Hands up if you’ve a chance of playing center forward this weekend for United? Put your hand down. Everyone is in a bit of a state with the news that Mitrovic and Gayle are out with concussion. One of the players hasn’t played this season and the other is a massive miss.
This would be a fantastic three points so no point in getting hysterical about it. I always thought Goufrann could do a job up front for France….
All this just in time for one of the three key home games of the season as Brighton and Hove Albion head to St James’ for a 17.30 kick off. The visitors have taken an allocation of 2,225 tickets (1k less than they’re offered) and I’d say they’ve not sold anywhere near that many tickets. That leaves them on about 1,500 and an expected crowd of around 45k as it stands today (Thursday).
I really hope that number creeps up as there’s nought like a radged up, pissed SJP roaring United on an a Saturday night. The weather will be good and the flags will be out again. Get to the ground early and there’ll be one hell of a noise. The noise was good against Reading so more of the same.
United have no strikers. Perez has two goals under his belt without playing well. We all know there’s a player in there. Perhaps given the responsibility of leading the line in such an important game will wake him up. I like to think I’m reasonably positive about United but Perez has been dire for too long. I was at Liverpool away when he was hauled off at half time (44 minutes too late) and it was one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a footballer. He was atrocious when he came on at Bristol. Yet when he first signed I thought he shared qualities with Luis Suarez. He could beat three players on his own and make the improbable look possible. He was a player. One I thought would never be at the club at this point in time as one of the best teams in Europe would have seen sense and taken him. He was that good.
The player I saw with his head down at Bristol wasn’t the player we saw come on against Man City in his first game and tear them apart. The player who scored the brilliant back heel at West Brom and who generally looked to have a future at the highest level. As it stands, with everyone fit, I wouldn’t have him on the bench. I’ll be backing him this Saturday though. This is his chance.
Rolando Aarons injury looks to put him out until the New Year and Rafa has lost his main attacking option from the bench, which now looks threadbare. It’s a worry. Goufrann will continue on the left (there is now literally no one else) and who he plays through the middle is anyone’s guess with Colback and Shelvey looking like they’re battling it out to play alongside Hayden. Anita will return to right back and I’d imagine Lascelles and Chancel will play in the middle with Paul Dummet coming back in to left back. Then again it’s Rafa so all of that could be wrong.
Diame was really good first half at Bristol and we require more of the same against this lot. Seltz will come back in goal
(sigh) and I hope the clean sheet last Saturday gives him a much needed confidence boost. He may actually have something to do this game.
Brighton are a good side and under Hughton have lost just 16 games in his 71 league fixtures in charge. He took a side 21st in the league at New Year a season and a half a go to the brink of promotion. He’s proved himself a better manager than I thought he was at NUFC. His work at Newcastle United was exceptional and we all owe him a tremendous debt for pulling us out of the poo when relegated last time round. A great manager and by all accounts an even better man.
Let’s hope Brighton leave United with their first defeat of the season. So far they’ve picked up convincing wins at home to Forest and Rotherham and drawn both of their away games at Derby and Reading. If we win then we’ll leap frog them in the table and the shocking start will be well and truly behind us.
Prediction: 1-0 United
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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