Manchester United welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Old Trafford, in a match that already feels massive for the home side. In matches against Tottenham and Arsenal, United have failed to pick up a point. Brighton are at a similar level. They can’t afford a third successive defeat to a team that will be competing in the same part of the division. For the visitors, it has been a good start, with three wins from four matches. Despite their summer sales, it looks like they will continue to overperform under Roberto de Zerbi.
It has been a turbulent international period for Manchester United. Antony is now taking a leave of absence to deal with legal issues and that has left a hole on their right wing. Jadon Sancho would have been a candidate to take the spot, but he has been in the middle of a PR war with the club. It seems unlikely he will be brought back into the fold. Erik ten Hag is facing a difficult period in his tenure and this weekend will tell us a lot about where his team is at.
Prior to the international break, Brighton delivered a very good performance to beat Newcastle United. It was another reminder of their quality and they will feel confident that they can get a positive result from Old Trafford. They are playing with much more certainty and confidence, which will be difficult for United to deal with. The Europa League starts this week, which will pose new questions to the Seagulls. Based on their trajectory, you would back them to deal with the new challenges.
Manchester United haven’t lost three of their first five league matches since the 1989-90 campaign. A loss to Brighton on Saturday would change that.
Brighton have won their last three league matches against Manchester United.
It does look like this team is built around Bruno Fernandes and Manchester United supporters will be hoping that he can have his best ever campaign at Old Trafford. He has taken over the captaincy duties from Harry Maguire and that could help him reach new levels. The signing of Mason Mount was questioned due to his similarities with Fernandes. Prior to the Englishman’s injury, the midfield balance didn’t look quite right, but Fernandes has continued to look the most creative player in the United side. The 29-year-old has one goal and one assist so far this season, but he will feel like he should have more goal contributions. This weekend will be difficult for the home side, as Brighton will likely dominate the ball. There will be spaces to exploit in the visitors’ defence though and Fernandes has the quality to have a big impact. His own form against the Seagulls has been good, with four goals and two assists against them.
One of the best stories in recent seasons has been the development of Solly March. Brighton have been praised for their recruitment, but their management of March has been incredibly impressive. He was playing for them in the EFL and they have managed to get him to a level where he is consistently performing in the Premier League. De Zerbi is a big fan of the attacker and he will be needed to play a key role this season. The 29-year-old already has three goals to his name and could be set for his best season in the Premier League. Manchester United will be missing Luke Shaw, while there is also uncertainty who will play as the left-sided centre back. This should mean the stage is set for March to have a big impact on the game.
Lisandro Martinez could be back to start, but Raphael Varane, Tyrell Malacia and Luke Shaw will all be unavailable. Sofyan Amrabat and Mason Mount are both doubts. Antony will not be available.
Evan Ferguson is a doubt after withdrawing from the Republic of Ireland squad. Danny Welbeck could also miss out on a return to Old Trafford. Ansu Fati is likely to make his Brighton debut.
Manchester United have been fairly reliable at Old Trafford under Ten Hag. They will be looking at this as a fixture that they can win. However, the turbulence over the last two weeks have meant the clouds have gathered around the club. Brighton will go there will of confidence and their playing style will be difficult for Manchester United to deal with. A draw could be on the cards, but the visitors are the more likely winners.
Manchester United 2-2 Brighton and Hove Albion