Manchester United vs Brighton and Hove Albion: Three players who must start

by Leo Nieboer

The only thing worse than capitulating against Sevilla would be to do the exact same against Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend.

Manchester United suffered their worst night of the season on Tuesday, limping out of the Champions League in woeful fashion to a side they would have beaten had they shown attacking intent.

Their hopes of a good season now rest on reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup with a win over Brighton on Saturday.

With that in mind, here are three players who Mourinho must start against Chris Hughton’s men at Old Trafford.

Juan Mata

United have lost just once when Mata has been in the starting lineup compared with eight losses without him, and you can see why.

The Spaniard keeps the ball moving efficiently through the final third, popping up all over the pitch to pick out teammates, and with Brighton’s defence – the ninth best in the Premier League this season – set to sit back and look to frustrate the hosts, his deft touch could be exactly what Mourinho needs to break the deadlock early on.

Scott McTominay

Mourinho inexplicably threw Marouane Fellaini forward – almost as a No.10 – and left Nemanja Matic to scrap on his own against Steven N’Zonzi and Ever Banega against, giving United zero balance or control in the centre.

More inexplicable, perhaps, was Mourinho’s shunning of Scott McTominay, a favourite of his, in a game that would have seen United benefit from a source of energy in the middle.

Such is the case for the clash with Brighton. Supporters will want to see the youngster putting out any potential fires to stop the visitors from gaining too much momentum.

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian seemed to claim that some players were “hiding” against Sevilla, only to later clarify that he meant in the dressing room, but would not have been wrong to point the finger.

Some United players really did freeze, unable to summon the conviction needed to drive forward the initiative. Lukaku was not one of those players.

Never once did his head drop. Even with Old Trafford’s anxiety levels going through the roof, he was focused on the plan – whatever it was. And while his 24th goal of the season was inconsequential, it was a testament to his relentless attitude at the masthead of attack. He will need to deliver even more of that on Saturday.

You may also like