Manchester United vs Swansea City
Barclays Premier League – Sunday 12th May, 2013 (16:00 KO) – Old Trafford
“Thank you, Sir Alex.” – Everyone.
Celebration day. Commiseration day. Happy. Sad. Thankful. Rueful. Laughing, crying, smiling. I’ve tried to cover as many of the emotions we will witness on Sunday right off the bat so I can then focus on the game itself. If you’re reading this you have at least a passing interest in United, and therefore already know what’s going to happen. Trophy presentation. Guard of honour. Impossible dream. Paul Scholes retiring (again) and making his final appearance. Oh, and a goodbye to that bloke who’s been around for 26 years. But there’s still a game to be played, as unimportant as it actually is.
The aforementioned Scholes will certainly feature, hopefully start. Not that he’ll want any fuss, of course. Michael Carrick will return to the side having been left out for the defeat to Chelsea. Rafael, after his sending off in the game, will be suspended. Phil Jones or Chris Smalling will deputise at right-back. Ashley Young misses out, with Ryan Giggs, Nani and Antonio Valencia vying for positions out wide. Danny Welbeck could also be back in contention. Wayne Rooney’s inclusion – or possible lack thereof – should prove interesting considering the events of the last few days.
Finally, while old faces such as Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra will all likely play, it would be nice to see one or two younger players – Nick Powell and Adnan Januzaj, for example – feature at some point. Considering the emphasis Sir Alex Ferguson has placed on youth throughout his managerial tenure (that feels weird to type), it seems somewhat appropriate that in his final home game in charge a few kids are given a chance.
So, while United have looked fairly lethargic since the title was clinched, and with emotions certain to be high – and therefore massively draining on the day – hopefully the players can put in one final performance and send the Boss away with a bang.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Kagawa, Welbeck, van Persie
Home record: P18 W15 D0 L3 F43 A18 Pts45
Home form: W W W L W L
Home record vs Swansea: P9 W7 D2 L0 F20 A6
Swans manager Michael Laudrup: “Unfortunately legend is a word that is used far too often in the media today, but here we are really talking about a legend of football and I am proud to be Ferguson’s opponent in his last home game as manager at Old Trafford.”
Club captain Ashley Williams on Sir Alex Ferguson: “He’s like the governor of football. You can’t help but have respect for him and what he’s achieved. He has done everything in the game. He is the top dog.”
Yes, there will be another team at Old Trafford on Sunday. I had forgotten, too. Safe in mid-table, and with a Carling Cup trophy in the bag, results have tailed off toward the end of the season. Understandably so, perhaps. Swansea did, however, win their last away match, a midweek fixture at Wigan. Their 3-2 win came as a slight surprise to some, and sent Wigan closer to relegation.
In terms of their trip to Old Trafford, they could be without top scorer and almost-verging-on-talismanic striker, Michu. Missing from the Wigan win, the forward’s availability is touch-and-go. Chico Flores, also missing from that game, looks set to return. Angel Rangel, however, is certain to miss out with a calf problem. Goalkeeper Michel Vorm is also a doubt with a head injury sustained at Wigan, as is midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng. Otherwise, despite one or two minor niggles, Laudrup has vowed to play as strong a team as possible.
Predicted Swansea line-up: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, De Guzman, Britton, Hernandez, Routledge, Dyer, Shechter
Away form: P18 W5 D5 L8 F18 A23 Pts20
Away form: L L L D L W
Recent (and not so recent!) meetings at Old Trafford
United 2-0 Swansea (06-05-12), United 2-1 Swansea (07-05-83), United 1-0 Swansea (19-09-81), United 5-1 Swansea (04-12-37)
Jon Moss. The 42-year-old has taken charge of 21 Premier League matches this season, brandishing 65 yellow cards and 1 red. He has awarded 7 penalties in this time, an average of 1 every 3 games. This, funnily enough, will be his third game since an award. Last took charge of a United fixture for the 2-0 win at Stoke.
Goals: (United) 79 – (Swansea) 46
Conceded: 37 – 46
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (25) – Michu (17)
Most shots: Robin van Persie (135) – Michu (107)
Assists: Wayne Rooney (10) – Jonathan De Guzman, Pablo Hernandez (6)
Completed passes: Michael Carrick (2247) – Jonathan De Guzman (1612)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (33/3) – Ashley Williams (35)
Disciplinary: 56 yellows, 1 red – 56 yellows, 2 reds
Average possession: 56.1% – 55.3%
Pass success rate: 85.6% – 84.8%
Referee Jon Moss has averaged one penalty award every three games. This will be the third fixture since he gave one.
46 – In the Premier League, Swansea have scored 46 goals, conceded 46, and they have 46 points.
Against Chelsea, United failed to score for the first time in 67 successive home league games; ending what was a Premier League record.
United have never lost a competitive home fixture vs Swansea. (P9 W7 D2 L0)
Swansea have drawn six Premier League matches 0-0 this season – the most in the division.
Fine, I’ll say it: Final Old Trafford appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson, Paul Scholes, Albert “Kit Man” Morgan and Mike Phelan. Please, no more.
Score prediction: United 2-0 Swansea