BRIGHTON welcome Manchester United to The Amex on Tuesday night in the Premier League. Jack Lambden (@_JackL_) analyses the encounter.
Brighton vs Manchester United | Tuesday 30th June 2020, 20:15 | Sky Sports
Manchester United make the long journey to the south coast after seeing off Norwich over 120 minutes on Sunday to make the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.
The Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rang the changes for the tie in Norfolk, conscious of his side’s remaining league games this season which, just like for every other club, are coming thick and fast.
Although there were elements of United’s game that clearly wouldn’t have pleased the young manager, the Norwegian would have been happy with the way his side grew in dominance and ultimately found a route through.
A scrappy Harry Maguire goal saw off a spirited display from the Canaries and I’m happy to back United to win the day against Brighton with the expectation that Solskjaer will freshen his side up with six or seven first-teamers being reintroduced to the starting line-up.
This side are clearly a work in progress but there has been a marked improvement of late, namely since January signing Bruno Fernandes arrived at the club. The attacking midfielder has slotted in effortlessly and is helping drive the team forward to more consistent results – United now winning four of their last six Premier League matches, all without conceding.
Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial should all start here and given the freedom to roam, which is perhaps more likely than on previous trips to this ground against a rigid Chris Houghton set-up, I think they’ll have far too much individual quality for a plucky Brighton outfit. United to win and Under 5 Total Cards is 54/25 with Bet365’s Bet Builder, a price I’m happy to back with a one point stake.
Although the Seagulls are perhaps a better attacking outfit in Graham Potter’s debut campaign than they were under Houghton, I’m not sure they have made many strides forward overall. They have been solid defensively since the league restart, restricting Leicester to very little in the way of meaningful chances in a pretty dull affair but I don’t take too much from the three points against an awful Arsenal team if I’m honest considering the disarray the Gunners were in about a week ago.
Brighton are still not clear of the relegation mire just yet, despite a six-point lead over 18th placed Bournemouth. In the team’s last 21 matches stretching back to the 3-1 reverse defeat to United at Old Trafford, Brighton have won just three of those contests which does not make pretty reading.
On the cards part of my first tip, Andre Mariner takes the whistle here and has given fewer than five cards in his last 27 Premier League matches officiated and is not considered amongst the most card prolific referees in the division.
If we look at the trend over the (albeit relatively small) sample size of games since the resumption of the campaign, 22 of the 24 fixtures in the top-flight have seen under this card mark which perhaps indicates that the absence of fans is contributing to a lower card average across the board.
Although I’m not convinced by the overall process for Brighton, I do like one or two of their players including centre-back Lewis Dunk. The 29 year-old has become a Brighton legend by working his way up with the club from League One to the Premier League and current stability.
The captain’s prior form has earned him an England call-up and he’s perhaps the most consistent player in the Seagulls squad. He’s never afraid of receiving the ball to feet and trying to play out from the back, as demonstrated by his passing numbers this season and Brighton having the second highest number of defensive third touches in the division, behind only Norwich.
Dunk has averaged 67.1 passes per league match and hit 45 or more attempted passes in 26 of his 29 appearances in 2019/20, so I’m surprised to see the 19/20 price at Pokerstars with him to reach at least that figure again. It’s a price that I expect to shorten prior to kick-off, especially with the skipper having registered 80 in the reverse fixture. I’m happy to have a two- point play on it.
Something to underline the numbers even more are the fact that the defender managed to reach 100 passes against Manchester City, the best possession side in the Premier League, which just goes to show how much build-up goes through Dunk. Plus, if United get the lead here as I expect them to do, then there’s an even better chance of this landing with the impetuous then on the home side to get back into the game.
On the above basis, the 7/4 price for 50 or more passes looks too long as well and I’ll have a single point stake on it to take advantage of the lines here being incorrect.
Manchester United should have too much final third quality for Potter’s troops but with the reduced tempo we’ve become accustomed to seeing under behind closed doors football, the bookings could well be few and far between and the passes, especially at the back, at a high number.
Brighton vs Manchester United – Manchester United to win and Under 5 Cards (54/25 Bet365)
Brighton vs Manchester United – Lewis Dunk 45+ Passes (19/20 Pokerstars)
Brighton vs Manchester United – Lewis Dunk 50+ Passes (7/4 Pokerstars)