Last season’s Premier League Champions Manchester United start their defence of the title with a trip to Swansea City. Both teams have already started their seasons, Swansea contending in the Europa League qualifying stages and United winning the Community Shield at Wembley last weekend.
David Moyes has had a difficult pre-season with missed transfer targets and poor results in friendlies, struggling to convince the pessimistic fans that he was the right man to follow Sir Alex. This has been outlined with the majority of bookies who have placed United as 3rd favourites to win the Premier League this season. These struggles make a Swansea win at 4.23 looks a decent value for those who want to take a risk; however a more realistic bet would be on a draw at 3.53.
Swansea on the other hand have had a good pre-season, despite rumours of a fall out between Laudrup and the board, and added more quality to their team that won the League Cup last season; most notably the signing of Wilfred Bony who will add goals to a side that relied on Michu last season with 38% of the goals coming from the Spaniard.
Manchester United dominate the league last year without really getting into 3rd gear in most games, which is shown as they obtained 10 points from games against the rest of the top 4 – the same as Chelsea and lower than Man City. The Red Devils did gain 36 points out of 36 from the bottom 6 teams though.
Swansea were the one of only two teams, the other being Tottenham, that didn’t win a penalty all season – a surprising stat for a team with quick, direct wingers and play passing football that can frustrate the opposition into making rash challenges.
Wayne Rooney looks set to miss out as his transfer saga stumbles on, whilst wingers Nani and Young’s injuries could hand a Premier League debut to Zaha despite limping off last weekend against Wigan. Rafael is also suspended and Moyes will have to make a decision whether his twin brother Fabio will take the Brazilians spot or Phil Jones will move from centre back.
Jonjo Shelvey will return to the squad after suffering with an illness that ruled him out of the second leg Europa League tie against Malmo.
The key players for both teams will be their top goal scorers from last season. Van Persie reminded everyone of his class with two goals in the Community Shield, especially his first goal which presented his passing, movement and aerial threat – an area of his game that the Dutch forward has been working on – and it currently looks like the main goal scoring burden will be upon his shoulders again after scoring 30% of United’s goals last season.
The high pressing that Manchester United showed against Wigan will be utilised again against Swansea to combat their possession-style football, but the Swans will pose a more dangerous threat on the counter attack with the pace of their wingers. Michu will have to produce similar performances to those that made his debut season so successful with precise through balls to help Bony beat the offside trap or quick passes out wide before making late runs into the box to score himself.
Despite the last two meetings between the sides at the Liberty Stadium only producing 3 goals, in last season’s 1-1 draw there was a total of 34 shots altogether with 16 on target. With odds of 1.909 for over 3 goals available however the Swansea win at 4.12 seems the best value here. Another tight match is to be expected though, so a Manchester United win by a single goal looks a decent shout at 2.03 a handicap bet of -0.5.
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