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Preview: United to have their big guns on display to keep Brighton in a precarious position this season?

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Manchester United -v- Brighton and Hove Albion

Premier League

Old Trafford, Manchester

Sunday 4 April 2021, KO 19:30 BST

Referee: Mike Dean Assistants: Darren Cann, Dan Robathan

Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh

VAR: Peter Bankes Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes

Manchester United return to Premier League action as they welcome Brighton and Hove Albion to Old Trafford on Sunday evening. Just before the international break, United exited the Emirates FA Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 3-1 to Leicester City. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be seeking to get back on track in the league, cementing their second-placed position this season which is a must. They will also compete in the UEFA Europa League this week, facing Spanish side Granada in Spain in the first leg of the quarter-final of the competition. United will know that beating Brighton is a must this weekend to continue to build positively.

Brighton manager Graham Potter will also be seeking to continue his clubs winning run of the last two matches, after three defeats and a draw in their last six matches. Brighton are six points clear of the relegation zone, having a game in hand over Fulham, who are the team with the best chance of evading relegation this season. United sit in second-place, a point clear of Leicester City, who face Manchester City, who are 14 points clear of United, on an evening kick off on Saturday. United have a six-point cushion over fourth-placed Chelsea and an eight-point cushion over fifth placed West Ham United.

Manchester United: LWWDWD

Leicester City 3-1 L, AC Milan 1-0 W, West Ham United 1-0 W, AC Milan 1-1 D, Manchester City 2-0 W, Crystal Palace 0-0 D

Brighton and Hove Albion: WWLLLD

Newcastle United 3-0 W, Southampton 2-1 W, Leicester City 2-1 L, West Bromwich Albion 1-0 L, Crystal Palace 2-1 L, Aston Villa 0-0 D

Top Scorers: Bruno Fernandes has 23 goals to his name this season with Brighton scoring a total of 42 goals, which shows the differences between them and United.

Manchester United Goals: 23 – Bruno Fernandes, 18 – Marcus Rashford, 7 – Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial, Scott McTominay, 5 – Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Paul Pogba, 3 – Own Goal, 2 – Harry Maguire, Juan Mata, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 1 – Amad Diallo, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Donny van de Beek

In their last six matches, United were beaten for the first time since Sheffield United beat them back in December 2020. United exited the quarter-final of the Emirates FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat by Leicester City. Before that, United were undefeated in quite a few matches. In the last six matches, United have won three, drawn two and lost one, scoring six goals and conceding for – keeping four clean sheets. At this time though, United were missing a few first team players due to injury, which seems to be changing now as United head into another important month, the penultimate month of the season.

Brighton and Hove Albion Goals: 8 – Neal Maupay, 4 – Lewis Dunk, Leandro Trossard, 3 – Alexis Mac Allister, Solly March, Danny Welbeck, 2 – Steven Alzate, Yves Bissouma, Aaron Connolly, Pascal Groß, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 1 – Bernardo, Viktor Gyökeres, Adam Lallana, Tariq Lamptey, Joël Veltman

Brighton are in a pretty precarious position at this stage of the season. They need to start pulling away from the relegation zone as they have six-point cushion at this time with Fulham the only team likely to evade relegation this season with Newcastle United in their sights. The South Coast club have won their last two matches in their last season, drawing once and losing three times in a row. Brighton have scored seven goals, conceded six and kept two clean sheets. A victory over United will be a good result for them and it is something they are capable of, having beaten United twice in Premier League history in the seven matches played.

Team News: Edinson Cavani should be fit to face Brighton after a period of time on the sidelines through injury – Anthony Martial and Victor Lindelof likely to miss this match through injury.

Phil Jones (knee) is the only player to be ruled out of the clash with Brighton due to injury. Mason Greenwood (other) and Marcus Rashford (ankle/foot) both have a 75% chance of being available to face Brighton and will be subject to late fitness tests ahead of Sunday’s clash. Victor Lindelof (lower back) has a 50% chance of facing Brighton with Juan Mata (other) and Anthony Martial (knee) both having 25% chances of facing the South Coast club. United will be boosted with Edinson Cavani’s availability after missing many matches in the past six weeks or so, which should see him itching to start this weekend.

Tariq Lamptey (thigh), Solomon March (knee) and Florin Andone (knee) have all been ruled out of the visit to Old Trafford due to injury. Adam Webster (ankle/foot) has a 25% chance of being fit to face United and Aaron Connolly (ankle/foot) has a 75% chance of being available and will be subject to a late fitness test before Sunday’s match. It could be worse for Brighton and they will be confident of taking one United, who were disappointed in their last match as they lost to Leicester City in the FA Cup. Brighton need to start pulling away from the relegation area in the league and a win over United will be a positive for that to happen.

Predicted Starting XI: Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood to form the attack against Brighton and Hove Albion?

Solskjaer will have the majority of his squad available for the visit of Brighton to the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday. Edinson Cavani, after a number of weeks on the sidelines through injury should be fit to face the South Coast club. Marcus Rashford, who missed the international break after meeting up with his England teammates at the start of the break, could be in contention to start, which is the same for Mason Greenwood. Bruno Fernandes missed a Portugal match due to suspension, returning to Manchester early to gain momentum for the Premier League return. Victor Lindelof could be out of this match though, which is a shame.

Match Prediction: United have won five of the seven matches played between them and Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League. There have never been any draws in the Premier League between the two clubs.

United and Brighton have met seven times in the history of the Premier League. United have won five times, there have been no draws between the two clubs but Brighton have won twice. United have scored 14 goals against Brighton, conceding eight in all of the matches played. United have won three penalties, scoring all of them with Brighton winning two penalties, scoring both of them. United have kept just two clean sheets against Brighton, who have kept just one against United. United players have been booked seven times against Brighton with no red cards. Brighton players have been booked 14 times against United with no red cards.

At the start of the current season, United played Brighton twice at the Amex Stadium winning 3-0 in the Carabao Cup and winning 3-2 in the Premier League. Looking at the league fixture, Lewis Dunk’s own goal in the 43rd minute levelled the score after Neal Maupay opened the scoring three minutes prior. Marcus Rashford put United ahead in the 55th minute with Solly March levelling the score five minutes into added time. It looked like it was going to be a draw but VAR gave a penalty after the whistle had been blown with Bruno Fernandes earning a victory for United. In this fixture last season, it was a 3-1 victory for United.

Manchester United 3-1 Brighton and Hove Albion

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW

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