Ashley Young scores in the 2-0 victory for Manchester United over Swansea City
Manchester United take on Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, which will be the 19th time the two clubs have met. United won both fixtures last season, beating Swansea 1-0 away, through Javier Hernandez goal and 2-0 at Old Trafford with goals from Paul Scholes and Ashley Young. The latter game was the penultimate match in the 2011/12 season, which United had to try get closer to Manchester City’s goal difference.
Alas, United lost the league on goal difference, which no doubt was one of the driving factors towards Sir Alex Ferguson’s pursuit of Robin van Persie. United top the table going into Christmas, whilst Swansea lie in 10th under the guidance of former Danish playmaker Michael Laudrup. Here we look at team news, injuries and possible United lineup.
A view from the opposition
How would you describe Swansea’s season so far?
Really good. We are in 10th place, we have 3 more points than we had this time last season and we are playing attacking and attractive football. We have progressed from last season by winning against one of the big boys (Arsenal away) and got to the Semi Finals of the Capital One cup for the first time in our history!
Where do you expect to finish this season?
I would love to say that we could push the top 8 but being honest, I think we will finish pretty much where we are now. That for a club of our size and resources would be an incredible achievement and one that all Swans fans would be proud of.
Michael Laudrup was a wonderfully gifted visionary of a playmaker, how has he adapted to management in English football?
Incredibly well. He has a passing philosophy which is why he was appointed manager in the first place but he has taken the style of football that we play and taken it on again from an attacking perspective. He has brought in players he knows and trusts who have added to the squad and kept the same team spirit and togetherness that we had in previous years.
Give us a fact about the football club.
The football club’s 3rd largest shareholder is the Swans Supporters Trust who own 20% of the club and more than the Chairman Huw Jenkins himself (who owns around 12%). No other Premier League club has a supporters trust with such a large shareholding.
Michu has taken the Premier League by storm. How good is he? Will he keep this up? And, can he get in the Spanish squad?
Del Bosque has just said that he will get a game against Uruguay in Feb and so that shows how good he is! He is an incredibly hard working player who has ice cold finishing and a passion for the game which fans love to see. If he stays fit then he will score 20+ goals in the Premier League which is incredible for a midfielder.
You’re on the back of losing two games. Confident that you can bounce back against Manchester United?
If I am honest then I have had a thought for a week that we would certainly get something against you and I actually think it will be 3 points. We seem to struggle to raise our game against smaller teams like Norwich but we seem to raise our standards against big teams. We know tomorrow will be tough as Utd are on a great run of form but we are feeling confident!
How do you expect to lineup against United?
Vorm will return in goal, Tiendali (or Rangel if he recovers from a calf problem), Williams, Chico, Davies, Routledge, Ki, De Guzman, Britton, Dyer and Michu will be the team I think. The only change to this could be Graham for De Guzman (with Michu in midfield) but I think Michu will start up front.
What have you made of United so far this season?
Weirdly, I don’t think you have been at your best but you still look incredible going forward. You have conceded 2 more goals than us which is incredible but your forward line sends shivers down the spine and your ability to bounceback will make all Swans fans worry even if we did go 2 up!
If you could take one United player for Swansea City, who would it be?
Robin Van Persie as the one position we really need to strengthen is a top quality centre forward.
Lastly, who is the greatest Swansea City player of all time?
Ivor Allchurch was an incredible player that I never saw. Robbie James was an incredible player who I did see for a few years but he then sadly passed away. He would be worth millions now with his energy and skill from midfield
Manchester United will be without Brazilian fullback Rafael, who has a hamstring injury, whilst Nani and Anderson are both still injured. Kagawa will miss the match but starts training with the first team on Monday again, whilst club captain Nemanja Vidic could make his first start since the 1-0 victory over Galatasaray back in September.
He did come off the bench to play in the 3-1 win over Sunderland last weekend, but as Sir Alex Ferguson commented on Friday, it is just ‘time’ with the Serbian. Jonny Evans, who signed a new contract on Friday, should also be fit following a couple of injuries in the week.
