Manchester United v Brighton: predictions, psychology, injuries

The first thing we know about Manchester United is that they are on a terrific run.  Here it is…

22 Dec 2018 Cardiff City v Manchester United W 1-5
26 Dec 2018 Manchester United v Huddersfield Town W 3-1
30 Dec 2018 Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth W 4-1
02 Jan 2019 Newcastle United v Manchester United W 0-2
05 Jan 2019 Manchester United v Reading FAC W 2-0
13 Jan 2019 Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United W 0-1

But… only one of those teams was a top six team, and Tottenham are in the curious position of doing far worse at home than away.  So playing Tottenham at Wembley, although not easy, was not as difficult as one might assume.

Just to make that point here is the top of the home matches league table…

Home games only.

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester City 12 11 0 1 40 10 30 33
2 Liverpool 10 9 1 0 27 3 24 28
3 Arsenal 11 8 2 1 24 10 14 26
4 Chelsea 12 7 4 1 21 9 12 25
5 Manchester United 10 6 3 1 21 13 8 21
6 Everton 12 6 3 3 20 16 4 21
7 Tottenham Hotspur 10 6 0 4 18 10 8 18

So Tottenham are modest at home, and Manchester United are better, having three draws and a defeat against Tottenham’s four defeats.  But Man U do score 2.1 goals a game at home letting in 1.3

Brighton are modest away – to say the least…

16 Brighton and Hove 11 2 2 7 9 18 -9 8
17 Burnley 11 2 2 7 9 22 -13 8
18 Huddersfield Town 11 1 3 7 8 21 -13 6
19 Cardiff City 10 1 2 7 6 18 -12 5
20 Fulham 12 0 2 10 8 30 -22 2

Two wins and two draws for Brighton away and seven defeats, scoring under 1 goal a game and letting in nearly two on average.

The fact is that these are the teams that Manchester United’s new manager has been getting his team to eat for breakfast, and it is hard to see how Brighton will hold out.

The psychology

Man U will expect to win because of their recent track record, and Brighton will also expect them to win.  Brighton will play to stop that all important first goal.  The moment Man U get it, the floodgates will open.

The injuries

Manchester United are way down the injury list with just three men down: but two of those (Alexis and Smalling) could play, although given the way in which Man U have been playing they hardly need risk anyone.

Brighton also have three injuries but only one of these – Bissouma – has any chance of making the team.  Fernandes da Silva Junior and Izquierdo  have no chance of playing.

The verdict

It is hard to see anything other than a Manchester United victory – probably by at least three goals.  Manchester United have scored 17 goals in their last six games, and have not let in a goal in their last three games so 3-0 seems about right.

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