Man Utd vs Brighton in their latest Premier League fixture at Old Trafford today and there is plenty to look out for as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims for another win.
Amid the shape-shifting formations and general distrust of players, Jose Mourinho’s last unchanged United XI was as recent as the home defeat to Juventus in October. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started the same team at Tottenham that he began his caretaker stint with at Cardiff and the various qualities United exhibited in those two contrasting away victories could ensure there are no changes against Brighton.
Eric Bailly is available again and Phil Jones’ jittery defending at times at Wembley could provide the Ivory Coast centre half with a way back in. United only have one midweek match left this month, so there is no need to rotate as Solskjaer aims for a seventh win in a row.
Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini are out injured but the strength of the United squad could be gauged by the substitutes against Brighton. Solskjaer could select a bench of Sergio Romero, Bailly, Diogo Dalot, Fred, Juan Mata, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, a septet that covers all bases.
Sanchez and Lukaku have already had impacts off the bench, as did the steely Dalot at Wembley. Fred has underperformed in both starts under Solskjaer but, in the week that his wife gave birth to their first-born son, Benjamin, he might not have prepared for a game feeling such immense happiness.
Solskjaer to match Mourinho?
It is just over two years ago since United last won seven matches in succession. Their 2-0 success against 10-man West Ham in January 2017 was in the midst of a nine-game winning streak across all competitions and, should United overcome Brighton, then Solskjaer will have emulated Mourinho’s best league run with United at the start of his own reign.
Brighton have only won twice away from home in the league all season.
From the debacle to the delightful?
Mention ‘Brighton’ to United fans and they will shudder at the memory of the gutless 1-0 defeat at the Amex in May and the shambolic 3-2 reverse in August, a result that intensified the possibility of an early Mourinho dismissal. Even the home wins over Chris Hughton’s side in the league and FA Cup last season were unmemorable, save for the atmosphere in L Stand during that March Saturday night blizzard.
United have already scored seven in two home league games on Solskjaer’s watch against bottom half teams and they were threatening before and after Marcus Rashford’s matchwinner against Spurs.
Pogba to emulate Ronaldo?
After he failed to match Cristiano Ronaldo’s feat of scoring twice in three straight league games up at Newcastle, Pogba has another opportunity to mimic one of United’s greatest players.
If Pogba tallies at least two more goals against Brighton at Old Trafford, he will have equalled Ronaldo’s own run of a hat-trick of home league braces in October and November 2008. Ronaldo struck two in home triumphs over West Ham (2-0), Hull (4-3) and Stoke (5-0).