Reds return for United’s visit to Swansea

The two-week international break may have been dominated by headlines about racism in football, but some measure of relief – in the form of football at least – is shortly at hand, with Manchester United returning to action this weekend. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side travels to Swansea City, for the first time in almost 30 years, to face the newly promoted Welsh side in the Premier League Saturday tea time. It is a fixture that Ferguson hopes will continue United’s renaissance in the post-derby period.

With four clean sheets posted after the 6-1 thrashing by Manchester City, Ferguson has steered the United ship to calmer waters. It was always likely to be the case. And while the Reds have hardly performed with little panache in the recent victories over Everton and Sunderland, Ferguson’s side is still within touching distance of City in the Premier League table. It is a recovery that is likely to be severely tested against the in-from Swans, with Brendan Rogers’ side yet to taste defeat at the Liberty Stadium this season, while delivering some highly attractive football.

The Scot can boast a strong squad for the trip south, although Tom Cleverley, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Michael Owen will sit out the tie through injury. The injury to Cleverley’s ankle, sustained at Everton three weeks ago, is now thought to be far more serious than previously anticipated, with the midfielder out of action until Christmas. However, the United manager should welcome winger Ashley Young back into the first team squad for the trip to Wales.

“No-one’s injured from the internationals, the ones who’ve played anyway, which is good,” said Ferguson.

“Danny Welbeck, as you know, came back with an injury from an England training session and he won’t be available for Swansea. Chris Smalling is not far away but I don’t think he’ll be back tomorrow, I think he’ll be ready for Tuesday. Michael Owen and Tom Cleverley are pretty long-term. I think Christmas time for both of them, which is unfortunate for us.

“It’s worse than we thought. When [Cleverley] came off against Everton he reported that it was just a bit of tightness, a bit of pain, but we’ve done further scans and he’s had a recurrence of the injury, so we’re going to have to give him a break until Christmas time, I think. Ashley Young is fit, he’s trained for the last seven or eight days and is available for tomorrow.”

The Scot, mindful of United’s key game against Benfica in the Champions League next week, has a delicate balancing act when it comes to team selection against Rogers’ men.

Swansea City versus Manchester United, Premier League, Liberty Stadium, Saturday 19 November 2011, 5.30pmAnderson is likely to vie with Michael Carrick for a place in central midfield alongside Darren Fletcher. Meanwhile, Young could start on the left, with in-form Nani fresh from scoring a stunning goal against Bosnia in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, on the right.

With Welbeck and Owen out, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández should reform United’s attack, although Dimitar Berbatov is in contention. The Bulgarian, who is out of contract next summer, remains part of Ferguson’s planning according to the Scot, and United will activate a further year in the Bulgarian’s contract.

“Dimitar is still in my thoughts,” added Ferguson.

“I have read some things but there is absolutely no reason for me to let him go. He is an outstanding footballer and we will give the extra year. It is unfortunate the form of Javier Hernández over the last year has been outstanding but he [Berbatov] plays a great role and he trains well. He has no complaints. The boy is a great professional and we are happy for him to be here. You need a good number of strikers in the modern day. If you look back to 1999, we had four great strikers. They all played their part. That is exactly what will happen today.”

One player likely to be involved at some stage is Ryan Giggs, the 37-year-old Welshman who represented his country 64 times, but has never faced a Welsh club team during his two decade long career. It is a bitter-sweet moment for Giggs, who is proud that a Welsh side has finally made it to the top level of English football.

“It’s fantastic news for Welsh football that Swansea are doing so well,” said Giggs.

“As a Welshman, I’m very much looking forward to Manchester United visiting Wales for the first ever time in the Premier League. Swansea is a great city and the Swans have tremendous support in a terrific stadium. All Premier League games are tough and I’m sure the match against the Swans will be no different.”

United’s last visit to Swansea ended in a goalless draw at the Vetch Field in December 1982. The Swans beat United 2-0 at the same venue the previous season and have never lost to the Reds at home. Manager Rogers believes his side has a chance of repeating the club’s last victory over United, with a mixture of attractive attacking football, and a high tempo pressing game.

