Manchester United will seek to bounce back from their European elimination in midweek by securing passage to the final four of the FA Cup at home to Brighton on Saturday (19:45 GMT).
Man Utd could have few complaints after falling at the last 16 stage of the Champions League with a 1-2 defeat to Sevilla at Old Trafford on Tuesday. They had been outplayed in the first leg in Spain and even on home soil, it was Sevilla who made the majority of the running.
Two quick-fire goals from substitute Wissam Ben Yedder left United needing to score three times in the remaining quarter-hour or so to avoid elimination, and they were unable to do so despite Romelu Lukaku pulling one back with a close-range finish. In truth, it wouldn’t have been deserved after a performance that lacked both imagination and enterprise.
Man Utd are currently second in the Premier League table and have recorded victories over Chelsea and Liverpool in recent weeks but their lack of a cohesive attacking strategy was painfully evident on Tuesday. They have enough individual quality to continue grinding out results domestically, but that proved insufficient against well-organised and technically able opponents.
Indeed, it will be interesting to see how the Old Trafford crowd react on Saturday given just how limp a display it was and how dismissive coach Jose Mourinho was of the importance of the result in his post-match press conference. Trophies are his primary currency, and the only one that now remains realistically available to him this season is this tournament, for which Man Utd are joint-favourites in the FA Cup betting with the UK oddsmakers.
Man Utd progressed to the last eight with a victories to nil over Derby County, Yeovil Town and Huddersfield. Lukaku scored in each of them as part of a set of strong lineups and will be hopeful of continuing that streak on Saturday after a lively but ultimately frustrating evening against Sevilla. Jesse Lingard has also showed well during the FA Cup run to date.
Now Brighton await. The two teams have met in the competition on six previous occasions, including in the 1983 final, which went to a replay before United eventually won out. Brighton have never beaten Man Utd in the FA Cup and will hope it proves to be seventh time lucky this weekend.
Brighton come into the match on a good run of form. They have won five, drawn two and lost one of their last eight fixtures in all competitions, and seem to have found solutions to the lack of goals that had previously hamstrung their campaign. The 11 goals they scored in their five league fixtures prior to last weekend’s defeat away to Everton represented two-thirds of the total (17) they managed across their first 24 matches of the season.
Glenn Murray seems to have found his feet, with eight goals in all competitions since the turn of the year, while summer signing Jose Izquierdo has also started to chip in. Pascal Gross remains their primary attacking contributor, with five goals and eight assists to date, but he now has reliable support around him. Add that to a decent defensive unit and Brighton look a solid mid-table side.
Chris Hughton’s team began their FA Cup campaign with a 2-1 win at home to historic rivals Crystal Palace, before victories over Middlesbrough and Coventry City saw them progress to the quarter-final stage for the first time since 1986. Hughton has rotated his starting XI, but has said that he intends to field his strongest team at Old Trafford.
While safety is not yet secured, recent results have provided Brighton with a seven-point cushion to the bottom three. The betting firms believe they are safe, offering 16/1 about Brighton to be relegated. With the international break to come after Saturday’s match, there is little reason for them not to go for broke this weekend.
Man Utd should, however, still be considered the favourites to progress. Brighton’s away record this season is poor, while United have generally been very strong at Old Trafford, winning 17 of their 21 matches there in all competitions. While Brighton will surely seek to frustrate early on to try and get the crowd on United’s back, the home side should have enough quality to eventually emerge victorious.
Our Preview’s Man Utd vs Brighton Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Manchester United to win in a match in which both teams score (on the “match result & both teams to score” betting market) @ 12/5 with Betfred.