• Albion Nothing To Fear Against United

    Season after season, as Albion clawed their way back up towards English football’s top table, Seagulls fans crossed their fingers in hope that the club would be drawn away to Manchester United in a cup competition.

    A visit to the Theatre of Dreams is the holiest of holy grails for lower league clubs. A trip to Old Trafford gives fans a day out at the home of one of the World’s biggest clubs, whilst club administrators welcome the injection of funds the fixture brings.

    As Albion worked their way towards the Premier League, that draw never came. It was somewhat ironic that, with the club back in the top flight, and Albion fans having already visited Old Trafford for a Premier League clash, Chris Hughton’s side were drawn to face Jose Mourinho’s version of United in the last 8 of this season’s FA Cup.

    At face value the 2-0 scoreline, in United’s favour, hints at a routine win for the Red Devils, but those watching the game unfold in Wintry conditions will know it was anything but. After Romelu Lukaku’s first-half opener, Albion dominated the second half, taking the game to the hosts. Nemanja Matic made the game safe late on, progressing United to a Wembley semi-final, but not before Chris Hughton’s side had done everything but score.

    The match statistics show Albion had more than twice as many efforts on goal as United, with six of them on target. United’s only efforts on target were the two that got past Maty Ryan in the Albion goal.

    It was a familiar tale for Albion who visited Old Trafford in late November for the clubs’ first league meeting for 34 years. Albion’s performance in the 1-0 defeat was such that Jose Mourinho described it as the hardest game of the season for his side.

    Albion were well-organised and dogged in defence, and incisive when they came forward with the ball. It took a massive slice of luck for United, when Ashley’s Young shot ballooned off Lewis Dunk over Ryan, to get them the three points.

    The nature of both meetings with United this season should give Albion fans hope. Much to the discontent of many United fans, Jose Mourinho's side just don't play with the pace and flair of their Manchester neighbours, nor with the verve of Klopp's Liverpool. United just don't seem to have it within them to take sides apart in the way Sir Alex Ferguson's teams could.

    Additionally, at the Amex Chris Hughton’s side are a different proposition to the meek side often seen away from home, giving Albion a real opportunity to get the result that will cement Albion’s Premier League status for another season.

    Southampton and Swansea, third and fourth bottom respectively, face each other next week meaning that only one of the sides could reach the 40 points the Albion would find themselves on with a win over United.

    In a little over a week from now, results may very well show the Albion already had enough points prior to the difficult run-in of United, champions Manchester City and rampant Liverpool. However Seagulls fans of a nervous disposition would appreciate the last two games being effectively free spins, with the club already assured of survival.

    No one wants to be heading to Anfield on the final day of the season with an eye on the other fixtures taking place that day. Albion have troubled Manchester United twice already this season, and now is the time to pick up a result those performances merited.
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