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Preview: Manchester United vs Brighton & Hove Albion – prediction, team news, line-ups

Manchester United’s final rehearsal for their impending Champions League return brings high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion to Old Trafford on Saturday.

Erik ten Hag has had a fortnight to stem the bleeding within his ranks after Antony’s abuse allegations in Brazil followed his fallout with Jadon Sancho on the cusp of the international break.

The Dutchman must find a way to force his side to focus on on-field matters, as the Red Devils bid to bounce back from a heartbreaking 3-1 defeat at Arsenal last time out.

Alejandro Garnacho thought he had grabbed a late winner for Man Utd, but VAR found him a fraction offside, allowing the Gunners to score twice in stoppage time and inflict a second league loss on United this term.

Backing the three-time European champions for a runner-up finish in our 2023/24 Man Utd season preview might have been too generous, but they still have time to plead our case.

While the first international break of the 2023/24 season offered ten Hag and his lads some respite, it couldn’t have come at a worse moment for visiting Brighton. 

Roberto De Zerbi’s side proved their European credentials with a thumping 3-1 home victory over Newcastle United on the stroke of a two-week halt, responding to an identical loss to West Ham United in style.

Despite losing Alexis Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo this summer, the Seagulls remain a formidable attacking force, with young gun Evan Ferguson stealing the headlines in the early season.

The 18-year-old striker bagged a hat-trick to take down the Magpies single-handedly, proving a mid-table scrap is below Brighton’s current standard, as our Seagulls season preview previously suggested.

Match Preview

Man Utd’s travel sickness under ten Hag continues to hinder the club’s progress in the Premier League, with the Red Devils losing both away league games this season.

However, Old Trafford remains a happy hunting ground for the Dutchman’s team, as evidenced by a 100% home record in 2023/24 (W2) and, by extension, a supreme 31-game unbeaten run here (W27, D4).

Ominously for United, the last side to take three points from the Theatre of Dreams was Brighton, with the Seagulls running out 2-1 victors on ten Hag’s touchline debut in England’s top flight in August 2022. 

Things have drastically changed in Manchester since, with a new-found courage in their backyard recently seeing the Red Devils fight back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2. 

The early season entertainers, Brighton, won’t be fazed by their hosts’ stature, especially after heading into the international break as the most prolific Premier League side with 12 goals. 

De Zerbi’s men have won three out of four league outings this term (L1), netting at least three goals and winning the first half ‘to nil’ in each victory.

But their away form has fluctuated since a 2-2 draw at last season’s relegation boys Leeds United in March, with the Seagulls’ eight-match league record on the road since yielding mixed success (W4, L4).

With the club’s first-ever European clash waiting in the wings, Brighton will be keen to upset the odds at Old Trafford ahead of their Europa League clash against AEK Athens. 

Team News

With Antony sidelined until further notice, Man Utd’s absence list again looks dreadful, as Luke Shaw, Tyrell Malacia, Raphael Varane and Mason Mount are still out with injuries.

New recruit Sofyan Amrabat is a doubt with a back problem, but there’s hope Lisandro Martinez will regain his place at the heart of ten Hag’s defence after overcoming a minor fitness issue.

As for Brighton, Jakub Moder and Julio Enciso will stay at home, while Danny Welbeck could make the bench after suffering a muscle injury before the international break.

Manchester United potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Andre Onana; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Lisandro Martinez, Diogo Dalot; Casemiro, Christian Eriksen; Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford; Rasmus Hojlund.

Brighton & Hove Albion potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Jason Steele; James Milner, Adam Webster, Lewis Dunk, Pervis Estupinan; Pascal Gross, Mahmoud Dahoud; Solly March, Joao Pedro, Kaoru Mitoma; Evan Ferguson.

We Say: Manchester United 2-2 Brighton & Hove Albion

Although we wouldn’t go as far as to back Brighton to replicate last season’s result at the Theatre of Dreams, we expect the visitors to at least avoid defeat.

High scoring has been a common theme in the Seagulls’ Premier League fixtures this season, while Man Utd’s best attacking version often comes to light at home. 

On that basis, we expect an enthralling contest.

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