Depleted Red Devils may struggle to fight off Swansea
BT Sport 1, midday
If Jose Mourinho is true to his word and is lobbing all his eggs in the Europa League basket then Swansea have a better than usual chance of getting something from their trip to Old Trafford.
And given what Manchester United usually have to settle for on their own patch, that something could well be a point.
The Red Devils, who have drawn nine home games this season, have lost only once at Old Trafford in 15 months in the Premier League but always with a far stronger side sent out than the one at Mourinho’s disposal for this fixture.
Stripped of a number of his key men through injuries and Marouane Fellaini through a ban, and with Thursday’s trip to Celta Vigo on his mind, the United boss needs to box clever especially as a top-four place in the league is still in their grasp after the 0-0 draw at Manchester City.
He’s got some juggling to do and while he’s juggling a lot of very good players, one or two of them – Henrik Mkhitaryan and Ander Herrera for example – look like they could do with some time off.
The upshot is that Swans boss Paul Clement knows his side can get something from this fixture and a point, despite the fact they’d still be in the bottom three, would represent a good return.
And when Clement looks at the sides who have drawn at Old Trafford this season – among them Stoke, Burnley, Hull and Bournemouth – he’ll see what’s possible.
He’d obviously prefer a win and he was in charge when they went to Liverpool and triumphed 3-2. But they’ve had only two other away successes on their travels and haven’t found the net on their last three road trips.
United are likely to do all the pressing, have most of the ball and remain solid at the back, but they may well lack a cutting edge up front.
With so few midfielders at his disposal and opponents who are in the bottom three, Mourinho may well opt for four forwards, though since none of them is Zlatan Ibrahimovic he’s immediately handicapped. It helps to explain why United’s 17 home games have produced only 34 goals as they struggle to break down packed defences.
Twelve of their last 14 home league games have yielded just two goals or less so the evens about under 2.5 could be of interest.
That, of course, is on the understanding that Swansea’s defence, statistically the worst in the top flight going into the weekend with 68 goals shipped, is organised properly against United’s pacy attackers.
1pt 15-4 Betfair, bet365
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juan Mata are injured, Marouane Fellaini is suspended and Paul Pogba and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are also out. Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are sidelined, leaving Jose Mourinho short of defenders.
Midfielder Jack Cork could be available after injury but winger Wayne Routledge (hernia) is out.
12 of Manchester United’s last 14 home games have produced under 2.5 goals.