Manchester United’s season has been full of ups and downs. After the excellent transfer season and first few games, there was a three games losing streak. Only when United seem to have turned a corner, it was the Stoke City and Burnley draw and Chelsea loss which made things worse. Things got slightly better after the win against Manchester City and the loss against Fenerbahce was enough to take all the momentum out of it. So here they are now, with two of their midfield powerhouses out of the mix and with the “fans” and media breathing down their neck, looking for their away win in the league in what seems like an eternity.
With Ander Herrera sidelined for the game due to his unusual second yellow against Fenerbahce and Jose Mourinho’s touchline ban, United will have to be completely ready for Swansea if they wish to not drop any further points. With seven points behind the fourth place and eight points behind the leaders, United have their task cut out for them. It would be interesting to see who makes it to the starting spot with the injuries and suspensions that the manager has on his hands.
Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper – David De Gea
De Gea did not have a great game in Turkey and will be looking to get back to his usual self. He will have to be extra cautious now that both the first choice central defenders are out of the team and Daley Blind, who has done decently at the heart of the defense, is playing on the wrong side of the center.
Back Four – Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind, Marcus Rojo, Luke Shaw
Both the full backs had a poor game against Fenerbahce. Not only did they suffer defensively, but they had no impact going forward. Darmian made some compelling runs but to no further effect. Shaw on the other hand seemed like a distance shadow of himself from last season. Yes, he is coming back from a major injury and of course will take time settling down to the new manager’s tactics but it is already November and it is high time he puts his hand up and delivers a solid performance. Blind and Rojo will want to do what they did at Burnley, to keep any attacking opportunity at bay.
Central Midfielders – Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini
It seems like Mourinho doesn’t have any other option but to start Fellaini in the middle of the park. With Herrera out, Paul Pogba injured, Morgan Schneiderlin disappointing in the last game and Mourinho saying no to Bastian Schweinsteiger, United are left with only Carrick and Fellaini who can be picked for the midfield. Hopefully Fellaini does better than what fans expect off him and Carrick puts in his usual solid performances.
Wingers – Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial
Henrikh Mkhitaryan came on the pitch after a long sabbatical but failed to do anything noteworthy. When asked about him , Mourinho asserted that the Armenian needs to put in much better performances. It doesn’t seem likely that he will start the game but might make it to the bench again. The left side which has usually been occupied by Marcus Rashford, might see some changes to it too. Rashford has been playing a lot of games lately and would need rest at some point in time in order to avoid the burn out. This might be a good opportunity to give him that break and let Martial, who looked decent in the first half against Fenerbahce, have some time on the field.
Number 10 – Juan Mata
The Spaniard has been one of the few players in this United team who can hold his head up high. He has been the creative pillar of the team and has been excellent in the number 10 role. Pogba was the one who occupied this role in couple of other games so with him out and Mkhitaryan not yet up to speed, Mata seems to be the perfect fit for the position.
Striker – Wayne Rooney
As much as it seems a bad decision, Mourinho might not have a better card in his deck. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in a few games now, has been pretty woeful when it came to finishing off the chances. Yes, the manager is happy that he is still doing great making chances for others but a prolific striker like him need to put the chances and even the half chances to bed. With him failing to do so, Rashford needing the rest, Rooney might get a chance to show that the hit against Fenerbahce was not just a one off thing and he can consistently do it at this level, however unlikely that may seem.
The main problem with this United side seems to be their motivation for the games. It seemed as though not many of them were up for the Europa League tie the other night but Premier League is whole another beast. All the players in the squad need to know clearly in their mind what they expect of themselves and the club this season. A lackluster performance today will mean that the pressure on the squad and manager will double up. Hopefully the players pick themselves up and do whats needed of them; create chances, put them to bed and bring back the three points.