As the Premier League gears up for its final six weeks, Manchester United will be looking to consolidate second place when they entertain Swansea on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s United enter a make or break period of the season – with the objectives being finishing second in the league to secure a berth in next year’s Champions League and winning the FA Cup for a joint record 13th time. They go into this game on the back of a facile win at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Quarter-final against Brighton.
Now, the Red Devils cannot afford to lose sight of their position in the league and the narrow gap between themselves and rivals Liverpool – breathing down their necks, but they come up against an in-form and buoyant Swansea City on Saturday – in a game where complacency is simply not an excuse for Mourinho’s boys.
Swansea City have picked themselves up and regrouped themselves under the management of Carlos Carvahal. The eccentric former Sheffield Wednesday boss took charge of the Swans in late December when they were languishing rock bottom in the league, bereft of any hope or confidence of staying up.
Fast forward four months, the 52-year-old has guided the Welsh side out of the relegation zone to 14th and, crucially, three points above the bottom three. During this run, they have recorded notable victories over Liverpool and Arsenal on their own patch, while the Swans also drew 1-1 at Old Trafford in last season’s corresponding fixture.
United suffered a few injuries during this international week as Scott McTominay and Sergio Romero suffered knocks that may rule them out of Saturday.
Marcos Rojo, who played the full 90 minutes in the friendly in Madrid, and Ander Herrera could return to the fold after missing the last few games through injury, but Phil Jones and Daley Blind have remained sidelined. Frenchman Paul Pogba and Ashley Young both picked up knocks on international duty, but are expected to be ready for the weekend.
For Swansea, striker Jordan Ayew serves the second of a three-match ban against Manchester United, joining Wilfried Bony, Leroy Fer and Angel Rangel on the sidelines this weekend.
Former Benfica man Renato Sanches may continue to miss out the Swans’ trip to Old Trafford. Boss Carvahal confirmed in his pre-match presser that there are no fresh injury concerns ahead of their visit to Old Trafford.
- Manchester United have won 13 of their last 16 home matches (Premier League).
- Swansea have failed to win 12 of their last 13 away matches (Premier League).
- United are currently on a four-game unbeaten run in all competitions against the Swans and will be aiming to make it five this weekend.
Romelu Lukaku – Manchester United
Lukaku’s fine form in the last 15 games in all competition has been one of the highlights of Manchester United’s season since the turn of the year. The Belgian is only one goal shy of a landmark 100th goal in the Premier League and at 24, it has come at a remarkably early age.
Against a side like Swansea who will happy to concede possession at Old Trafford, Lukaku will have to find his way behind the visitors’ defence to create avenues for scoring – or create chances himself, something he has been doing in the last few weeks for Man United. His role will be vital in United’s run-in which could define their second season under Mourinho – which has not gone as planned.
Mike Van der Hoorn – Swansea
The Dutch centre-half has been arguably the most consistent player at Swansea City – in a side that could do with some consistent and reliable individuals. The 25-year-old is not only adept at defensive set pieces but also poses a considerable threat as a scoring option in offensive set plays, which when executed to perfection – could really hurt Manchester United.
His good form will be key for the visitors to gain any sort of foothold at Old Trafford where they have only lost thrice in the last 50 odd games in all competitions.