Manchester United are currently without a win in eight consecutive matches in all competitions and their search for a win will continue against Swansea City. The struggling Welsh club could have been the perfect opponent for Louis van Gaal’s side but the Dutchman acknowledged that he has lost to the Swans every single time in his short career as United boss.
Despite the underwhelming recent results, United sit in the sixth spot in the table which is really not that bad considering the kind of season we are witnessing in the Premier League. The gap between United and Arsenal on top is just nine points. The point of concern was the performances the club was putting on in recent weeks but against Chelsea, the United side looked much better which ensured that they at least picked up one point in the tie.
Swansea need results and they need them immediately. At the start of the season, many thought that the Welsh outfit could challenge for a top 7 finish. Half-way through the season, they sit in the seventeenth place, one point off the relegation zone. Alan Curtis has been steadying the ship for the Swans, who are still looking for a new permanent boss. They have drawn two games and recorded a win over West Bromwich Albion. A big concern for the side was the leaky defence and Curtis has massively improved that. However, the problem at the other end of the pitch hasn’t been solved as yet, as they are not scoring enough goals. Striker Bafetimbi Gomis has been badly out of form and getting a new frontman in January will be on the board’s priority list.
Swansea’s survival in the Premier League and ability to finish in a respectable position will depend more on results against teams around them in the table; however, picking up points in a game against a bigger opposition will do wonders for the morale of the players and the team must look at this tie as a must-win.
Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard are still out for the Red Devils and we could see van Gaal name an unchanged line-up from the draw against Chelsea.
Wayne Routledge should be fit to return to the squad after missing the clash with Crystal Palace. Centre-back Federico Fernandez could also return to the starting eleven, after recovering from a bruised heel.
Meanwhile, Ki Sung-yueng, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew were all on the bench against Crystal Palace and are likely to be reinstated in the starting XI for this tough match.
Ander Herrera (Manchester United)
Herrera is expected to start in the hole behind Rooney and could prove to be a thorn in the Swansea defence. He can link the play well between the midfielders and the attackers, thus creating the requisite momentum for his side, but offers an attacking threat of his own, as evidenced by the world-class save Thibaut Courtois made in the last game to deny him. If Swansea can successfully deal with him, they could cut a lot of attacking supply and ensure they come back with a positive result from Old Trafford.
Andre Ayew (Swansea)
The summer signing has been one of the only bright spots for the Swans this season. Ayew has consistently been good, but the lack of support has resulted in him often being left alone, and subsequently not doing enough damage. Ayew scored and assisted against Manchester United in the previous match and would be United’s real danger man.
- Man United have won three of the last four Premier League games between the two teams at Old Trafford.
- Swansea have won on four of their last visits to the English giants in all competitions, all by a 2-1 scoreline.