Liberty Stadium, Swansea
August 17, 2013; 16:30 GMT
So on Saturday the wait is finally over for David Moyes. Ever since being named as the successor to arguably the greatest ever manager in the history of football, Sir Alex Ferguson, Moyes would have looked forward to this day with excitement, anticipation and probably, a tinge of trepidation. Because on Saturday, for the first time ever in Premier League era, it will not be Sir Alex Ferguson who will lead out Manchester United; on Saturday, David Moyes’ watch begins.
The opponents on such a momentous occasion are Swansea City, a team that has punched well above their weight over the past two seasons in the Premier League and more than capable to ruin Moyes’ big day. Michael Laudrup’s men came mightily close to snatch a draw last season only to be denied by a late strike by Rio Ferdinand. United, like most other teams, have generally found Swansea a hard nut to crack at home and had to settle for 1-1 stalemate last season when they visited Liberty Stadium in December.
While Swansea would know a repeat of last season’s opening day result – an emphatic 5-0 victory against QPR – would be too much to ask for, they would definitely fancy themselves to pull off an upset given their opponents’ patchy pre-season form. For United, even a draw would be an improvement compared to last season when they lost their first game at Everton managed by who else but Moyes.
Team News, Tactics & Lineups
Swansea have already started off their season with the Europa League playoffs against Malmo, who were thoroughly spanked in south Wales before a goalless encounter in Sweden secured qualification to the next round. Promisingly for them, their big money signing Wilfried Bony got off to a dream start by bagging twice against Malmo in the 4-0 route. Bony, with an impressive scoring record of 46 goals in 55 games for his previous team Vitesse Arnhem, is expected to share the goal scoring burden with last season’s star Michu.
Elsewhere on the pitch too, the Swans have made a number of shrewd acquisitions all of whom will be hoping for a chance to make an impact against the defending champion. At the back, Jordi Amat, signed from Rayo Vallecano, may well get the nod to partner Ashley Williams in the heart of defense. In the midfield, Laudrup has brought in three new faces in Jonjo Shelvey, from Liverpool and the former Real Betis pair Alejandro Pozuelo and Jose Canas. Like Bony, Pozuelo too struck on his debut against Malmo. Competition for spots is bound to be intense in the centre of the park as the likes of Leon Britton, Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez will all hope to retain their regular spots in the starting lineup. Swansea though will miss the services of Jonathan De Guzman for the visit of Manchester United due to an injury suffered in training with the Dutch national squad this week.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies; Shelvey, Britton; Dyer, Michu, Hernandez; Bony
On transfer front, it has been an unsatisfying summer for David Moyes till now. As a result apart from Wilfried Zaha, the deal for whom had been secured back in January, no one else is line for a debut Premier League appearance for Manchester United. All talks of moves for the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Marouane Fellaini have not materialized into anything concrete and Moyes will have to be contended for now with the squad that won the title by 11 points last season.
Brazilian fullback Rafael is suspended for this encounter and doubts persist over the availability of the English duo Michael Carrick and Ashley Young after both withdrew from the national squad during the week. Nani too missed the international commitments in the midweek and may be ruled out of the game on Saturday. One man who did represent his national team on Wednesday night is Wayne Rooney and all eyes will be on whether his name is included or not in Moyes’ first team sheet in Premier League as Manchester United manager. With only an hour’s football under his belt over the entire pre-season, the smart money is on Rooney starting on the bench for this fixture. The man who most definitely will start is last season’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Robin van Persie, fresh from bagging a brace against Wigan last Sunday in the Community Shield.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Zaha, Giggs, Cleverley, Kagawa; Welbeck, van Persie
- Swansea City have failed to score in the last 3 Premier League games at Liberty Stadium
- Last time Swansea beat Manchester United was back in 1982 when the Welsh side triumphed 2-0 at their old ground in Vetch Field.
- David Moyes will look to become the first Manchester United manager since Dave Sexton back in 1977 to win his first league encounter after both Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson lost theirs.
Man To Watch
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United)
After a lukewarm first season in England, much is expected from the Japanese playmaker this time around. Sir Alex seemed to be convinced that the former Dortmund star will have much more impact in his second season. A solid start to the campaign may well provide Kagawa the confidence boost needed to take the Premier League by storm.
Swansea City 1-1 Manchester United
The Welsh underdogs are sure to make life tough for the defending champions. In the end, Moyes may not be too displeased with the share of spoils on the opening day knowing few of the rivals will have it easy here throughout the course of the season.
Blast From The Past
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City