Friday 4 May 2018

Match preview: Brighton&Hove Albion v United

United make a first ever visit to Brighton's AMEX Stadium for a rare Friday night fixture in our penultimate away league game of the season. The south coast side have proved a tough nut to crack this term - particularly at home where only Chelsea, Liverpool, City and Leicester have prevailed. Chris Hughton's side are not yet mathematically safe, however, and would confirm survival in their debut Premier League season with a win here.

This will be a new away day experience for the travelling Reds, with United not having played away at Brighton since 1982 when the Seagulls plied their trade at the old Goldstone Ground. Having moved to to the 30,000 capacity AMEX in 2011, Brighton enjoyed six seasons of Championship football before their promotion to the Premier League last term.

Romelu Lukaku will miss out through injury having been forced off last time out against Arsenal, but the Belgian is expected to be fit for the FA Cup final on 19 May. Eric Bailly is available, with goalkeeper Sergio Romero the Reds only other absentee. As for Brighton, midfield man Davy Propper could feature after the completion of a three - match ban for his sending - off against Huddersfield. Beram Kayal has done well in the Dutchman's absence so could keep his place in the Seagulls side, a team spearheaded by 14 goal top scorer Glenn Murray, who at 34 has continued to bely his veteran status. This will be the third time the two sides have met this season, with United the reverse league fixture 1-0 back at Old Trafford in November, we also knocked Brighton out of the FA Cup at the quarter - final stage, the tie ending 2-0 in our favour on a bitterly cold Saturday evening back in March. The Albion come into this tie in 14th position on 37 points, five clear of third-from-bottom Saints with two games to go - although those are away to champions City and third - placed Liverpool in a daunting run - in.
 Having been clear of the drop zone all season long - even briefly rising as high as eighth, Brighton held Spurs to a draw in their last outing at The AMEX, and have also taken the scalp of Arsenal in their biggest result so far.

United boss Jose Mourinho belives Brighton are a good side who will cause us problems, and said: "I think they are a strong side, capable of giving us a difficult match. They are not desperate - their situation is probably good enough, I don't think they need any more points to survive. They need mathematical confirmation, but they survive safely all season. For us, we need four points in three matches so if we can leave Brighton in a better position, then that is good.
"Bailly is one of five defenders that I can use, he is not injured but there is a World Cup coming and he is the only one whose country is not in it, so I have to make a kind of emotional and effective choice to try to help my players."

The Reds look set to secure second spot, which would be our highest finish for five years, with ties at West Ham and at home to Watford on the final day to come after this one.

Form guide: Brighton&HA L L D L D D United W W L W W W
Match odds: Brighton&HA 10/4 Draw 14/5 United 4/5

Referee: Craig Pawson

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