The second FA Cup semi-final could be the game of the weekend. Brighton and Hove Albion will be facing Manchester United. For Erik ten Hag’s side, it is important that they bounce back from the poor display in Sevilla. They have already tasted victory at Wembley this season, after beating Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final. That experience could be important, but the neutrals will want to see their opponents win on Sunday. The Seagulls have been a great story since their promotion to the Premier League. It would be fitting to see them cement their status as a Premier League club with an FA Cup final appearance.
Manchester United have had a solid first season under Erik ten Hag. However, it is important that they end on a high. There is a risk that they could be knocked out of the FA Cup just days after the Europa League. If that happened, fears would increase about their top four positions. Ten Hag will understand the risks ahead for the club and he will expect a reaction this weekend. United are an experienced team and that could count on Sunday.
It has been an extraordinary season for Brighton. After losing Graham Potter and many other staff members to Chelsea, it would have been easy for the club to fall off. The appointment of Roberto de Zerbi was an inspired one and the club have continued to push on under the Italian. It is likely that they will qualify for Europe next season through the league, but it would be even more special if they were to lift the FA Cup. They aren’t a side that Manchester United can take lightly.
- Brighton have won their last two matches against Manchester United.
- If Marcus Rashford scores, he will become the fourth player to score at Wembley for Manchester United in three competitions.
The Manchester United midfielder was missed during the week. He had to sit out due to a suspension and there wasn’t a like-for-like replacement for him in the squad. United struggled for coherency in their attacking play. Fernandes would have been able to provide that. However, it is a boost that he has had a whole week off to rest ahead of this game. Last weekend, he looked closer to his best, as he was heavily involved in a lot of what was good about United’s performance. It will be hoped that he can carry that on this weekend. This season, he has contributed five goals and six assists in the Premier League. It isn’t his best campaign, but he could be set for a big end to the season.
The Japanese winger has been a revelation this season. Brighton have emerged as one of the best in the market and it looks like they have sourced another star that will turn a big profit. Since coming into the team, his output has been consistent and he has steadily improved with experience. A return of seven goals and four assists in the Premier League is really impressive. There will be an expectation that he can improve further in the next 12 months. Manchester United have been weak at the back in the last few days and Mitoma will look to exploit that.
Jason Steele is a doubt, while Evan Ferguson and Joel Veltman will be missing. Tariq Lamptey is another that won’t be available.
Bruno Fernandes is back involved for Manchester United. Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford could be back in the starting eleven after featuring in the week. Scott McTominay is a doubt. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are on the sidelines.
It is a tight game to call. Both teams will believe that they can triumph. The intensity of Brighton will be difficult for Manchester United to deal with. They have played a lot more matches than their opposition and are just days from being knocked out of the Europa League. Brighton have had a full week to focus on this game. That extra preparation time and rest could be the difference.
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United