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PRESS PREVIEW: MANCHESTER UNITED

16 March 2018

Paul Hazlewood
Bruno tussles with Anthony Martial.

Simon Peach of the Press Association gives us the lowdown on Saturday night's opponents at Old Trafford.

Much has been made of Tuesday night – but last eight of the cup and second to a superior side in the league – is there really such a crisis?

You are right, there are certainly clubs in far more precarious positions. But, like it or not, Manchester United are a different animal - one that has been fed on silverware for years.

With that comes expectations and while few United fans really expected to win the Champions League this season, the negative tactics and underwhelming performance over both legs understandably left a sour taste. Jose Mourinho’s post-match press conference irked many fans – and his lengthy rant on Friday raised eyebrows. 

Is this a good time for Brighton & Hove Albion to head to Old Trafford – what will the mood be like?

If they perform like Tuesday, there is no doubt Brighton can win. But - and it is a big but - the FA Cup is the only trophy realistically within grasp of a demanding club that needs to respond to a galling loss.

Many of those that had not made an early dash for the exits jeered the players off the field on Tuesday and that loss will surely increase the tension.

Jose Mourinho praised the Seagulls back in November – would a repeat of that performance see them run the Red Devils close – what did you make of their showing last time at Old Trafford?

Brighton were well-drilled at Old Trafford and unlucky to game away without a point for an impressive display. The counter-attacks and crossing gave United a difficult time and it took a deflection to edge a 1-0 win. Just like this weekend, United came into the match on the back of a Champions League defeat. 

Would winning this tournament appease the fan base?

It would certainly give them something to cheer about at the end of another transitional season - one where promise has been intertwined with frustration. Europa League and EFL Cup glory was a solid return in Mourinho’s first season at Old Trafford, so adding the FA Cup would obviously be welcome.

United are on course for second in the Premier League - their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired - but Manchester City have altered the landscape. Given the successes on the blue half of the city, the FA Cup would be a welcome tonic.

Who’d be your one to watch for the home side?

Mourinho’s selections have been a bit up and down of late, but if Marcus Rashford gets his third straight start then he obviously has the potential to hurt Albion. Bold in possession and hungry to prove his worth ahead of the World Cup, he was outstanding in last weekend’s win against Liverpool. 

Match prediction – tight affair?

It is hard to look past United progressing, but Sevilla’s Champions League win should give Brighton hope.


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