United started their Premier League season in truly sensational style at Old Trafford last weekend and aim to further their excellent start, as they travel to Wales and kick off the league’s second game-week. With Swansea City dramatically escaping the drop last time out, things seem to be looking up slightly at the Liberty Stadium, however the lucrative departure for captain and key man Gylfi Sigurdsson has dramatically lowered confidence. With a solid 0-0 draw at Southampton last weekend, Swansea will be wary of an even tougher match as they return to their home ground in which United beat them 3-1 last season in November, with a dominant performance that was surprisingly significant for the the Reds’ season as things began to click at last for José Mourinho’s side.
Swansea took a point from Old Trafford in April when a Sigurdsson expert free-kick levelled the scores after Wayne Rooney’s penalty that was controversially given gave United a lead right on half-time. A win at Anfield in February as Clement took charge for the first time and other surprising positive results for the Welsh side showed they were a force to be reckoned with under the right manager. Łukasz Fabiański, Federico Fernández, Leroy Fer and Fernando Llorente along with Sigurdsson stepped up in the latter stages of last season and will have been sure to have been subject to bids this summer. The additions of Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham on loan and a shrewd signing of Roque Mesa from La Liga outfit Las Palmas, who fits Swansea’s style perfectly, have bolstered a strong side. However, like last summer and Ashley Williams’ departure for Everton, Swansea are have had their widely-regarded best player poached from them. Sigurdsson’s set-pieces and all-round nifty play have caused problems for almost every Premier League club over the last few years. The absence of Sigurdsson does mean that United have a high probability of facing a 4-4-2 from Swansea that will surely put the pressure on whoever is in United’s defence. Llorente’s sightly infamous cycling injury in late July that has kept him on the sidelines since means he is major doubt for Clement’s side. The Spaniard’s absence is a huge positive for United’s defence as his strength and instinctive finishing ability could be big trouble as Mourinho aims for a second consecutive clean sheet.
As for Mourinho’s men, Sunday’s resounding victory makes his team selection a tough one. The Portuguese’s natural instinct may be to throw Jesse Lingard and Marouane Fellaini into the mix due to their reliability in these type of matches and change the system to a 4-3-3. This could mean that two of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford are to be dropped, despite strong showings against West Ham. An in-form Romelu Lukaku is set to start, along with two men who were nothing short of outstanding against the Hammers, Nemanja Matić and Paul Pogba. Ander Herrera would feel disappointed to miss out once again but the match may again not require what he offers if Fellaini is available. Victor Lindelöf has been deemed ‘not ready’ for the Premier League by Mourinho and Eric Bailly and Phil Jones’ partnership is likely to stay intact. Jones made his comeback in that match last November and has become a favourite of Mourinho’s since. Finally, Matteo Darmian could come in at left-back to offer a more defensive approach as Antonio Valencia is again set to start and could be captain once more if Michael Carrick doesn’t come into the starting fold.
In summation, the side doesn’t look set to be changed too much but could well be next time out at home to Leicester. There was positive news in Mourinho’s press conference as Ashley Young and Luke Shaw are set to play at home to Swansea in an U23 match on Monday night as they recover from their respective injuries. Jon Moss will referee the match. He came under criticism after his performance at Selhurst Park last weekend, so the official will be looking to put things right at the Liberty Stadium.
It all started well for United last weekend so will they repeat their heroics at the Liberty Stadium of both Sunday and last season? Or could is be a tougher match than the Reds will be hoping for? We’ll have to wait and see if United can extend their premature top of the league status as two former Real Madrid coaches do battle.