Brighton might have the opportunity to claim a third successive Premier League win for the first time in two and a half years but head coach Graham Potter recognises avoiding defeat at Manchester United is a “positive result”.
The Seagulls went into the international break with a spring in their step after moving six points clear of the drop zone courtesy of back-to-back wins against Southampton and Newcastle, neither of whom are safe themselves.
Potter, though, is acutely aware the south coast club face a step-up in opposition as they eye a hat-trick of successive top-flight wins for the first time since October 2018 when they take on high-flying United on Sunday.
He said: “The impressive thing about the Southampton and Newcastle games – you can imagine the media and how it was positioned in terms of pressure and I thought the players dealt with that very well and were able to be themselves.
“The difference is the (next) opponent is a very, very strong opponent and they’ve got some quality players so the challenge is if you do anything not quite to the level of your maximum then there’s a chance you can get punished.
“They’re very strong defensively, really organised, then they have a front four with power, pace and guile in terms of whichever four they want to pick. They can turn defence into attack very, very quickly with devastating power.
“That’s the challenge of playing Manchester United. Every game you should try to start off trying to win but also understand the opponent’s trying to do the same thing.
“They’ve got quality, so any result from Manchester United is a positive result for us. I think at the start you have to try your best but we’re under no illusions it’s a really, really tough game.”
Potter, who is hopeful striker Aaron Connolly will be in contention this weekend despite bruising to his foot, admitted their 3-2 defeat to United in the reverse fixture at the Amex Stadium in September was tough to swallow.
Despite official Chris Kavanagh blowing for full-time, a video assistant referee check led to a penalty after a Neal Maupay handball and Bruno Fernandes converted from the spot from the last kick of an incident-packed match.
“It was a sore one for us,” Potter added.
“It probably summarises our season to a certain extent in that we probably played well enough to get something from the game but then there was a goal after the final whistle. But that’s life.”