United out to avoid equalling 49-year-old record against Brighton


Manchester United will be out to avoid equalling an unwanted 49-year-old club record when they welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Old Trafford for their inaugural fixture of the 2022-23 Premier League season.

The visit of the Seagulls will mark Erik ten Hag’s first competitive game in charge of the Red Devils after he was appointed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent successor earlier in the summer.

Ten Hag has already taken charge of one match at the Theatre of Dreams, which saw Man United play out a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano in their final pre-season friendly.

After kicking off the summer with three consecutive wins over Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace, Man United failed to win any of their final three exhibition games.

As well as the stalemate with Vallecano, Man United went down 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in Norway and were held to a 2-2 draw by fellow Premier League outfit Aston Villa.

The 2021-22 season ended in dismal fashion for Man United under Ralf Rangnick, who oversaw a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on the final day of the campaign.

Should Man United come out second best against Brighton, it will mark the first time since 1973 that the 20-time English champions have ended one season and started the next with a defeat.

The Red Devils suffered a 1-0 loss to Chelsea on the final day of the 1972-93 First Division campaign before beginning the 1973-74 season with a 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at Highbury.

Man United fans are still harbouring bad memories of the 4-0 thumping inflicted on them at the Amex Stadium by Brighton back in May, but they did secure a 2-0 home win in February.

Furthermore, Man United can take confidence from the fact that they have won 10 of their last 13 opening-day Premier League games and thumped Leeds United 5-1 on matchday one last season.

The visit of Brighton will likely bring competitive debuts for Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen, with the latter two expected to have good chances of starting in the backline.

However, Anthony Martial will definitely miss out due to a thigh injury, which leaves Ten Hag in a difficult situation regarding his options in the final third.

Martial’s absence could open the door for Cristiano Ronaldo to start, but the 37-year-old barely featured in pre-season and is still thought to be pining for a transfer away from Old Trafford.

Alternatively, Anthony Elanga could join Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford in the final third, assuming that Sancho recovers from a virus in time to make the squad.

Facundo Pellistri, Luke Shaw and Brandon Williams are all also nursing injury problems ahead of Man United’s first Premier League game of the 2022-23 season, with Shaw’s issue increasing Malacia’s chances of earning his full competitive debut.