45+5 min With seconds of the half remaining, United win another corner, but they go short, Garcia loses it, and Brighton clear.
45+3 min Geyse is so natural on the ball and she’s finding loads of space out wide, this time isolating Kullberg, slowing her up, sauntering by on the outside, moving along the by-line, and seeing her cross smuggled clear. She’s been the best player on the pitch so far – and by far.
45+1 min We’ll have five additional minutes.
45 min Zelem robs Sarri and Naalsund breaks forward with the ball, her shot from distance blocked; United win a corner, but Brighton see it away well enough.
44 min Geyse comes deep and eases on to the gas, carrying over halfway and away from Sarri, slowing down an understandably tentative Pattinson before cutting back for Toone, who uses the direction of the ball to sweep a shot … a couple of yards wide of the far post.
42 min Thorisdottir gets something on it, but Earps gets it away. Brighton, though, win the ball back high when United pass out, and they’re growing into this. A little.
41 min Geyse clips Kullberg, battling through challenges, and Brighton have a free-kick 25 yards out, right-hand side.
39 min Sarri moves forward and has Pattinson on the overlap, but botches a simple pass and United get straight back at them.
39 min We get away again, Losada ready to return.
38 min Elsewhere, it’s still West Ham 0-0 Arsenal.
36 min Losada is down with a left knee situation, looking in some pain.
35 min Naalsund hoiks a ball wide but when the cross comes in, Brighton clear … then United again get after it, Toone sliding a terrific pass down the side of the box for Garcia. She’s forced to check, though, the ball is eventually cleared, and United beginagain.
33 min Evans replaces Riviere.
33 min Pattinson is a decent outlet down the left and she crosses well to the near post … and Terland is there, flicking goalwards, but Earps again saves well.
32 min Evans will replace Riviere.
32 min I’m wrong. Pattison nudged Riviere from behind, but she must’ve twisted something too, because she’s going to go off.
30 min Riviere is down with a leg issue following an innocuous-looking tackle with Pattinson, but I think she’ll be fine.
28 min United again knock it about nicely – I complained they were slow at the start, but there’s a decent tempo about their play now, just not quite the quality to create a second goal.
26 min Toone out to Geyse who sticks a low pass back in the mixer, but none of her mates can find a shooting lane. So far, though, she’s by far the best player on the pitch.
24 min Brighton are improving, and have a look! Lee lofts a clever pass over the top and Terland is on to it, in behind and lashing a shot that Earps does really well to prang away.
22 min Brighton win a corner down the left which Turner heads away, and after United regina possession from a throw, Garcia brings the ball away.
20 min Skinner will be pleased with how his side have started the game. They’ve put it on Brighton since the first whistle, and though they’ll be desperate for another goal to confirm their superiority against a side with the ability to hurt them, it looks imminent.
18 min United have lost three times this season – to City, Chelsea and Liverpool – which is to say it still takes a decent side to stop them. And Brighton don’t currently look capable, Thorisodttir throwing a head to divert Toone’s cross behind after good work from Zelem. The resultant corner comes to nothing.
16 min The corner goes short, Geyse to Zelem, and eventually Toone crosses, Brighton clearing well this time. But they concede a throw in the process, and United are quickly back at them.
14 min Better from Brighton, Robinson moving down the right and sticking a decent low cross into the box, but United defend it well enough then go down the other end where Geyse again shows lovely feet in winning a corner.
13 min Our commentator apologises for the foul language we can hear from the crowd, but I’m afraid that’s not good enough. I am mortally offended, and as such will no longer watch this game or any other football.
12 min Garcia feeds a decent low pass into the box for Parris, in behind the struggling Pattinson, but a poor first touch takes the striker wide and eventually Riviere makes a hash of a cross. Brighton can’t get out, and if this carries on United will surely score a second.
11 min the goal is Parris’ 11th of the season in the league, and that’s a pretty decent return. She’s now playing through the middle with Geyse wide, though I’m sure Skinner will want them interchanging.
