Louis Van Gaal’s era begins at Old Trafford on Saturday when the Red Devils face Swansea in the Premier League season opener.
Manchester United (Possible, 3-4-1-2): De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Blackett; Young, Fletcher, Herrera, James; Mata; Hernández, Rooney
Out: Carrick (ankle), Shaw (hamstring), Valencia, Evans (both leg), Van Persie (match fitness), Welbeck (knee), Johnstone (unspecified).
Tests: Januzaj, Fellaini (match fitness).
Swansea City (Possible, 4-2-3-1): Fabianski, Rangel, Amat, Williams, Taylor; Shelvey, Ki; Dyer, Sigurdsson, Montero; Bony.
Out: Britton, Emnes, Fulton (all knee), Donnelly (ankle).
Robin Van Persie is expected to miss the opener as he started training late after the World Cup and Daniel Welbeck is also out due to a knee injury. New captain Wayne Rooney is expected to be partnered with Javier Hernandez. Luke Shaw was earlier ruled out for a month due to a hamstring injury and Carrick is a long-term absentee. In the absence of Evans, due to injury, Blackett is expected to start. United have played 3 at the back in their pre-season friendlies and we expect them to play similarly against Swansea. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are expected to start along with Blackett at the back. Ander Herrera and Darren Fletcher are expected to start in the central midfield. Juan Mata will now play more centrally in the new setup in his preferred postion. Ashley Young and James are expected to start as wingbacks.
Swansea will be without Leon Britton, Marvin Emnes and Jay Fulton, but Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge make a return to the squad.
Louis van Gaal: “We have analysed Shaw and it is difficult to lay a finger on it. It is difficult to look for the solution but there are a lot of reasons. After the World Cup, all the players are coming back at different moments and it is very difficult to train. We have the travel, jet-lag and a lot of matches in 14 days. Another reason is the amount of training sessions but we are doing half of what we have done with the other clubs. But we have played in the US with Reece James and Ashley Young in that position, so it is well covered. I am not worried. I am not nervous. We have players injured and not injured. Tomorrow is the match that counts.”
Garry Monk: “I think I probably need to prove myself a bit more than he does after the career he’s had! He is in a different situation to me, at one of the biggest clubs in the world and at that level the importance of winning trophies is massive, so that’s a different type of pressure. With me, the need to prove myself comes from my experience being questioned.”
- This is the reverse of last season’s opening fixture when Manchester United won 4-1 at the Liberty Stadium.
- Swansea’s three previous matches on the opening weekend of Premier League season have produced 14 goals.
- Manchester United have won six of their last nine on the opening weekend of the Premier League season (D2 L1).
- Swansea have won exactly 11 games in each of their last two Premier League campaigns.
- Danny Welbeck has scored three times in his last two league games against Swansea City.
- Swansea ended last season with a goal difference of zero, only the fifth time a Premier League club has done this (1992-2014).
- Manchester United have never lost on the opening weekend at Old Trafford in the Premier League (W8 D3).
- Wayne Rooney currently has 173 Premier League goals and needs two more to draw level with the third top scoring player in PL history (Thierry Henry – 175).
- Manchester United’s points total of 64 last season was their lowest since 1990-91.
- Juan Mata scored six goals in 15 league appearances for United last season, compared to zero in 13 for Chelsea earlier in the campaign.
Manchester United 2-1 Swansea
Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata.