After the ‘one step forward, two steps back’ nature of Manchester United’s season, they host Swansea in an FA Cup (January 5, 2014, 8:30 AM Pacific) tie that will see an under pressure David Moyes try to launch an assault on a trophy United have not won since 2004.
Wayne Rooney will certainly miss out amid speculation regarding his future. Rooney has been carrying a groin problem throughout most of December and has been given the weekend off to try to get back to full fitness. This comes as a blow to a side that became heavily dependent on his ability to single handedly spearhead the mini-revival staged during December. That was brought to an end by Tottenham on New Year’s Day and now it seems there will be no contract talks until after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. If United fail to secure a Champions League place this season, will they be able to keep hold of him? It’s certainly in the balance, but for now the focus must be on Swansea.
Out Of Form
Michael Laudrup has remained adamant that relegation is not a concern although he must be slightly worried about the lack of form and the players he has out. Michael Vorm, Michu and Nathan Dyer are all crucial to the backbone of his side and are all long term absentees, while they are without a win in seven games and are just 4 points above the drop zone. The FA Cup could either be seen as a welcome break from the difficulties of the Premier League, or an unwelcome distraction.
Team News Manchester United
Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young are definitely out and there are also doubts over a few other first team players. It is sure to be a much changed side as Moyes attempts to rest some of his key players for the upcoming League Cup Semi Final First Leg against Sunderland, and the difficult push for a Champions League spot. Hernandez will get a rare start as will Kagawa, both players seem to be out of favor under the new regime and will see this as an opportunity to prove their worth to the former Everton boss. Phil Jones is also out but Nani returns to the squad and Wilfred Zaha may also be seen as an option for a run out. Fergie’s final signing has not managed to break into the first team this year but the cup competitions represent his best chance for playing time.
Team News Swansea City
Swansea have no Michu, Dyer or Vorm but also will be missing winger Pablo Hernandez with Leon Brittan a doubt because of illness. This means that with a squad of just 20 available, of which only 14 are first team regulars, Laudrup’s hand may be forced in terms of the team he is able to put out. With Aston Villa’s manager Paul Lambert calling the FA Cup ‘something we could do without’, and claiming most other Premier League managers felt the same, you wonder whether those in the lower half of the table will really put out strong sides, or rather focus on getting to the magical 40 point mark in the league, which is seen as the number that usually keeps you up.
Manchester United vs Swansea City Prediction
Neither team are going to be particularly happy with a replay in this one, but that is what I’m going for. United’s side will be full of players that have a point to prove, but the fact that there has been no consistency in the team selection and therefore, the form of the team, I expect a disjointed performance here. Swansea are down to their bare bones but won’t be intimidated at all by a visit to Old Trafford at this point in time. Open game, hopefully entertaining, my prediction for the result is: Manchester United 2 -2 Swansea City.
Manchester United vs Swansea City Television
The match will be televised at 8:30 AM Pacific on Fox Sports 1 USA and Fox Deportes.