Manchester United will welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Tuesday evening. This match was supposed to be played in December but was postponed because of the number of coronavirus cases at the Old Trafford club.
United have failed to win three matches in a row, drawing all by the same 1-1 scoreline but exited the Emirates FA Cup losing 8-7 on penalties. For all of those matches, United played well in the first halves of the matches, failing to do so in the second halves of the matches.
Because of this, United are still out of the top four with this game in hand left, having not taken advantage in the last two Premier League matches which with the teams below them still having games in hand, could give them a problem moving forward.
That said, United sitting out of UEFA Champions League football for a season is not going to be a bad thing. It will reduce the money the Glazer’s can take away from the club and could see a reduction in wages for any players who remain at the club after the summer.
Previous meetings with Brighton and their connections with United.
United and Brighton have met eight times in the history of the Premier League. United have won six times, drawing none with Brighton winning twice. United have scored 16 goals, winning three penalties, scoring all of them. Brighton have scored nine goals, winning two penalties, scoring both.
United have kept two clean sheets in this fixture with Brighton keeping one. The disciplinary history is not problematic with United players shown nine yellow cards and no red cards with Brighton players being shown 16 yellow cards and no red cards.
Danny Welbeck, Oliver Norwood, James Wilson, Jesse Lingard, Tomasz Kuszczak, Robbie Savage, Paul McShane, Frank Stapleton, Andy Ritchie, Peter O’Sullivan, Wilf Tranter, Joe Carolan, Jack Mansell and Mickey Thomas have all played for both United and Brighton.
One notable mention is Eric Steele. Whilst he only played for Brighton as a goalkeeper, he was one of the goalkeeper coached for United from 2008 until 2013 and helped David Ge Gea considerably after he signed for the club in the summer of 2011.
Here is my predicted starting XI to face Brighton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening…
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
David De Gea is the player that is trying to knit this team together. He is the one who is trying to perform on the pitch and get the results that United need despite an inept defensive performance which means changes need to be made to get the best out of this squad.
It will be eleven years since he signed for United this year and a bit of respect is needed for him. On social media, there are so-called supporters singling him out as the problem when that is not the case. There are players unwilling to perform out there and they are the main culprits.
Accountability is something that the players need to accept. This kind of form is not doing their careers much good, even the ones who will be out of contract in the summer could find it hard to get other clubs, which makes them accountable for their own actions on and off the pitch.
Defenders: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones, Raphael Varane, Alex Telles
I think it is time to give Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles a chance in the fullback roles as Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw have not performed as the defensive and attacking unit they should be. Wan-Bissaka does not attack as much as Dalot, but United need a change to send a message.
Harry Maguire’s last two performances have been terrible, it is time to drop him completely and let him deal with whatever it is that is stopping him from putting in 100% all of the time. Him being the captain and the main liability in defence is a joke.
Phil Jones should start ahead of Maguire in this match, giving him some vital minutes in the squad and allowing him the chance to build up a better partnership with Raphael Varane, who is the best central defender at the club this season but Maguire’s weaknesses weaken him too.
Midfield Three: Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes
Paul Pogba played his third game following his injury and once again put in a great performance in the first half but tired in the second, which is to be expected. It did not help him that a multitude of players did not fight against Southampton, which they will need to do against Brighton.
Scott McTominay played well against Southampton but he will need to be much better against Brighton. It is time that this team stood up and held themselves accountable for their actions on the pitch. Donny van de Beek’s full debut at Everton does not make United look good either.
Bruno Fernandes played a good game again, largely being positive until United conceded a goal but then he showed his frustration and that does not look good on him. He is not the same player in that aspect of his game. United need to keep pushing. Some players need to be shown the door.
Forwards: Marcus Rashford, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho played his third good game in a row, scoring his first Premier League goal at Old Trafford against Southampton, his fourth goal of the season. His place is safe in this team as long as he keeps performing. It is a shame his form comes at a time where United are very poor.
Cristiano Ronaldo should only start this match if Edinson Cavani is not fit enough to start as he missed the Southampton match with a groin injury. If Ronaldo does start, he will need to get stuck in and perform, geeing up the remainder of the squad to hold themselves accountable.
Marcus Rashford should start on the left, given that Sancho is putting in some great performances on the left, leaving the right unbalanced. Rashford will need to ensure he shows his ability and gets over the slump in form he has. The assist he got against Southampton should boost him a little.
Substitutes: Dean Henderson; Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw; Jesse Lingard, Hannibal Mejbri, Charlie Savage; Edinson Cavani, Anthony Elanga
United’s substitutions need to be right. Some players need to stay on the bench or out of the squad all together at the moment, if that can be done. Some youth should be given a chance as United might need them soon, or definitely in the summer.
Dean Henderson might start this match but I’ve left him on the bench based on De Gea’s form. Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw could all be on the bench. Harry Maguire should be left out as something it not going right for him and it has not worked in the last two matches.
Jesse Lingard, although ineffective against Southampton, Hannibal Mejbri, who should have came on in the same match, and Charlie Savage should be on the bench for United, if fit. In attack, Edinson Cavani and Anthony Elanga should be available and might be needed.
Written by John Walker