Manchester United-Brighton & Hove Albion Preview

Sports

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is content with his defence despite Manchester United’s shaky display at the back against Crystal Palace.

United face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday on the back of a 3-1 reverse to Palace at Old Trafford in their opening fixture.

Donny van de Beek scored on his United debut, yet defensively the Red Devils struggled up against Palace’s dynamic attack.

Jadon Sancho has been a high-profile attacking target for United throughout the transfer window, but asked if he would be looking to add to his defence, Solskjaer is satisfied with his options.

“I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Last week wasn’t fantastic, we conceded sloppy goals but I think last season Eric [Bailly] and Harry proved how good a partnership they were,” Solskjaer told a news conference. “Eric is fit again, a big plus and looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games. We’ve been waiting him to be fit and play more regularly.”

Solskjaer also commented on reports that goalkeeper Sergio Romero – who is now third choice behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson – is unhappy with a lack of game time.

“You know, players are happy when they win well and win games, it’s not my job to keep them happy, it’s to pick players to get results, and up to them to be fit and be ready when called upon,” he added.

Saturday’s encounter is the first of back-to-back matches between the sides on the south coast, with Brighton hosting United in the EFL Cup fourth round next week.

“We know the challenge [of playing United twice],” Graham Potter, whose side have won three matches on the bounce, told a news conference.

“You want to test yourself against the best teams and that’s what these game provides – a great test and an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and try to get positive results.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brighton and Hove Albion – Pascal Gross

Gross was a substitute against Chelsea on the opening weekend and did not play a part against Newcastle, but Potter may be tempted to use the midfielder against United on Saturday. He has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his last four Premier League appearances against United, including the winner in Brighton’s two past victories.

Manchester United – Donny van de Beek

United were hugely disappointing against Palace, but there was one bright spot with Van de Beek coming on from the bench to score on his debut. It was a well-taken goal, and the former Ajax man will be looking to keep up his momentum in this clash.

KEY OPTA FACTS

• Brighton have won three of their last four home league games against United, though they did lose 3-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.

• However, Brighton have won just one of their 10 Premier League home games so far in 2020 (1-4-5), beating Arsenal 2-1 in June.

• United have not lost both of their opening two games in a Premier League season since the inaugural campaign in 1992-93 (1-2 vs Sheffield United, 0-3 vs Everton), when they went on to lift the title.

• Neal Maupay was involved in all three of Brighton’s goals in their 3-0 win against Newcastle United last time out, scoring twice and providing one assist.

• Against Palace, Bruno Fernandes had the joint-most shots (three), most chances created (five), most touches (123), most passes (94) and open play crosses (six) of any United player.

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