Swansea vs Man Utd (The Swans flying high as Utd are held)By: Ian | December 24th, 2012
Utd don’t do draws. But if they did, they’d probably be the best draws, in the world. Well, that’s not quite true, but the game that played out between Swansea and Utd yesterday certainly didn’t just stop at the two first-half goals. There were plenty of chances, even with a somewhat strange occasion where Rooney had a horrible afternoon, Van Persie didn’t have much fun and Valencia and Young went on an early Christmas break. To give Swansea their credit, they took their chance when it came and their defence stood solid. So let’s get on with the action…
Vidic’s first start in three months (his 250th Utd game as well) was the major change in a defence that featured Jones instead of Rafael again. Same attacking option as the win against Sunderland last week, with Carrick and Cleverley supporting Young, Valencia, Rooney and RVP. Swansea can be a difficult team to judge this season, they’ve played great in spells and awful in others. So perhaps it was to be expected that both sides were a little cagey to start, with Utd working out who they were playing today and Swansea determined to ensure their game plan didn’t go out of the window too early. The pace of Routledge and the general threat of Michu caused some early problems with Rooney having a pop in reply.
Then came the first real chance as the impressive Michael Carrick received the ball in the middle of the park and played a lovely defence splitting pass through the centre to Young. The winger took it first time, but the ball was too close to the keeper and the returning Vorm saved well. Nevertheless, a corner was earned and Van Persie was the man to swing it in. He duly did so, finding the head of Evra, whose header across the box slipped in past the defender on the post to break the deadlock. That is, incredibly, his third goal this season, his third headed goal no less, and in the course of this season so far has doubled his Utd career total. Why ever did we buy Van Persie?!
This move sparked Utd into action, but the forages forward left space at the back. Routledge’s one-touch pass let in De Guzman to fire straight at De Gea. The keeper parried straight into the path of Michu, who missed. No, wait, he didn’t, he’s Michu. 1-1, with Swansea back in it at the half hour. They passed around well, did more with their possession and the half time break was welcome for Utd. Rooney did manage an uncleanly-caught effort after being fed by Evra, but that was it.
Swansea’s white wall of defenders was proving frustrating for Utd, and most of all so for Rooney. He, in particular, seemed to find his shot blocked by an appropriately placed player, and the general hustling left him unable to get the space he wanted. Young did manage a chance off his service but Williams blocked well (more on him later). Routledge kept De Gea busy at his near post and Agustien let lose a long low shot, hoping to notch his first goal for the club. Nothing doing, however.
Hernandez tends to be good in these ‘we-need-to-find-a-goal-from-somewhere’ situations and arrive into the fray he did, replacing Valencia (not his best game by any stretch). Rooney switched to the left to make space and it was from here Utd nearly got the lead back through a whipped cross guided superbly by Van Persie..onto the bar. The Dutchman then tried to turn to assisting, but his pass to Hernandez wasn’t quite gathered and the shot the Mexican did manage wasn’t much danger after that. Rooney, again, tried to fashion something by nicking possession, but his pass into the box was stopped short. A final deflected free kick was it for Rooney, who didn’t seem surprised to see his name on the board. Giggs came on in his stead. Unfortunately, this attempt came from a foul on Van Persie, which drew out a few handbags. The Dutchman was down, while Ashley Williams kicked the ball away straight into the back of his head from close range. Van Persie was understandably riled by this and both received a yellow card for their actions. Sir Alex, clearly cross in his post-match interview, called for a ban on Williams saying RVP was ‘lucky to be alive’. This may perhaps be a bit of an exaggeration. It was dangerous, and obviously painful, but Williams insists it was purely accidental and you have to accept that it was.
Another goal nearly came from a Michael Carrick header (his level of play deserved a goal), but it was the bar it met, somewhat frustratingly. Then you had the typical penalty-box scramble with both RVP and Young having a go, and a desperate claim for handball. Giggs tried an ambitious effort to lob an out-of-position keeper, but this really looked like it was heading for a draw. And so it was, leaving Utd to head into Christmas four points clear, not the maximum of six, following City’s last gasp winner against Reading on Saturday. It was a good game, an annoying one though, and definitely one Utd should have won. Let’s hope some new boots are received for Christmas.
Utd meet Newcastle now on Boxing Day, but in the meantime, a very happy Christmas to everyone who reaches this sentence. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a great time all the same.