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Thursday, 17 January, 2019

New-look Seagulls ready for lift-off against Manchester United

Trip to seaside unlikely to improve Jose Mourinho's mood

Pascal Gross could fluster Man United again
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Premier League
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Jose Mourinho's pessimistic demeanour has been one of the main talking points of the new season and there could be little for the prickly Portuguese boss to smile about when Manchester United travel to Brighton.

A Red Devils victory would make Mourinho the first manager in the club’s history to win his opening two fixtures in each of his first three seasons in charge, but Chris Hughton’s side are a tough nut to crack at the Amex.

The Seagulls were sunk by a Roberto Pereyra double at Watford last week and failed to register a single shot on target, but Hughton can expect a response from his side.

Both goals at Vicarage Road were born out of individual brilliance and there were positive showings from Brighton’s defensive mainstay Lewis Dunk and lively midfielder Yves Bissouma.

Only the top six and Everton had better home records in the league than Brighton last term as Albion lost just four matches on home soil, and they won the corresponding fixture 1-0 last term to clinch Premier League survival.

Pascal Gross netted the decisive goal in that game and Brighton will be hoping that this summer’s acquisitions can make as much of an impact as last season’s bargain buy.

The south coast club unloaded a significant amount of dead wood before the new campaign - there were 16 new arrivals and 18 departures in the transfer window.

Jose Izquierdo and Florin Andone are sidelined for Brighton but new addition Alireza Jahanbakhsh, top scorer in the Eredivisie last term with 21 goals, could be set for his full debut.

The pacey forward is able cause problems for United's full-backs with his probing runs and can take the bulk of the goalscoring burden along with veteran Glenn Murray, who is set for his 200th club appearance.

Goals from Luke Shaw and Paul Pogba guided United to a 2-1 victory against Leicester in the Premier League's curtain-raiser but the overall team performance was unconvincing.

Having gone ahead in the opening minutes of the match, Mourinho’s side looked content to sit back and soak up pressure but appeared defensively vulnerable.

Leicester edged possession and won the shot count 13-8. They had chances, were the more innovative team and deserved more from the game.

United’s title odds have been on the drift in response to that performance and their minimal summer investment could come back to haunt them.

Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot and Fred were the club’s only notable signings in the window, after their deadline-day scramble for a strong centre-back came to no avail, and the side looks short of quality at both ends with multiple players absent.

Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham were among the other sides who failed to take three points from the Amex last season and United could be the Seagulls' latest scalp.

Brighton or draw double chance
2pts 11-10 bet365, Betway

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Team news
Full-back Bruno left the pitch injured against Watford and is sidelined along with Florin Andone and Jose Izquierdo. Yves Bissouma and Alireza Jahanbakhsh could start.

Manchester United
Romelu Lukaku could be promoted from the bench to the starting lineup, while Jesse Lingard, Antonio Valencia and Nemanja Matic have returned to training but are unlikely to feature. Paul Pogba will skipper United.

Key stat
Brighton lost just one of their final six home games in the Premier League last season.

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Brighton lost just one of their final six home games in the Premier League last season
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