Manchester United take on Brighton and Hove Albion today and it marks Erik ten Hag’s competitive debut in English football.
We can expect the Dutchman to field a 4-2-3-1 formation as he looks to counter The Seagulls’ fluid 3-4-3 shape, although it would be no surprise to see the system look more like a 4-3-3 at times.
Brighton typically work the ball forward by creating diamond shapes in midfield (as highlighted by The United Matchday Magazine’s preview), and the Red Devils will look to disrupt them through man-oriented pressing all over the pitch.
By limiting the passing options available to Graham Potter’s side, United will hope to avoid an outcome even remotely similar to the two teams’ last encounter.
The early signs from preseason look good, with the Reds seemingly taking to Ten Hag’s instruction well, particularly in winning the ball high up the pitch.
However their ability to effectively do so in this match may depend on the configuration of their forward line.
Anthony Martial had been revitalised out on tour, but a hamstring injury means he is unavailable to lead the press.
Cristiano Ronaldo is well behind his (current) teammates for match sharpness and, even at 100%, is far more adept at leading press stories than pressing structures.
Anthony Elanga would be the most logical option to bring into the side due to his pace and energy levels, although Alejandro Garnacho could be a left-field option, having not been included in United’s U21 match with Arsenal yesterday.
With Elanga in the side, the burden of the centre forward role would be on Marcus Rashford, whose link up play is not up to the same standard as that of Martial.
This is somewhat counterbalanced by his ability to get in behind, meaning the United team we see today will likely be a touch more direct than Ten Hag’s ideal.
Nevertheless, this promises to be an exciting match between two managers with an emphasis on proactive, positive football.
United Matchday Magazine – get yours FREE now!
The wait is over. United are back and there is a new general leading the Red Army. Brighton are coming to Old Trafford so get ready for the game with United Matchday Mag. This first issue of the new season is FREE, so get yours now!
- Online football content like you’ve never seen before
- The mag gives you all the news, facts and features you NEED before every game
- Instantly delivered to your device with easy and secure online ordering
- Click Preview to see more and GET YOUR FREE COPY
- Limited time offer: SAVE 33% on a season pass