With the new season starting, every team has some optimism in the camp. Manchester United had a lot of optimism due to signing the famed Louis Van Gaal as their new manager, replacing the much maligned David Moyes. A lot of that optimism was gone after the first game for United after losing to Swansea City.
Swansea played some great football and their new signing Gylfi Sigurdsson was the main man. Sigurdsson is in his second spell with Swansea after making his name on loan there in 2011-2012 before earning his move to Tottenham. After it didn’t quite work out in North London, the Iceland international is back in South Wales and starred in his first ever match as a permanent Swansea player.
Sigurdsson completed 76% of passes including 73% of his passes in the opponent’s half. The “iceman” created one chance and that chance was his assist of the first goal. The former Tottenham man worked extremely hard on the day winning five of his 12 duels and recovering the balls twice. Along with that, he also made three interceptions, two tackles, and one clearance on the edge of the area.
After experimenting with the 4-4-2 at the end of last season and in pre-season, Gary Monk set his team out in Swansea’s tried and trusted 4-2-3-1. Sigurdsson played in the hole behind striker Wilfried Bony. The former Reading man drifted all around the pitch into pockets of space when they had the ball. Many times he drifted into the wide areas to support Swansea attacks. The Iceland international was the key playmaker in the Swansea attack and helped weave their passing moves together.
Normally Swansea dominate the ball, but at Old Trafford they had to concede a lot of possession and only had 41%. This led to everyone in the team having to take up more defensive work than they are accustomed. Off the ball, the Swans set up with two banks of four. Sigurdsson stayed up top with Bony off the ball usually pressing the centre-backs.
Swansea took a 1-0 lead through a Ki goal in the first half, but United equalized shortly after half-time. After the equalizer, United gained the momentum. Once Rooney hit the post from a free kick it looked like if there was going to be a winner it would be Louis van Gaal’s side. Then United committed a foul around the halfway line. 20 year old Tyler Blackett made a rookie mistake kicking the ball back to Bony, who then took the free kick quickly to catch the defence out. Bony played the ball to Sigurdsson who then played it to new signing Jefferson Montero. Montero’s floated cross to the back post exposed Ashley Young as a wing-back. The England man missed his header, allowing the ball to fall to Wayne Routledge. Routledge slipped while taking his volley, but the ball fortuitously fell to Sigurdsson. Swansea’s new number 10 slammed the ball past De Gea scoring what turned out to be the winning goal.
Sigurdsson came back to Swansea and made an instant impact on his second debut. He was involved in both goals and fitted right into Swansea’s system. The Welsh club got its first ever league win at Old Trafford and will hope that is the beginning of a successful season.