Manchester United vs Swansea: Preview, Live stream and TV channel info, Team News, Prediction, Betting odds
While most countries’ premier footballing leagues are in the midst of their winter breaks, there is no such room for comfort as far the most demanding league in the world is concerned. No sooner have the Premier League squads enjoyed their New Year’s night outs than they have to return to their respective training grounds to prepare to kick off the second half of the season starting today.
Manchester United side have not won in eight games and host Welsh club Swansea this evening. While Louis van Gaal continues to face the wrath of a handful of fans, things are looking a little brighter for Swans’ caretaker manager Alan Curtis as they are on a 3-game unbeaten run. History also favours Swansea, as they have defeated the 20-time league champions in the past 3 meetings. Can Louis van Gaal set his ‘ghost team’ to rest and begin the new year on a positive note?
Kickoff and Live Telecast
Channel : Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD
Live Stream: www.starsports.com
Kick-Off: Saturday, 2 January 2016 – 20:30 IST (15:00 BST)
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is set to continue missing out on the services of Jesse Lingard as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Marcos Rojo, Antonio Valencia and Luke Shaw are all long-term absentees from the squad.
Swansea rested some personnel for Monday’s stalemate against Crystal Palace and they are set to return at Old Trafford, but striker Eder and midfielder Federico Fernandez are doubtful with respective ankle and foot injuries and are highly unlikely to feature.
Predicted Starting Lineups
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Fabianski, Naughton, Williams, Amat, Taylor, Shelvey, Ki, Sigurdsson, Montero, Ayew, Gomis
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Jones, Blind, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Mata, Martial, Rooney
Manchester United: When a late Troy Deeney own goal gifted United a late 2-1 victory at Vicarage Road, few would have anticipated that that would be their last game in 2015 in which they would emerge victorious. Although there was a much-improved, traditional United-style attacking performance in Monday night’s 0-0 draw with defending champions Chelsea (which arrested a run of 4 straight defeats), there was no hiding from the fact that the lack of goals has been Van Gaal’s Achilles heel for a majority of the season.
Wayne Rooney’s finishing in the second half was terrible, and they could have easily lost the game despite dominating for large periods had Nemanja Matic kept his composure with only David de Gea to beat. With Anthony Martial set to continue in the left-wing position, United must look to invest in a striker who has the confidence of finishing off a move in the 18-yard box, something which Rooney is appallingly lacking in for pretty much the entire season.
To get 3 points, a team needs to score goals and Louis van Gaal will have known by now that a major upgrade is needed in that department if he wants to win a game.
Last 5 games (All Competitions): D-L-L-L-L (Last match: Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea)
Swansea: Since parting with manager Garry Monk, things have gone up for Swansea as an undeserved defeat at Manchester City was followed by 5 points from their subsequent three league fixtures. Caretaker boss Alan Curtis’ focus on defensive stability has definitely helped their cause as they have admitted to a relegation fight where it is more important not to lose than to win.
Captain Ashley Williams is once again the rock in defence that made him one of the Swans’ star performers last season. Ki Sung-yueng and Jonjo Shelvey are controlling the midfield with composure, making important passes to ensure Swansea see more of the ball and are able to create promising goal-scoring chances through their wingers.
However, like their opponents today, Swansea’s strike force has been a major disappointment in recent weeks – they have failed to find the back of the net in 6 out of their last 9 games. Eder’s injury and Bafetimbi Gomis’ astonishing dip in form have certainly hampered their chances of running away with games, and with the January transfer window open, chairman Huw Jenkins would be better off making an enquiry into a quality striker than into a new manager – Curtis hasn’t been too bad, has he?
Last 5 games (All Competitions): D-W-D-L-L (Last match: Crystal Palace 0-0 Swansea)
- Swansea have defeated United in 4 out of their last 5 meetings in all competitions, including each of the last 3 – all by the same 2-1 scoreline.
- Bafetimbi Gomis has scored in his last two appearances against the Red Devils – both of them winners.
- United are winless in their last 8 fixtures in all competitions (D4, L4)
- Monday’s goalless draw against Chelsea was their 5th 0-0 draw in the Premier League this season – their 4th at Old Trafford.
- Van Gaal’s men have gained just 4 out of 21 points from losing positions in the league this season.
- Rooney has scored just 2 goals in 1273 minutes of Premier League football this season – a goal every 636.5 minutes – his worst return ever in any Premier League campaign upto this stage.
- The Swans are unbeaten in their last 3 league games (W1, D2). They have also kept clean sheets in each of these 3 games, having failed to register even a single one in 10 league games prior to this run.
- The Swans have scored just 4 goals in their last 9 league games.
Chris Smalling vs Bafetimbi Gomis
Even thought the aerially threatening 30-year-old striker Bafetimbi Gomis is on a lean spell at the moment, he can be a handful to deal with if it is his day. One of United’s stars this season – Chris Smalling – will be fully aware of that in the build-up to this game.
He kept Romelu Lukaku quiet during United’s 3-0 victory at Goodison Park earlier this season. Today will be a more-or-less similar challenge for him to deal with professionally in order to ensure that Gomis wins as few aerial and physical duels as possible to stymie him from having a meaningful shot at David de Gea’s goal.
Not an ideal game to tune into if one is looking for goals, as both defences are coming into this particular fixture on the back of well-deserved clean sheets. However, United were brutal as an attacking force against Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea and actually looked like they were playing to save their manager’s job. Should they maintain the same ‘Manchester United attitude’ today, they are likely to reap the rewards.
Predicted score: Manchester United 1-0 Swansea
Betting Odds (bet365)
Manchester United – 8/15
Draw – 16/5
Swansea – 13/2