Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
Brighton have set a reasonable goal for the season, the one of avoiding relegation. With three new teams joining the Premier League, they have the advantage of superior experience. Even so, they will have a hard time raising the necessary points to stay above the relegation line. A defeat to nil suffered in the first round of the domestic league represents a small setback, but things are unlikely to improve. That’s because they take on Manchester United in the second round and they are underdogs.
Today’s hosts were unable to win more than two games since April, despite playing several friendly fixtures. They also have a hard time keeping clean sheets regardless of venue and conceded a goal in each of the last eight games. The silver lining is that their last win was a victory to nil, against Manchester United in early May. Brighton played against a similar starting formation, but they won’t set their hopes too high and aspire for a similar result.
Manchester United have alternated victories with defeats recently and were much better at scoring goals than at defending. This marks a steep departure from the strategy used with relative success throughout the previous season. Finishing second behind their city rivals wasn’t a satisfactory result, especially when the two teams were separated by 19 points. Mourinho has higher expectations from this season, hence the transition to a more offensive play. Victory today over Brighton would keep them tied for the first place.
Brighton vs Manchester United Prediction: Brighton 1-2 Manchester United
Brighton scored an average of one goal per match last season and they extended this ratio during the campaign of friendly games. The fact that they were defeated to nil by Watford isn’t exactly a surprise given the defensive starting formation. The hosts would like to split points against Manchester United, but because they play in front of their fans, they can’t afford to defend for 90 minutes.
The visitors have conceded plenty of goals recently, but usually found the way to offset these goals by scoring more themselves. A couple of players are missing from their backline and defensive midfielders are also doubtful. Knowing all these, we can’t rule out the possibility of Brighton returning to their scoring ways.
In the previous match against Leicester, Manchester United was the dominant team and created many scoring opportunities. In the end, they had to settle for a narrow margin victory, but once again scored twice. They were unable to find their way to the goal in the last game at The American Express Community Stadium. We think that this will change on Sunday and Brighton 1:2 Manchester United is a likely score line.
Our recommended tip: Narrow Road Win
Mourinho will only make slight changes to the starting formation. That’s because the team played well in the opening round, but some strikers were rather disappointing. Lukaku will return to the first 11 and he is likely to play for the entire 90 minutes. If Manchester United score another early goal, they should be able to double that advantage. Their defensive problems are unlikely to be solved overnight though, especially with a couple of players missing due to injury and suspension.
Brighton were unable to score in the most recent game, but they usually do, regardless of venue. It is the inability to keep clean sheets that has plagued them throughout the season and could be their downfall in 2018. A narrow margin victory for the visitors, with both teams scoring makes perfect sense under these circumstances. Over the years, there were many such highly contested wins for United.
Small teams such as Brighton are inclined to treat matches against Manchester United with extreme prudence. They took no chances at Old Trafford and tried to defend for 90 minutes, but failed on both occasions. Each time they were defeated to nil, but when they had home pitch advantage, they emerged victorious. The narrow margin victory by the odd goal didn’t have any impact on Manchester United who were certain to finish in the second place.
Before these three games were played in 2017 and this year, there were no head to head matches between the two football clubs for more than two decades. The previous encounters took place in 1983, a quarter of a century ago and they only matter for the football history books. Not surprisingly, Manchester United were the dominant team overall, with 7 victories in 11 matches. Brighton have the merit of winning the last two matches played at The American Express Community Stadium, 26 years apart. The Red Devils have also won five out of six matches at Old Trafford and are undefeated at home.
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Players to watch: Glenn Murray & Romelu Lukaku
Glenn Murray was given a chance to spearhead the Brighton offensive in the opening round. He was the only striker and he was kept on the pitch for 90 minutes, but unfortunately for his team he failed to score. The starting formation for this match won’t be any different, with four players in the backline and five midfielders. What could change is that midfielders will assume more offensive roles and try to provide Murray with more passes. Last season he scored 12 goals, which represented a third of all the goals scored by Brighton.
Keeping Lukaku on the bench was a luxury that Mourinho could afford in the opening round. His team took an early lead and then dominated Leicester, so the Belgian player only came in late in the second half. Manchester United won by the odd goal and they won’t be willing to take the same chances on the road. Romelu was the most prolific goal scorer for the team last season and a lot is expected from him. He has got the technique, speed and sheer strength needed to overpower the somewhat rigid backline of Brighton.