By 90Min
May 03, 2018

Brighton and Hove Albion will face Manchester United in a Premier League clash at the Amex Stadium on Friday evening, with the home side still needing points to be mathematically safe.

A little worryingly for Brighton fans, Friday's match arguably represents the Seagulls' best chance of adding to their points tally in their last three matches, with trips to champions Manchester City and Champions League finalists Liverpool still to come. Nevertheless, even the 37 points they have already accrued ought to be enough for them to avoid the drop.

Meanwhile, the Red Devils will be confident of extending their three-match winning run, which has seen them book their place in next season's Champions League and advance to the FA Cup final.


Recent Form

Brighton will no doubt draw some encouragement from two recent results against top-six sides at the Amex Stadium - their 2-1 win over Arsenal in March and their 1-1 draw with Tottenham in April. 

However, those two results were the only high points for Chris Hughton's side in the last few months. They have picked up just three points in their last six Premier League matches, in which they netted a mere four goals.


In fact, goalscoring has been the Seagulls' biggest weakness all season - only Huddersfield Town, Swansea City and West Brom have been less prolific in the Premier League this season.

PAUL ELLIS/GettyImages

The home side will surely hope that United show the kind of lethargic form which saw them slump to a 1-0 defeat against bottom side West Brom in April. 

However, this result was no more than an aberration for the Red Devils, who have won seven of their last eight Premier League games.


Team News
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Apart from long term absentees Steve Sidwell and Izzy Brown, Brighton boss Chris Hughton has no injury worries for Friday's clash. Midfielder Davy Pröpper will also be available for selection again, after serving a three-match ban which his club tried and failed to overturn.

United may be without Romelu Lukaku, who picked up an injury in the 2-1 victory over Arsenal last Sunday. Despite earning criticism for inconsistent displays since his move from Everton last summer, the Belgium striker has scored 26 goals for the Red Devils this season and is comfortably their top scorer.

Phil Jones is another doubt for Friday, having picked up a knock. Jones' fellow centre back Eric Bailly may also be omitted, as his relationship with his manager José Mourinho seems to have deteriorated - Bailly didn't even make the squad for the last game against Arsenal and failed to attend his club's award ceremony earlier this week.


Previous Encounter
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Man Utd 1-0 Brighton (November 2017) 

Since this season is Brighton's first in the Premier League - and their first in the top flight of English football since 1983 - there are few recent encounters to choose from.

However, the Seagulls can draw some encouragement from their creditable display against United in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford last November, which Mourinho described as 'the hardest match we've had this season'.

The visitors were the superior side for much of the game, and might even have scored if Pascal Groß and Anthony Knockaert had been a little more clinical in front of goal. Then, in the 66th minute, Ashley Young's drive took a wicked deflection off the hapless Lewis Dunk, leaving Brighton keeper Matt Ryan with no chance.

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It was the only goal of a closely contested match, though this was partly thanks to a fine double save by Ryan just before half time.

Brighton will likely need to give a similarly convincing performance - and to enjoy better luck - if they are to get anything out of Friday's clash.


Key Battle

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Pascal Groß vs Nemanja Matić 

As well as being one of the Premier League's unsung heroes, Brighton midfielder Pascal Groß is also arguably a contender for bargain of the season.

The German cost the Seagulls a mere £3m last summer but has been directly involved in 14 goals this season (scored 6, created 8). His battle with Nemanja Matić, United's defensive midfield enforcer, promises to be one of several intriguing contests in Friday's match.

If the German gets the better of the Serb, it could give the home side a decisive advantage, as Groß is one of few Brighton players likely to present a serious goal threat against United.


Prediction
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As West Brom proved at Old Trafford last month, recent form isn't always a reliable predictor of Premier League results. Nevertheless, Brighton are in a dismal slump at the moment, while United are ending the season in imperious form.

When you consider the range of attacking options at United's disposal even without Romelu Lukaku, the Seagulls' chances of success look even more remote.

Unless the Red Devils stumble again as they did against West Brom, they should win this match with ease.

Predicted Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 0-2 Manchester United

Predicted Result: Brighton and Hove Albion 0-2 Manchester United

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