Just six days after Swansea City eliminated Manchester United from the FA Cup, the two teams once again are set to do battle in Premier League action.
United followed up that loss by losing the first leg of their Capital One Cup semifinal against Sunderland, 2-1, the team's third straight defeat. Now, they'll try to reverse their surprisingly poor home form—they've lost four games at Old Trafford and have taken more points on the road (20) than at home (14)—with some revenge against Swansea.
Let's break down this Premier League clash.
When: Saturday, January 11 at 12:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. GMT)
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester, England
Watch: NBC; NBC Sports Live Extra; Sky Sports 1 (U.K.); Sky Go (U.K.)
Odds: Manchester United (57 percent); Swansea City (20.6 percent) and draw (22.4 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports
United will be without their two top players and attackers, as both Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will miss this match, according to Richard Jolly of ESPN. Nani, Marouane Fellaini and Rio Ferdinand will also miss the match due to injury.
Injuries have been a major theme to United's season, but so was a summer in which the club really didn't improve, a rough transition between Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes and the team's inability to truly protect their home-field advantage this season.
Ian Darke of ESPN took several of those factors into consideration when giving United a "C" for their performance in the Premier League to this point in the season:
The transition from Sir Alex Ferguson to Moyes has proved even trickier than most feared. Injuries to Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick have not helped but United are paying the penalty for not strengthening in the summer and are in serious danger of missing the top four.
Imagine that—United going from league champions to the Europa League, or no continental tournament at all. Pretty hard to believe, right?
Of course, it hasn't all been peaches and cream for Swansea City this season, either. Despite coming into the season with high expectations, the Swans are currently 13th on the table. For what it's worth, Darke gave them a "C" on the season as well.
And manager Michael Laudrup expects United to come at his club with vengeance on the mind. His comments, via ESPN:
Can we win again? I don't know, but it is possible. I think it will be more difficult than last week. They lost in the League Cup as well and I expect the United team to come out and really go at us.
They have to win this game so we have to be ready. It will be a tough game again. They won't like what they hear about losing three in a row. But if they win a game, they are back. Football can change in a matter of weeks. They want to show that the things that they are better than the things that have been said and written.
We have shown that it is possible to win there if you believe in it. We played with a lot of confidence, but needed a win. Sometimes that win comes when you least expect it. You wouldn't maybe expect to win at Old Trafford and we did.
According to that report, Michel Vorm, Michu, Dwight Tiendalli, Jonathan de Guzman, Pablo Hernandez and Roland Lamah will all be unavailable for Swansea. In other words, this match has become the Training Room Bowl.
It's probably a bit early in the season to start calling games "must-win matchups" for United, but it's pretty close. Already 11 points behind league-leading Arsenal and five points behind fourth-place Liverpool, United will have to be excellent in the last 18 Premier League games to reach Europe once again.
That's bad news for Swansea, even with Rooney and van Persie on the sideline. A match at home against an inferior opponent is an absolute must-win for United, and the fact that Swansea just beat them should have the Red Devils absolutely buzzing in this one.
It won't be easy, but United win, 2-1.
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