“Our approach will not fundamentally change,” said the xx-year-old coach.

“We want to dominate the game with the ball, and the statistics show that we have been able to do that this season. Obviously you have to retain the caution of knowing that players at this level have a higher quality, especially against one of the top European sides with a number of players that can hurt you.

“But Kenny Dalglish said after our draw at Anfield that they couldn’t string five or six passes together, which was good for me to hear because we work hard on getting the ball back quickly. So our idea of the game will be the same, it will be creative and offensive but our five clean sheets also show that we are tactically disciplined.”

Rogers welcomes back left-back Neil Taylor, who returns from a sore ankle. Stephen Dobbie could also return after suffering a similar injury. Meanwhile, former United player Alan Tate is unavailable for the tie with the Premier League champions.

Match Facts
Swansea City versus Manchester United, Premier League, Liberty Stadium, Saturday 19 November 2011, 5.30pm

Likely Line-ups
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Williams, Monk, Rangel, Taylor; Britton, Allen, Gower; Dyer, Graham, Sinclair. Subs from: Tremmel, Moras, Agustien, Richards, Lita, Moore, Routledge, Dobbie.

United (4-4-1-1): De Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Nani, Fletcher, Anderson, Young; Rooney; Hernandez. Subs from: Lindegaard, Fabio, Rafael, Pogba, Evans, Fryers, Carrick, Berbatov, Park, Valencia, Diouf.

Swansea: LWLDWD
United: WLWWWW

Performance stats

  • Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm is now joint top in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for saves with 68, matching United’s David de Gea. 14 of those saves came in Swansea’s last Barclays Premier League game against Liverpool, the second highest number of saves made by a goalkeeper in any Barclays Premier League game this season (top is Brad Friedel v United for Tottenham Hotspur with 16);
  • Ashley Williams has excelled at the back for Swnsea this season, 82 defensive contributions overall (tackles, blocks, interceptions). This is the second highest total in the league;
  • Two of the top three most prolific crossers of the ball play for United. Luis Nani has delivered more than any other player with 49, while Ashley Young is in third place with 37;
  • Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer remain the Premier League’s top dribblers, having completed 58 and 45 respectively
  • After a disapointing run of games, including defeat to Man City, a draw with Liverpool, and narrow wins over Sunderland and Everton, Wayne Rooney is now United’s only player in the Index’ top ten. Rooney remains top.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Assistants: S Long, W Smallwood
Fourth Official: A D’Urso

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    • Damian Garside says

      Wow, that is a central midfield that really worries me: seriously lacking in strength. I take it this is what you think is the likely team for the game rather than the ideal one.

  1. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Before the demolition delivered by City, this was the fixture I half expected to provide the humiliating result United had seemed headed for since they beat Bolton. I could just imagine Swansea surging through what passes for our midfield and converting two or three of their many chances, while, at the other end, Vorm would make one spectacular save after another. Maybe now, there’s no chance of that happening, but unless Swansea get up to something, it could be another very dull, low-scoring match indeed.

  2. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    Tbf I’ve only just woken up
    Looks like City will have an 8 point lead before we kick off

    Nothing’s ever decided in November but they look like they could walk the league, especially with the squad that they’ve got.
    We’re supposedly the nearest challengers but the way we’re playing and losing our best players to injury doesn’t inspire much hope.
    Let’s just hope City fuck it up in the second half of the season.

  3. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    de gea
    jones rio vidic evra
    nani carrick giggs young
    rooney hernandez

    Almost perfect, but, of course, Sir Alex has to screw things up: he put Park in the lineup – hopefully not on the left, but I’m not sure that Giggs can cover that spot any better, TBF.

  4. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    01 De Gea
    03 Evra
    04 Jones
    05 Ferdinand
    15 Vidic
    11 Giggs
    13 Park Ji-Sung
    16 Carrick
    17 Nani
    10 Rooney
    14 Hernandez
    34 Lindegaard, 06 Evans, 20 Fabio Da Silva, 18 Young, 24 Fletcher, 25 Valencia, 09 Berbatov

  5. sheesh says

    Final ball has been consistently shite. Is it so fucking hard to find a team mate?

