Swansea City vs Manchester United, Gameweek 4, Liberty Stadium, Wales: Manchester United lost their third consecutive game against Gary Monk’s Swansea City by the same scoreline 2-1, to end their unbeaten campaign and slip 5 points behind league leaders, Manchester City!
Ending the Welsh menace
Loius Van Gaal’s 50th game as in-charge saw his Red Army make a trip to the South Wales to face a menacing Swansea City against whom the Dutchman lost both the league ties in his first season in-charge. He stressed the need to ensure that United don’t fall to a defeat and continue their good momentum coming back after their triumphant return to European’s top tier competition. Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick and Herrera’s sublime form against Club Brugge was followed by the news of Adnan Januzaj picking up an injury during the game against the Belgium side. It didn’t really disappoint many, as it brought the case of Ander Herrera starting in a No 10 role, a position that United fans have wanted him to play in for months! Bastain Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin started in the heart of the United midfield with Memphis and Mata occupying the wing positions. Rooney lead the line with the crucial role of linking up play given to the reliable Herrera who has been in good form since the last few weeks. Felliani, fresh from serving his three game suspension found himself on the bench with Van Gaal going for an unchanged back four. David De Gea remains out of contention amid reports that Real Madrid are pushing one final time for the Spaniard goalkeeper with two days before the Summer Transfer Window comes to a close. Gary Monk, made a change with Swansea’s best player so far Jefferson Montero making way for Routledge down the left hand side with Ghanian forward Ayew and Gomis leading the Swans charge in attack!
United start brightly before Swansea threaten
United came into the game without conceding a single goal in the league with solid defensive displays but this Swansea side certainly looked like they had it in them to threaten that record. United were the brighter team as proceedings began, with some wonderful link up play between Luke Shaw and Morgan Schneiderlin, as Memphis was fouled in a dangerous position 25 yards from goal. The resulting free-kick from the Dutch winger was parried away by the Swansea goalkeeper Fabianski. United continued to enjoy a fair share of possession with Herrera beautifully creating space for himself before passing it towards an onrushing Juan Mata only for him to shoot wide from a tight angle! Wayne Rooney again looked isolated upfront as Ashley Williams managed to knick the ball from his legs after a good first touch! However it was Swansea who looked like the team to open the scoring with two glorious chances which somehow couldn’t find the back of the net. Swansea won a free-kick about 45 yards from United box, and Shelvey’s low grounded delivery was flicked on to Gylfi Sigurdsson who was on to it quickly but miscued it inches wide off the post much to the relief of Sergio Romero. A few minutes later Gomis showed tremendous skill and upper body strength to get away from Blind and Smalling down the right hand side, cutting inside before he fired across the keeper only to see it off the post and out! United couldn’t have wanted the half to end sooner as they were shaken by the 20 minutes of sharp and crisp attacking spell by the hosts!
United score against the run of play!
United started the second half brightly and were rewarded after some shoddy defending by the hosts! 49 minutes into the game, Luke Shaw managed to get plenty of space down the left side, as he ran down the wing. He managed to get his chipped across the defense and into the danger area, which Wayne Rooney tactfully left despite stretching his left thigh. The ball deluded the defenders and found the path of Juan Mata who fired it into the roof of the net from close range. The away end was rocking as United got a lucky break, completely against the run of play. Williams almost suddenly was about to make matters worse as his interception from Memphis’s cross almost found his own net only for an alert Fabianski to parry the ball away from danger. Just as Van Gaal felt United could finally end their ghost of losing back to back games against Garry Monk’s resolute Swansea side, they drew level. An hour played Rooney’s misplaced pass found United’s completely dispossessed. With Luke Shaw unable to find a way back, Sigurdsson fired in an excellent cross which was met by a brilliant downward header from Ghanian forward Ayew bouncing past the outstretched hands of Romero.
Gomis heaps further misery!
Gomis who was a constant threat all game, proved to be the match-winner in the end with Ayew turning provider as he played a defense splitting ball in between two defenders for Gomis to squeeze the ball beneath the flat footed Romero for his first and Swansea’s daring comeback! Frustration loomed large for United as they continued their charge to find an equalizer. Ashley Young and Carrick were introduced to add some fresh impetus and salvage something from the game. Rooney had the best chance to do just that as he controlled the ball beautifully before bearing down the goal but some last minute hesitation from the United skipper allowed Ashley Williams to comeback and complete his tackle and out-possess the center-forward, despite Wayne’s claims for a penalty! Felliani was brought on in place of Herrera and he attempted to knock down the high balls for someone to get to the end of it. Frustration proved to be the order of the day as United were defeated for the third time against the same opposition, in similar circumstances.
Much to ponder over for Van Gaal
As Ghanian forward Ayew claimed the man of the match award for his dazzling display that was capped by the equalizer and the assist for the winner, United’s defensive fragility was exposed clearly. Daley Blind was hushed and harried as his lack of experience showed. Louis Van Gaal has invested heavily in the transfer market this season, but do we see a United side that can challenge for the title, and combat against the big dogs across Europe? United first real challenge in the form of Swansea came and United crumbled. Memphis had an off day, and didn’t have anything going for him. With reports that United have informed Hernandez that he doesn’t feature in their plans this season, who will lead the line for United? Rooney has yet to get his first league goal for Manchester United, and how much longer can he be played as No 9, if his misery run continues in the league. With 63% possession and 11 shots, United lacked in the final third! Manchester United find themselves 5 points beyond their next door neighbors, Manchester City who announced the capture of Belgium international Kevin De Bruyne for a massive 55 million pounds just as Swansea were causing United problems. With two days left for the window to close, what is in store for Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea who continues to find himself shut out. With the first punctuation in the league owing to the international break, where will Manchester United find themselves once the league resumes. Will Romero still be in between the posts? Will United see a marquee signing lining up next time the Red Devils line up? There is not long left, as Louis Van Gaal’s troubles seem far from over!