Friday 25 September 2020

Match preview: Brighton&HA vs Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side make their longest away trip of the season to face in-form Brighton in the first of two fixtures on the south coast this week.
United, looking for their first league win of the season, face Graham Potter's in-form Seagulls on Saturday lunchtime ahead of the Carabao Cup tie - against the same opponents - to be played on Wednesday.

United's campaign began in ignominious fashion,
with a 1-3 defeat at home to a fitter, sharper and stronger Crystal Palace side in our opener last time out. Brighton went down by the same scoreline a week previous, but looked vibrant before eventually being overpowered by big spending Chelsea at the Amex. The Seagulls claimed their first victory with an impressive 3-0 victory at Newcastle whilst two 4-0 and 2-0 League Cup wins - over Portsmouth and Preston respectively - see the Seagulls coming into this one in the finest of the fettles. The Reds have lost on two of their three league visits to Brighton's new (ish) home since the Albion's promotion into the top tier in 2017, but won here in our third post-lockdown tie in June, 3-0 through a Bruno Fernandes brace and a trademark strike from Mason Greenwood. 

Solskjaer will have a fully fit squad to pick from apart from injured centre-backs Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones. The United boss is set to shuffle his pack again having made ten changes in the win over Luton on Tuesday. Eric Bailly impressed in that game and will be in contention to start, with Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood expected to be recalled after decisive substitute cameos at Kenilworth Road. With the sides meeting again on Wednesday, the two bosses will send out vastly different line ups in this one. 

Yves Bissouma is suspended for the in-form hosts following his sending off at SJP, and Dale Stephens has completed his move to Burnley. Jose Izquierdo, Florin Andone and Christian Walton are all still sidelined for the Seagulls, but Potter has no fresh injury concerns. Summer signing Adam Lallana will start and keep an eye out on exciting Brighton wing-back Tariq Lamptey, with the 19-year-old having impressed with his electric pace and swashbuckling trickery. It looks to be a breakthrough season for the former Chelsea youngster, and he is expected to be fit despite limping off at Newcastle. Lamptey created Leandro Trossard's goal against Chelsea and was heavily involved in two of the three strikes up in the North East as Neil Maupay (twice) and Aaron Connolly fired Potter's side to an impressive victory. Since the summer departure of Martin Montoya, Lamptey has fully established himself as Potter's first choice right wing-back in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2/3-4-3 formation. 

Solskjaer said: "I wasn't happy at all with the Palace game, we weren't fit enough or ready to play at the level we needed to be at.
"It was very disappointing, not good enough but I'm still confident we can break teams down. We showed that last season so I have faith in this group's ability.
"I am very confident in my players, in football you can't predict too much, and my focus is solely on the game."
On United's dwindling transfer hopes, the boss added: "We need three points on Saturday, that's all we're thinking about and aiming for, then we can talk again." 
On the future of lower league clubs, Solskjaer said: "I am worried for League One and League Two clubs, of course everyone is, but all the Premier League and Championship clubs are losing money. 
"Hopefully we don't lose any clubs, locally we have seen some struggle so its not a nice situation to be in."

United face Brighton at The Amex on Saturday lunchtime with a 12.30 kick off and the league game is live on BT Sport

Form guide: Brighton&HA L W W W United L W

Match odds: Brighton&HA 7/2 Draw 11/4 United 3/4

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 

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