By the time United line up to face Swansea at Old Trafford, with the greatest respect to QPR, they’ll know if they stand any chance of winning their twentieth title. Newcastle, with Cisse, Cabaye, Tiote, Ba (what I wouldn’t give to see at least one of those in red next season!) in tow could well do a job. However, we can’t focus on that and must, instead, focus on beating Swansea City.
Swansea have been playing a very attractive brand of football this season with their support dubbing Barcelona ‘the Swansea City of Spain’ in a tongue in cheek swipe at those who label them the Barcelona of Wales. Swansea, however, have struggled to win on their travels this season. Indeed, they’ve scored more, away from home, than only Fulham and Stoke as they find themselves with the third worst away record for goals scored. This hasn’t stopped their manager, Brendan Rodgers claiming that United face a dangerous opponent on Sunday afternoon and local legend, John Hartson, confidently predicting a Swansea game.
Selection, post Park-in-for-Valencia, should prove to be an interesting talking point for, even if City win at Newcastle, United must score a hat full to take it to the last day. I know that we’re looking at an 8-0 result to make it interesting but, as long as it’s still on, United have a duty to try to win this league at all costs. Therefore I can see a very attack minded line up.
In goal we should see de Gea with fit again Lindegaard on the bench. Evans is again ruled out so I’d expect to see Smalling deputise alongside Rio. Many criticised Smalling for his part in the City defeat but let’s not forget that, if Evans was fit, he wouldn’t have started. He hadn’t started in the middle for a while so he is due a break. He’s one for the future and, for me, a certain future England regular. Evra, another coming under pressure from some United fans, will captain the side from left back and much pressure will be on him to attack the left flank and offer goal scoring opportunities. On the other side of the defence, I’d expect to see Rafael start again. At least, I’d hope to see him start again!
In midfield Carrick should be asked to start in the middle with his partner likely to be Paul Scholes. Giggs or Cleverley, however, could fill in as a more direct approach may be needed. The wing positions, assuming that United revert back to their favoured 4-4-2 formation, will be filled by, I hope and pray to God, Valencia and one from Young or Nani. I fully understand why Nani started against City but he bottled it on the day. As for why Valencia didn’t, I just don’t know. He’s one of the most potent attacking threats in the league, let alone the United squad so why he didn’t start is beyond me. I genuinely pray that he starts tomorrow!
Rooney will expect to line up against Swansea and, with Welbeck apparently ruled out after picking up a knock from kung-fu king, de Jong, Hernandez should start alongside him. If, however, City pick up all three points at Newcastle we may see Berbatov given the chance to say farewell to an adoring crowd.
- Rooney has 26 goals for the season, equal to his best ever tally.
- Apparent United target, Sigurdsson, has scored in four of Swansea’s last five wins.
- Swansea have won more fixtures against clubs in the top half of the league than they have the bottom.
- In a Premier League taking in only 2012 results, United lay top on goal difference. Swansea sit in tenth place.
I’m trying not to think about the Newcastle game so will predict, solely, this one. United to win by four!