cup weekend and Manchester United will welcome Brighton & Hove Albion as they face each other for a place in the last 4.
After crashing out of the Champions League at home to Sevilla on Tuesday night, the focus of the entire club will have firmly shifted to the FA Cup, the last chance saloon for Mourinho to pick up some silverware before the curtains are drawn on the season. United last won the competition in 2016 under Louis van Gaal and were knocked out last year in the same stage against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge but this year, at Old Trafford, the Red Devils do have a relatively straight-forward opponent in front of them in the last eight and how they respond from the latest setback remains to be seen.
Brighton are unsurprisingly the underdogs of the tie – but the FA Cup, known for its giant-killing moments in the latter stages of the competition – will be the ideal platform for Brighton to upset the odds.
Their recent Premier League record (3 wins from the last 5) has lifted the Seagulls up to 11th in the league table which will allow Chris Hughton to go for the jugular at Old Trafford when the two sides meet on Saturday.
With the international break coming up and the fixture on their return being a trip to the Etihad Stadium, Hughton has the luxury of going with a full-strength lineup as opposed to a rotated side as he has in previous rounds. Along their way o their first quarter-final in 32 years, the Seagulls have knocked off arch-rivals Crystal Palace, M’Boro and Coventry City, but beating Manchester United away from home will be the crowning jewel in an already memorable run for the South Coast side.
French duo Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial returned from injury as substitutes against Sevilla and could be pushing for starts, while Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have missed recent matches.
Meanwhile, Brighton are set to be without influential French forward Anthony Knockaert through suspension, following his red card late on in their 2-0 defeat at Everton last weekend. Injured trio Steve Sidwell (back), Isaiah Brown (knee) and Jiri Skalak (ankle) are expected to be sidelined again.
- Brighton’s last victory over United came in 1982 at the old Goldstone Ground in Hove, and they have never won at Old Trafford or beaten them in six attempts in the FA Cup.
- Their most memorable clash with the 12-time winners came in the 1983 final when they were beaten 4-0 in a replay after rescuing a draw from the original tie at Wembley through an 87th-minute Gary Stevens equaliser.
- They have faced each just once in the competition since, when a young Ryan Giggs knocked Brighton out in the fourth round 10 years later.
Anthony Martial – Manchester United
Martial, after a rampant start to his campaign in the first few weeks of the season, has cooled off a bit in terms of his goal return. The Frenchman still has one of the best minutes-to-goal ratios at United – averaging a goal in every 150 minutes in the Premier League.
He has only started 16 games in the league this season which means he is among the freshest members of the squad who will be expected to get a lot of game time between now and the end of the season. Against a side who are not expected to have a lot of the ball, the 21-year old will be key to unlocking the back four for Man United.
Glenn Murray – Brighton & Hove Albion
13-goal top scorer Glenn Murray has been in fine niche for the Seagulls, notching late winners on a couple of occasions – leading Brighton’s charge in the league and the FA Cup.
At 34, Murray brings a lot of experience to Hughton’s side, with his clever hold-up and link-up play which will be crucial for the visitors at Old Trafford where they will have to be at their best at both ends of the pitch, if they were to have a chance of coming away with a positive result.
Manchester United to come out with a strong response to the shambles on Tuesday night.
Manchester United 3-1 Brighton & Hove Albion