Manchester United take on Brighton and Hove Albion at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Tuesday. The fixture had to be rearranged after an outbreak of Covid-19 in the United squad in December.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season, with United not travelling to the Amex Stadium until the start of May.
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United’s form has been frustrating of late. The draw against Southampton last Saturday became the second consecutive 1-1 result in the league; the Red Devils dropped two points at Turf Moor against Burnley last week. The FA Cup defeat to Middlesbrough, who eventually won on penalties, also saw a 1-1 scoreline after extra-time.
Ralf Rangnick’s side will be desperate to get their first win since the winter break, as the battle for the top four goes on. United have struggled in front of goal recently and will need to put away their chances against a Brighton side who tend to create a good number of opportunities themselves.
Graham Potter’s Brighton currently sit 9th in the Premier League, and they have an outside chance at pushing for a European place. They ran out 0-2 winners against Watford at Vicarage Road last weekend, with goals from Neal Maupay and Adam Webster earning them all three points.
The Seagulls are a side who have impressed this season, and Potter has earned himself an excellent reputation as a manager. Brighton will no doubt be a tough test for United on Tuesday night.
Manchester United will be bolstered by the return of Fred, who has missed the previous two matches after testing positive for COVID-19. Alex Telles also had to miss two games at the start of the month due to COVID-19, but he returned to the squad last weekend and was an unused substitute.
Eric Bailly returned to training on Monday following an ankle injury, although it seems unlikely that the Ivorian will make the squad to face Brighton. Bailly has not featured for United yet in 2022, after representing Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, and then being ruled out with injury.
United will still be without some of the most experienced players in the squad for Tuesday’s game. Edinson Cavani, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Monday, has not recovered from the groin injury which kept him out of Saturday’s draw. Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic is also still sidelined with a shin problem.
Brighton will be without midfield duo Jeremy Sarmiento and Enoch Mwepu for their trip to Old Trafford this week. 19-year-old Sarmiento has only played twice in the Premier League this season, most recently on December 1st. Zambia international Mwepu last played in the FA Cup 3rd round against West Bromwich Albion in January. Both players have hamstring injuries.
Ones to Watch
Jadon Sancho has arguably been United’s best player so far in 2022. The winger is one of only two goal scorers for the Red Devils this month, alongside Paul Pogba. Sancho scored his first Old Trafford goal against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup a couple of weeks ago, before scoring his first league goal at Old Trafford against Southampton last weekend.
Sancho’s confidence seems to be increasing as the games go by, and despite some tough results for the team, he is certainly a player getting closer to his best. The 21-year-old has a reputation for being one of Europe’s trickiest wingers; when he takes on a defender in a one-on-one situation, he could genuinely beat his man in multiple different ways, something incredibly exciting to watch for United fans.Embed from Getty Images
Another player to watch on Tuesday night is Raphaël Varane. Since the centre-back returned to full fitness in December, he has been pivotal in United’s push for a top four position. Varane is one of the most majestic defenders in the world and offers a calming presence at the back.
The France international is still waiting for his first United goal, although he had one ruled out away to Burnley. Fans will hopefully not have to wait long to see Varane on the scoresheet for United.
One of Brighton’s most dangerous players is 21-year-old wingback Tariq Lamptey. The Englishman is one of the fastest players in the league and has some excellent attributes outside of that. Lamptey registered an assist in the Seagulls last Premier League game, picking out Neal Maupay with a good cross from the right-hand side.
David de Gea;
Diogo Dalot, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw;
Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba;
Anthony Elanga, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho.
A vital three points needed
After a disappointing first half of the month, United will be desperate to get back to winning ways against Brighton. A United victory would be huge in the context of the season. The Red Devils have a tough set of fixtures coming up in March, including a Manchester Derby and a Champions League last 16 second-leg tie against Atletico Madrid.
United need to build some winning momentum as the season climax draws nearer. Rangnick’s side are still in Europe and can go into fourth with a win on Tuesday night, where they will be aiming to be at the end of the season. A win against the Seagulls puts pressure on teams around United to win their games in hand.
The fixture against Brighton is important for more reasons than one, and United will be hoping to kickstart a good run of form, starting at Old Trafford on Tuesday.Embed from Getty Images