Man United v Brighton: United face more problems against solid visitors

United drifting

Manchester United sit fifth, just a point off a Champions League place, but there has been a growing sense that they are drifting along under interim manager Ralf Rangnick.

Saturday's home match against Southampton was their third 1-1 draw in a row (one of which resulted in their FA Cup exit on penalties against Championship side Middlesbrough) and was a further indication that the excitement level has dropped dramatically.

Rangnick might like to mix things up in attack but his options are limited with Mason Greenwood out and Edinson Cavani struggling with a groin complaint.

The midfield three of Paul Pogba, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes looks settled, but there are defensive issues with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw struggling for form.

Brighton hard to beat

Brighton are solidly mid-table in ninth place, having not lost in the Premier League since a 1-0 home defeat against Wolves on December 15.

Graham Potter's side have had only four defeats all season (the lowest figure outside the top three) but, like United, they find it hard to win with their low-scoring attack.

The Seagulls are coming off a 2-0 win at Watford but that was their first in six weeks and 1-1 has been their dominant scoreline (eight in 23 league games).

With Neal Maupay likely to be deployed as a lone striker, a strengthened midfield should see Yves Bissouma get his first league start since returning from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Mali.

Draw a big factor

It is a sign of the drop in United's standing that they are as big as 1.79 for the win. In past years that would have been unthinkable against a mid-table side at Old Trafford.

One goal has become United's default setting, having been their score in nine out of 13 games in all competitions under Rangnick (and one of the exceptions was nil), and that is bound to hurt their win chances.

Four games under Rangnick have been won 1-0 but five have ended 1-1, and in the Premier League those draws have included matches against relegation strugglers Newcastle (before their buying spree) and Burnley.

United's higher-scoring games under Rangnick have been 3-1 wins against Burnley and Brentford (both lower-placed sides) and a 2-2 draw at Aston Villa, but it has become difficult to fancy them to score freely despite the attacking talent at Rangnick's disposal.

Scoring freely against Brighton would be a problem even if United were in better form. Potter's side have kept seven clean sheets and conceded just one goal in a further 11 matches - the combined figure of 18 games is bettered only by Manchester City (22 with nil or one conceded), Chelsea (21) and Wolves (20).

With United having the same combined figure of 18 as Brighton, it is no surprise both teams rank high for draws. Brighton lead the Premier League with 12 draws (accounting for more than half of their 23 games) and United have had seven (four of them under Rangnick).

Brighton have the same problem as United in that they do not score enough themselves, although in their case it is more understandable given their lesser spending power to put the problem right.

Potter's side have shown a bit more spark on the road since the turn of the year, securing league wins at Everton (3-2) and Watford (2-0).

Like United, though, they have had a glut of 1-1s (six in their last nine league games).

A 1-1 draw is priced at 8.2 and is a definite option.

This looks a time to take on United and Brighton at 3.8 on draw no bet is big enough to be worth a go.

Goals on the low side

With two low-scoring attacks and Brighton's mean defence, it is no surprise that under 2.5 goals is favourite at 1.94. The surprise is that the odds aren't a little shorter.

Brighton have had 78% under 2.5 goals this season and United's figure is running at 70% since Rangnick took charge.

Under 1.5 goals is also worth considering at 3.7.

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