The FA Cup quarter-finals take place this weekend and while many onlookers believe the competition has lost some of its sparkle in recent years, both Manchester United and Brighton have this tournament as their only chance of silverware this season.
For Manchester United, it will come as a disappointment that in March they only have the FA Cup left to win. The exit from the Champions League to Sevilla in mid-week was a very poor result and Jose Mourinho and his players need to bounce back with a win in this match.
Brighton’s main goal this season is to stay in the Premier League and they look on course to complete their aim. However, to reach Wembley would add the cherry on the cake for Chris Hughton and they will be keen to cause an upset.
Having defeated Liverpool 2-1 at home in the Premier League last weekend, Manchester United entered their Champions league match with Sevilla at Old Trafford full of confidence. However, a lacklustre display saw them defeated by the Spanish outfit and a huge backlash for their style of play under Mourinho.
However, trends show Manchester United have been extremely tough to beat on home soil this season and they have lost only one domestic match, which was to current Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Manchester United have won each of their three FA Cup games by 2 goals or more this season and have yet to concede a goal in the competition.
Brighton make the trip north to Manchester having gone down 2-0 at Everton in the Premier League last weekend. That was Brighton’s first defeat in eight games and their run of good form has seen them move clear of the bottom three in the Premier League.
Away from home, wins have been difficult to obtain and Brighton have won one of their last ten matches in all competitions, including a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United in the Premier League. Brighton have kept just two clean sheets in their last ten away games.
In the FA Cup, trends show Brighton have won all three of their ties inside regulation time this season. There have been wins over Crystal Palace and Coventry City at home plus a good 1-0 away win in a tricky tie at Middlesbrough.
Team news and Manchester United will be without Ander Herrera, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, and Phil Jones who are all injured. It will be interesting to see if Alexis Sanchez keeps his place in the team and Juan Mata will be hoping to get a start.
Brighton have Steve Sidwell and Jiri Skalak on the treatment table plus have doubts over Dale Stephens and Gaetan Bong. Anthony Knockaert will miss the game through suspension.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford could be subdued for this game following the loss to Sevilla and the Manchester United players need to put in a good performance. However, it is simply not the Mourinho way to come out all guns blazing and although Manchester United should win the game, it could be by the narrowest margin.