Swansea City v Manchester United preview.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE:
Swansea City v Manchester United.
Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Saturday 17th August, 2013, Kick-off - 17.30
Official: Phil Dowd, R 4 Y 74
We saw Phil Dowd officiate three times last season in Manchester United games, the last occasion was at the Emirates Stadium.
League Form last 5: United; D W L D W
League Form last 5: Swansea; L L W D L
Discipline Last Season
Swansea: Yellow 58 Red 2
Manchester United: Yellow 57 Red 1
Swansea Top scorers last season: Michu (18) De Guzman (5) Routledge (5) Graham (3) Dyer (3).
United Top Scorers last season: van Persie (26) Rooney (12) Hernandez (10) Kagawa (6) Evra (4).
Team News: Swansea:
Jonathan de Guzman is unavailable due to concussion suffered on international duty and could miss the first leg of the Europa League play-off match against Romanian's Petrolul Ploiesti.
Swansea record signing Wilfried Bony is in line to make his Premier League debut, despite only returning from the Ivory Coast's friendly against Mexico in America late on Thursday night.
Team News: United:
Rafael da Silva is suspended (red card v Chelsea) as the Brazilian recovers from a hamstring injury suffered in the Community Shield victory.
Ashley Young, Nani, Javier Hernandez, Nick Powell and Darren Fletcher are all likely to miss out due to injuries.
We should see Adnan Januzaj the 18-year-old Belgium youngster on the bench, recruited from Anderlecht two years ago, who has had a significant impact in the pre-season matches coming on as a substitute for van Persie in the Community Shield on Sunday.
The left-footed winger was described by Sir Alex Ferguson as "one of the most promising talents" to emerge from the club's youth system, with Mr Moyes confident Januzaj is ready to move up to the senior team squad.
David Moyes has to decide whether to include Rooney in the squad in his first Premier League game in charge of Manchester United. The No 10 completed 65 minutes in his first game since last season against Scotland at Wembley where England beat the Old Enemy 3-2 on Wednesday. Rooney is expected to be on the bench.
Michael Laudrup's Notes:
David Moyes was an interested observer at the Liberty Stadium in early August as Swansea enjoyed a 4-0 Europa League win over Malmo. Record signing Wilfried Bony bagging a brace and new addition to the Swans Alejandro Pozuelo netting also, Michu picked up where he left off last campaign with a trademark composed first - half goal.
There were encouraging signs of an early understanding developing between Michu and Bony, and a strong display from JonJo Shelvey - another debutant - in midfield.
Laudrup hopes the chance for players to bed in during the meaningful European fixtures will develop into a strong start domestically, the Dane noting " It's great to play these two serious games before the league starts, we can use these games as preparation for the Premier League.
"We know the cup competitions are important but the Premier League is our daily bread. It is where we want to consolidate ourselves as a squad and a club this season."
Laudrup went on highlighting one of Swansea's weakness's last season "We have conceded only one goal in pre-season - that gives confidence to the team - and we have looked strong at set-pieces. That was one of our weak points last season and it looks like we are improving there."
Excluding penalties Swansea conceded a league-high percentage of goals to set pieces - 38 last season.
The Last League Meeting - Sunday 12th May 2013
Manchester United 2 Swansea City 1. (Hernandez 39 Ferdinand 87. Michu 49)
Javier Hernandez opened the scoring with the half-time whistle looming, after Robin van Persie's curling free-kick bounced off Ashley Williams and dropped perfectly for the Mexican to slide the ball in. United's No5, Rio Ferdinand scored his first goal in five years, became the 20th United player to score last season, after he lashed the ball into the Stretford End in the latter stages of an entertaining match.
Michu who many considered to be the player of the season, had equalised by meeting Nathan Dyer's cross beating Phil Jones, finishing past helpless countryman De Gea.
The penultimate League match and final home game of the season hosting Swansea was tinged with great sadness with devastating news announced earlier in that week of the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
The day was a dual landmark occasion for the Reds with the return of our trophy recording the 20th League Title but witnessing the Greatest Manager of All Time, Sir Alex Ferguson waving goodbye to the Old Trafford faithful and fans around the world.
Possession: United 64% Swansea 36%. Shots on Target: United 9 Swansea 2. Corners: United 7 Swansea 5
Key Notes - Facts.
Yes we're off and running hopefully, as United's 38 match marathon kicks-off in South Wales to retain the Premier League trophy. It's a potential early banana skin as United found out in the corresponding fixture last season being held to a 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium in December 2012, Patrice Evra's headed goal opening the scoring, levelled out by Michu.
Swansea have also retained the services of highly regarded gaffer Michael Laudrup who improved Swansea's league performance from an 11th place finish two seasons ago to 9th place last campaign.
The Swans also won the League Cup in February their first major trophy, which enters the Welsh club into the Europa League.
The Dane has made canny summer signings and did so last season; notably £2m - Michu the club's top goalscorer 18 strikes and Pablo Hernandez £5.5m. Further reinforcements have been added this summer for Europa League football bringing in Real Betis' midfield anchor Jose Canas and from Liverpool, Jonjo Shelvey.
It's the signing of striker Wilfried Bony for a club record fee of £12.5m that will excite the Swansea fans, the Ivory Coast International scored 31 goals in 30 games last season for Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem, 46 goals in 55 matches for the striker while in Holland. The 24-year-old will be asked to take more of the goal burden from Michu, who considers himself not to be a centre - forward.
Laudrup's knowledge of La Liga football is apparent the ex-manager of Getafe and Mallorca brought in not only Michu but also Chico and Jonathan de Guzman the Dutch midfielder from Villarreal, who Swansea have agreed an extension to the loan for another season, for little money.
Swansea played a higher percentage (46%) of passes in their own half, more than any other Premier League team.
The distraction of the Europa League competition brings question marks to improving upon Swansea's 9th place Premier League finish, but a stronger squad depth should help on both fronts.
Manchester United are undefeated in 24 of their previous 26 games in the Premier League.
Swansea have conceded at least two goals in eight of their last ten fixtures in the Premier League, and failed to score in their last three matches in the league. After winning the Capital One Cup in February 2013 the club went AWOL, recording 1 win out of the last 10 games in the league.
Swansea opened up last season's campaign by battering QPR, 5-0 while United on day-1 of the new term went down 1-0 at Goodison Park to David Moyes' Everton.
The last occasion Swansea beat United was in the Football League Division One in January 1982 at Swansea's old ground the Vetch Field, going down on the day 2-0.
In the four Premier League games between Swansea and United, the Reds have won 10-points. United hit the woodwork 24 times last season the most of any Premiership side.
Manchester United the come-back kings, came from behind to register 29 points in the Premier League last season. Bettered only by Newcastle in 2001-02 (34).
David Moyes will be determined to be the first Manchester United boss since Dave Sexton in 1977 to record a win in his first league match, both Sir Alex Ferguson and Ron Atkinson lost their opening league games.
Scoreline Prediction: 1-1
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image: © cpjobling