Wembley Stadium forms the backdrop of Sunday’s FA Cup showdown as Brighton & Hove Albion take on 2016 FA Cup winners Manchester United in the semi-final with a chance at silverware on the line.
Brighton head into the clash on the back of a deserved 2-1 victory over Chelsea, while Man United saw their European dream ended following a 3-0 Europa League second-leg defeat to Sevilla last night.
Having been thwarted at every turn by the under-fire VAR in their heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton used their setback as motivation, rallying to a 2-1 comeback victory over Chelsea last weekend.
With their improbable European dreams back on track, Roberto De Zerbi’s side will turn their attention to the FA Cup – their only avenue of ending an already stellar campaign with silverware.
Their chances of coming away from Wembley Stadium with a victory were bolstered by Man United’s disappointing collapse on the continental stage in Thursday night’s encounter.
Having relinquished a two-goal lead to play out a thrilling 2-2 stalemate against Sevilla in the first leg, the reverse fixture was poised to serve another action-packed contest.
While it lived up to its billing, Erik ten Hag’s side saw their Europa League hopes fizzle into thin air as the Spanish strugglers ran out 3-0 winners at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Once touted as contenders for all four tournaments they competed in, Man United’s recent fall from grace tips the scales against them in their crunch FA Cup meeting with a Brighton side that have lost just once in their last eight games.
Ten Hag’s side will be looking to shake off the continental setback as they hope to add an FA Cup triumph to their Carabao Cup success and a possible Premier League top-four finish.
Brighton made light work of English third-tier side Grimsby Town in the quarter-final, running out 5-0 winners, and have lost just one of their subsequent four games (W2, D1).
They have won their last two meetings with Man United in all competitions and have a chance to make it three in a row while appearing in their third-ever FA Cup semi-final.
The Seagulls have eliminated one fellow Premier League side in the tournament this season, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the fourth round, so they will fancy their chances against a fragile Man United side.
However, their Wembley curse could prove their undoing as they have never won a competitive match at the ground, drawing one and losing four of their five visits.
Man United picked up a 3-1 win against nine-man Fulham in the quarter-final in a game they struggled to control until all hell broke loose in the 72nd minute.
Man United’s results since the dramatic victory leave little to be desired as they have won three of the subsequent six games (D1, L2) in all competitions.
Despite suffering a capitulating defeat in Seville, Man United’s FA Cup form against Brighton should spur them to victory at the weekend, having won all five of their ties against the Seagulls in the tournament.
Man United will be making their 31st appearance in the FA Cup semi-final – the most of any team in the competition’s history – and victory will see them equal Arsenal for reaching the most finals in the tournament (21).
The Red Devils have already won the League Cup this season and could reach the final of both major domestic competitions in a single campaign for only the third time in history.
Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester United Potential Line-ups
Brighton & Hove Albion (4-2-3-1): Robert Sanchez; Pervis Estupinan, Lewis Dunk, Jan Paul van Hecke, Pascal Gross; Moises Caicedo, Alexis Mac Allister; Kaoru Mitoma, Julio Enciso, Solly March, Danny Welbeck.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David De Gea; Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot; Casemiro, Christian Eriksen; Marcus Rashford, Marcel Sabitzer, Antony, Anthony Martial.
We Say: Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 Manchester United
Man United have bounced back from every disappointing result they have recorded this season, so they should not need much time to shake off the Sevilla defeat.
However, Brighton are on an impressive run of form heading into the business end of the season. Having already slayed one Premier League giant in the FA Cup, they should rally to a narrow success over Ten Hag’s side.
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