Manchester United will look for a third consecutive home win on Saturday when a dangerous Brighton and Hove Albion side visits.
And the hosts will also have to overcome their own internal turmoil to remain perfect at Old Trafford this year.
Strong home form has been a constant for Man U (2-2-0, 6 points) under manager Erik ten Hag since his takeover in early 2022. But to a certain extent, so have player disciplinary issues.
Of late, ten Hag has removed forward Jadon Sancho from team activities after the player’s social media outburst against the manager. Winger Antony is on a leave of absence amid a domestic violence investigation.
On Friday, ten Hag explained that he sees imposing those absences as part of the duties he was assigned when he took the job. Less than a year ago, he spent a good chunk of the early season doing the same with attacker Cristiano Ronaldo, who eventually moved on to Saudi Arabia.
“Strict lines is what the club asked me because there was no good culture before last season so to set good standards, that is what I did and it is my job to control the standards,” ten Hag said. “It is never someone makes one mistake, it is a whole process before you come to a certain outcome about strict lines. There is a structure to cross lines so you have to be strong.”
Brighton (3-1-0, 9 points) are looking for a second away win to continue their new campaign where they left the old one following an impressive sixth-place finish that saw the Seagulls qualify for the Europa League for the first time.
Irish teenager Evan Ferguson scored his first career Premier League hat trick in a 3-1 home win over Newcastle before the international break.
He appears unlikely to start after suffering a minor injury while playing for his national team, despite returning to training for the club. But Brighton’s performances have become consistent enough that manager Roberto De Zerbi is still expressing confidence in earning a point or more at one of England’s toughest away grounds.
“I’m looking forward to going to Old Trafford, it’s an honor for me. I just hope the result is positive because I don’t want to be a tourist,” said De Zerbi, who had yet to assume the reins from Graham Potter when Brighton dealt Man U its last home league loss in August of 2022.
“We are proud to play at this stadium but we want to play in the right way.”
–Field Level Media