Everything that you need to know ahead of Tuesday’s match:
(1) After a weekend detour in the FA Cup, Manchester United return to Premier League play with a Tuesday night visit to Brighton & Hove Albion. And, for the first time in a while, the Reds will be looking up at another team in fifth place. Wolves jumped ahead with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa on Saturday, momentarily displacing United from the presumptive last Champions League spot.
(2) With a game in hand (and a sizable goal difference advantage), all is not lost for Manchester United. But every match from here on out is pretty much a must-win. United have a cupcake schedule in the weeks ahead — but with no margin for error. Any dropped points could cost the club a Champions League berth in 2020/21.
(3) On Saturday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rang the changes at Norwich City. Only Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, and Bruno Fernandes retained their places from the starting lineup against Sheffield United. The United boss smartly took the opportunity to rest the vast majority of his first-choice talent ahead of a very congested run-in.
(4) Unfortunately, Solskjaer’s best-laid plans somewhat ran aground at Norwich. Manchester United advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals as expected, but it took 120 grueling minutes to do so. Maguire, Shaw, and Fernandes played the whole match and, with the Reds struggling to break down a stubborn Canaries defense, Ole had to call on Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, and Anthony Martial off the bench. It was a rest day ruined.
(5) Happily, Manchester United continue to skate by in rude health in the early days of Project Restart. After coping without Pogba for most of the season and other key contributors for long stretches, Solskjaer now has a full complement of players to choose from, which should stand the club in good stead as they’re playing crucial matches every three days.
(6) When the season halted in March, Brighton’s survival prospects looked quite dim. Graham Potter’s side hadn’t won a Premier League match in 2020, slipping to just two points above the relegation line. And with Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester United as the first three matches on the docket when play resumed, they seemed a pretty safe bet for the drop.
(7) Surprisingly, though, it’s been just the opposite. Brighton defeated Arsenal 2-1 at the Amex Stadium and followed that up with a 0-0 draw at Leicester. These results lifted the Seagulls to fifteenth, opening up a six point gap (and a ton of GD) between themselves and the bottom three.
(8) Graham Potter on the task ahead for his club:
We are still fighting to get the points we need. Nothing’s changed in that regard. We’ve got a little bit of a breather now before preparing for Manchester United, so we’ll use that time to recover but you can see in the last couple of games that we’re prepared to battle to make sure we stay in this division. That’s a good sign going forward.
(9) One for the future: 19-year-old Tariq Lamptey made his club debut against Leicester and earned rave reviews. The teenage full-back shut down Jamie Vardy and could be in line for another start on Tuesday. Lamptey joined Brighton in January after Potter lured him from Chelsea with promises of first team opportunities. He became the first teenager since Harry Kane in 2012/13 to appear for two different Premier League clubs in the same season.
Tariq Lamptey vs. Leicester City [field rank]:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) June 23, 2020
8 attempted take-ons [1st]
5 successful take-ons [1st]
4 tackles attempted [2nd]
3 tackles won [=1st]
Very impressive display. pic.twitter.com/KngF847ysv
(10) Brighton’s main goal threat is Neal Maupay. The 23-year-old Frenchman leads the club with nine goals scored. No other Brighton player has more than three Premier League goals. This is one toothless squad. Maupay will test the Manchester United backline with both his poaching ability and a fiery attitude that can rub opponents the wrong way. There’s a little Diego Costa in this guy. Last week, Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi grabbed Maupay by the throat after the Brighton striker injured goalkeeper Bernd Leno with some rough play.
(11) In Brighton’s draw at Leicester, defender Adam Webster left early with an apparent hamstring injury. Potter insists that this was strictly precautionary and that Webster could even be ready to face Manchester United on Tuesday. If he can’t go, expect Shane Duffy to deputize in the Brighton backline.