Friday, May 4 – 8:00p.m Local time at Amex Stadium, Brighton and Hove, United Kingdom.
Manchester United’s relentless pursuit of second place will see them travel to Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday night for their penultimate Premier League game of the season.
The Red devils head to the South East of England having left their imprint on yet another top six side; this time Arsenal well and truly on the receiving end of things.
Jose Mourinho’s charges swat Arsenal aside with a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in a valiant display that ensured the hosts completed the double over Arsenal in the EPL for the first time since the 2011/12 campaign.
From the lineups it was quite evident that Arsene Wenger was fielding a second string side, in part due to injury and to a moderate degree, due to their potentially season defining trip to Spain for the second leg of their Europa League semifinal bout with Atletico Madrid.
The Theatre of Dreams may have been uncharacteristically receptive to the Frenchman on his final trip to the ground as Arsenal manager, even presenting him with a silver vase by Sir Alex Ferguson amid a thunderous standing ovation right before kickoff, but there was little remorse once the whistle went off.
Unlike in their most recent matches where they have had to fight from behind, United began strongly by grabbing the lead in the 16th minute through Paul Pogba.
The France international exhibited a strong sense of awareness when he followed up on a rebound after Alexis Sanchez’s diving header, thumping the ball past David Ospina for his third goal in four Premier League matches.
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Despite being a young and relatively inexperienced side, Arsenal reacted strongly to falling behind by dishing out some punishment of their own right after the restart through Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The former Manchester United forward, who found himself in hectares of space, struck the leather through the legs of Victor Lindelof and past the blindsided David de Gea. It was the Armenian’s third goal in Arsenal colors and his first against his former club since making the switch to North London in January.
Nonetheless, for all their confident attacking intent in the second half, all their good work was undone and a familiar story of hurt and regret re-written when Marouane Fellaini secured maximum points with an injury time header that won it for the hosts.
While United secured automatic qualification into next season’s UEFA Champions League with the win, it was a lopsided outcome for the Gunners who not only failed to win at Old Trafford for the eleventh consecutive match, but also placed their only remaining hope of Champions League qualification in one strenuous match against an unplayable Diego Simeone side.
Manchester United may have secured a top four finish, but the Red devils cannot afford to rest on their laurels in any of the remaining three Premier League matches; beginning with their trip to the Amex Stadium.
Brighton and Hove Albion aren’t exactly relegation fodder, but neither are they off the hook yet, as they sit 14th on the Premier League log with 37 points, five points above the drop zone.
Goalkeeper Sergio Romero has been the only sidelined Man United player since sustaining a knee injury in March while on international duty, but the Argentine shot stopper is joined on the treatment table by Romelu Lukaku.
The striker — who was hauled off with an injury during the victory over Arsenal — is ruled out against Brighton, as he faces the race against time to be fit ahead of the FA Cup final with Chelsea in a little over two week’s time.
Steve Sidwell and Isaiah Brown continue to stretch their lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury, but Davy Propper returns for the Seagulls having served his three-match ban following a straight red during the one-all draw with Huddersfield Town.
Manchester United vs. Brighton match prediction
Manchester United have been blissful to watch in recent weeks, churning out huge wins over Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The Premier League newcomers have, in stark contrast, been insufferably putrid since their triumphant victory over Arsenal at the start of March, as they have since gone on a winless run of seven matches in all competitions.
As such, Jose Mourinho’s side should sail through without breaking a sweat.
Prediction: Man United to win – -142.86 On William Hill
Manchester United vs. Brighton and Hove Albion recent results
Man United 2-0 Brighton (March 17, 2018)
Romelu Lukaku 37′
Nemanja Matic 83′
Man United 1-0 Brighton (November 25, 2017)
Lewis Dunk 66′ (OG)
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