Swansea City welcome back summer signing Pablo Hernandez after recovering from a thigh injury, whilst goalkeeper Michael Vorm, is expected to start for the first time in eight weeks. Neil Taylor is a long term absentee after he broke his leg against Sunderland in September and is expected to miss the whole of the season.
Quotes in build up to match
Sir Alex Ferguson:
(On team news and injuries)
“Jonny has had one or two injuries but hopefully they’re behind him now. He’s fit for Sunday, while Kagawa takes training with the first team on Monday. Vida is doing great in training, it’s just a matter of picking the time to bring him back. It gives me options with Smalling, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans. It’s very good, and better for us. Rafa won’t make Sunday’s game as he’s still out with a hamstring. Nani is still injured. Apart from those players, we’re all right.”
(On Swansea City)
“You’ve seen the results they have had and the progress they have made as a football club over the last years. The important thing for me is that they try to play and have the courage to play their football”
(On Robin van Persie)
“United have a team with a lot of quality, wide players who are skillful and a killer inside the box in Van Persie. You have to be concentrated against him, defend well and not drop too deep.”
(On scoring sensation Michu)
“Michu and Van Persie are similar. They look alike, they are both tall, left-footed players, they are not fast but they know when to make the runs. It’s fantastic to talk about Michu as one of the top scorers in the competition. It is normal for United to have one, but not so for Swansea.”
(On United’s Champions League draw with Real Madrid)
“I see Real as small favourites. They haven’t had a great season, but it’s the only major trophy they can win.”
Potential Manchester United team
Its always difficult to try and guess what Fergie is thinking, its even harder when assessing the Christmas fixture list. United host Newcastle United on boxing day and then WBA on 29th December. Ferguson may wait for Newcastle to start Vidic, espcially considering the physicality of their forward line. Having said that, I expect Fergie to play a strong side, with David De Gea keeping his place in goal:
Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will no doubt continue their partnership up top, with Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez on the bench. Both Welbeck and Hernandez will surely receive a start over the Christmas period, but I expect that to be at home in the next two fixtures – despite Hernandez finding the back of the net in this fixture last season.
Conclusion and prediction
Michael Laudrup had a monumental challenge to try and even match the achievements made by former manager Brendan Rodgers, who left for Liverpool in the summer. Since his appointment, Laudrup has proved he is shrewd in the transfer market, with the purchase of club top scorer Michu and to be tactically astute, outwitting Arsene Wenger and Arsenal at the Emirates earlier in the month. Swansea have picked up three wins on the road so far, three more than the club had at the same stage last season, whilst picking up three wins at the Liberty stadium. The Welsh club have lost their last two games (a 4-3 thriller at home to Norwich and a 1-0 defeat away at Tottenham), so United will fancy their chances – especially if Ferguson lines up a strong side, as highlighted in the potential team above.
Michu has been a sensational signing so far, notching up twelve goals in seventeen games for the club. He scored a brace on his debut in the 5-0 drumming of QPR at Loftus Road. He hit two more in the next game against West Ham United (won) and Sunderland (drew), before the club embarked on a three game losing streak. Since the 2-0 loss to Stoke City at the end of September, Swansea have beaten Wigan, Newcastle United, West Brom and Arsenal. They also picked up a 1-1 draw with Chelsea at home. Nathan Dyer is Swansea’s next top scorer with four goals.
Manchester United are no doubts favourites and would be expected to win the match, however – no one would have a predicted a seven goal first half thriller against Reading. Ferguson has toyed with a diamond formation and of course, playing Wayne Rooney on the right hand side of the front line, but surely his blossoming partnership with Robin van Persie will allow him to operate in the hole just behind the Ducthman, the role where I feel you get the best out of Wayne Rooney. Ashley Young has been impressive this season, despite criticism from Reds who do not believe he is still up to the standard required to play for the club. He is getting a good run in the side at the moment and has setup a number of goals in the past few weeks.
Match prediction: 1-2