Swansea vs Man United preview: Gomis and Ayew to present toughest test yet
The chase for Europe begins... but at differing levels.
- Swansea 3-0 York (LC)
- S’land 1-1 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 2-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 0-0 Deportivo (F)
MAN UTD FORM
- Club Brugge 0-4 Man Utd (CL)
- Man Utd 0-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Man Utd 3-1 Club Brugge (CL)
- Villa 0-1 Man Utd (Prem)
- Man Utd 1-0 Spurs (Prem)
Garry Monk must be pinching himself. In a now traditional period of flux – when personnel preparations among the leading clubs have been hampered by last-minute panic buys in the summer transfer window – Swansea have looked incredibly settled. Their early season form has had many people tipping them for a European finish during this campaign.
Monk’s new signings, such as the aggressive and hyperactive Andre Ayew, have adjusted quickly. So much so, that the Ghana international scored in his first two games. On the opening day of the season at Chelsea, he terrorised a backline reeling from the red card of keeper Thibaut Courtois. Ayew then repeated the trick with another goal against Newcastle the following week.
But it’s not just the new faces that have impressed within Swansea’s swashbuckling playmakers. The more established Bafetimbi Gomis has also been strong up front; winger Jefferson Montero has menaced on the wing. Elsewhere, Jonjo Shelvey has orchestrated the midfield tempo with panache, much to the pleasure of his gaffer. “It’s about him working hard and us working hard with him to improve his play in all areas,” said Monk.
For Manchester United, their early fixtures can be summed up in a similar style to last season – a work in progress. Lucky to take all three points against Spurs, and effective in parts against an average Aston Villa, they were then held to a goalless draw by Newcastle at Old Trafford. At times, their forward play has looked clunky.
In fairness, Memphis Depay delivered a goalscoring masterclass in United’s Champions League qualifier at home to Club Brugge, while Wayne Rooney was unlucky to have a goal chalked off at the weekend due to a marginal offside flag (although replays proved he was just ahead of play). Seven points from a possible nine is a pretty neat return for a team finding their rhythm. And the way in which Rooney put Brugge to the sword with his hat-trick in Wednesday’s return leg was impressive. The good news for United is that they’ve yet to concede a league goal. The bad is that Gomis and Ayew should present their toughest test so far.
Phil Jones is still sidelined with a blood clot in his leg that won’t see him return to action until next month. For Swansea, it’s happy days in the treatment room: no injuries to report.
Key battle: Bafetimbi Gomis vs Chris Smalling
Oh, what a difference a season makes. For periods during the last Premier League campaign, both Gomis and Smalling looked to be suffering from a crisis of confidence. The Swansea striker appeared uncomfortable at having to step into the shoes of departing hitman Wilfried Bony.
Smalling occasionally wilted under the pressure of playing in a Manchester United shirt. Fast forward to 2015/16 and both have made domineering starts to their respective seasons. Gomis was a battering ram against Chelsea and Newcastle, scoring in both games and winning the penalty against Jose Mourinho’s men – the one that resulted in Courtois’ second-half dismissal. Smalling has gathered plaudits for his reassuring presence in United’s defence. The spoils could be decided within this match-up.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swansea 2-1 United (PL, Feb 15)
- United 1-2 Swansea (PL, Aug 14)
- United 2-0 Swansea (PL, Jan 14)
- United 1-2 Swansea (FAC, Jan 14)
- Swansea 1-4 United (PL, Aug 13)
ALSO ON FFT.COM
Louis van Gaal was delighted with Rooney’s performance on Wednesday night. “Of course every goal shall give confidence to every player, also to Wayne. I’m very happy to him.
"He was generous to give the penalty to Javier [Hernández] which I think he slipped [when missing]. Wayne has the best mentality you can imagine. Such players at that level will always come back.” Monk has been reflecting on his transition from player to gaffer.
"The person I was as a player is long gone, and that's why I tell my players to play as long as you can. You have to change your personality a little. I'll always be me, but you have to change very quickly at this level... the players have been great with the transition but you don't get invited for meals any more.”
Facts and figures
- Swansea have won 3 of the last 5 meetings with Man United in all competitions, all by a 2-1 scoreline.
- Jonjo Shelvey (13) has created more goalscoring chances than any other player in the Premier League so far this season.
- Wayne Rooney has now gone 9 Premier League games without scoring. Only once in his Premier League career has he gone 10 games without scoring (August-December 2003 while at Everton).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
A tight away win. 0-1.