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Starting XI: Manchester United vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

The Reds take on upstart Brighton with another international break looming

Brighton & Hove Albion v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

With just one match remaining before another international break, Manchester United host surprise package Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Here’s everything that you need to know about the match.

(1) Manchester United enter the weekend feeling pretty good about themselves. Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, and Marcus Rashford all scored en route to a 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade on Thursday — a result that also punched the club’s ticket into the Europa League knockout rounds. Not a bad night’s work.

(2) Before the Partizan match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted that Eric Bailly and Tim Fosu-Mensah remain a few weeks off. As does Paul Pogba. The boss declined to update the status of Nemanja Matić, Angel Gomes, Axel Tuanzebe, and Diogo Dalot, though he did note that some could return after the international break.

(3) And, on Thursday, the injury list got a little longer. Scott McTominay, who hasn’t missed a Premier League match yet this season, limped off in the second half after an industrious challenge left the 22-year-old clutching his ankle. Harry Maguire also appeared to pick up a knock, but finished out the game. Ole doesn’t sound too worried about him. McTominay, on the other hand...

I think Harry will be okay. He finished the game, anyway. Scott is more of a concern, so let’s see how he recovers in the next few days.

(4) After a strong second season in Manchester, it’s not happening for Victor Lindelöf in 2019/20. Despite the belief that he would fit seamlessly next to Maguire in central defense, Lindelof looks short of confidence, unsure of his positioning, and as weak in the air as ever. And, now, he’s injured. Lindelöf got banged up at Chelsea, gutted his way through the Bournemouth loss, and then sat out the Partizan match on Thursday. “Hopefully he can make the weekend,” said Solskjaer, “but I’m not sure.”

(5) With Ashley Young suspended for yellow card accumulation, Brandon Williams looks certain to earn the first Premier League start of his young career on Sunday. The 19-year-old left back burst onto the scene with a MotM performance last month at Partizan Belgrade and followed that up nicely against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup. The kid is ready.

(6) It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Brighton & Hove Albion. After scuffling through last season — avoiding the drop by just two points — the south coast club traded in manager Chris Hughton for the up-and-coming Graham Potter. The early returns are off the charts. Want to feel depressed? Brighton, yes Brighton, sit two places higher than Manchester United in the Premier League table.

(7) Brighton’s new quick passing system has flummoxed opponents over the past month, with the Seagulls winning three of four and scoring nine goals over that stretch. That includes a 3-0 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur at the beginning of October, too.

(8) If there’s a bright side to Brighton’s rampant form, it’s that they won’t sit back on Sunday. And that should suit Solskjaer’s Manchester United just fine. Everyone can see the stark difference in United’s performance depending on whether the opposition comes out to play or defends deep in a low block. Despite many pundits playing up Brighton’s chances, the tactical landscape of this match lies in United’s favor.

(9) Another worry for Brighton is the club’s poor road form. Potter’s side defeated Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road on opening day, but have only picked up one point (against Newcastle) in four other Premier League away matches. For all of United’s troubles this season, they’ve been quite strong at Old Trafford — with big wins over Chelsea and Leicester City and solid draws against Liverpool and Arsenal. Sure, the Crystal Palace debacle still stings, but OT could make the difference in this one.

(10) Alongside the appointment of Potter, Brighton also shelled out a fair bit of cash this summer. Adam Webster (£21 million), Leandro Trossard (£20 million), and Neal Maupay (£20 million) all joined up, with Trossard and Maupay combining for six goals already. That has offset a slow start from last season’s top scorer, the aging Glenn Murray.

(11) Brighton midfielder Davy Propper on Sunday’s match:

We feel good at the moment after the last two victories, but Manchester United are a big side who will always give you a difficult game. They’re a great side and we have to play our own game. Even going to Old Trafford, we have to stick to our style and we’ll do that because we are confident.