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Swansea City 1-1 Manchester United: United tastes their first draw this season

TRP
SENIOR ANALYST
701   //    24 Dec 2012, 10:13 IST

The Red Devils traveled to Welsh side Swansea and played out a quality 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium. While the Swans were exceptional with their passing in the first half, Manchester United had the better of them in the second half when the Swans defended deeper.

Teams

United played with almost the same team as the one they employed against Sunderland last weekend. This was a sterner test for the midfield duo of Carrick and Cleverly, having to block the usual passing rhythm of Michael Laudrup’s side. Vidic was back on rear guard duty in place of Ferdinand, facing the difficult task of marking the League top scorer Michu.

Kemy Augustien was a surprise inclusion placed alongside Britton as a holding midfielder. Michael Vorm was back between the Swansea posts after a two month absence. Angel Rangel is still among the injured, allowing Tiendalli to keep his place as Right-Back.

United lead the initial assault

The Red Devils started brightly, with neat passes and precise movement. Though Swansea were expected to play for possession, the United midfield kept the ball well for the first 15 minutes.

Vidic was looking slightly uncomfortable coming back from injury and had an early scare when Michu outpaced him to reach a long ball before skying it out, much to the relief of the Serbian. Vidic got better later on as the match settled into a steady pace.

United got the breakthrough at the 16th minute when Evra headed home a Van Persie corner. This was Evra’s third goal of the season and he looks more and more like the Evra people were accustomed to three years back.

United’s left flank was the main direction of attack for both sides. Evra came up on top in both defending as well as attacking down this flank. (CREDITS – whoscored.com)

Swansea string their passes

The goal seemingly sharpened Swansea as they began to string their passes the way they usually do. Since Phil Jones was defending much deeper than Rafael ever does, Evra had to move out more to widen the United flanks. Since Ashley Young isn’t exactly known for his defensive prowess, Swansea attacked more and more down the right side. Even Routledge abandoned his left wing to drift into central positions at times. Tiendelli had a good game when it came to overloading United’s left flank as he harassed both Evra and Young in the first half quite a bit.

With Swansea in control, it was only a matter of time before their relentless pressure would result in a Swansea goal. A quick passing spell from Swansea resulted in a delicate through ball for Dyer who hit first time from his right side causing De Gea to merely parry the ball away weakly. And who else but Michu it was running right in front of De Gea’s saved ball to slot it home. This makes Michu the top scorer in the league with 13 goals till now.

Second Half – Swansea heroics

The half time talk Sir Alex Ferguson gave must have been quite good as his team took complete possession of the ball in the second half with Swansea now defending much deeper. While the Swans pressed the United players even inside the United half at times in the first half, the second half was a stark contrast in that regards.

Valencia was completely shut down by Swansea left back Ben Davies who did an admirable job in blocking the Ecuadorian’s menacing drilled balls. He had to be subbed out for Chicharito, the Super-sub of Ferguson’s side who has aided United in many comebacks before.

By this point United were going all out in their attacks leading to many chances either squandered by Rooney’s bad form in the game or due to Swansea’s exceptional defending. Rooney had an uncharacteristically bad game by his standards causing United to lose their rhythm in the attacking third even when they were on the counter. It was partly due to Chico doing a great job of keeping Van Persie at bay shifting the onus largely onto Rooney.

Ferguson put on the old guard of Scholes and Giggs to bring some composure into the hurrying United midfield. Sadly, it was a case of ‘too little too late’ as they did not have enough time get more chances. Carrick and Van Persie both hit hit the bar making it an unlucky day for the Red Devils as they were continually frustrated.

Match Verdict

Swansea    Match-Stats     Man United

Swansea keeper Michael Vorm and their defence held on heroically in the end to deny United any possible late winners. United would have to be content with only one point as Swansea deserved that the way they defended late in the match. Swansea must be given credit for their daring style of open play against United in the first half.

The way they defended in the second half relinquishing possession showed the difference between the Swansea City of last year compared to this year under Michael Laudrup.

Manchester United are now just 4 points clear of their rivals from the Blue side of Manchester who won their fixture against Reading on Saturday.

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TRP
SENIOR ANALYST
The Rational Pie (www.therationalpie.com) is an Indian perspective of the entire Sporting world. From tactical tear-downs of Footballing battles to Analytical Cricket reviews for this frenzy nation, TRP also dips into the intricacies of F1 and Tennis. Uncompromising quality, freshness in reporting and Sports in our veins......A BITSian venture.
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