Manchester United thoroughly dominated this fixture vs Swansea, and but for some very poor finishing and lack of a good quality final pass/cross, would have won by a few goals. However, Swansea defended very stoutly and did very well to win a point against the league leaders.
Swansea lined up in a 4-2-3-1, with Michu leading the line for Swansea, which added both speed and height, up against the central defensive pairing of Vidic and Evans. Michel Vorm returned from injury after eight weeks out with a groin injury. Kemy Agustien got a rare start for Swansea, and put in an impressive performance in this match.
Manchester United also lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Wayne Rooney playing in behind Robin Van Persie. This was an attempt by Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to pressure the defensive midfield pairing of Agustien and Britton, whilst also assisting Van Persie when in attack.
Manchester United put in a dominant display for much of the match, except for their finishing and their final pass or cross. The positive display was due to the good performances of Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie centrally. Throughout the match, Carrick was able to execute 3 tackles and 2 interceptions. This meant he was able to break up a number of Swansea attacking forays.
However, the main problem for Ferguson’s men was their lack of attacking potency in the final third in this match. Wayne Rooney was the main perpetrator, as he wasted a number of good shooting chances, with weak shots and off target attempts. However, it was also the wide players and fullbacks who were unable to get in good crosses for the likes of Rooney and Van Persie to do what they do best-score goals.
For the first 30 minutes of the match, Michu was able to get in 1 v 1 situation with the Manchester United players and cause them concerns on quick Swansea counter attacks. This was due to his ability to out-muscle and outpace the central defensive pairing, especially Nemanja Vidic.
The below example clearly shows the high line that Manchester United were attempting to play, which played into Michu’s strengths. Vidic is attempting to put pressure on Michu’s shot, whilst the nearest Manchester United defender, Phil Jones, is 10 metres behind the action. As Michu’s shot was poor, Manchester United were let off the hook, it showed signs of what was to come.
As has been shown this season, Swansea have struggled at stopping teams scoring against them at set pieces, and have struggled to score from set pieces also. It was clear to see that this was the case, as two of Manchester United’s best chances came from corner set plays. The Manchester United goal was a good example of Swansea’s negligence for set plays. However, Swansea didn’t learn their lesson as later on in the match, Michael Carrick hit the crossbar from a header off another corner.
Manchester United, if they were better at their final product, would have won this game quite comprehensively. Whilst Sir Alex’s men dominated for large parts, Swansea also had their chances and could have won the game on another day. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup said post match:
It was an important result for the team. The team are delighted with the result.
Both sides will want to pick up maximum points in some very winnable fixtures over the festive period. Manchester United have Newcastle and West Brom in their next two matches, whilst Swansea have Reading and Fulham in their next two.
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