Key Battles: Ander Herrera to mark Gylfi Sigurdsson out of the match?

Manchester United will welcome Premier League strugglers Swansea City to Old Trafford at noon on Sunday. Three days after the Manchester derby in which United earned a 0-0 draw, suffering another injury, this time to Timothy Fosu-Mensah and a three-match suspension for Marouane Fellaini for a headbutt on Sergio Aguero, United will be left severely weakened in the midfield especially. Injuries seem to have taken their toll on Jose Mourinho’s side at this stage of the season, which the manager and team will have to plod through. Swansea will head into this match in a relegation position, at the time of writing they were 18th in the league, two points behind Hull City and four points clear of Middlesbrough – who face Manchester City after this match. Swansea will need a result, which may send them to Old Trafford looking to cause an upset, which they have been capable of post-Sir Alex Ferguson. There will be key battles all over the pitch, three of those could be…

Eric Bailly -v- Fernando Llorente

Eric Bailly is still the man of the moment for Manchester United this season. Commanding the defence which has been depleted by injury this season with Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Chris Smalling all out of action, despite attempts from Jose Mourinho to get the two Englishmen back and playing for the club, which desperately needs the strength in numbers at the back with the season’s end around the corner. Bailly has played 21 times in the league this season, creating one chance for his teammates. The Ivorian has an 87% pass success rate, this is something maintained by many of his experienced teammates this season. Bailly averages nine defensive actions per match, something which may be needed against Swansea. If Ander Herrera can keep Gylfi Sigurdsson out of the match, Fernando Llorente, the key battle for Bailly, could be left up front with no support. The Spaniard has played 29 times in the league this season, scoring 12 goals, which may not be the best tally in the league, but they have all been crucial goals for Swansea and he could add to that tally at the Theatre of Dreams. Llorente has created 21 chances for his teammates, has a 57% shot accuracy and a 67% pass accuracy. Defending is not really something Llorente does, but he has averaged one defensive action this season. David De Gea will need to keep his eye on Llorente, and he has the skill to keep another clean sheet in the league this season.

Ander Herrera -v- Gylfi Sigurdsson

Ander Herrera has had a good season and is one of the contenders to take the captaincy, should Wayne Rooney leave or see it removed from him this summer. Herrera are Michael Carrick are the club only fit and not suspended central midfielders, so it will be crucial for both to play against Swansea or United will be severely weakened. The Spanish midfielder has played 27 times in the league this season, scoring one goal. His 88% success pass rate shows his abilities on the ball, with a good eye for a pass, keeping his team in possession more often than not, which will come in handy against Swansea. United will need to dominate the match and should easily score the goals needed to win the match. Herrera has created 35 chances for his teammates, getting back an average six times per league match, but has committed one error defensively this season. Herrera may be tasked to mark Gylfi Sigurdsson, the lynchpin of the Welsh side this season. The Icelandic attacking midfielder has made 34 league appearances this season, scoring eight goals. He has created 64 chances for his teammates, has a 58% successful strike rate and can defend if needed, averaging two defensive actions per match. Herrera has previously kept Eden Hazard out of a match, doing his stuff to earn a crucial victory against league leaders Chelsea a fortnight ago.

Jesse Lingard -v- Kyle Naughton

Jesse Lingard may not be a fans favourite at Manchester United but he certainly has the respect of Jose Mourinho and his teammates. Scoring in the FA Cup final last season, then against in the FA Community Shield, then in the EFL Cup, scoring crucial goals is something Lingard can do, especially when silverware is up for grabs. The Academy graduate has the pace and the ability to get the better of his opposition but does not demand a starting berth in the team and seems happy with the game time he gets. Lingard has made 21 appearances in the league this season, scoring one goal. His passing success rate is an admirable 89%, which shows his worth to the team. Lingard has created 23 chances for his teammates this season also averaging one defensive action per match, which shows he can drop back when needed. Kyle Naughton may go head to head with Lingard, providing he plays on the left-wing. The Swansea defender has 27 appearances in the league this season, no goals. He has created 20 chances for his teammates, though. Naughton averages at least six defensive actions per match and has made one defensive error, which Lingard may help double with his quick pace and ability on the ball.

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