Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Cork will need to be tamed by Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger if the Red Devils are to triumph, says Alex Keble...
The Manchester United resurgence may be slower than many had hoped, but signs of stringent organisation and a highly disciplined shape have emerged in the opening few weeks. The visit of Garry Monk’s Swansea, a cautious and pragmatic team that closely resemble Louis van Gaal levels of structural integrity, should be an intriguing match-up decided in central midfield.
United have begun to swarm and press with van Gaal-esque regularity, shifting as a compact unit that looks to tackle high up the pitch and dominate territorially; their 57.5% possession and 86% pass accuracy are testament to the Dutchman’s philosophy of controlling aesthetics.
Pressing from the front could be a dangerous tactic against the superb duo of Jack Cork and Jonjo Shelvey. Cork has continued the quietly elegant form (5 interceptions per match, 91% pass accuracy) that saw him build the foundations of Swansea’a attacks last season, whilst Shelvey is developing into an outstanding deep-lying playmaker (69 passes per match, 4.3 key passes - see our recent Jonjo Shelvey profile here).
It is essential that Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin do not over-commit when pressing, and certainly the head-to-head between these four players will be fascinating. United’s new duo are also specialists in both cutting off passing lines and building attacks with quick tempo passing.
A game of slim margins is to be expected. The victor is likely to be the side whose central midfield duo perform with the greater energy, determination, and consistency; it is, for both van Gaal and Monk, an important test of their respective capabilities to improve on last season.