18 Aug, 13:45
Just as in 2016-17, Jose Mourinho's Manchester United got off to a flying start in the new Premier League season. But the task ahead of the Red Devils now is to continue the form they showed in the 4-0 win smacking of West Ham at Old Trafford, starting at Swansea on Saturday.
After five years of consolidation in the top-flight since promotion in 2011, the Swans arguably endured their most turbulent campaign in 2016/17. Having begun brightly with an opening-day win at Burnley, things quickly went downhill and five defeats in the next seven games spelled the end of head coach Francesco Guidolin. Former USA boss Bob Bradley took over the reins but couldn't engineer a turnaround in fortunes, winning just two of his 11 games in charge. It was only after Clement's appointment that Swansea's season began to pick up as an upturn in form, which included a memorable win over Liverpool at Anfield and four wins from the last five games, ensured the Premier League's only Welsh representatives avoided relegation with one match to spare.
What happened last season?
United were unbeaten against the Swans in the two league meetings in 2016/17, claiming four points in total. The Reds enjoyed a 3-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium last November, courtesy of a magnificent Paul Pogba volley and two clinical strikes from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but were left frustrated at Old Trafford in April as Wayne Rooney's penalty was cancelled out by Sigurdsson's free-kick in a 1-1 draw.
For the second successive match, Jose Mourinho could have a fully fit squad at his disposal to choose from, with injured trio Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo the only exceptions as they continue their recoveries. The boss is expected to give an update on his squad during his pre-match press conference on Friday. Meanwhile, Swansea have revealed top scorer Fernando Llorente is still absent after the Spanish striker missed pre-season and the stalemate against the Saints with a broken arm. Midfielders Ki Sung-Yeung and Nathan Dyer are also injured, while Icelandic star Gylfi Sigurdsson has completed his move to Everton on a five-year deal.
-The Swans have never kept a clean sheet against Manchester United in the Premier League in 12 contests. Yes, 12! The last Swans goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet versus the Red Devils was Dai Davies in December 1982.
-Manchester United have won two of their last three Premier League meetings with Swansea (D1), this after losing the previous three all by a 2-1 scoreline.
-The Swans are now unbeaten in their last six Premier League matches (W4 D2 L0) – this is their longest unbeaten run in the competition since a run of seven games between December 2012 and January 2013.
-Manchester United have only won two points (W0 D2 L2) and scored one goal in their last four Premier League matches away from Old Trafford.
Lukaku is the obvious threat for Swansea and the 24-year-old will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a defence which shipped 70 goals last season – the second-most in the Premier League. Swansea can as well carry a sack to the Liberty...for the goals of course!
Swansea’s main threat will be summer signing Tammy Abraham. The Chelsea youngster scored 26 times on loan at Championship side Bristol City last term. Swansea has however, been hard hit by the exit of mercurial midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has been revelation at the club over the past seasons.
United mean business, expect them to run riot at the Liberty.
The awful form against United, the scaring Lukaku factor and the slight shakeup at Swansea are the most likely factors why it will be easy for a camel to pass through a needle's eye, than it will be for Swansea to get a goal, leave a lone points against United.