Manchester United’s next Premier League game takes them to South Wales where they will face Swansea City in what looks to an exciting encounter.
Swansea have been extremely impressive thus far in the Premier League. They have looked solid in defence, as well as dangerous going forward, with the likes of Montero, Ayew and Gomis being their standout performers. The Welsh side have also been on good form against Manchester United having won their last two Premier League fixtures against the Red Devils. ‘The Swans’ however, haven’t won successive home Premier League games since November 2014 and will have to be on top form if they are to break this unwanted record.
Manchester United head into the fixture having convincingly beaten Club Brugge 4-0 in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier. The ‘Red Devils’ pulled off a convincing performance with Wayne Rooney ending his 10 game barren streak scoring a hattrick of goals. United will have to be on top of their game if they are to replicate a similar result against Swansea, however one worrying stat for Manchester United fans: Manchester United have only won two of their 12 league matches at Swansea (D3, L7)
Gary Monk’s team have no apparent injuries, leaving the Swansea manager with a full strength squad. United should be particularly wary of Bafatimbi Gomis who has netted 8 goals in his last 9 Premier League games.
Manchester with be without both Adnan Januzaj (thigh injury) and Phil Jones (Mild Thrombosis), whilst Argentine Marcus Rojo could make a return to the match day squad. Tyler Blackett and Jonny Evans are expected to miss out due to pending transfers.
Having watched Manchester United defeat Club Brugge there was one noticeable difference between the first and second half, and that difference was the performance of Ander Herrera. During the first half Herrera occupied the anchor role alongside Michael Carrick, whilst Adnan Januzaj played in the hole behind Rooney. Herrera’s start to the first half was poor as the Spaniard lost the ball countless times, as well as conceding an early yellow card and Louis Van Gaal admitted himself that he considered taking the midfielder off after just 13 minutes. It was clear that the role of a holding midfielder was not for Ander Herrera. However, in the second half things changed for the 26 year old as Adnan Januzaj was substituted through injury and Herrera was consequently moved to the number 10 role. Herrera looked a completely new player in this role. He acted as a link between the midfield and attack, something Adnan Januzaj had struggled to do. His understanding with Mata was clear as his brought his fellow country man into the game, and his ability to play the killer was evident from the start of the second half after Herrera played a lovely assist to set-up Wayne Rooney for his second goal. With this said I feel that Manchester United should continue to play with a 4-2-3-1 formation against Swansea.
In terms of defence I expect Sergio Romero to continue in goals for Manchester United, the Argentine hasn’t conceded a goal in the league this season. Famous last words, eh? I think it is incredibly important for Manchester United to keep a consistent back-up (something they struggled to do last season), and so I fully expect Van Gaal to play the same back four of; Darmian, Smalling, Blind and Shaw.
In terms of midfield I can see Schneiderlin making a return to the team after his rest during mid-week. The Frenchman has been impressive for the Red Devils this season and offers something Manchester United’s midfield has been missing for the past few years. Alongside him I would like to see Schweinsteiger, or ‘The Commander’, who offers experience to the team and guidance for the younger players. On the wings I expect Van Gaal to start both Depay and Mata. The former has yet to make an impact on the Premier League, however, from the glimpses I have seen the potential is clearly there. Mata on the other hand has been quietly terrific. He has offered his abilities both defensively and going forwards, acting as a great team player.
As said before I expect Herrera to make an appearance in the number 10 role after his impressive performance against Brugge, and in front of him the ever present Wayne Rooney will make an appearance (unless he gets injured). Rooney was scrutinised by many prior to the Champions League and temporarily answered his critics by scoring a hattrick. However, if the Englishman will have to continue scoring if he is to keep the critics mouths shut.
So, to conclude, I think Manchester United will walk away victors winning 2-0. After all, Sergio Romero never concedes! My realistic prediction is a 1-2 win for Manchester United with Wayne Rooney and Ander Herrera grabbing the goals.