Manchester United kicked off their Premier League campaign with a win against Leicester City at Old Trafford. Paul Pogba’s penalty in the opening two minutes gave Utd the perfect start. In addition, Luke Shaw scored the first senior goal of his career in the 84th minute after controlling a pass from Juan Mata to fire home. However, it has to be said Utd were not very convincing in the 2-1 win and questions continue to be asked of Jose Mourinho. Nevertheless, three points is three points; job done in that sense. In contrast, Brighton were beaten 2-0 at Vicarage Road in a poor performance against Watford. With the quality of the promoted teams, it is sure to be another tough season at the Amex where survival again is sure to be the main objective. This week, I spoke to Dale from Stretty News and Scott from We Are Brighton to preview Sunday’s game.
Morning Dale. What, if anything, have we learned from United’s opener against Leicester?
Hi Jimmy. It was an underwhelming performance that saw us start brightly but never truly kick on after Pogba’s opener. Looking back, it wasn’t too different from much of last season. What did we learn? It was interesting to see Pereira play a much deeper role than what we’ve seen him play in youth teams down the years. He’s usually played in attacking midfield roles, centrally or on the flank, but last Friday he looked composed and comfortable. A mature display from the lad.
Hi Scott. Are you pleased with Brighton’s summer business?
Hello Jimmy. Well, we’ve spent plenty of money! On paper, the business looks good. We’ve signed Alireza Jahanbakhsh who was top scorer in the Eredivisie last season, Yves Bissouma who Lille fans reckon is the “next Paul Pogba” and bought in Bernado at left back which was the weakest position in our back four last season.
Where we really struggled though was with scoring, and I’m not sure we’ve done enough to address that. Jahanbakhsh may cost £22m, but for every Ruud van Nistelrooy or Luis Suarez that comes from the Netherlands, there are Mateja Kezaman’s, Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s and Vincent Jannsenn’s. If Jahanbakhsh manages to contribute goals from out on the right, then it is a very good summer.
Dale, what is your view on the possible incoming of a football director at Utd?
Great as long as it’s someone who gets United and what the fans expect. A footballing visionary rather than some clown dressed in a suit (not referring to anyone in particular, Woody).
From a Brighton perspective Scott, what is the expectation of the fans for the upcoming campaign?
The division looks a lot tougher this season, which obviously doesn’t help us. Wolves will be fine, Fulham look to have done good business and Southampton surely won’t be as much of a joke as they were last year. I think we’ll finishing in a similar position to last seasons 15th spot, although we will probably be a lot closer to the relegation zone than the seven points we were clear last year.
What do you think is key to any success Brighton may have this year?
There are a couple of ways we can improve on last year. Firstly, our away form needs to improve. We won just twice on the road and scored only 10 goals. Chris Hughton is naturally a conservative manager so we’re set up to draw at all costs away and anything else is a bonus. He’s been like that throughout his entire career in the top flight, winning only nine away games out of something like 63, so it is difficult to see the leopard changing his spots with that one.
What Utd team do you expect to see line-out on Sunday Dale?
I am expecting a similar team to the one that lined out against Leicester with a few changes to the front three; De Gea – Darmian, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw – Pereira, Fred, Pogba – Sanchez, Lukaku, Lingard
Who do you think United need to be wary of?
Nobody. I’m sick of us going into games worrying about how to stop the opposition rather than doing our own thing. Let the lads off the leash and go full throttle at Brighton, who will be trying to feed Glenn Murray high balls and make life difficult for Bailly and Lindelof. They should be able to cope.
Moving on to the game Scott, how do you see it panning out?
Early season games are notoriously tricky to predict, but I certainly think the fixture being this early gives us more of a chance. It’s been well documented, not least by Jose Mourinho who seems to be going through the menopause this summer, just how many players United have seen return to training late after their World Cup exertions. We on the other hand only had four players at the tournament and Jose Izquierdo was the only one to make it out of the group stage.
The Albion will have had more time to prepare together and given how much we rely on being organised, that will be vital. It will probably be a cagey first half, things will open up more in the second and then we’ll see. If it was Old Trafford, I wouldn’t give us a hope but at the Amex, we always have a chance.
What do you expect from both sides?
I was a bit disappointed with United in our meeting at the Amex last season in truth. You were easily the worst of the top six to have visited – managing to outdo Arsenal, which is no mean feat – and really, we could have won by more were it not for the brilliance of David De Gea. How much of that was down to your season being over and Mourinho having one eye on the FA Cup Final, don’t know. I can’t see how you can be that poor again, but I’m guessing Maty Ryan in goal might actually have to make a safe this time around. We also have a stunning record of conceding goals to players who once played for the Albion, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Jesse Lingard net should be play.
From a Brighton point of view, I’d expect us to be exactly how we were in the second half of last season. Organised at the back and looking to get Anthony Knockaert and Pascal Gross on the ball as much as possible. Hughton has a very careful selection policy when it comes to new signings in that they tend to spend a fair chunk of their early Albion career coming on from the bench, so it’s unlikely too many of our big money captures will start.
What do you make of Zidane’s apparent interest in the Utd job Dale? Where do you stand on Mourinho at the minute?
We went into this season surrounded by negativity, but Mourinho is doing all he can to get things right. Until there’s an actual crisis on the pitch, I don’t really want to speculate over Zidane or whoever else the press think the club is eyeing up to replace Mourinho.
Finally, What is your score prediction?
Dale: 3-0 to the REDS.
Scott: 4-0 to United. I was at the Watford game and we were dire.