Manchester United match preview
The Swans have lost just one of their last eight league matches themselves, which is by some distance their best run of the season.
United thumped four past Swansea when the teams met at the Liberty Stadium in the early throws of this season and they hit two more without reply past the Swans when the clubs met in the Carabao Cup at the same venue in October.
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However, the Welshmen will arrive in Manchester a much more confident and competent outfit this time around.
Keeping City’s champagne on ice
On April 7th, United face the horrible prospect of being the guests of honour at Manchester City’s title winning party at the Etihad. If City can match United’s result this weekend, they will be able to seal their inevitable Premier League title win by beating their rivals when they meet a week later.
Both Jose Mourinho and the United players will be desperate not to be the unwilling participants in a City joy-fest and they will need to beat Swansea on Saturday to give themselves a chance of being party poopers at the Etihad. City will win the title regardless, but delaying that win for a week would at least offer a sliver of consolation.
Pog-back to his best?
Paul Pogba enjoyed a productive international break with France, shining during his country’s 3-1 over summer World Cup hosts Russia. Pogba played in Kylian M’Bappe for the opening goal, before scoring a wonderful free-kick from distance to double France’s lead just after half-time.
Pogba played with class and authority in a midfield three (*cough* hint, hint Jose *cough*) and the performance should help restore some of his lost confidence.
If Pogba can follow up his display with another assured performance against Swansea, he will be well on track to finish the season strongly.
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Scott McTominay was forced to withdraw from the Scotland squad through injury and the youngster is subsequently a doubt for Saturday’s game. Ander Herrera, Daley Blind and Phil Jones remain unavailable, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic has jetted off to semi-retirement in the MLS.
A home fixture against Swansea should represent a chance to pick a relatively attacking team, on paper at least, so it will be interesting to see how Mourinho chooses to approach it.
XI: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Young, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Martial, Sanchez, Lukaku.
Romelu Lukaku vs Alfie Mawson - Fresh from securing his first England call up, 23-year-old centre half Mawson must be full to bursting with self-belief.
He will relish the chance to enhance his burgeoning reputation even further by putting in a good performance against Lukaku.
United’s Belgian striker scored twice against Saudi Arabia in mid-week, bringing his total to four goals in three matches overall for club and country.
Opposition danger man
Ki Sung Yueng - With Ghanaian forward Jordan Ayew suspended, midfielder Ki stands out as Swansea’s biggest threat this weekend.
The Korean tends to up his game when facing United and he has already scored twice against them in his career. Ki does everything with a considered class and I always thought he could do a job at a bigger club.
Betting tips and predictions
First goalscorer flutter
Romelu Lukaku – I’ve given up on backing Sanchez to score first, which means it’s incredible likely that he will bag the opener this weekend. However, I’m tipping Big Rom to keep his excellent scoring streak going.
Lukaku has scored eight goals in his last eight appearances for United and Belgium, four of which were the first goals in their respective games. So stick that in your stats pipe and smoke it.
Get Lukaku to score first @ 29/10
Bet with your heart
United tend to make life hard for themselves and against Swansea it’s likely that we will see the same sort of disjointedness that we have witnessed over the past month or so.
Things don’t usually click beautifully into gear overnight, so it’s probably a bit silly to expect a fun-filled, fluid United display packed with edge of the seat, imaginative attacking play.
United’s star quality in terms of individuals should be enough to carve out a victory of some sort nonetheless.
Get United to win 2-0 @ 19/4
Go with your gut
Swansea seem to really enjoy playing at Old Trafford. United have only beaten the Swans twice in their last five meetings in Manchester and the Welshmen have a track record of being a troublesome irritant at the Theatre of Dreams.
United’s last win against Swansea at Old Trafford back in 2016 finished 2-1 to the hosts and I’m forecasting a repeat of that scoreline on Saturday.
Get United to win 2-1 @ 9/1