Brighton faces Man Utd at Wembley on Sunday afternoon in an FA Cup semi-final. The Seagulls last reached the final in 1983 when they were beaten by the Red Devils. Erik Ten Hag’s side were knocked out of the Europa League on Thursday and are at risk of ending the season with just the Carabao Cup as silverware.
Brighton are having a superb season. They sit seventh in the league, just four points off fifth place with two games in hand. Away from the Amex Stadium, Brighton are very strong and they’ve taken 25 points from 15 matches on the road. The Seagulls were on a run on one loss in 15 fixtures across the league and cup. After a 2-2 draw at Leeds, they came from 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 down to draw 3-3 at home with Brentford.
After a 2-0 win at Bournemouth, they lost for the first time in eight away league matches in controversial fashion. A 2-1 loss at Tottenham saw them robbed of a penalty and issued an apology by the PGMOL who oversees refereeing. They bounced back in spectacular fashion to win 2-1 at Chelsea. They outshot the Blues 26-8, had five ‘big chances’, and an xG differential of 2.39.
Brighton Team News
Roberto De Zerbi will be able to call upon centre-back Levi Colwill, who was ineligible to face Chelsea last week. Adam Lallana and Tariq Lamptey have been joined on the treatment table by both Joel Veltman and Evan Ferguson. All four will miss this semi-final.
Danny Welbeck is set to replace Ferguson up front after scoring at Stamford Bridge from the bench. The most likely solution at right-back is for Pascal Gross to cover there with Alexis Mac Allister playing deeper next to Moises Caicedo. Julio Enciso has scored in two of his last three outings and could start as the number ten.
This is Brighton’s biggest fixture since their promotion to the top flight. This is their second semi-final in this competition in five years and they will be desperate to reach the final this time.
De Zerbi’s side won’t sit deep or back down. They will take the game to United and look to dominate possession.
Man Utd Form
United are somewhat inconsistent of late. Their last 22 matches may only have seen three losses but they’ve been up and down since a 7-0 defeat at Liverpool. That loss put pay to an 11-match unbeaten streak. In their last ten matches, they’ve drawn 0-0 at home with Southampton and been thoroughly outclassed at Newcastle: outshot 22-6 and allowing 3.68 Expected Goals in a 2-0 loss.
A 1-0 home win vs Brentford and a fine performance in a 2-0 home win vs Everton (seven ‘big chances’ plus 3.46 xG) followed. They then surrendered a 2-0 home lead vs Sevilla to draw 2-2 in the Europa League before a 3-0 away humbling in the second leg on Thursday. Between that, they won 2-0 at Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.
Man Utd Team News
Erik Ten Hag has Marcus Rashford fit again after injury. He played 45 minutes in Spain on Thursday night and will almost certainly start this match. He could replace Jadon Sancho on the left after the latter’s underwhelming outing vs Sevilla. Bruno Fernandes returns from suspension and could play as the number ten with Christian Eriksen fit again to partner Casemiro.
At the back, both Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are out. Luke Shaw returned from a knock in Spain. After Harry Maguire’s struggles in that 3-0 loss, Ten Hag may consider using Shaw centrally alongside Victor Lindelof.
Man Utd Motivation
United will go all out to win the FA Cup this season. Although a top-four finish is a top priority, they’ve taken the domestic cups very seriously too.
With some fatigue and weakened defence, Ten Hag may need to set up to be solid or risk being sliced apart by Brighton’s passing game.
Brighton have won 5 of their last 9 away PL matches (3 draws, 1 loss)
Brighton have seen Both Teams Scoring in 9 of their last 10 away matches (EPL)
Brighton’s last 9 away EPL matches have seen 36 goals scored (21 scored, 15 conceded)
Man Utd have lost just 3 of their last 21 matches
Man Utd have lost their last 2 matches vs Brighton
Man Utd have scored 2+ goals in 17 of their last 22 matches (all competitions)
This should be a highly entertaining game. Brighton scores plenty of goals but they also concede a fair few. Man Utd have key injuries at the back and doesn’t look equipped to keep regular clean sheets right now. This could be a goal-fest and Brighton have a great chance of taking this to extra time at least.
Best Bet: Both Teams to Score at 1.52
Alternative Bet: Over 3.5 goals at 2.70
Alternative Bet: Brighton win/draw double chance (90 mins) + Over 2.5 goals at 2.70