Old Trafford, Manchester
January 11, 2014; 17:30 GMT
In Manchester, it never rains but it pours. And it is torrential downpour that David Moyes and Manchester United find themselves in the middle of at the present. The new year has brought along three consecutive defeats. The fourth game of the year sees them hosting Swansea City in a rematch of last Sunday’s FA Cup 3rd round tie where the visitors knocked the hosts out of the competition with a shock victory.
Since then of course United have gone on to lose the 1st leg of their Capital One Cup semifinal against Sunderland which has piled further pressure on an already beleaguered Moyes. Three defeats in a row is far from ideal at any club but at Manchester United it may be termed as simply unacceptable. It has been a patchy season from the very outset but now it seems to have hit a new low. Moyes simply has to turn things around soon enough before the support for him from the stands run dry.
The visitors Swansea City are expected to be in a buoyant frame of mind after their exploits from last week. However Swansea’s league form has been poor in recent weeks with their last win coming in early December. Since then, the team from South Wales have drawn three and lost three of their six league games. Such a wretched run of form see them hovering just four points above the relegation zone.
Team News, Tactics & Lineups
One of the mitigating causes behind United’s recent results have been injuries to key players. The physio’s room at the club is presently an over-crowded zone with a number of key personnel being treated for various knocks and niggles. The two men, whom Moyes would have loved to unleash in tandem in such desperate situations, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will both miss out Saturday’s fixture. Apart from them, there remains the likes of Phil Jones, Nani and Marouane Fellaini who remain on the sidelines. More worryingly for Moyes, both Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans failed to complete ninety minutes on the pitch against Swansea and Sunderland respectively, making them doubts for this game. A player who definitely will not feature is Fabio, thanks to his red card against the same opposition last Sunday.
With so many key players out and the team in the middle of full blown crisis, the onus will be on the senior pros in the team like Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Michael Carrick. All three are set to start and it is needless to say that Moyes will be relying on this trio to provide some much needed solidity in the field. Upfront Danny Welbeck has enjoyed a good spell in front of goal with five strikes in his last five league games. It will be great for United if his strike partner Javier Hernandez too can embark on a similar sort of a run after having netted against Swansea last week.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Januzaj; Welbeck, Hernandez
Like their hosts, Swansea too are missing a number of key players. Michael Laudrup’s resources in the wings have been severely depleted due to injuries to Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and Rolan Lamah. Last season’s top scorer for the club Michu too is out after his ankle surgery while goalkeeper Michel Vorm is yet to regain full fitness.
Swansea’s main threat will be striker Wilfried Bony who apart from bagging the late winner last week also scored twice against Manchester City at home on New Year’s day. Wayne Routledge popped up with an all too rare goal in the last game but will surely be emboldened by that as he takes on the same defence. In the midfield Leon Britton and Jonathan de Guzman will look to repeat their impressive display from last week. Defensively though, Laudrup’s men need to step it up a notch with Swansea having kept only one clean sheet in the league since start of November.
Probable Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Tremmel; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; Britton, Guzman; Pozuelo, Shelvey, Routledge; Bony
- Manchester United have not lost 4 games in a row since 1961.
- United have scored more than a single goal in just one of their last seven games at Old Trafford (3-1 versus West Ham).
- Swansea are one of only four teams along with Manchester United, Tottenham and Aston Villa to have won more games away than at home this season in the Premier League.
- Swansea have the second best away defence in the league with only 1.1 goals conceded per game on an average.
Player To Watch
Danny Welbeck (Manchester United)
The England international striker has been one of the few bright spots for United in recent weeks as he has made most of the opportunity that fell his way through injury to Robin van Persie. His industry has always been appreciated but critics till now have pointed to his goals return. So his current hot streak could not have come at a better time and he will look to build on the same in order to nail down a regular starting role up front for Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City
While it is difficult to back Manchester United at the moment with any degree of conviction, surely lessons from last week have been learnt and they can scrape a narrow win.