For Brighton, who rested numerous first team players against Wolves but still romped to a 6-0 victory, the season may have reached its height on Saturday. As the Seagulls trail the top seven by just two points with games left before kickoff against Manchester United, head coach Roberto De Zerbi called it a “honor” to lead his team, which is still vying for a first ever qualification for Europe.
Since they’ve won three of their five Premier League (PL) head to head matches played at the Amex Stadium since being promoted (L2), Brighton won’t be intimidated by the occasion and will be out for revenge after recently losing to United on penalties in the FA Cup semi finals. In any case, there should be plenty of entertainment given the Seagulls have only failed to score in one league game since October, while this match has averaged 3.6 goals per game in the PL at this location.
With a 1-0 victory over Aston Villa at Old Trafford, Man Utd strengthened their position inside the top four and prepared for a pair of away games. Erik ten Hag’s team currently appears to be on track for a return to the UEFA Champions League, requiring just nine points to logically secure their place at the top table in Europe. The Dutchman is still motivated, though, and wants more goals from his team after they let a lead slip in their most recent away game at Tottenham.
Given that United has given up 31 of their 39 Premier League goals this season away from Old Trafford, more firepower may be required to battle their porous defense. This has contributed to the Premier League’s (PL) return of just two away victories this calendar year (D2, L3), and Ten Hag’s team has only defeated one of the teams currently occupying the top 13 when on the road (D3, L6).
Pascal Groß of Brighton is facing his favorite opponents after just scored two goals against Wolves. His six goals against United are two times as many as his next best total against any other team in his career. The German, who is playing as a wing back, may be charged with stopping Red Devils top scorer Marcus Rashford, who has ten career wins over Brighton and has only recorded more victory over West Ham (11).
The following players won’t be available for the hosts on Thursday night, Jakub Moder (knee), Tariq Lamptey (knee), Jeremy Sarmiento (ankle), and Adam Lallana (thigh). De Zerbi has also stated that he won’t take any undue risks with Evan Ferguson, a gifted young striker who is dealing with an ankle issue.
The one slight hiccup in Brighton’s victory over Wolves was Joel Veltman’s limping off after 65 minutes, though De Zerbi is optimistic that the Dutchman’s problem would be minor.
While all of Kaoru Mitoma, Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo, and Levi Colwill were named on the bench against Wolves and will expect to force their way back in, De Zerbi has been given plenty of selection headaches after last weekend’s humiliation, so a return to right defender for Gross may be in order if Veltman does not recover in time.
Donny van de Beek (knee), Alejandro Garnacho (ankle), Tom Heaton (ankle), Phil Jones (knee), Raphael Varane (ankle), and Lisandro Martinez (foot) have all been sidelined recently for Man United due to injuries.
The Scotland international will not go to the Amex due to Scott McTominay’s injury, which is also proving difficult to recover from. Ten Hag will likely persist with the successful midfield duo of Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof, with Harry Maguire remaining on the bench.
In addition, Aaron Wan-Bissaka should be called upon after keeping Mitoma largely under control at Wembley. Jadon Sancho may potentially lose his starting spot to Antony because he struggled against Villa.
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup
Steele, Gross, Colwill, Dunk, Estupinan, Caicedo, Mac Allister, March, Enciso, Mitoma and Welbeck.
Manchester United possible starting lineup
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Shaw, Malacia, Casemiro, Fernandes, Sabitzer, Eriksen, Antony and Rashford.
We predict: Brighton & Hove Albion 1-1 Manchester United
After the first whistle, the FA Cup semifinal between these two teams was impossible to predict, and the same should hold true on Thursday, especially given that worries about Veltman’s fitness may force Gross back into his improvised right back position.
While we have been umming and ahhing over this prediction, we simply cannot pick a winner and believe that another closely contested match will end level after facing an Aston Villa team that had previously scored goals for fun. Shaw and Lindelof stood strong against this Aston Villa team.