Manchester United travel to Swansea hoping to extend their unbeaten away run that stretches back to early November. The Swans on the other hand, will be hoping that a win will arrest the slide downward and help ensure that they are not sucked into the relegation dogfight.
Although United lost to Swansea in the opening game of the season, the side that looks set to take to the field at the Liberty Stadium and the one that started at Old Trafford are two completely different teams. Not only the current United side are unbeaten in seven games, they have lost just once in their last 19 games and will be looking for a win that will inch them closer towards second placed Manchester City.
Although Swansea will be well-rested for the game on Saturday, Garry Monk’s side have won just once in their last six games in all competitions and are looking a shadow of the side that occupied the top four early in the season. While this certainly promises to be a tight encounter, here are the three key battles that will decide the outcome of this game.
Jonjo Shelvey vs Wayne Rooney
In the absence of the suspended Gylfi Sigurdsson, Shelvey was playing further forward as an attacking midfielder and carried the bulk of the creative work, in the last few weeks with Jack Cork behind him. With the return of the Icelandic international, the 22-year-old will shift deeper into midfield and will likely come in direct contact with Rooney.
The England captain played up front against Preston, but given Robin Van Persie’s return to fitness, it looks as though Rooney will have to be content with a midfield role. Although he has the passing range to do the job, his threat is limited severely and the quality of the runs becomes all the more important. If Swansea are to get anything from the game, not only does Shelvey need to have a blinding game, they also require him to ensure that Rooney is out of the game for as much as possible. If the Swans can do that then they stand a very good chance of doing the double over the Red Devils.
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