How Manchester United could line up in the Premier League against Brighton and Hove Albion

Manchester United face Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in the Premier League, more than 24 years since the two sides last met competitively. That match was a 1-0 victory in the FA Cup with Ryan Giggs scoring the only goal of the game. Chris Hughton’s side are in ninth place in the league this season – their first in the Premier League, which is commendable at this stage of the season. The Theatre of Dreams could be a tough destination for Hughton’s boys, who will be arriving in Manchester aiming to cause an upset and become the first team to win there since the 10th September 2017, in the league at least.

Starting XI Formation and Prediction

Jose Mourinho will most likely keep a four-man defence against Brighton with David De Gea and Anthony Valencia returning to the side after missing the UEFA Champions League defeat to Basel on Wednesday evening. Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof, and Marcos Rojo are the clubs only fit experienced central defenders. The left-back position is one of a problem for United – Ashley Young has played there recently, as had Daley Blind, the latter not as effective as the former. Luke Shaw has been back in the team for the past two matches, but not used, so perhaps Mourinho could open the door for him to try to earn a place in the team, or get himself in the shop window ahead of the transfer window opening in January.

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Goalkeeper: David De Gea

The Spanish number one missed the defeat to Basel in the Champions League this week with Sergio Romero getting his moment to impress and despite conceding the only goal of the game, he did just that. De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the world right now, but supporters of other clubs will say that feat has not been earned just yet. He has been named in the final 50-man list for FIFA Team of the Year, so may just earn the plaudits he has earned. Failing that though, keeping a clean sheet against Brighton will be on the agenda with United taking three points and scoring goals galore once again at the Theatre of Dreams.

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Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw

Antonio Valencia missed the defeat to Basel, rested for this league match which should see him return as the right-back. Valencia is a defensive and attacking powerhouse and is United’s main fullback, despite being a winger and more of an attacking player, his change of position has seen him become one of the best in the league. Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo played well in Switzerland on Wednesday, Rojo seeming like a player who has played much of the season, not one who has made his return after seven months on the sidelines recovering from a knee injury. Luke Shaw has been a player on the sidelines too, not because he was injured, but because he has not been picked. The last two matches he has been on the bench, just not used. Needs a chance to get involved.

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Three Man Midfield: Marouane Fellaini, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba

Marouane Fellaini is tipped to be leaving the Theatre of Dreams, or at least that is what the media suggest and to be honest, their hit rate on getting things correct is not the best, especially when it comes to Manchester United. Fellaini is a player who is like Marmite, you either love him or hate him, but this season and last, he has earned his place in the team. The Belgian offers much when involved and when he and Paul Pogba were injured, United lacked a lot in midfield. Nemanja Matic is a player who does what he needs to do more often than not, always whilst being unnoticed. Playing in the holding role ahead of the back for is his best position, allowing the other two midfielders to roam. Paul Pogba, who may not play the full match, can roam, playing as the number ten against Basel, could do the same against Brighton, moving deeper should he need too. A three-man midfield is better for Pogba and could be great for United.

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Forward Three: Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial

Last week against Newcastle United, Mourinho unleashed the trio for the first time this season. It worked and United were creative, devastating and attacking. Mourinho suggested the supporters not get used to that, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic not ready to start and United not having many other options, it could be something for the now, also being a test for later. Marcus Rashford is a fearless player, not scared to get forward and in the face of a defender, also not scared of showing them up, which he has done and attempted to do in most of his short career. Anthony Martial is the same as Rashford, fearless and likes to beat his man then cut into the box, setting up a teammate or aiming for goal himself. Romelu Lukaku is the guy who scores the goal and will be seeking to increase his output this season, scoring eight times in the league alone this season, one adrift of the top scorer.

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