3-5-2. Lingard and Januzaj as wing-backs. Tyler Blackett in defence and a woeful performance resulted in a 2:1 defeat against Swansea in Louis van Gaal’s first game in English football exactly year ago. Now, one year on, with steadier squad and bigger goals, Manchester United travel to South Wales for Iron Tulip’s 50th game in charge.
Swansea started where they left off in the last campaign. An opening day draw against Chelsea was the least they deserved as they outplayed the champions for large portions of the game.
A in against Newcastle and draw at Sunderland consolidated the expectations of Garry Monk’s men being one of the consistent teams in the League. Eder and Andre Ayew were the key reinforcements over the summer with the latter already showing a contribution with two goals. With him, Bafe Gomis and Jefferson Montero, Swansea fans can be hopeful of bettering their league position from last year.
Unbeaten in the Premier League and back in the Champions League, there is a sense of normal service being resumed at Old Trafford. After the stalemate with Newcastle, The Red Devils improved to smash Club Brugge to qualify for Europe’s elite competition. Herrera, Depay and Schweinsteiger impressed, but one that stood out was much criticised striker Wayne Rooney. After almost 10 games without a goal, the striker ended the barren spell with a hat-trick to help the team to rub shoulders with the continent’s heavyweights once more.
However, if the early-season form is anything to go by then Van Gaal and co have a long road ahead of them if they are to win the Premier League. The first stern test comes today at the Liberty Stadium against Swansea, who have won three of the last four meetings with United in all competitions.
Januzaj picked up an injury in midweek and will miss the visit to Wales. Jones is still injured with return predicted after the international break.
Marcos Rojo, who is yet to make an appearance this term, is also unavailable despite playing an hour of Thursday’s Under-21 friendly with Ajax.
Blackett and Evans have left the club to Celtic and West Brom respectively. Fellaini is available after the ending of his suspension.
Swansea manager Gary Monk has the luxury of naming an unchanged side for the third successive Premier League outing.
Predicted Line Ups:
Swansea City (4-2-3-1):
Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Shelvey; Sigurdsson, Montero, Ayew; Gomis
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) :
Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Mata, Herrera, Depay; Rooney
Last Meeting: Swansea-Manchester United 2:1 21st February 2015
An opening goal by Ander Herrera was the highlight of the game for United in what was the last game of tactical experimentation by Van Gaal as the diamond was turned into more rigid 4-5-1 until the end of the season.
It was an overall bad game for the team, showing why Swansea might be considered as a bogey opponent for the Red Devils. However they will certainly look to change that in Van Gaal’s 50th game in charge.
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