August 19, 2017
Manchester United face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday in their second Premier League match of the season. After a good pre-season campaign, United commenced their Premier League season last Sunday at Old Trafford against West Ham United. Jose Mourinho’s side dominated the match with Romelu Lukaku scoring a brace on his league debut for United, with Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba also scoring in the 4-0 victory over the London club. United, scoring the most goals in the opening weekend topped the league and if they beat Swansea City, scoring a number of goals again, could still be at the top of the league by the time the last match has been played on Monday evening. Mourinho has suggested that his team were not fixed, just more confident and ahead of this fixture, the Portuguese self-imposed ‘special one’ had lauded French forward Martial.
Starting XI Prediction (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
The Spanish goalkeeper, a supposed target for Real Madrid this summer with speculation starting again with less than a fortnight before the closure of the summer transfer window, had a great match at the Theatre of Dreams last Sunday, keeping a clean sheet although the Hammers were not in their best shape at the start of the season. The Spanish goalkeeper is one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the world and you can understand why a team like Real Madrid will want the player, but also why Manchester United need to keep hold of him. Not needing to sell, United should be able to command a huge fee for the player, if they wanted to sell, which should not happen. The Madrid side has been after Kylian Mbappe this summer and he seems to be heavily linked to Paris Saint-Germain, whether it be this summer or next, meaning the Spanish champions and UEFA Champions League holders will miss out on the hyped teenager. That is where De Gea comes in, supposedly a player that will show the summer window has not been a failure for the Madrid club. Sad plan of action for the best team in the world.
Back Four: Antonio Valencia, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Daley Blind
The back four played impeccably well against West Ham on Sunday. Jose Mourinho should not be tinkering with the early form of his side. Rotation, which seemed needless at times last season may not have been necessary. With Luke Shaw still on the sidelines (until Monday evening when he plays for the U23’s) and Marcos Rojo out for the first half of the season, probably, testing defenders may be needed, but may also be deemed unnecessary at this time. United play three matches over three weeks before other competitions commence after the international break, meaning there would be no need to rotate quite so much. With Antonio Valencia and Daley Blind in the fullback positions and Eric Bailly and Phil Jones, who both did well last weekend in the middle, the defence should be set against Swansea.
Central Midfield: Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba
The midfield due controlled the middle of the park against West Ham and they could do that and more at Swansea. Nemanja Matic was a great signing this summer, more important than Paul Pogba this season because the Frenchman was not able to play to his strengths last season, which drew a lot of criticism. In one Premier League match this season, Pogba played well, one of the best on the pitch, scoring a goal and creating many opportunities. Matic was the lynchpin in midfield, the guy holding the Hammers at bay in midfield, doing his role impeccably well and showing just how much Chelsea will miss him, despite purchasing a younger model who is far from experienced, especially in the Premier League. With the likes of Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, and Marouane Fellaini on the bench, United have many options to change things up if it needs to go that way.
Attacking Midfield: Marcus Rashford, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Anthony Martial
Last weekend Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford started against West Ham. It was a good attacking line-up behind the striker with experience and youth, lots of pace, determination and thought. United played well, feeding Romelu Lukaku, helping him score a brace and almost (twice) get his hat-trick. One change, Anthony Martial would do wonders for United. The attacking pace and flair would be second to none. Jose Mourinho had lauded his French left winger, suggesting that this was the season he comes to fruition. Just imagine the running of Rashford, constantly running at his man, trying to get behind the defence and create, the pace and threat of Martial, especially cutting in from the left and Mkhitaryan, running the show in the middle, relying on Paul Pogba to get things started. That is a devastating attacking trio and that is before you even think about Lukaku leading the line.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
The striker had the perfect start to his Manchester United career last weekend, starting the season with a brace and helping his team beat West Ham United 4-0, sitting pretty at the top of the table with 37 matches remaining. Lukaku knows the Premier League, has the big game experience and the fight, physicality and sheer brilliance to get something for his team. Being flanked by Rashford and Martial with Mkhitaryan just behind him will be great for his confidence and for United’s forward line. This season, if fitness works well for Manchester United, could be the one where Jose Mourinho has them challenging and proving they were just a sleeping giant, showing all the pundits that the club was never going to do a Liverpool, who are 27 years from their last league title win.