Friday, 24 November 2017
Match preview: United v Brighton&Hove Albion
Anyway, this is strange for me as my boyhood club meet my hometown team in the Premier League, a sentence that I never thought I'd write but it's now reality.. 'little Brighton' plying their trade in the elite of English football.
This is Albion's first season in the top division since 1983 and the South Coast side have surprised many with their impressive start to life in the Premier League.
Tipped to be among the favourites for relegation, Chris Hughton's Seagulls have instead adjusted well and are flying high in the top half of the table, soaring into ninth place after a recent five-match unbeaten run.
They've beaten West Brom, Newcastle, West Ham and Swansea so far this season and have picked up recent draws with Southampton, Everton and last time out against Stoke at The Amex.
United remain without sidelined centre-backs Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, but Marcos Rojo could keep his place having started in Basel.
Michael Carrick, meanwhile, revealed his recent absence through a minor heart condition which saw him have a Cardiac Ablation procedure.
Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata, Ashley Young and Henrikh Mkhitaryan did not travel to Switzerland, and all are likely to return to the squad for this one as Jose looks set to shuffle his pack ahead of Tuesday's trip to Watford.
Paul Pogba wil start against Brighton, but manager Jose Mourinho said that the Frenchman is not yet fit enough to play a full 90 minutes.
He said: "Paul is still on this process where he cannot reach the limit so we give him 65/70 minutes and that's when the fatigue normally arrives, and with so many matches consecutively, we need to protect such an important player for us.
"It is an interesting week because I think it's the first time this season where we have three Premier League matches in one week."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is likely to be on the bench again, but there are no new injury worries for the Reds who will go in search of an eighth successive home league win - the best such Old Trafford form since the title winning season of 2012/13.
Brighton have a fully fit squad to pick from, with the exception of midfielder Beram Kayal who is on the way back from a broken leg, and Steve Sidwell is also a doubt.
Boss Hughton said: "These are the days that we worked so hard for as a team last year, everyone knows what United means - the stadium, the club, the fans, the history, it's a wonderful day for us.
"There aren't many clubs at our level that are going to go there and win, we have to be realistic.
"It's a nice place to come away if you can give a good account of yourselves and if we got a result that would be extra special for us."
Form guide: United W W W L W L Brighton L D W D W D
Match odds: United 5/1 Draw 15/3 Brighton 35/2
Referee: Neil Swarbrick