Kaoru Mitoma seeks revenge against Man Utd as Brighton push towards Europe

Kaoru Mitoma hopes to cap off a great season by helping Brighton make history as she sets her sights on getting revenge on Manchester United.

The high-flying Seagulls surpassed their Premier League points record by moving to 52 with Saturday’s 6-0 thrashing of Wolves that reignited the club’s quest to reach Europe.

Fourth-placed United travel to the south coast just 11 days after inflicting an agonizing penalty shootout defeat to Albion in the FA Cup semi-final.

Japan winger Mitoma only made his Brighton debut in August but has quickly improved his reputation this term with seven goals and four assists during a series of outstanding performances.

The 25-year-old, who spent last season on loan at Belgian side Union Saint-Gilloise, is determined to continue helping the Seagulls secure continental qualification for the first time.

“At the moment it is important for the team to finish the season as high as possible in the table and aim for a place in the Champions League or the Europa League,” he said.

“If we can reach a higher level by playing this kind of football, I think we will be able to bring the fans even more joy.

“I want to make them happy, and to do that, we want to make history.”

Brighton overcame a recent Wembley meeting with Erik ten Hag’s men but were unable to find a breakthrough before Solly March’s miss proved decisive in a painful 7-6 defeat on penalties.

The eighth-placed Seagulls’ chances of catching United and getting into the Champions League places are extremely slim, sitting 11 points behind, albeit with one game to go.

However, a top-five finish remains a distinct possibility heading into Albion’s final seven games in a turbulent final month of the campaign.

Mitoma, who began hammering Wolves on the bench after being rested by manager Roberto De Zerbi, is confident Brighton can complete a league double over United following a 2-1 win at Old Trafford in the first weekend of the season.

“It was a disappointing result, a frustrating result, but we have already shifted our focus to the league,” he said of the semi-final loss.

“It is very important that we win this match as they are our direct rivals in the league table. This will be a great game for both teams.

“It is a team that is always fighting for the title, and the quality of each individual is something that sets them apart from other teams.

“But if we can play to our strengths, we will have a chance to win.”

Head coach De Zerbi could be absent from the Amex Stadium touchline for Thursday night’s game after canceling his pre-game news conference on Wednesday due to illness.

The Italian gave Mitoma his first top-flight start in Albion’s 4-1 win over Chelsea at the end of October and believes he is making good progress.

“The coach demands a lot from me, so I’m doing everything I can to deliver,” he said.

“The way he sets up the team and his tactics are helping my performance as he suits my style very well.

“He is very specific about what he wants from me in training and in games.

“I think my level with and without the ball is improving step by step, so I feel like I’m developing under his guidance.”

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