Second placed finish may not mean success to Solskjaer
'No one remembers who comes in second' is how the quote from legendary golfer Walter Hagen goes, and this may very well be the case for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the Premier League this season - especially with their noisy neighbours flying high once again.
The Red Devils sit 14 points adrift of Pep Guardiola's side with a game in hand on their inner-city rivals, and are likely to once again fail in their bid to win a first Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013.
With a quarter-final Europa League clash with Granada awaiting them next week, the competition is likely to be the main point of focus for the Old Trafford outfit, who will be determined to avoid another trophyless season.
Despite this however, a disappointing FA Cup defeat at the hands of Leicester did appear to generate some unrest between pundits and fans alike, with many voicing their discontent at the side's negativity and lackadaisical defensive efforts as they fell to a 3-1 loss.
Therefore, a win on Sunday will be imperative in re-installing the confidence that the side have found under Solskjaer since the dismissal of Jose Mourinho as another season without silverware won't bode well for anyone associated with the club, no more so than its supporters.
Last three Premier League meetings
Brighton 2-3 Manchester United (September 26, 2020)
In a game that dominated lots of sporting headlines, Bruno Fernandes scored a match-winning penalty in the 100th minute of the game, after VAR overruled Chris Kavanagh, when the referee had already blown the final whistle.
After Manchester United lead 2-1 for 40 minutes of the second half, thanks to a goal from Marcus Rashford, Solly March was adamant he had snatched a point for the Seagulls with his 95th minute equaliser, but there was yet another twist to the enthralling encounter.
After the full-time whistle was blown, VAR highlighted a handball by Neal Maupay in the Brighton box after a Manchester United corner , prompting Kavanagh to call the players back on to the pitch for the penalty to be taken, and Bruno Fernandes cooly converted to give the Red Devils their first win of the Premier League season.
Brighton 0-3 Manchester United (June 30, 2020)
A brace from Bruno Fernandes inspired a comfortable 3-0 victory at the Amex for Solskjaer's side, who extended their unbeaten league run to 15 games and moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.
Mason Greenwood opened the scoring for the visitors, outfoxing Lewis Dunk with his mesmeric footwork before slotting the ball home for the first, with Fernandes doubling the lead just under 15 minutes later with a deflected effort.
Rounding off a successful evening for the Manchester outfit, Fernandes completed his brace to make it three in the second half, volleying home a ball from Greenwood after a superb counter-attacking move.
Manchester United 3-1 Brighton (November 10, 2019)
Described as their best performance of the season by Solskjaer, Manchester United triumphed 3-1 at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Andreas Pereira, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford.
The win moved the Red Devils up to 5th as they began to improve their form after a run of erratic results at the start of the season, as Mat Ryan ensured the scoreline at just three, after making a number of key saves for Brighton.
Head-to-head in the Premier League
Manchester United won: 5
Brighton won: 2
Manchester United scored: 14
Brighton scored: 8
Can the Seagulls fly high towards the end of the season?
It's been a mixed bag for Brighton in the Premier League since the turn of the new year, but with the end of the season approaching faster and faster, their chances of evading the drop look likelier with each passing week.
Currently sitting eight points away from the notoriously magical 40-point mark, 12 points from a possible 27 should do enough to keep Graham Potter's side in the top flight for at least another year, if previous seasons are any indication to go by.
Possibilities aside however, one certainty in the remainder of Brighton's season is the difficult run of fixtures, leading up to and concluding on the 23rd May, with notable clashes against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal still left to play, in the weeks that will follow this Old Trafford clash.
A key factor in Brighton's favour is the erratic form of the teams currently below them, Newcastle - who Potter's side triumphed 3-0 again in their last Premier League meeting - are without a win in their last six games and Scott Parker's Fulham managing just one win in their last five.
Despite a tricky congestion of fixtures, Brighton appear to have enough quality, spirit and depth to evade relegation for a fourth consecutive season, and an underdog victory against the giants of Manchester would be monumental in ensuring their safety.
Score prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Brighton
Despite the ongoing rumour mill surrounding a possible exit from Old Trafford, the return of Edinson Cavani will be of great use to Solskjaer's side on Sunday - with just six goals in their last eight games in all competitions, the Uruguayan's potency in front of goal is likely to see the Red Devils score more than in recent weeks.
With the Europa League undoubtedly being their main priority, a win in this tie will be crucial in re-establishing confidence at Old Trafford after the disappointing FA Cup exit prior to the international break.
With their safety likely to be secured in the coming weeks, a loss in this tie is unlikely to worry Graham Potter and his coaching staff just yet, but don't expect the Seagulls to go down without a fight.
Both teams to score and Manchester United to emerge victorious seems a fair estimation of this encounter.
With 16 Premier League goals to his name already and a good record against the Seagulls in previous encounters, Bruno Fernandes is likely to be amongst the goals at the weekend.
Paddy Power are offering odds of 5/1 for the Portuguese playmaker to score first and Manchester United to win.
The return of Edinson Cavani is likely to bolster the attacking prowess of Manchester United, after returning from injury.
Sky Bet are offering odds of 7/5 for the illustrious striker to score anytime.
With eight goals so far this season, French striker Neal Maupay is the top scorer for the Seagulls in the Premier League.
Sky Bet are also offering odds of 14/5 for him to score anytime.