Six things we learned from Manchester United v Brighton & Hove Albion

Brighton produced a battling performance in their 2-1 Premier League defeat at Manchester United yesterday. Here's six things we learned from the game.

Saturday, 19th January 2019, 8:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:59 pm
Pascal Gross brings the ball down before scoring Albion's goal at Manchester United yesterday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Pascal Gross brings the ball down before scoring Albion's goal at Manchester United yesterday. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Signs of improvement

Albion are getting closer to a result against one of the top six away from home and may view yesterday's defeat as a missed opportunity of sorts.

They conceded two poor goals but battled well in the second half and gave United a real scare.

The fact there was a huge cheer from the home faithful when the final whistle blew just showed how relieved they were to claim all three points.

United were under the cosh at times during the last half-an-hour and Albion are looking more and more like an established Premier League team, despite having only been in the top flight for 18 months.

Survival remains the number one goal for the Seagulls but with some winnable fixtures coming up, Albion will hope to have the opportunity to look up the table, rather than down, when March begins.

Dunk impresses again

Albion captain Lewis Dunk again hardly put a foot wrong at Old Trafford and there will no doubt be bigger clubs keeping an eye on how much his career has progressed in his 18 months in the Premier League.

Since promotion to the top flight, Dunk has been one of the Seagulls' stand-out players.

Garth Crooks said last season that Liverpool should be looking to sign Dunk to partner him alongside Virgil van Dijk. While the Reds have sorted out their defensive problems this season, few Brighton fans would begrudge Dunk a move if a top-six side did come calling.

But, of course, the Sussex born-and-bred player may well be happy to stay at the Seagulls as they continue to progress and develop in the Premier League.

Dunk won his first England cap in November and if he continues to play as he has done, many more should come in the future.

Albion pay the penalty again

Brighton have received plaudits for their performances against the top sides this season but will be hugely frustrated with the goals they've conceded in the last two games.

Liverpool's goal in their 1-0 win at the Amex last week came when Pascal Gross brought Mohamed Salah down in the penalty area.

Yesterday, United took the lead from the penalty spot when Paul Pogba went down under a Gaetan Bong challenge.

Both were soft penalties but, in this day and age, are often given.

United's second goal just before half-time disappointed the Albion players too as Marcus Rashford turned past Gross and fired into the far top corner.

Albion are getting closer to picking up more positive results against the top sides but have to stop giving away so many soft goals.

Gross continues hot streak against United

Pascal Gross scored against Manchester United for the third successive Premier League game yesterday.

The German midfielder netted the goal which assured Albion of top-flight survival in May and was again on target when Brighton beat United 3-2 at the Amex in August.

He got Albion's goal in the 2-1 defeat yesterday when he chested the ball down and fired it home into the roof of the net. It was the first time a side managed by Chris Hughton has scored in the Premier League at Old Trafford.

It was just Gross's second goal of the season as he hasn't played so high up the park this year. Gross operated as a number ten last year but is playing in a three-man midfield with Dale Stephens and Davy Propper now.

He was Albion's player of the season last year and, despite playing slightly deeper, Brighton fans will hope Gross can add a few more goals and assists to his name during the remainder of the campaign.

Sweet seven

Manchester United's win was their seventh on the bounce under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - but he admitted afterwards that United had to work hard for it.

The Norwegian equalled a Premier League record for managers who have began their reign with six consecutive wins. Carlo Ancelotti for Chelsea in 2009 and Pep Guardiola for Manchester City in 2016 are the other two.

The win also prevented Albion from becoming the first side since Swansea in 2015 to record three successive wins over United.

United have closed the gap to just three points to fourth-placed Chelsea with their recent run of results and few would now bet against them claiming a Champions League spot.

Red hot duo

United are playing with real confidence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has really got the best out of Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.

Pogba had been in and out of the side under Jose Mourinho but has been a key figure since Solskjaer took caretaker charge and the Frenchman has scored five and set up five goals in six matches.

His stuttering run up for the penalty was met by groans by United supporters yesterday but he put the ball in the back of the net and maybe could have had another goal or two to his name.

Rashford made his 150th appearance for United yesterday and celebrated the milestone by scoring his fifth goal in six games under Solskjaer.

The 21-year-old is keeping Romelu Lukaku out of the team and looks like he will be a real star for years to come.

His form can only be good news for England fans too, with the Three Lions taking on the Netherlands in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League this summer.