Manchester United host Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon on the Premier League matchday 13. The Reds find themselves sitting in second with eight points less than leaders Manchester United. This game arrives after an unexpected loss to Basel in Switzerland on Wednesday evening and the three points must stay at Old Trafford.
Yet, what should Manchester United pay special attention to. Some of the key players were rested during midweek and now there cannot be any space for mistakes. Manchester United need to be winning matches like these if they are to stay in fight for the first Premier League title since 2013.
The Centre-Back Pairing
Jose Mourinho should pay special attention to his centre-back pairing. It is a place that is very good when Phil Jones and Eric Bailly are fit. Manchester United do quite well with the Anglo-Ivorian duo in front of David De Gea, but this time that will not be the case. Both Bailly and Jones are out of contention and Mourinho needs to find a good solution.
He will choose from Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelof. The Englishman is not quite impressive this season, while Rojo just got back from injury. It looks like Lindelof will almost certainly start and Mourinho’s decision must be a good one. Manchester United should not be conceding goals like the one against Basel, where the players did not make the most of the first half dominance and then fell to a late goal from hosts.
The German midfielder is doing amazing things at Brighton. He arrived last summer from Bundesliga 2 side Ingolstadt for only £2.7m and has proved a bargain already. Gross had a role in eight of Brighton’s 13 goals, having scored three and assisted five to his teammates.
United should pay special attention to him as he is a player able of changing the course of a match, or even deciding one. Gross is a dead-ball specialist and Man United should be aware of that. Any conceded free-kicks in dangerous areas might not be too troubling for a goalkeeper like De Gea, but Gross’ delivery for teammates in those situations really is. Glenn Murray already proved to be an aerial threat and without Bailly and Jones, Mourinho’s players should be aware of that as well.
Manchester United Finding Different Solutions
This could prove to be a very good match for trying different details in Manchester United’s game. It almost certainly will not be an easy task to beat Chris Hughton’s team, as Brighton have not lost in last five Premier League matches.
However, Manchester United can be in a great mood when they play at Old Trafford. The fact Paul Pogba is back makes that statement even more solid. Still, this could be a game where we could see Zlatan Ibrahimovic have a bigger role, or maybe even play alongside Romelu Lukaku.
Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini could bring the muscle in the middle of the pitch, while Marcus Rashford could get back to the starting XI after a second half cameo in Basel.