The Premier League is back and for Manchester United, the fixtures aren’t getting any easier.
Having already played Tottenham and Arsenal away from in their first four games, they resume the league with a banana skin fixture at home to rampant Brighton and Hove Albion.
Roberto de Zerbi has got the Seagulls playing breathtaking football and their no-prisoners-taken style is going to cause a lot of upsets this season.
Here are three things to watch out for as Erik ten Hag will need to ensure his team are not in that list of upsets-
Debuts galore, and a lot of firsts
This could be a landmark game in the history of United a few years from now. Just in this one, there is the possibility of the following happening-
- Rasmus Hojlund’s first start for Manchester United
- Sofyan Amrabat’s debut for United
- Facundo Pellistri’s potential introduction to the starting lineup
- Sergio Reguilon’s debut for United
Old Trafford could be about to get a new set of heroes and if their careers pan out well, excluding Reguilon, this game could well be remembered as the one where a new era at the club kicked off.
The most excitement could be about Hojlund, who already showed glimpses of stardom in his cameo against Arsenal, leaving fans wanting more.
Amrabat’s presence in the middle will also arm United with two steely midfielders, helping Casemiro the most.
The excitement surrounding Pellistri is already at a fever pitch after encouraging displays as a sub and a good performance from the start could kickstart his United career properly.
Jadon Sancho watch
The most needless drama of the international break was the impasse between Jadon Sancho and Erik ten Hag.
The Peoples Person has already covered the holistic details of the saga and the fallout from the same. Now comes the time for action.
Sancho has deleted the tweet that set social media on fire from his profile, hinting that a reconciliation could be on the cards. His situation at the club and the result of the reported “showdown talks” with the manager will be clear to see once the team news drops for this game.
Such is United’s right-wing issue currently that if the bridge with Sancho is mended, it is more likely than not that Sancho will feature in some capacity against the Seagulls.
However, if his name is absent from the team, then he can start the countdown to January and the re-opening of the transfer window.
This could well be the most anticipated team news at United in a long time.
The bogey team
For a club that was fighting against relegation just a few years ago, Brighton have made a surprising habit of turning over United.
Under De Zerbi, they’re turning over most teams, but even under Chris Houghton and Graham Potter, they had made a habit of bringing their A-game against the Red Devils.
In the last six meetings between the two teams, Brighton have won three and drawn one. United often looked overawed by Brighton’s intensity and the matches follow a similar pattern, even in United’s wins.
They’re under the cosh if they lead, and look panicked when they trail. Overall, the club hasn’t had a proper convincing performance against the Seagulls in a long time.
This time, a good result is non-negotiable. Six points have already been dropped and the performance warranted more than that. The path back to the top starts with putting away plucky teams at home and Brighton need to be dealt with with the ruthlessness befitting a team that has the ambition to climb the table.
Anything less, and the alarm bells will ring loud and clear.