Old Trafford, Manchester
January 05, 2013; 16:30 BST
Manchester United host Swansea City in their third round FA Cup clash at Old Trafford tonight, in what promises to be an exciting fixture. These two sides faced each other in the opening game of the season, a match which the away side won 1-4 as Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck scored a brace each. United have had the upper hand in the recent meeting between these two clubs winning four of their last five games. Interestingly, this is the first meeting between these two sides in this competition.
Team news and tactics
Manchester United are currently seventh in the Premier League table – 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal. Their run of six straight wins in all competition snapped with a defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in their last game at Old Trafford. Manchester United’s home form has been a huge cause of concern for David Moyes this season. The reigning Premier League champions have won only four of their 10 home games so far this season – something which has contributed greatly to their currently predicament in the league.
Manchester United have already made good progress in the League Cup and will face Sunderland in the first leg of the Semi-final on Tuesday. David Moyes is sure to have one eye on that fixture as he selects his side for the match against Swansea.
The former Everton manager has to contain with a long injury list presently as Robin van Persie, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young remain at the side-lines. Moyes also confirmed that Portuguese winger Nani will remain out for a long period as he recovers from his hamstring injury. The good news is that Rafael’s injury isn’t serious and he is expected to return to action quickly. The big news of course is the absence of Wayne Rooney, who is struggling with a groin problem, although Moyes expects him to be fit for the clash against Sunderland.
Moyes is expected to make as many as eight changes to the side he fielded against Tottenham on Wednesday. Anders Lindegaard will get a rare start in goal, while Fabio, Rio Ferdinand and Buttner makes their way back into the starting line-up. Smalling is expected to partner Ferdinand at the center of the defence. Fletcher and Giggs will form the pivot ahead of the defence with Kagawa and Hernandez being the two changes in attack.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard (GK); Fabio, Ferdinand, Smalling, Buttner; Giggs, Fletcher; Januzaj, Kagawa, Valencia; Hernandez
Swansea City have been on a poor run of form off late and have dropped down to 13th in the points table. They have won only two of their last 16 matches in all competitions and unless they turn around this form soon enough, they could be involved in a relegation dog fight this season. They are coming into this game on the back of a 2-3 loss at home against Manchester City as Wilfried Bony scored a brace in vain. They have been poor on travels this season and were knocked out of the League by Birmingham City.
Michael Laudrup also faces a long injury list ahead of this game and with his team struggling in the league, these knock-out tournaments could be a distraction they would like to avoid at the moment. Nathan Dyer, Michu, Michel Vorm and Garry Monk remain at the side-lines, while there are doubts about the fitness of Pablo Hernandez as well.
Laudrup is expected to make as many as seven changes to the side he fielded against Manchester City in their last game. Dwight Tiendalli and Neil Taylor will start in defence while Jordi Amat partners Chico at the center of the defence. Britton will replace Canas in the pivot alongside Guzman. It will be a new look Swansea attack with Alvaro leading the line. Lamah and Alex Pozuelo will start out wide.
Dealing with the Europa league this season has taken its toll on Swansea City as injuries have stretched their squad. The League will have to be prioritized at the moment by Michael Laudrup and this game will provide a teaser to the task they will face when they will once again visit the Old Trafford on Saturday for their Premier League clash.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Tremmel (GK); Tiendalli, Amat, Chico, Taylor; Guzman, Britton; Pozuelo, Shelvey, Lamah; Alvaro
Players to watch-out for: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United); Roland Lamah (Swansea City)
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City