On Sunday, Manchester United will play their first game away from home in 2018/19, and it’s a trip to the seaside all the way to the South of England.
Brighton and Hove Albion did incredibly well under Chris Hughton to manage survival last season but given the rising quality of the league including the newly promoted sides, it does look like the Seagulls, on paper, are once again set to be involved in a relegation scrap by April. If anything, their home form has been central to their staying afloat in 2017/18 and it will most certainly come in handy again this campaign.
Although, a repeat of last season’s result is looking unlikely, given some of the returning players for the away side, Hughton is expected to get a similar performance out of his players on their first game at the Amex this campaign and use this as a springboard for better things in the future.
Under Mourinho, there is a feeling that Manchester United are always in a state of flux – the coverage around the Red Devils has never been more dampening even though there are plenty of positives that could be gleaned at Old Trafford – not least after their 2-1 win on the opening weekend at Old Trafford. Seldom is it mentioned or discussed that finishing second last season – with a tally that has historically guaranteed ‘at least a title challenge’ – has been a step in the right direction after the abject mediocrity of the four seasons that preceded it.
There have been a plethora of narratives weaving in and out of Manchester United – a club draped in negativity, but the last week has been a welcome change for the club with Mourinho burying the hatchet, once and for all, with regard to some of the rumours doing the rounds on his rift with Paul Pogba, who once again, has been confirmed as captain for Sunday’s encounter. All said and done, 3 points again on Sunday – would do a world of good for the club that is too easily written off.
Brighton are without their captain Bruno who suffered a hamstring injury in Matchweek 1. Jason Steele (thigh), Jose Izquierdo (knee) and Florin Andone (groin) are also unavailable for Chris Hughton’s side.
Valencia, Matic and Lingard are back in training but Sunday will likely come too soon as the United trio build up their fitness. The manager does not expect any of Sergio Romero, Diogo Dalot, Rojo and Herrera to return from respective injuries.
Brighton & Hove Albion were unbeaten in their four home Premier League matches on a Sunday last season (W2 D2), while Manchester United have lost four of their last five away PL matches on a Sunday (W1).
No Man Utd player has had more shots on target in the Premier League this season than the two of Luke Shaw or as many touches in the opposition box as the left-back’s three.
Romelu Lukaku has scored against 17 of the current 20 PL clubs but Brighton are one of the three he has yet to net against, along with Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Pascal Gross – Brighton & Hove Albion
Pascal Gross has been one of the more important members of the squad at Brighton. His contribution to the team’s attacking play is second to none as the prolific German has scored three goals and three assists in his last seven PL appearances at the Amex Stadium. His precise timing in the final third and a sense of knowing the ‘right moment’ to pull the trigger has not gone unnoticed even in the higher end of the table, and will once again prove crucial for the home side.
Paul Pogba – Manchester United
Paul Pogba has been the subject of intense discussion off the pitch – but on the pitch, he has already got his season up and running. By scoring the penalty in the win against Foxes, the 25-year old World Cup winner is now enjoying his new responsibilities at Manchester United – and will continue to do so, beyond this Summer despite the constant noise suggesting his imminent departure to Barcelona.
Mourinho, in his latest press conference, lauded the Frenchman for giving it his all on Friday and with that unrest slowly dying down, the cream is expected to rise to the top, at least on Sunday.
Visitors should have enough to come away with a comfortable win.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1 – 3 Manchester United