Preview: United to play to their strengths against Brighton with Pogba dropped due to poor fitness and form

Brighton and Hove Albion -v- Manchester United

Carabao Cup

American Express Community Stadium, Brighton

Wednesday 30 September 2020, KO 19:45 BST

Referee: Graham Scott Assistants: Daniel Robathan, Derek Eaton

Fourth Official: Simon Hooper

Manchester United will return to the scene of controversy on Wednesday evening as they take on Brighton and Hove Albion in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at the American Express Community Stadium four days after their last visit to the stadium in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side won their first three points of the new season in the fixture in a game which awarded two penalties; one after the full time whistle. United will be pleased with their latest victory over Brighton, winning their last four encounters against the South Coast club. United will be happy with their return to winning ways after the victory over Luton Town also.

Solskjaer will be seeking to get the better of Graham Potter’s Brighton side for the second time in four days and earning a quarter-final place in the domestic competition, which will not be played until late December, meaning the Festive period will be a busy one for United. The Norwegian will be seeking to win his first trophy for the club and came close last season, reaching the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League last season. This season, United were expected to be much better but a last of pre-season has left the squad out of sorts and seeking to regain the pace which was lost at the end of last season.

This week could be a busy one for United with the summer transfer window closing next Monday (5 October), meaning United will have a short amount of time to get deals done. There are some areas that Solskjaer would like to strengthen this summer and some players that the club would like to offload. Chris Smalling is still linked in both AS Roma and Inter Milan in Italy and it has emerged that Andreas Pereira is subject to some interest from Lazio. The likes of Marcus Rojo and Phil Jones could also mean the club sees a flurry of activity. There is a domestic window that closes on the 16 October but Premier League clubs will not be able to sell to each other.

Manchester United: WWLLLW

Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 W, Luton Town 3-0 W, Crystal Palace 3-1 L, Aston Villa 1-0 L (F), Sevilla 2-1 L, FC Copenhagen 1-0 W

Brighton and Hove Albion: LWWWLD

Manchester United 3-2 L, Preston North End 2-0 W, Newcastle United 3-0 W, Portsmouth 4-0 W, Chelsea 3-1 L, West Bromwich Albion 0-0 D (F)

Top Scorers: United and Brighton have started the season by scoring many goals with Brighton ahead, having played more matches.

Manchester United Goals: 2 – Marcus Rashford, 1 – Bruno Fernandes, Donny van de Beek, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, Own Goal

United started the 2020/21 season with a stutter and the last of a pre-season is showing with many players not hitting the ground running. That was visible against Crystal Palace in the 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford. It was even plain to see against Luton Town last week with United going 1-0 up because of a penalty, which was scored by Juan Mata. In the final ten minutes of the match Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood finished the tie with two more goals, winning 3-0. Against Brighton, United seemed laboured with many problems. They got the victory but it was not easy at all and came with a bit of help from VAR and a fair amount of controversy.

Brighton and Hove Albion Goals: 3 – Neal Maupay, 2 – Alexis Mac Allister, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, 1 – Aaron Connolly, Bernardo, Solly March, Leandro Trossard, Viktor Gyökeres

Brighton have started well this season having played at least two pre-season matches before the start of the season. It may have been down to hard luck that they did not beat United in the Premier League on Saturday, but that was what stopped them from winning. It was a largely fair match. Potter’s side will be seeking to make the quarter-final stages of the Carabao Cup, to improve their chances of having a good season and maybe contending for a domestic cup, if everything goes to plan. Brighton seem to be fitter than United and this match could see many changes from Saturday’s match, which might make it another fair match with both setting out to win.

Team News: Three players out of action for United with Brighton having four. This will be an important match for both teams but will end up making December a much busier month.

Solskjaer will still be without Axel Tuanzebe (ankle/foot) but he seems to be on the mend and back in training with a mid-October return on the cards. Phil Jones (knee) has been out since the Premier League restart in the summer, sitting out the rest of the 2019/20 season and so far the start of the 2020/21 season, which might be a blessing with the player not really playing a big part at the club anymore. Sergio Romero is out of selection too with an expected exit from the Old Trafford club before the summer transfer window closes in a week’s time. United might seen more additions this week, but none that could mean they would be in contention for this match.

Brighton still have Yves Bissouma out of action through suspension because of his red card against Newcastle United, missing the Carabao Cup victory over Preston North End and the Premier League defeat to Manchester United, along with this match four days later in the Carabao Cup. Jose Izquierdo (knee), Florin Andone (knee), and Christian Walton (ankle/foot) have all seemingly been ruled out of this match which might cause strength in depth problems for the home side. Brighton will be confident with the way they played against United at the weekend, despite the loss which saw them come back from a losing position to equalise, before losing.

Predicted Starting XI: Solskjaer to make few changes with Henderson, Bailly, Van de Beek and Fred returning to the starting XI against Brighton in the second match in four days?

It is expected that Solskjaer will make some changes ahead of this match, especially with the visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Old Trafford on the horizon in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon. I would expect to see Dean Henderson in goal with Eric Bailly standing in for Victor Lindelof, who has been terrible most of the time this season. In midfield, Fred and Donny van de Beek should start ahead of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic with Bruno Fernandes in the advances position and Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial playing in the three forward positions in the 4-2-3-1 formation. It may not end up like that though.

Match Prediction: United have a great record against Brighton in domestic cup competitions with nine matches played and only three drawn – two of those led to replays with United winning.

United and Brighton have met twice in the League Cup in the history of the competition; a 1-1 draw on the 23 September 1992 with Danny Wallace scoring United’s goal and a 1-0 victory in the second leg with Mark Hughes scoring the winning goal. In the FA Cup, United and Brighton have met seven times with United winning winning five and drawing twice (both led to replays with United winning). It basically shows that United have not lost to Brighton in a cup match with nine matches played, six won and three drawn. It is a good record for United to keep alive this week as United look to reach the quarter-finals of the competition this season.

United and Brighton met at the American Express Community Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon. It was a 3-2 victory for United and there was some controversy. Neal Maupay opened the scoring for the home side from the penalty spot with United equalising minutes later through a Lewis Dunk own goal. United then took the lead through Marcus Rashford only for Solly March to equalise in added time. Harry Maguire headed into the top-left corner and cleared off the line by March. However, Maupay was judged to hand handled the ball, after the final whistle with a penalty being awarded and scored by Bruno Fernandes.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-2 Manchester United

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.