Erik ten Hag will be bidding to make the perfect start to his reign as Manchester United boss when the Red Devils welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to Old Trafford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
Man United finished sixth in the table last season, some 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, while Brighton were ninth, picking up 51 points during an impressive campaign.
Ten Hag will not be able to turn Man United into title challengers once again overnight, but the Dutchman will be expected to lead a top-four charge this season, with the team potentially challenging the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal for the positions behind Manchester City and Liverpool.
The Red Devils only picked up 58 points last term, which left them 13 points off the top four, which is an indication of the ground that needs to be made up in the coming season, especially with both Tottenham and Arsenal improving their squads with some impressive signings.
Man United have only managed to make three signings this summer, bringing in Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, while the speculation surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo's future has dominated the last four weeks, making it an uncomfortable start to his reign for Ten Hag.
The 20-time English champions played six pre-season games in total, beating Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace in their first three games, before drawing with Aston Villa, losing to Atletico Madrid and drawing with Rayo Vallecano in their final three.
The Red Devils will face Brentford (A), Liverpool (H) and Southampton (A) in their three fixtures after this one, and it will be fascinating to see where they are in the table heading into the clash with Leicester City at the start of September.
Brighton, meanwhile, managed to finish ninth in the Premier League last season, claiming 51 points from their 38 matches, which proved to be their best ever campaign at this level of football.
The Seagulls were only five points behind seventh-place West Ham United last term, but such is the nature of the Premier League, the club have lost two key individuals during the summer transfer window, with Yves Bissouma moving to Tottenham Hotspur and Marc Cucurella to Chelsea.
There have been additions, with Julio Enciso and Simon Adingra arriving, while Levi Colwill has made the switch on loan from Chelsea, but it will be difficult for Graham Potter's side to challenge for a top-10 finish this term.
Brighton played five pre-season friendlies this summer, beating Estoril, Reading and Espanyol, in addition to drawing with Union SG and losing to fellow Premier League side Brentford towards the end of July.
The Seagulls recorded a 4-0 win over Man United towards the end of last season, but they suffered a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and have never won a league fixture at the home of the 20-time English champions, which is an indication of the size of their task on Sunday.
Man United boss Ten Hag revealed during Friday's press conference that Anthony Martial is out of the contest due to a hamstring problem, which could open the door for Ronaldo to start through the middle.
Much could depend on whether Jadon Sancho overcomes an illness in time, as the England international has not been pictured in training this week and was not referenced by Ten Hag during his discussion with the media.
There could be a debut at the heart of the defence for Lisandro Martinez, while Malacia could get the nod over Luke Shaw at left-back, with the Englishman absent last weekend through illness.
As for Brighton, Potter revealed during his pre-match press conference that he has a fully-fit squad aside from Jakub Moder, who is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.
Manchester United possible starting lineup:
De Gea; Dalot, Maguire, L Martinez, Malacia; Fred, McTominay; Sancho, Fernandes, Elanga; Rashford
Brighton & Hove Albion possible starting lineup:
Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Webster; Lamptey, Mwepu, Gross, March; MacAllister, Welbeck, Trossard
We say: Manchester United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
There is huge pressure on Ten Hag to start the campaign on a positive note, but this is a tricky affair for the Dutchman considering Brighton's quality and the fact that they have an excellent coach. The Seagulls have been weakened by the departure of a couple of key players, though, and we believe that Man United will be able to start their 2022-23 campaign with a victory.
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