    Rio looked shaky on a couple of occasions, once for that moment leading to the Sinclair miss and then when he inexplicably tried to take out Dyer and got nowhere near him.

    Nani is due a good game now. He’s been his ususal brainless self.

    We’re winning but it’s not been impressive by any means. We need a second goal, otherwise I can see Swansea scoring. Possession counts for bugger all. That 75% possession stat came up on screen and then seconds later Swansea nearly scored.

  6. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sheesh said:

    Nani is due a good game now. He’s been his ususal brainless self.

    It’s not like he’s even been his old selfish idiot… he’s just been shit… period.

  7. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    It’s not like he’s even been his old selfish idiot… he’s just been shit… period.

    Hangover from Portugal’s epic 6-2 the other night

  8. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Without Rooney, we wouldn’t even be worth watching…

    could be right, were missing a leader, a playmaker, and fighting spirit

  9. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    a good time to bring back my evra is a bit shit topic

    On my list of, “things to fix” in this team… Evra doesn’t even make the top 10.

  10. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    United’s passing is diabolical. They don’t see the pass forward in time and, when they do pass it, they can’t get the right weight on the ball. I’ll take the “how did he miss that?” equalizer that should have been as an omen and predict another 1-0 win for United.

  11. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    Rooney is being a dickhead today shooting from range

    Keep the ball FFS

    To be fair Sid… Rooney is our only threat… might as well have a go.

  12. Sidsidney says

    You can see our players struggling to keep the ball under pressure in midfield

    They’re finding it really hard work

    Then someone hoofs it

    It just needs someone with quality who can find space easily

  13. sheesh says

    sidney said:
    Ballsy 2006 Carrick


    Carrick was one of our better players in a sea of average performances.

    Giggs didn’t have a great game. I would love to know what the ratio was of passes to a team mate compared to passes to a Swansea player…but, to be fair to him, we can’t keep relying on him now. He’s done more than enough for us.

    I think we all know what level of performance to expect against Benfica. I can’t wait

  14. Herbie Simms says

    Well, I guess we can’t complain too much. Its the same old but I’ll take the three points. I’m just wondering, can anyone put a stop to Man.City? I truly believe that the English Premier Division title is going to be year after year, between the two Manchester clubs, same as it is in Scotland with Glascow Rangers and Glascow Celtic. As it is every season in Spain, either Real Madrid or Barcelona.

  15. says

    We need a fully fit Carrick. That fellow is very good footballer and needs the platform to play with.

    I honestly do not understand why we can not go back to carrick/fletcher/park central midfield while Cleverly is off sick. And then Jones to deputise whenever Carrick or Fletcher is not available. Rooney has to start up top and on his own with Nani and any from Young and Valencia wide of the Scouser. Seriously, that set up will give us everything we want and protect our back four. This Rooney playing in midfield at this point in time is not needed. It would have been ok if we had a Saha or Benzema. Chicharito is not a good lone striker and is just as dangerous coming off the bench.

    Has our manager forgotten how well we played in the ’09/10 season? Even then we had Berba clogging up our play. Now he is not available so why dont we just do that?

    Watch Real Madrid and you can see how they have Alonso sitting deep while Kedira and Diarra do the hassling in midfield. They win the ball and go fast and quickly to the forwards. we have the personnel to line up like that. carrick’s range is just as good as Alonso’s in my view.

  16. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    diarra doesn’t play for madrid ozil does

    the setup you’re suggesting means all wed get from our midfield is running about

  17. says

    did you see Real on saturday night? Well that was the midfield they had out with Ozil wide right, Benzema through the middle and our Ronnie on the left.

    What am suggesting is a midfield that will give our front three the base to go and play. Nani and Young are clever enough to worry defenders and score. Rooney is Rooney.

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