Brighton vs Manchester United preview
After taking a 3-0 shellacking at the hands of Sevilla in the Europa League QF, Erik Ten Hag’s charges seek to put things right against Brighton in another pivotal fixture.
FA Cup semis are here and so is United’s only remaining chance at a trophy this season. Roberto de Zerbi’s men are flying high this year and Manchester United’s creaking squad will have a battle on their hands to win this. Brighton have already beaten Manchester United, at Old Trafford no less. However, Graham Potter was still the manager at the time.
Since then, Brighton have gone from strength to strength. The Seagulls are one of the favourites for a European place through the Premier League. Moreover, they have become resident giant killers, routinely upsetting the elite order.
Brighton vs Manchester United team news
Brighton’s sterling form has partly been down to their injury luck. At the time of writing, the Seagulls have no injury worries apart from a long-term issue with Jakub Moder (Cruciate ligament rupture) and Jeremy Sarmiento (Metatarsal fracture).
Roberto de Zerbi has a full quota of players to choose from. He has also expertly integrated youth prospects like Evan Ferguson and Julio Enciso into the senior team to beef up his ranks further.
His team has a settled look to it with players getting increasingly familiar with each other as they play together. Significant changes shouldn’t be expected from their usual XI. Danny Welbeck might come to the side in place of Evan Ferguson for his big-game experience. Ferguson can come off the bench to utilise his pace against tired legs.
Brighton Predicted XI: Sanchez, Veltman, Webster, Dunk, Estupinan, Caicedo, Gross, March, Mac Allister, Mitoma, Welbeck.
If Brighton are at one of the spectra with regard to injuries, Manchester United are at the other extreme. The effects of a long and arduous campaign have started showing on a squad that lacks quality beyond the first XI.
In the absence of the first-choice CB pairing of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have been unconvincing. Midfield will be somewhat strengthened with the return of Bruno Fernandes.
Marcus Rashford also returned from injury against Sevilla and should play a part here. The same goes for Luke Shaw. However, he will probably play as the left-sided CB to counter Brighton’s pace and open up natural passing angles. Jadon Sancho needs to pick his form up soon or risk losing his place in the side.
Manchester United Predicted XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Shaw, Dalot, Eriksen Casemiro, Antony, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Brighton vs Manchester United- Key players
Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw- Man Utd
The value of Bruno Fernandes to this side is realised most when he is missed. The 3-0 destruction by Sevilla was a prime example of this.
His high-risk, high-reward passing is imperative to the success of this side. Christian Eriksen plays a deeper role so Bruno’s presence further forward is crucial to the ball progression of this side. United’s attack often looks toothless when Fernandes isn’t there to play the ball in behind the opposition’s backline.
#mufc without Bruno Fernandes starting this season:
Real Sociedad: 1-0 L ❌
Aston Villa: 3-1 L ❌
Charlton: 3-0 W ✅
Sevilla: 3-0 L ❌ pic.twitter.com/BubB6Sq5P0
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) April 20, 2023
His return to the side after serving a suspension in Europe will come as a huge sigh of relief for Erik Ten Hag and United’s attackers starved of service.
Speaking of ball progression, Luke Shaw is one of Europe’s finest. While Diogo Dalot has performed admirably in his absence, Luke Shaw’s ball-carrying abilities and progressive passing are rivalled by only Lisandro Martinez in United’s defence.
Furthermore, he is the most defensively solid option for the LB position. Tyrell Malacia is a serviceable backup and Diogo Dalot prefers his right foot. The inclusion of Luke Shaw from the start, even as a CB, should shore up United’s defence that looked shaky every time Sevilla pressed.
Kaoru Mitoma and Alexis Mac Allister- Brighton and Hove Albion
Roberto de Zerbi’s tactics have unlocked Brighton’s attacking potential as he built upon Potter’s defensive solidity. The main beneficiary of his arrival has been Kaoru Mitoma.
The electric left-winger has had a breakout season in the league, scoring seven goals with five assists in 24 games. His elite dribbling skills leave opponents in the dust and scatter their defensive shape.
This is why defensive-minded RB Aaron Wan-Bissaka will probably start for Man Utd. Curbing the threat of Mitoma is imperative to United’s chances of winning.
King Kaoru. 👑 @Kaoru_Mitoma 🇯🇵 https://t.co/gNDpcDvnfX pic.twitter.com/qTy46T6sei
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) April 19, 2023
However, he’s not the only threat. World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister is a man in demand right now, reportedly by Man Utd too. He will be fired up and excited to prove his mettle once again.
Mac Allister has quickly developed into a jack of all trades in midfield while being a master of them too. The 24-year-old Argentinian is able to swiftly switch between playing as a central midfielder, defensive midfielder or attacking midfielder as per the phase of play. He is a regular threat who buzzes around the pitch, finding space and hurting the opponents’ lapse in concentration.
Casemiro’s presence will be crucial to deal with him.
Brighton vs Manchester United prediction
Brighton are riding a wave of momentum in the Premier League while Manchester United have shown an incredible ability to respond to setbacks this season.
The ingredients are all there for a feisty encounter as both teams aim to reach a historic FA Cup final. Neither team has home advantage and under the bright lights of Wembley, expect United’s big-game experience to count for more than Brighton’s youthful exuberance.
Brighton will give United a proper fight and a scare, but United should look to finish the job professionally, potentially booking a Manchester Derby in the final.
FootTheBall predicts Brighton 1-3 Manchester United.