Everything that you need to know ahead of Wednesday’s match:
(1) It’s odd enough playing one team twice in five days, but the insane ending of Manchester United’s win at Brighton this weekend only adds to the intrigue. The Reds were awarded a penalty (via VAR) after the final whistle for a Neal Maupay handball and Bruno Fernandes broke Brighton hearts with another picture perfect goal from the spot. All in all, it has to rank among the craziest wins in club history. “We got away with one,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted afterwards.
Brighton hit the woodwork five times— Goal (@goal) September 27, 2020
VAR gives Manchester United a 100th minute penalty
Standard ♂️ pic.twitter.com/k9T827NxjV
(2) While the three points are nice, a bigger concern is that Brighton dominated the match. They outshot United 18-7 and hit the post five times. That’s the most any team has struck the woodwork since Opta started tracking the stat in 2003/04. On another day, Manchester United would have been on the receiving end of a rout. Of course, there’s something to be said about winning ugly and picking up points when you don’t deserve them, but it’s worrying that the Reds have been second-best in both league games this season.
(3) Solskjaer on Brighton’s surprisingly strong performance:
They created too much for my liking. They’re a difficult team to play against. We tried to press, but they’ve got really good ball players at the back. They played really well so we didn’t get there. When we’re low, you can see we don’t have the legs and sharpness still. But we’ll get there.
(4) Expect lots of changes from both sides on Wednesday. Solskjaer made ten changes in United’s first Carabao Cup match, while Graham Potter made eleven for Brighton. There will likely be two entirely different sides playing in midweek at the Amex Stadium, especially with both Manchester United and Brighton facing tough Premier League games at the weekend.
(5) Dean Henderson will likely be in goal after his clean sheet at Luton Town, Eric Bailly and Brandon Williams (and maybe even Diogo Dalot) could fill in on the backline, and Solskjaer has many choices in midfield and attack like Fred, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Donny van de Beek, Daniel James, and Odion Ighalo.
(6) Speaking of Daniel James, rumors persist about a possible loan move (or outright transfer) for the 22-year-old. James started in the opener against Crystal Palace (and got yanked at halftime), then dropped to the bench at Luton Town and missed out altogether in the first Brighton match. He has mostly shrugged off all talk of leaving and wants to stay and fight for his place at Manchester United, but a new signing (especially Jadon Sancho) could change those plans.
Daniel James was left out of the entire squad for today and was an unused sub against Luton.— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) September 26, 2020
Being rested or on the move to Leeds?
(7) Another possible outgoing Red:
Lazio have offered a loan with buy option to Manchester United for Andreas Pereira. #MUFC are open to loan him out - but there’s still no agreement about how to share his salary. @SkySport #MUFC #Lazio https://t.co/tWwu3xdBoL— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 28, 2020
(8) Other transfer news: Manchester United will supposedly return with an improved offer for Jadon Sancho this week, while some other reports suggest that the club has agreed personal terms with left back Alex Telles while still haggling over a fee with Porto, and — in the biggest surprise — there are even some rumors of United making a late run at Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante. None of these potential moves are expected to be wrapped up before the cup tie at Brighton, though.
(9) Graham Potter on Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to Manchester United:
We deserved something — that’s fair. Over the 90 minutes, we were the better team. We had more shots and more chances. We hit the woodwork a few times, but that’s football. Sometimes it’s cruel, sometimes it’s unfair, and we have to accept it as much as it’s painful.
(10) If Potter returns to the side he used last week against Preston North End in the Carabao Cup, Manchester United will be glad to see the likes of Solly March, Tariq Lamptey, Neal Maupay, and Leandro Trossard sent to the bench. Brighton will likely turn to Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Alexis Mac Allister (who both scored against PNE), as well as Davy Propper and Pascal Gross.
(11) One Brighton player not at Potter’s disposal (again) is midfielder Yves Bissouma. He finishes up his three-match suspension on Wednesday and will be eligible to return to the Seagulls’ starting eleven this coming weekend at Everton.