Manchester Utd vs Brighton predictions: Brighton to rock Old Trafford

Simon Barlow
Spotlight
Brighton could make history on Sunday
Brighton could make history on Sunday

Erik ten Hag's Old Trafford reign begins with a visit from Brighton, but how many of the Dutchman's starting line-up are going to be part of his long-term plans remains open to question. 

He is still waiting for his main midfield target to be signed and the future of last season's leading scorer has yet to be resolved. 

Of the club's three senior summer recruits, only one appears to have had enough pre-season match preparation and an 11th-hour injury to striker Anthony Martial has left United short in attack. 

Seagulls boss Graham Potter was not expecting to see Marc Cucurella leave this summer, but Albion have been coping without the Spaniard well in pre-season. 

Leandro Trossard has been filling in at left wing-back and, after his hat-trick against Espanyol last weekend, will be someone United must keep an eye on this Sunday. 

Team news

Cristiano Ronaldo is pushing to be included despite featuring in only 45 minutes of United's pre-season and Martial's hamstring injury could force Ten Hag into starting the Portuguese star. 

Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez have also not seen much pre-season action, so neither can be deemed certain starters. 

New signing Tyrell Malacia is in a straight fight with Luke Shaw for the left-back spot now Alex Telles has been shipped off to Sevilla. 

Jadon Sancho could feature after missing the Red Devils' friendly defeat to Atletico Madrid with illness, while Scott McTominay came through 69 minutes of that edgy contest unscathed and is in contention to start. 

Brighton are likely to start with much the same team as they did when thumping Espanyol 5-1 at the Amex Stadium last Saturday. 

Leandro Trossard's change of role may not temper his goalscoring exploits
Leandro Trossard's change of role may not temper his goalscoring exploits

Trossard's virtuoso display answered any questions about his ability to cover at left wing-back while Solly March was a constant source of danger down the right. 

Lewis Dunk, Andy Webster and Joel Veltman were a solid trio in defence ahead of Robert Sanchez while lone striker Danny Welbeck looked as lean and sharp as he has ever done in an Albion shirt. 

Ecuadorian international Moises Caicedo looked a capable replacement for Yves Bissouma in midfield and should start alongside Enock Mwepu, Alexis Mac Allister and Pascal Gross in the engine room. 

The stats

Gross has netted in all three of the Seagulls' Premier League wins over United, including the 4-0 Hove hammering last May. 

Brighton finished last season with only one defeat in their last nine matches - in stark contrast to United's risible record of four defeats in their last six. 

Albion have yet to win at Old Trafford in 14 previous league and cup visits dating back to 1909, but they have probably never had a better chance to rewrite history. 

Prediction

Ten Hag's tenure seems destined to get off to the worst possible start with Brighton in perfect shape to expose the flaws that the Dutchman needs more time to address. 

A lack of available options to replace Martial and match sharpness issues around the home squad are problems that a club of United's stature should not be facing at any point - let alone before a ball has been kicked in anger. 

Potter is a master tactician and has a formula that works - as was proven emphatically last season - so history beckons for the Seagulls this weekend.

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