Sunday 30th August – 16:00 – Liberty Stadium
Only four sides remain unbeaten in the Premier League this season, and two of them go head to head this afternoon as Swansea City host Manchester United. The Welsh side have drawn with Chelsea and Sunderland either side of a win over Newcastle, whilst on Tuesday they beat York City 3-0 in the League Cup. 24 hours later in a slightly more glamorous tie in the Champions League, United won 4-0 at Belgian side Club Brugge, winning the tie 7-1 on aggregate to qualify for the competition’s group stage. In the league, they have beaten Tottenham and Aston Villa, whilst they drew to Newcastle United last time out – not conceding a goal in all three games. This game is Louis van Gaal’s 50th match as Manchester United boss, but it comes against the same opposition as his first and which has inflicted two of his 10 defeats so far.
- Ki Sung-yeung could come back into the Swansea starting line-up, having proved his fitness with 81 minutes of League Cup action in midweek.
- That is likely to be Garry Monk’s only selection quandary, with no other injury concerns in the squad.
- The South Korean, who scored in both games against United last season, may be the Swans’ only change as he replaces Jack Cork.
- Marouane Fellaini is available having served his three-match league suspension which he picked up on the final day of last season.
- Marcos Rojo may come back into the squad but Phil Jones will miss out again with mild thrombosis.
- Adnan Januzaj has been ruled out for Manchester United because of a problem in his hip area that he suffered in the Champions League in midweek.
The Key Battle: Federico Fernandez vs Wayne Rooney
Five years ago, Swansea City wouldn’t have believed that they would have a World Cup winner in their squad, but Federico Fernandez is just that, and has showed his class since joining from Napoli last summer.
Forget the mistake that led to Sunderland equalising in the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light last weekend – an incident so rare it is a collector’s item of a different kind – Fernández has made a big impression in a short time at the Liberty Stadium.
He will be looking to once again get one over his Argentine compatriots Marcos Rojo and Sergio Romero, but in order to do that, he will need to stop Wayne Rooney, United’s main threat going forward.
Having said that, the Red Devils skipper has gone nine Premier League games without scoring. Only once in his Premier League career has he gone 10 games without a goal.
What will give him some hope though is his hat-trick in mid-week against Club Brugge, and Louis van Gaal needs him to reproduce that form in the league, where United have scored just two goals, one of which was an own goal.
Swansea City wins = 9 / Manchester United wins = 11 / Draws = 5
*According to www.manchesterunited-mad.co.uk
Last Meeting: Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United (21st February 2015)
Manchester United suffered only their second Premier League defeat since November as Bafetimbi Gomis’ second-half goal gave Swansea victory. Ander Herrera’s low strike put United ahead, but the hosts responded immediately as Ki Sung-yueng flicked in from Jonjo Shelvey’s cross. Louis van Gaal’s side dominated the second period but failed to score before Jonjo Shelvey’s 73rd-minute shot deflected off Gomis to give the Swans a first league double over United following a win at Old Trafford on the opening day.
Managers Quotes – (New for 2015-16)
Garry Monk: “It’s always very difficult when you face the big clubs,” he said. They (United) have added a lot of quality and depth to their squad and have world-class players.
Louis van Gaal: “My first match was against Swansea and we lost – now I have my 50th and I hope we can show we have improved. It will be difficult to beat them but we are better prepared than this time last year.”
The Referee – (New for 2015-16) – Martin Atkinson
In 2014-15, Martin Atkinson officiated 48 games in all competitions, handing out 193 yellow cards and 11 red – an average of 4.25 cards per game along with 13 penalties. The most high profile game was the Europa League final, and makes him one of the Premier League’s most experienced refs. So far this season, the 44 year old has taken charge of three top flight games, handing out 15 yellow cards but no reds or penalties.
Stat of the Match
Swansea City won both Premier League meetings last season. They were the only team to do the league double against United in 2014-15.
Where can I watch it?
The game is being broadcast live on Sky Sports 1 from 3:30pm, with kick-off half an hour later. You can then watch the highlights on Match of the Day 2, which is on BBC One at 10:30pm this evening.
My Prediction: Swansea City 1-1 Manchester United
I think that both sides will retain their unbeaten record going into the international break, in a 1-1 draw that will probably be slightly uninspiring. Wayne Rooney should break his league goal drought and find the back of the net, but United will also concede for the first time this season, with Jonjo Shelvey scoring for Swansea.