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OPPOSITION IN FOCUS: MANCHESTER UNITED

24 June 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Anthony Knockaert in action against Manchester United.

Our rundown of Brighton & Hove Albion’s Premier League opposition for the 2018/19 campaign continues with Manchester United.

League Position 2017/18: 2nd
Top league goalscorer: Romelu Lukaku (16)

How did they do last season?

United achieved their highest league finish in five years after they claimed second place and finished 19 points behind record-breaking champions and local rivals, Manchester City.

Jose Mourinho’s side also reached the Emirates FA Cup Final, where they were narrowly edged out in a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Wembley.

The Red Devils made an excellent start to the campaign after winning six of their opening seven games of the season, but a surprise defeat to Huddersfield Town in October and a loss away at Chelsea in November hindered their fast start.

A 2-1 defeat to Man City in December ended their realistic title aspirations, and left Mourinho’s men 11 points behind the league leaders. The final month of 2017 also saw United knocked out the Carabao Cup at the quarter-final stage by Bristol City, as the Red Devils lost 2-1 on aggregate.

The side made smooth progress from their Champions League group, finishing top of Group A with five wins from six games, but made a surprise exit from the competition at the second-round stage, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Sevilla.

April saw United arguably achieve their best result of the season when they claimed a brilliant 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium to delay their neighbour's coronation as Premier League champions.

The league season ended with a 1-0 win over Watford at Old Trafford before the aforementioned Emirates FA Cup Final defeat to Chelsea.

Who’s in charge?

Jose Mourinho 

Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford in May 2016 after replacing Louis van Gaal at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.

The Portuguese guided the Red Devils to an EFL Cup and Europa League double in his first season. The latter secured United’s place in the Champions League following a disappointing sixth-place league finish.

Mourinho enjoys elite managerial status in the game, after winning the Champions League twice with FC Porto and Inter Milan respectively, as well as securing league titles in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England.

The United manager signed a new deal in January this year and has now committed his future to the club until 2020.

Who should I keep an eye out for?

Fred

Fred has been the stand-out signing of the summer for the Red Devils on a five-year deal for £52m.

He arrives at Old Trafford from Shakhtar Donetsk after winning three Ukrainian league titles since 2013.

The creative midfielder will look to add a new dimension to United’s midfield and is known for his flair on the ball.

The 25-year-old is also part of the Brazil squad at this year’s FIFA World Cup and has a total of eight caps at the time of writing.

How did we fare against them last season?

The Seagulls faced United three times last season, twice in the league and once in the Emirates FA Cup.

Chris Hughton’s side left Old Trafford with plenty of plaudits, but no points back in November last year, as an unfortunate Lewis Dunk own goal gave the Reds a narrow 1-0 win.

Albion returned to the north-west the following March for an Emirates FA Cup quarter-final tie, and despite another encouraging performance, goals from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic consigned the Seagulls to a 2-0 defeat.

But the tables were turned back at the Amex in May, as a Pascal Gross header secured a memorable 1-0 victory and Albion’s Premier League survival for next season.


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