Manchester United Pick Up Where They Left Off

The Premier League is truly back. Premier League champions Manchester United begun their title defense with a tough trip to Wales to take on the Swans in a rather enthralling game. The reds took on last season Capital One Cup winners Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium with all eyes fixated on David Moyes’ first Premier League game in charge of the biggest team in World football.

Two staggering Robin Van Persie goals, a tap-in & an excellent Welbeck chip gave Manchester United a deserved 4-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium.

Tactical Perspective 

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United deployed a 4-4-1-1 philosophy in the vast majority of their games over the course of the season. With either Shinji Kagawa or Wayne Rooney lining up behind flying Dutchman, Robin Van Persie. While switching to a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 depending on opposition. Against tougher opposition, they played a midfield three and against weaker opposition, like the game at the DW last season, United played a 4-4-2 formation.

Like Sir Alex, David Moyes frequently played a formation with creative burden on the wingers and the trusted fullbacks Leighton Baines and Coleman over at Goodison.

In preseason the red devils played with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Ryan Giggs and starlets Zaha, Adnan Januzaj and Jessie Lingard alternating in the three attacking positions behind Van Persie/Welbeck. Also Patrice Evra was used as a wing-back, marauding forward at any given chance – almost like a certain Leighton Baines. The Frenchman spent the vast majority of the Wigan game in the Lactic’s half. An insight to the philosophy David Moyes is going to deploy as coach of Manchester United.

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From a United perspective, David Moyes’ tactics on paper look more exciting than Sir Alex’s in his hindmost season as United boss.

Swansea had been brilliant this summer also heading into the United game. The Welsh club played 7 pre-season games, won all and scored 28, conceded just 1. Yes 1. Tough start for United then? The Swans have also enhanced their strike force with the addition of Ivorian powerhouse & goalscoring machine Wilfried Bony to partner Spaniard, Michu.

The Game

So the team sheets were out.

Manchester United Starting XI: De Gea, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Jones, Giggs, Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Welbeck, van Persie.

Bench: Lindegaard, Anderson, Rooney, Smalling, Fabio, Kagawa, Zaha.

Swansea XI: Vorm, Rangel, Flores, Williams (capt), Davies, Britton, Canas, Shelvey, Dyer, Routledge, Michu.

Bench: Tremmel, Amat, Taylor, Ki, Pozuelo, Hernandez, Bony.

After referee, Phil Dowd blew the opening whistle, United quickly lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with Danny Welbeck and prolific Robin Van Persie leading the line. Antonio Valencia & Ryan Giggs were paired up on the wings initially, with a double pivot of Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley being deployed in central midfield.

As the game progressed, various variations and tactics were deployed. United weren’t able to compete with the brilliant pass and move Swansea side possession-wise hence, during the quarter-hour mark Danny Welbeck dropped back into the #10 role to do the hard grafting in the middle of the pitch – ultimately switching it to a more defensive 4-4-1-1.

Constant rotation between Danny Welbeck and Giggs was apparent in the first-half, with Valencia stuck to his right wing role. Just after the half-hour mark Manchester United scored a quick two goals. The first goal was set up by a magnificent Ryan Giggs through ball which set Van Persie on his way. The Dutchman expertly chested the ball to his less-daunting right foot before unleashing an emphatic volley past Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal. Danny Welbeck’s goal was a typical #9 goal as the young forward found himself in the right position to tap home Valencia’s cross.

Ivorian forward Bony and Pablo Hernandez were brought on at the start of the second half to try and reduce the deficit. Meaning the Swans switched from a more possession-oriented 4-3-3 to a more attacking. 4-4-2.

Want-away striker Wayne Rooney replaced Giggs on the 61st minute and United switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2 with Wayne Rooney and RVP up top; the deadly duo. Giggs completed a shocking 61% of his passes in the first half against Swansea, the worst of all the players.

Soon after Rooney’s introduction, United extended their lead with 18 minutes to play as Van Persie grabbed his second of the match. Although RVP with get all the plaudits for the goal, Wayne Rooney’s contribution was immense. Soon after passing the ball to Robin, Rooney made a defense-splitting run leaving the defenders in no mans land. The Swansea defence backed off as Rooney made his bursting run opening space up for Van Persie, who effortlessly skipped past Chico Flores’ tackle before firing a cocker into the top corner.

With 8 minutes to play, Debutant Wilfred Bony capitalized on Pablo’s creative work to hand Swansea a life line, which was quickly chalked off by in-form forward Danny Welbeck who calmly lifted the Ball over Vorm from the tightest of angles after an exquisite Wayne Rooney through ball to seal United’s 4-1 win. Welbeck coincidentally equaled his goal tally from last season, in his first PL game of the season.

– Manchester United completed 77 fewer passes than Swansea

– Michael Carrick completed 89% of his 71 passes with 54% going forward.

-Tom Cleverley completed 89% of his 62 passes with 32% going forward.

Generally, it was a very discipline and matured display from David Moyes’ boys. A very solid performance performance from Captain Nemanja Vidic and an efficient display from both forwards. Four brilliantly taken goals in a tough away game at the Liberty. Good start for David Moyes.

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