Manchester United take on Swansea again, on the opening day of the Premier League, this time at Old Trafford under new manager Louis Van Gaal in what could could be a momentous occasion for the club. These two clubs have marked a couple of important occasions before when the teams faced each other in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last home game as Manchester United manager two years ago and the dawn of what was an ephemeral David Moyes era, last year. Now these two teams face each other in Louis Van Gaal’s first season in England and at Manchester United.
Swansea, on the other hand, are a team that has not strengthened significantly, to be honest. Some are predicting a struggle ahead for the Welsh club this time and they do look a little like a team in transition, with nine first-team squad members having left so far this summer and only four decent new signings coming in. Nonetheless, manager Garry Monk did sound optimistic about his team’s chances after a mundane pre-season. Football being football, anything can happen and who knows what Swansea can come up with?
The odds are stacked against Swansea with Manchester United real favourites in this with our friends at Betway Sport having placed United at 33/100 to win the seasoner opener. Swansea did beat United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup last year with Bony scoring and you can get odds of 4/1 for Bony to score first again with Betway Sport.
Newly signed Luke Shaw has a hamstring injury that could keep him out for a month. Jonny Evans missed Tuesday’s friendly win over Valencia and could join the likes of Antonio Valencia and Michael Carrick on the sidelines for Louis van Gaal’s first game in charge. Rafael’s missed most of the pre-season due to a thigh injury and has yet to recover. Robin van Persie is behind with his fitness after his World Cup exertions but Adnan Januzaj and Marouane Fellaini came off the bench in midweek and promoted their claims. Ashley Young could get the nod at right wing-back.
Swansea duo Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge return after missing last weekend’s friendly against Villarreal and could feature in the starting line-up on Saturday. But the good news is Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton are injured. Talisman Wilfried Bony and new signing Gomis could both make the starting eleven or Gomis might start on the bench.
- This is the reverse of last season’s opening fixture when Manchester United won 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium – Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck both scoring twice.
- Swansea have lost seven of their last eight opening-day fixtures.
- Wayne Rooney scored three times in his four games as captain last season (W2, L2).
- Wilfried Bony scored two goals in three games against United last season.
Wayne Rooney – Manchester United – 3/1 First Goalscorer
Wayne Rooney was last season’s top scorer (17) for the club and one of the few players that showed up more often, scoring some important and spectacular goals during the course of a season to forget. This season, the Merseyside-born has been given a new role, an important responsibility where he has to wear the armband and lead by example in addition to getting the goals or creating them. It’s come as a bit of surprise as most of the fans and pundits were busy putting their money on Robin Van Persie to lead the side but Rooney looks to have impressed the new boss showcasing his drive and commitment, traits that define the player himself, thereby rewarding himself the armband and an enviable chance to lead Manchester United. The first few games are very important for the club to get those quick wins under their belt and get off to a solid start and Wayne Rooney, in the absence of Robin Van Persie will be expected to keep the scoreboard ticking, as always.
Wilfried Bony – Swansea City: 4/1 First Goalscorer
Wilfried Bony had a very good first season at the club scoring 16 goals and setting up 4 more, taking the contribution tally to 20 goals overall. These are remarkable numbers for a player that’s just played his first season in the English Premier League. Not just his sheer tenacity to find the net that’s benefited Swansea last season, it’s his ability to bring others into play and orchestrate attacks at times, that deserves appreciation. Having settled now at Swansea and the Premiership, things can only get better from here for the Ivory Coast forward. The new signings in Gomis and Gylfi Sigurdsson will certainly encourage Bony and provide a good platform to get him scoring as often as the team wants and take his performances to the next level. Wilfried Bony certainly enjoys playing against Saturday’s opponents as he’s scored 2 goals in three games against United already and will look to add more come Saturday.
I’m going for a home win, quite simply because the home team has got an awful lot to prove and certainly under more pressure than the opposition to start the season on a winning note. That said, an upset is always possible but on Saturday, at home, the mood is jubilant, the atmosphere and of course the quality of United’s new found fluidity in their attacking play will all contribute to a Manchester United victory and ensure Van Gaal gets the first 3 points on board.
Manchester United 3-1 Swansea City