Louis Van Gaal takes on his ghost team Swansea City in the afternoon kick off at Old Trafford.
The man in charge at Manchester United has come across immense pressure in the last two weeks with no win in the last eight games. With the exit from the UEFA Champions League and suffering four consecutive defeats in a row, Van Gaal has faced many calls to be replaced as United have not managed to overcome the brick wall. The recent downfall in form has led United to drop down to fifth in the league and nine points behind league leaders Arsenal. So there is plenty of catching up to do if United want to be title challengers.
There will always be an expectation for the Red Devil’s to win all the games having dominated the Premier League for so many year’s and since the last league title win, the changes at the club have made it difficult to challenge and compete for the top four places. We are now half way through the season and you have seen the likes of Leicester, Spurs and Crystal Palace making their way up the league as this season has been unpredictable.
So United face Swansea, who themselves have had a change of manager with Alan Curtis taking over as caretaker manager since Garry Monk was released of his duties. Who would have expected Swansea to be involved down at the bottle of the league when they have had surprising results against the top teams in the past. So it is quite a surprise to see them in seventeenth place when they should be competing at least within the mid table.
United will be without Lingard and long term absentees Shaw, Valencia and Rojo. Swansea welcome back Rangel, Britton, Sigurdsson, Sung-yueng and Ayew. Routledge and Fernandez could be involved in the squad.
It could be an unchanged starting line-up from the game against Chelsea since United ended a run of defeats with a draw. There was much more freedom and fluidity in the team to attack although Chelsea did not have a focal point in attack, it made defending much easier. The three in midfield of Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger and Herrera allowed United to win the ball back quickly and using Mata and Martial on the width to stretch the play. There was a lot of shots being taken from outside the box which showed positive signs as recently the play has been about dominating the possession. Van Gaal has said it himself that goals are more important than possession yet, the style of play has been passing the ball around and winning the ball back.
One formation he could try is the 4-4-2, it has been a formation which Leicester has been using where there are two main strikers and two wingers. Chances would be created if the wingers would cross in the ball and either striker getting to the end of it. It does not help when your strikers are not performing to their best and you need goals to win. From midfield, the only one who is likely to score is Herrera. Carrick, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger are unlikely scorers and then you have Fellaini who does not provide any motive in attack except his height. Again, Memphis needs to show his worth in the team as he is not getting any starts.
In defence, Smalling will need to mark Gomis who has strength and he will try to take advantage of Blind. Swansea do have flair and pace in their attack and they will be delighted with the last three games against United as they have won 2-1 on each occasion. So there is plenty of confidence of beating United. But United will need to take full advantage of the team who are battling it out to avoid relegation. Let’s see if United can find their first win to get the season back on track.
Possible starting XI:
Man Utd; De Gea, Young, Smalling, Blind, Darmian, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Mata, Rooney, Martial.
Swansea; Fabianski, Rangel, Williams, Amat, Taylor, Shelvey, Britton, Ayew, Sigurdsson, Montero, Gomis.