Manchester United travel to the Amex on Tuesday to take on Brighton & Hove Albion in an important Premier League encounter. The Red Devils secured a last-gasp extra time win against Norwich City on Saturday which saw them reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup for a record 30th time. Brighton unlike their visitors, have been well-rested after earning a point against Leicester more than a week ago.
Ole Gunnar’s side sit sixth in the table five points away from a top four spot. They are on a steady unbeaten run of fourteen games and they will hope for it to continue to keep them in Champions League contention.
Brighton, on the other hand will prove it difficult for Manchester United to secure a win as they are also unbeaten since the restart and have won two of their last five matches against the Red Devils. Both of those wins came at the Amex so it will be a tough must win game for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men as they aim to secure a top four spot.
Brighton (4-2-2-2): Ryan; Montoya, Duffy, Dunk, Burn; Stephens, Bissouma; Propper, Mooy; Connolly, Maupay.
Defender Adam Webster came off after playing just 24 minutes against Leicester with a hamstring injury. Hence, he is a major doubt. The formation has worked out well for the Seagulls since returning from lockdown. They beat Arsenal at home and drew against Leicester away. Brighton are a team in form and will certainly look to jeopardise the Red Devils’ top four hopes.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelöf, Maguire, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Martial.
Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes played a full 120 minutes in the win against Norwich and could be rested. Fred can replace him and Paul Pogba could be playing as a No. 10 if it is the case.
Bruno Fernandes has really amped up the attack of Manchester United. The absence of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford certainly wasn’t felt when the Portuguese midfielder signed in January. The 25-year-old has scored three and assisted three in eight games already this season and has turned the Manchester United side’s gameplay around for the better.
He has added a lot of flair to United’s style of play and Anthony Martial has been the biggest benefactor of it. Since Bruno joined, the Frenchman has scored seven and assisted two in ten games. Martial also picked up his first career hattrick in the game against Sheffield United last week.
What was wrong before Bruno came in?
The Portuguese star has three assists already which is the same as Andreas Pereira in 17 less appearances, one more than Juan Mata and three more than an out of form Jesse Lingard. Bruno Fernandes also averages two key passes per game which is way ahead of any other of United’s attacking midfielders.
The team also failed to score against teams who sat back against them and have failed to win against weaker opposition a lot which has jeopardised their chances to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Bruno and Martial linkup
As mentioned above, Anthony Martial has benefited greatly due to incoming of Bruno which has resulted in him and Mason Greenwood have over performed exceeding the initial expectations.
Brighton will aim to sit back against United and hope to score on counter. Hence, the Portuguese’s linkup play with Pogba and Martial will be an important factor which will decide the result. Before Bruno Fernandes joined, the Red Devils would be dependent on their not so successful crossing or shots from outside the box. But since the 25-year-old’s arrival that has not been the case. Though United still cross the ball a lot, most of those crosses tend to reach a United shirt before the opposition and a lot of shots from outside the box have lead to corners which have led to chances.
Brighton use a 4-2-2-2 formation which would see a lot of blockage outside the box and Bruno Fernandes’ intelligence and capability will help United rise above the normal and actually create some good chances. The attacking midfielder can not only shoot well but create chances for fellow teammates Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood from various parts of the pitch. He can run into spaces, find a good pass and also score from long range shots. Pogba, Bruno, Rashford, Greenwood and Martial’s linkup plays are the main factor which United are dependent on. Instead of crossing a lot and shooting off-target from outside the box, one can see actual key passes being made and a lot of clear cut chances being made too.