Brighton and Man Utd boast two of the better Premier League defences recently, and they could be on top when they meet on Tuesday night.
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Brighton v Man Utd
- Tuesday 8.15pm - Sky Sports
- Match Odds: Brighton 17/4 | Draw 13/5 | Man Utd 7/10
It's now 14 unbeaten for Manchester United and you can look at that run in two ways - as half of those have been cup games - but in that run are two wins over Man City, one against Chelsea and draws with Wolves and Spurs.
Brighton's win over Arsenal was a massive leap forward for a team who'd been inching their way along before then - it was a first win in 11 Premier League games during a run that yielded seven draws. These stalemate specialists have 12 this season - only Wolves and Arsenal have more.
Brighton are a curious one as they're at 53 percent for both teams to score games this season, including seven of the last 11, but they rarely score many - they've scored more than one goal just twice in those 11 games.
They also don't trouble the over 2.5 mark too often either, in fact neither side does as they've collectively eclipsed that total in 25 of their 62 league games so far. Brighton games average 2.4 goals and just one of their last eight home games has gone over 2.5.
You can see where I'm going here... Man Utd stuck three past a poor Sheff Utd in their last league game, but the Blades are struggling badly and Brighton have this nack of making games tough, scrappy and, well, uneventful.
Looking at United's away form, only three of their away games (the fewest in the league) have had three goals or more in them and their last seven have all contained exactly two. It's an unsurprising 8/11 on under 2.5 goals here.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer divides opinion and his approval rating fluctuates massively almost on a game-by-game basis, but he's walking that tightrope well at the moment with success and disaster both still possible for his season.
Their 49 points is the worst they've had in the Premier Leaguer at this stage of the season, yet they're still in touching distance of the top four. They struggled to beat ten-man Norwich in the FA Cup, yet they're two wins away from lifting the trophy.
They could yet end up winning the Europa League, FA Cup and finishing in the top four, or win nothing and come sixth. For all their improvement, how they finish could yet decide Solskjaer's future. The improvement is there though, seven clean sheets in their last 12 league games shows they're building the right way, from the back.
Bruno Fernandes is the real deal and Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford will both return having sat out at Norwich. Martial bagged a hat-trick against the Blades (the first since Sir Alex Ferguson left) and that form can turn around his five-game drought against Brighton, were he's managed just two shots on target in 394 minutes. He's 100/30 to score first.
If Brighton do score, Neal Maupay will probably get it. He's their top scorer with nine, ahead of the next best four from own goals! 7/2 says he gets Brighton's first goal and that's worth consideration.
You'd have to give United the edge, but at 7/10 it wouldn't be a confident bet given they've lost their last two at the Amex and still only have four league wins away this season - that's the same as Burnley and Newcastle.
They've struggled to break down defensive teams while getting positive results against the more expansive ones, such as beating Man City and Chelsea, so Brighton's set-up seems all wrong for their counter-attacking style.
United should win, but the draw (13/5) would be the play for me in the match winner market as it remains the value bet in most of these pre-lockdown games. However, I'm scared of a late United winner spoiling my prediction, so for the best bet we're looking at the first half market here.
We've had 14 of the first 24 games post-shutdown finish 0-0 after the first 45 minutes, and given the nature of these two defences that seems a smarter way to profit.
Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Man Utd (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Brighton and Hove Albion – Manchester United Opta stats
- Brighton have won their last three top-flight home games against Manchester United, in a run stretching back to 1982.
- Manchester United have lost both of their Premier League away games against Brighton. Only against Chelsea (2003-2006), Everton (2012-2015), Liverpool (2008-2011), Southampton (1996-1998) and Tottenham (2016-2018) have they lost three consecutive away Premier League games against an opponent.
- All five Premier League meetings between Brighton and Man Utd have been won by the home side, the most played Premier League fixture with the home side winning 100% of the time.
- Brighton are unbeaten in their last three Premier League matches, with all three of these games coming against sides starting in the top half of the table (Wolves, Arsenal, Leicester). They last had a longer unbeaten league run between January-March 2018 (5 games).
- Brighton have kept two clean sheets in their last three Premier League games, as many as they had in their previous 20 in the competition. The exception in this three game run was against Arsenal, where they won having conceded the first goal for the first time in the Premier League this season.
- Manchester United have kept seven clean sheets in their last 12 Premier League matches – as many as they managed in their first 40 under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
- Coming into MD32, no team is on a current longer unbeaten run in the Premier League than Manchester United (7, level with Wolves).
- Brighton have benefitted from a league-high four own goals in the Premier League this season. Indeed, only Neal Maupay (9) has netted more goals for the Seagulls this term than ‘own goals’.
- Manchester United forward Anthony Martial scored their first Premier League hat-trick since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 in their 3-0 win over Sheffield United; however, the Frenchman has failed to score in five top-flight appearances against Brighton, attempting just two shots on target across 394 minutes.
- Marcus Rashford has been involved in 15 goals in his last 16 Premier League games (11 goals, 4 assists), providing two assists for Anthony Martial against Sheffield United last time out.
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