Swansea vs. Manchester United: 6 Key Battles to Watch

Max TowleAnalyst IDecember 18, 2012

Swansea vs. Manchester United: 6 Key Battles to Watch

0 of 6

    Manchester United make the rare trip to South Wales this weekend as they take on one of the Premier League's surprise packages, Swansea City.

    Michael Laudrup's side have impressed many this season with their enterprising play and commitment to passing football, led by the likes of Leon Britton, Nathan Dyer and Michu.

    The Swans will have a tough task on their hands trying to stop the Red Devils, but considering the team's impressive run of form, will certainly fancy their chances.

    United are also beginning to click into first gear, having claimed convincing victories over Manchester City and Sunderland in recent weeks.

    Here are six key battles that could go a long way to deciding the winner of Sunday's clash.

Michu vs. Nemanja Vidic

1 of 6

    Manchester United welcomed back Nemanja Vidic against Sunderland after what has felt like an interminable spell out injured.

    The Serbian could be handed a berth in the team's starting XI against Swansea, tasked with keeping a lid on the side's most domineering force.

    Forward Michu has had a terrific season to date since making the cut-price move from Rayo Vallecano in the summer.

    He has struck an incredible 12 times in 16 appearances, thrilling fans in South Wales with his clinical finishing and attacking dynamism.

    Vidic will have to prevent the Spaniard operating both in the air and with the ball at his feet.

Wayne Rooney vs. Leon Britton & Ki Sung-Yeung

2 of 6

    It usually takes more than one player to stop Wayne Rooney—the burden will fall on Swansea's Leon Britton and Ki Sung-Yeung this Sunday.

    Manchester United's talisman has been terrific this term in a deeper, playmaking role, suggesting the position-switch is a permanent one.

    Though neither Britton nor Ki are renowned for their defensive abilities, make no mistake, the duo typically provide the Swans' back line with able protection when the team is on the back foot.

    If they can prevent Rooney from successfully operating, it could result in their team having the upper hand in controlling the ball in the middle of the pitch.

Nathan Dyer vs. Patrice Evra

3 of 6

    Though he has drifted in and out of the team on occasion, Nathan Dyer is a vital asset for Michael Laudrup in his pass-and-move system.

    The right-sided winger is a real handful for any defender to contain, equally capable of going on jinking runs as he is beating his man by pace.

    Patrice Evra must prevent him from breaking through the United line of defence, but also not give him the space to deliver crosses in towards the aerially threatening Michu.

    The Frenchman has typically struggled marking players like Dyer, but if recent displays are anything to go by, the fullback may be getting close to a welcome return to the Evra of old.

Robin Van Persie vs. Chico

4 of 6

    "Woaahh, Robin van Persie!" is a familiar chant that has rung out at Old Trafford a few times this season.

    The Dutch striker keeps getting better for United, his influence on the team extending far beyond the "goals scored" column.

    Chico will be the main man the Swans look to for protection in the face of the unstoppable force, and will try and succeed where many before him have failed.

    But in truth, the Spanish brute has been excellent this term, and can be counted as a bargain transfer similar to that of his countryman Michu.

    The battle between the two will certainly be a keenly fought one, both in the air and on the ground.

Antonio Valencia vs. Ben Davies

5 of 6

    After a barren run of form, Antonio Valencia has bounced back tremendously in United's last couple of games.

    Though he is not yet back to his best, fans will be hoping the busy Christmas period and the new year sees this promise fulfilled.

    Young Swans defender Ben Davies may struggle to contain the lightening-quick Ecuadorian, but if he can keep him on his left foot, he may have a better outing than many expect.

    The 19-year-old has done well in the stead of the injured Neil Taylor this season, and signed a long-term deal with the club last month as reward for his efforts.

Gerhard Tremmel vs. the World

6 of 6

    Few outside of Swansea had heard of Gerhard Tremmel before the Premier League season began, but following No. 1 goalkeeper Michel Vorm's injury in October, the German has stepped up to the plate admirably.

    The one real black mark against his name though has to be conceding four goals against Norwich City earlier this month.

    If a side like the Canaries can strike so many times against him, one has to fear for his chances in the face of arguably the most devastating attack in Britain.

    Manchester United are a team capable of scoring at any point in a game, and are almost certain to pepper Tremmel's goal with shot after shot.

    But if by any chance he can keep what would be a remarkable clean sheet, Vorm may have trouble getting back into the first team when he does return.

     

    What do you think will be the key battles Sunday? Who could be set for a big game?