Old Trafford, Manchester
Sunday, May 12th, 2013; 16:00 Hrs GMT
There is almost a farewell match feeling to the game as League Cup winners Swansea travel to Old Trafford to meet newly crowned Premier League champions Manchester United. It is hard to believe that we are actually building up to the penultimate Premier League match for both these teams.
United have already won the league and have nothing to play for except for the proverbial pride and off-course there is a matter of winning Sir Alex’s last home game as manager of the club. Add to that, this will also be Paul Scholes’ last match at Old Trafford as well. So, it will be an emotional outing for the players and the fans, but they would like to put on a fine show, one last time, for their departing legends.
Swansea City’s season was effectively over after they won the League cup final against Bradford. They have won just two of their last nine games since lifting the trophy in February. It is hard for the manager to motivate his players at this stage of the season when they are neither facing a relegation battle or are involved in any scrap for European qualification places. In fact, the only incentive they have now is a chance to finish above West Brom (in eighth) in the league table.
It would be such a momentous occasion at Old Trafford today. Great football might not be on display for the fans, but it would be a historic moment none the less.
Team News & Tactical Brief
There are no new injury worries for Sir Alex Ferguson to handle before this game. Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Darren Fletcher remain on the sidelines with injuries. Rafael, who has been brilliant this season, will miss this match due to suspension after receiving his marching orders in the recently concluded match against Chelsea.
United are expected to make a lot of changes to the starting eleven that lost to Chelsea in their last home game. Lindegaard is expected to drop back to the bench, along with Evans, Anderson, Jones, Cleverly and Giggs. Rio Ferdinand will resume his partnership with Vidic in the center of the defence with De Gea back in goal. Chris Smalling is expected to replace the suspended Rafael at the right back.
Michael Carrick, who according to many was United’s player of the season, will make his way back into the starting line-up and he will partner Paul Scholes in the pivot in front of the defence. It will be an emotional outing for Scholes as the fans will witness his magic for one last time at Old Trafford.
Rooney is expected to miss out as well, after rumours emerged on Twitter that the English striker is out of the squad after a heated training ground bust-up with Phil Jones. In fact these reports suggested that the matter was so serious that Rooney, who has been recently rumoured to have expressed his desire to leave the club, required stitches. While these rumours are yet to be validated, Kagawa is expected to start behind Robin van Persie. Nani and Valencia will start on the wings as Sir Alex is expected to set up a very attacking team.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-2-3-1]: De Gea (GK); Smalling, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Valencia, Kagawa, Nani; Van Persie
Michael Laudrup will face a lot of injury concerns as he travels to Manchester. Michel Vorm, who was stretchered off during Swansea’s victory over Wigan due to a head injury, will miss this clash and Gerhard Tremmel is set to replace him in the goal. Roland Lamah and Ki Sung-Yueng will also miss this match with injuries. Chico Flores and Michu are set to face late fitness tests before the game, although there is a big possibility that the duo will feature in the match.
If Michu fails to make it, Itay Shechter, who scored the second equalizing goal against Wigan last weekend, will start once again, while Monk will partner Williams in the center of the defense if Chico Flores fails to make it to the side. Rangel, who put up a fine display in his last game, is set to start ahead of Dyer once again.
It is important that Michael Laudrup’s side is not drawn into the emotional atmosphere at Old Trafford and looks to snatch a draw at the least, as it will help them secure their place in the top half of the table. They need to end the season on a positive note. The attacking trio of Hernandez, Routledge and Rangel, who was moved up the park in a more attacking role in the last game, will be key to Swansea’s chances in this game. Hernandez does have a habit of making his presence felt in the matches against the big teams and the Spaniard will once again be the focal point of Swansea’s attack.
Probable Starting Lineup [4-2-3-1]: Tremmel (GK); Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, De Guzman; Rangel, Routledge, Hernandez; Michu.
- This will be Sir Alex Ferguson’s 1,499th game as Manchester United manager
- Swansea have won only one of their past 10 meetings with United in all competitions – 2-0 in the top flight in January 1982 (Alan Curtis and Robbie James got the goals)
- United have recorded the most strikes off the woodwork (18) in the top flight this term
Players To Watch Out For
Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
All eyes will be on one player tonight – the Ginger Prince of Manchester United. He will set out to play for one last time at the Theater of Dreams before hanging up his boots at the end of the season. The man, who has made over 700 senior team appearances for the club will look to sign off in style and who can bet against him scoring one of those famous long range volleys to mark the occasion?
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City
With the feel of a farewell match, the players could very well be affected by the emotional atmosphere that will surround the stadium tonight. Sir Alex will rally his troops for one last time at this famous ground and the players will rise to the occasion to snatch a victory as a parting gift for the legend. It shouldn’t really be an overly exciting match, but at the end of the day, the result will hardly matter.