4:00pm local time on Sunday, August 30, 2015 at Liberty Stadium
TV coverage: Sky Sports (UK), NBC Sports (US), Fox Sports (Australia)
Swansea City – $3.40 at www.CrownBet.com
WDL record: 1-2-0
Draw – $3.30 at Bet365
Manchester United – $2.25 at Sportsbet.com
WDL record: 2-1-0
Last five EPL meetings:
Swansea 2-1 Man United
Man United 1-2 Swansea
Man United 2-0 Swansea
Swansea 1-4 Man United
Man United 2-1 Swansea
SWANSEA City have two very big reasons to feel confident ahead of Sunday’s late-afternoon clash with Manchester United at the Liberty.
The Welsh club did the double over the Red Devils last season, winning 2-1 both home and away en route to their highest-ever finish in the English Premier League (eighth).
Garry Monk’s men have started strongly this term, too, backing up their well-fought draw at Chelsea in round one with a comfortable win over Newcastle United the following week.
They were clearly the better side against Sunderland last Saturday, too, but some agonising near-misses and a few standout saves from Black Cats ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon saw the relegation favourites snatch a 1-1 draw.
Swans fans will be delighted with the early form of French striker Bafetimbi Gomis, who now has three goals in as many games and is beginning to look a very handy replacement for the departed Wilfried Bony.
Andre Ayew has linked up beautifully with Gomis and company since his summer move from Marseille, providing two goals of his own while adding bucket loads of quality in and around the final third.
The Ghanaian seems to have struck up a telepathic understanding with Jefferson Montero – although it remains to be seen how long that will last, as Bayern Munich are reportedly very keen on the livewire Ecuadorian winger.
Throw in the enigmatic brilliance of midfield playmakers Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jonjo Shelvey, and Man United have plenty to think about as they look to keep their own unbeaten record intact.
Louis van Gaal’s side has started with three consecutive clean sheets, but a grand tally of two goals – only one of which was scored by a United player – leaves much to be desired from a forward line that cost more than Swansea’s entire starting XI.
The much-hyped Memphis Depay has yet to open his Premier League account after his big-money move from PSV Eindhoven, while Wayne Rooney hasn’t found anything like his best form since returning to his preferred striking role.
Or at least that was the case until Wednesday evening, when Rooney ended his scoring drought with a hat-trick against Club Brugge as Man United booked their passage to the Champions League group stages.
Nevertheless, last weekend’s goalless draw at home to Newcastle United suggests there is a certain something lacking at the business end of the pitch – be it firepower, or composure, or sheer weight of chances.
Van Gaal may well have found a solution to those issues in midweek, as Ander Herrera put in a very lively shift in his first runout of the season.
Just where the Spanish schemer fits into the United midfield on a long-term basis remains to be seen, however, now that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin have joined the club.
And while getting on the scoresheet has to be a priority this weekend, the Old Trafford club must also be wary of a muscular, in-form Swansea attack.
Daley Blind and Chris Smalling have been solid at the heart of a defence decimated by injury, but they will be sorely tested by the aerial threat of Gomis and Ayew in particular.
Match betting predictions
Swansea to win or draw – $1.70 at www.Bet365.com
Correct score 2-1 Swansea – $13 at Bet365
Both teams to score – $1.85 at Crownbet.com
Man United are the favourites, and rightly so, but there’s plenty to be said for throwing some money behind Swansea here.
For one, they downed United twice last season – indeed, they’ve won three of their last four encounters with the Devils in all competitions.
For another, they have Montero (for now), whose quick feet, raw pace and pinpoint crossing will cause Matteo Darmian and company all kinds of problems.
If you’re not sold on Swansea to win outright ($3.40 at CrownBet), $1.70 odds on the double chance over at Bet365 is very good value compared to the rest of the field.
Definitely look at the Premier League goal markets, too, as only once in 13 meetings have these two sides played out a scoreless draw – and that was way back in 1982.
Swansea first goalscorer betting
Bafetimbi Gomis – $8 at CrownBet
Gomis’ calm, clinical finish for the opener against Sunderland last weekend spoke of a striker in seriously good form. Can the big Frenchman make it four goals from four?
Andre Ayew – $10 at CrownBet
Ayew has hit the ground running since moving to south Wales this summer. His late runs are a constant threat, so United will have to keep a very close eye on their back post if they’re to keep him at bay.
Man United first goalscorer odds
Wayne Rooney – $6.50 at William Hill
Having banged in a treble during the week, surely Rooney can’t be far off breaking his Premier League duck? He’s a streaky kind of player, so this could be the start of a very prolific run for the Scouse striker.
Memphis Depay – $7.50 at Bet365
The Dutch import has dazzled in patches without making a direct impact on the scoresheet, but that has to change sooner or later. He netted 28 goals for PSV last season, so it’s not like he doesn’t know where the sticks are.
Ki Sung-yueng, who has missed the last two matches with a hamstring problem, could return to the lineup on Saturday after starring in Swansea’s 3-0 League Cup over York City during the week.
Also in line for a call-up to the matchday squad is young midfielder Matt Grimes, who found the net against the Minstermen in his first competitive outing for the season.
Otherwise, there should be few changes for a Swans outfit which really should have demolished Sunderland last weekend.
Possible Swansea XI: Fabianski; Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Shelvey; Ayew, Sigurdsson, Montero; Gomis.
Van Gaal jumbled a few things around for the midweek European fixture, but there’s no certainty that any of those changes will stick for the trip to Wales.
Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger are odds-on to reclaim their starting spots, which means Michael Carrick will probably return to the pine.
Herrera could drop into the number 10 role behind Rooney, but that would mean having to bench either Mata or Januzaj – the latter of whom has started the season very brightly.
Possible Man United XI: Romero; Darmian, Smalling, Blind, Shaw; Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin; Mata, Januzaj, Memphis; Rooney.
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