Brighton can’t clear their lines from the corner, penned in by United, and when the ball goes wide to Geyse, she rolls studs over it, escapes Sarri and diddles Pattinson on the outside, clipping a cut-back for Parris who finishes emphatically from eight yards.
9 min Zelem’s cross is a good one, headed clear just as Turner looks ready to apply brow to ball. United, though, sustain the attack…
8 min Zelem crosses low and when the ball comes out, Toone hoists a decent cross back in, earning another corner.
7 min But this is better, Toone spreading to Naalsund to spreads to Geyse, out on the right, and she wins a corner.
6 min As Suzy noted in her piece below, Brighton haven’t been that bad this season – rather, they’re a developing squad needing time and patience – and Emma Hayes was impressed with them in losing 3-0 to Chelsea last season. They haven’t started like a side threatened with relegation wither, though United are moving the ball too slowly to tax them.
5 min Robinson runs at Le Tissier who, drawn out wide, deals with the situation easily enough.
4 min On Earps, I wonder how much longer she’ll be at United. She’d probably have left in the summer had that been made possible and watching the team go backwards won’t have encouraged her to stay. But with Ineos now involved, hopefully the money will be there to augment the squad with players of similar calibre.
3 min United are dominating territory, pushing Brighton back, before a long clearance allows Blundell to roll back for Earps.
1 min I should say, I’ve not been able to get coverage on my main computer, so I’m a much smaller laptop screen – but fear not, you’ll get your fix.
1 min The teams take the knee and off we go!
Here come our teams!
The problem United have, I think, is that they’re relying on players with talent, who’ve not quite made it elsewhere, to explode – Geyse and Parris in particular. Both are doing fairly well, but they’re replacing stars whose losses are still being felt.
Suzy Wrack has the lowdown on Brighton’s difficulties.
And how good is it to see Vivianne Miedema back? I’m not sure there’s a more perceptive passer in the game, and with Beth Mead now settled, Arsenal are bang in the title hunt sitting three points off leaders Chelsea and behind second-placed Man City on goal difference.
Also going on:
Joy department: a brilliant version of a wondrous tune.
Harris makes two changes to his first Brighton XI: Lee and Terland come in – they’ll play up front – with Pinto dropping out of midfield and the injured Bremer missing from the right wing. By the looks of things, there’s also been a formation change, from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, but we shall see.
United are unchanged following last weekend’s win over Villa, which means there’s still no place in the XI for one of last season’s heroes, Leah Galton.
I’m experiencing some technical difficulties, but we’ll hopefully be good for coverage once we’re a little closer to kick-off.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): Earps; Riviere, Le Tissier, Turner, Blundell; Naalsund, Zelem; Parris, Toone, Garcia; Geyse. Subs: Guerrero, Malard, Galton, Ladd, Evans, Williams, Aherne, Tullis-Joyce.
Brighton (4-4-2): Baggaley; Kullberg, Bergsvand, Thorisdottir, Pattinson; Robinson, Olme, Losada, Sarri; Lee, Terland. Subs: Carabali, Pinto, Symonds, Mengwen, Loeck, Sartup, Dent.
There’ve been happier games. After a terrific effort last season, finishing runners-up in the WSL and FA Cup, the Manchester United have struggled this, out of the Champions League in the qualifiers and the Conti Cup in peculiar circumstances, while making a poor start to their league campaign. As such, manager Marc Skinner is under pressure.
Brighton, meanwhile, are also enduring a poor season, and on Friday, the board acted. In early afternoon, Melissa Phillips performed her usual pre-match press-conference duties, by early evening she’d been sacked, and by Saturday lunchtime Mikey Harris had been installed in her stead, the club’s fifth manager in 16 months.
All of which means a fascinating afternoon for us, luxuriating in misery and potential misery. United should win – yes they’ve been worse but no they’ve not been dreadful, and no team could wear the loss, in two years, of Lauren James, Ona Batlle and Alessia Russo. But Brighton have a good, young squad and, when the teams met earlier in November, led twice before an injury-time equaliser snaffled United a draw. They’ll fancy themselves to get something here, and United, with one win and three defeats in their last four league games, might just give it to them.
Kick-off: 12pm GMT