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Preview: Manchester United to pile more pressure on Swansea City?

Manchester United -v- Swansea City

Old Trafford, Manchester

Premier League 2016/17

Sunday 30th April 2017; KO 12:00 BST

Live on BT Sport 1HD

Manchester United will be back in action in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon, their penultimate home match in the league this season, with relegation contenders Swansea City visiting the Theatre of Dreams. Jose Mourinho’s side maintained their unbeaten record against Manchester City at the Etihad on Thursday evening, earning a 0-0 draw in what could have been the biggest match of the season. United still occupy the fifth place in the league, a point behind fourth-placed City and two points behind Liverpool – with a game in hand over their Merseyside rivals. United will still be within a chance of finishing in the top four this season, which will most likely be at the expense of Liverpool, who could still earn a UEFA Champions League spot if United win the Europa League, providing they get through Spanish side Celta de Vigo, and the other team reaching the final, currently either Ajax or Lyon. Mourinho on being short of players in midfield but Juan Mata is close to a return:

“It’s an option. We have Herrera and Carrick and nothing else. Tim is another one that we miss so we are in trouble but we will fight that’s for sure.

“I think the first one to be back is Mata, which gives us another option in attack but, in reality, what we need now is one of the two central defenders to be back.”

Jose Mourinho’s side suffered another injury problem against City, with Timothy Fosu-Mensah coming off the pitch at the end of the match with a shoulder injury, which was confirmed as a significant injury to the Dutchman. Marouane Fellaini’s sending off sees United light in the midfield, with Michael Carrick and Ander Herrera the only fit and eligible central midfielders in the squad, with Wayne Rooney reportedly strengthening that position against Swansea. Mourinho and his United squad will have one eye on the trip to Spain next Thursday, probably saving key players for that match, putting enough strength out on Sunday to get the much-needed three points in order to ensure they keep chase on those teams above them. The Europa League may be a priority, with their being a trophy up for grabs, but the league should be something Mourinho and United concentrate on too, just in case it does not work out in Europe, which could easily be the case.

After the 0-0 draw against Manchester City on Thursday evening, Mourinho spoke to the media about the ‘big things’ that will happen at United next season, saying:

“The group was a nice group [when I arrived at United]. Good people, good boys, committed people. So I think Mr. van Gaal left a good group of boys here with very good relations between them, and I’ve got that in my hands. 

“I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, they missed belief and they missed this extra bit that brings resilience and brings you fight. And [now] they have it, so the group that will meet again on 9 July for next season is a stronger group. 

“The new players, when they arrive, will find a group more ready to go for big things. But the reality is we are fighting to win the Europa League and fighting to finish fourth, so let’s go.”

Match Officials: Neil Swarbrick in charge of the match at Old Trafford, his fourth match involving both teams in under three years

Neil Swarbrick will officiate the match at Old Trafford on Sunday, days after being the fourth official in the Manchester derby. This will be the ninth time Swarbrick has officiated a match involving United, his fourth this season. Previously he was in charge of the 3-1 victory over Swansea City, the 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic and the 1-1 draw against Everton. Swarbrick will have refereed both matches against Swansea this season, along with the clash between the two sides the season before last. In the three matches Swarbrick has officiated involving United this season, he has shown eight yellow cards and one red card; three of the yellow cards to United players. The assistant referees are Gary Beswick and Matthew Wilkes. The fourth official will be Mike Jones.

Form: 24 matches unbeaten in the Premier League, unbeaten in their last ten matches in all competitions

Manchester United: United have done well this season. The 24-match unbeaten run in the Premier League shows how United have moved on from the barren last three seasons, but more improvement will be needed in order to move on again next season. The draws need to be eradicated, turned into victories, ideally. Drawing 13 matches in a season may look good as the team was not losing, but that only gives 13 points to United. If United lost five, won five and drew three matches, the club would have earned 18 points, five more than they have, so taking that into account, despite being undefeated, more points could be achieved in other ways. Winning the EFL Cup already and still in the Europa League, also with a chance of top four, despite supporters wants of a more successful season, this is a turning point post-Sir Alex Ferguson.

Swansea City: Swansea are in poor form this season. The Welsh side have lost 21 matches this season, drawn four and won nine times. They currently occupy the 18th place in the league and are two points behind Hull City, who are outside of the relegation zone heading into this weekend’s matches. By the time this match kicks off at Old Trafford, one of the relegation places could be confirmed if Sunderland fail to get a result against Bournemouth – here’s hoping the Mackems go down. That may take some pressure off, with Middlesbrough still in danger, being just six points better off than their North East rivals, but still four points behind Swansea. Boro entertain City after United’s match on Sunday, so if United beat them, Boro will have a chance to gain some ground, despite it being tough against City but stranger things have happened.

Who are the top scorers at both Manchester United and Swansea City this season?

Manchester United: 28 – Zlatan Ibrahimović, 11 – Marcus Rashford, 10 – Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 8 – Anthony Martial, 7 – Paul Pogba, 6 – Wayne Rooney, 5 – Jesse Lingard, 3 – Marouane Fellaini, 2 – Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling, 1 – Daley Blind, Own Goal, Marcos Rojo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Antonio Valencia

Swansea City: 12 – Fernando Llorente, 9 – Gylfi Sigurdsson, 6 – Leroy Fer, 4 – Alfie Mawson, 3 – Wayne Routledge, 2 – Oliver McBurnie, Martin Olsson, 1 – Tom Carroll, Jay Fulton, Borja Bastón, Angel Rangel, Mike van der Hoorn

Team News: Injuries and suspensions severely weaken United but they should have enough to get through this Swansea side

Jose Mourinho will be without Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Marcos Rojo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and most likely Paul Pogba for the visit of Swansea – all due to injury. Marouane Fellaini was sent off for headbutting Sergio Aguero at the end of the Manchester derby on Thursday evening, meaning he will miss the next three matches in the league. United will be down to the bare minimum for this weekend’s match, which may see an ugly match on Sunday afternoon, but one United should have the power to win, at all costs. Paul Clement will be without Nathan Dyer, Angel Rangel, and Wayne Routledge with Jack Cork, Martin Olsson and Leroy Fer all doubts for the match.

Previous Meetings: Two teams world’s apart in terms of success but close together in terms of head to head battles

Manchester United and Swansea have met 28 times in the history of both clubs – the first meeting coming on the 5th September 1931. United have won 13 matches, drawn five and lost ten matches. Not the best form against the Welsh side, but something they will need to change on Sunday. Post-Ferguson, Swansea have beaten United four times, three in the Premier League, all consecutive matches between both teams – one in the FA Cup. United have won the last two matches, winning 2-1 and 3-1 respectively. A third victory in a row between the two sides needs to happen on Sunday, or the Premier League chance of obtaining Champions League football next season will be much tougher to achieve.

Starting XI Prediction: Who is going to start against Swansea City?

Predicted Score:

Manchester United 2-1 Swansea City

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