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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 15 December, 2018


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Hello, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Kick off is at 12.30pm.

Here are the teams…

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Fer, Bartley, Carroll, Roque, Ayew, Abraham.

Subs: Van der Hoorn, Narsingh, Nordfeldt, Routledge, Rangel, Fulton, McBurnie.

Manchester United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Matic, Pogba, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Rashford, Lukaku.

Subs: Romero, Smalling, Lindelof, Lingard, Herrera, Fellaini, Martial.

This promises to be an excellent game. While it can be unwise to look too much into the first game of the season Manchester United looked very, very exciting last week.

They recorded their biggest ever win under Jose Mourinho as goals from Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and a brace from Romelu Lukaku devastated West Ham 4-0.

Swansea, meanwhile, remain without their main man up front Fernando Llorente, with Leon Britton and Nathan Dyer also ruled out for Paul Clement’s side.

United name an unchanged team from last weekend’s win, with Luke Shaw Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo still all ruled out, with Victor Lindelof absent from the starting XI for a second week running.

Swansea got their season off to a reasonable start with a 0-0 draw away to Southampton last weekend.

The big news coming from the Liberty, however, has been the £45 million departure of Gylfi Sigurðsson to Everton.

The side badly missed their playmaker last weekend and visibly struggled to create chances in the final third for Jordan Ayew.

His absence will undoubtedly be felt again this afternoon and, more worryingly, for the remainder of the season too.

The sides are in the tunnel as kick-off fast approaches. Minutes to go now.


Some promising early play from Swansea here. They look comfortable on the ball and are happy to stroke it to and fro across the immaculate Liberty Stadium surface. Conditions are dry and ideal for it.


CHANCE. Oh how that could have been a dream start for the hosts. Ayew breaks away at speed behind a back-peddling United defence.

He crosses towards the back post where it seemed to turn into a shot — an excellent outside-of-the-boot effort which had De Gea dumbfounded. It glanced just across the goal mouth having hit the bar, where striker Abraham tried in vain to get a final touch to glance it home.

A lucky escape for Jose Mourinho’s side.


Eric Bailly had tried to boot the ball clear as United pushed high in the press, but Ayew was too quick and too aware to force a break.

He had the goal at his beg and mercy but despite the missed opportunity Swansea have looked lively in this opening minutes as United try to come to grips with their opponents pace and intensity.


OFF THE BAR! A chance for United as Phil Jones crashed a header off the underside of the bar before Swansea boot it clear in last-ditch fashion. Fabianski was beaten had that been on target.


It has been a tricky opening fifteen minutes for United as Swansea have come out of the blocks completely unexpected. Pogba has had spells in possession but is struggling to get his head up and find Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku ahead of him.

They are beginning to regain their composure and take control of possession but the hosts still pose an ever-present threat on the break.


Swansea beginning to put 10 men behind the ball here as Matic and Pogba take command of possession looking for options in the final third.

Fernandez is commanding a disciplined back line but the question remains as to how long they can sustain this kind of pressure with Lukaku peeling away behind enemy lines at any given chance.


Marcus Rashford and Roque Mesa tussle for possession in the early stages of this game.

Swansea City v Manchester United - Premier League - Liberty Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images


Fantastic last-ditch tackle from Bartley there as Rashford tried to steal possession and carve himself out a one on one chance with Fabianski. That was absolutely vital and perfectly executed from the Swansea defender. Maldini-esque.


Yellow card for Paul Pogba. That was a bad challenge from Pogba as he swung his leg dangerously too high on Carroll just inside the Man United half. Referee Jon Moss was in no doubt and we have this game’s first booking.


Abraham takes possession on the right wing but after losing possession United go on the counter. A quick sprint from Rashford is matched by quick feet but the move breaks down as Swansea get men back in numbers behind the ball.


Paul Pogba will count his blessings that he is still on the pitch as less than two minutes after going in the referee’s book the French midfielder fouls Martin Olsson in cynical fashion.

The home supporters begin a chorus of “…off…off…off…” but referee Moss only gives the player a warning. One more bad challenge from Pogba and he will be off, however.


That was close from Swansea! Once again they hit United on the break, with Abraham beating Phil Jones far too easily with dancing feet. He crosses towards the middle of the penalty area but Eric Bailly is on hand to clear it out for a corner.


Another go! Kyle Bartley rises highest from the corner but he does not make a good enough connection to steer it goal-bound. De Gea was flat-footed but the defender’s effort bundled just wide of the post. Swansea looking lively and dangerous again here.


CHANCE! Ohhh Marcus Rashford will not want to see that one again. The ball is knocked down into his path by a Swansea head and the United striker times his run to absolute perfection.

Bearing down on goal and with only Fabianski to beat Rashford tries a clever dink that didn’t prove that clever at all. The Polish goalkeeper stays on his feet and gleefully collects the shot with ease. A sitter.


Bartley with another header from a dangerous Swansea set piece but it floats high and wide, much like his earlier effort. The defender is making his first start since January 2016 and has seen a lot of the ball this afternoon. Both in defence and attack.


Despite United dominating in possession in this game it appears to be Swansea who are executing their game plan more effectively this afternoon. They have held firm in defence, hit hard on the break and created as many if not more goal scoring chances than their counterparts.

United, meanwhile, have looked confident in possession, if frail at the back. Rashford has been electric in patches, but the young striker will deeply regret his earlier miss. He might not get a more clear-cut opportunity all afternoon!


Interception! That was a crucial header from Fernandez. Lukaku loomed unmarked at the back post to head home from no more than three yards out but the Swansea centre back did excellently to recover.


Fantastic goal from Jose Mourinho’s men. It so nearly was Paul Pogba’s goal but it needed the awareness of Eric Bailly to steer it home.

A floated corner found Pogba veering away from his marker just on top of the penalty spot. The midfielder steered an emphatic effort which forced a save from Fabianski before the ball dropped back down onto the goal line.

Unmarked and untracked, Bailly prodded home to take the lead.


And we’re back for the second period. That was a complete and utter hammer-blow for Paul Clement right at the end of the first half. His team were the better side in the opening 44 minutes, before Eric Bailly prodded home from close range to steal the lead.

Swansea won’t be allowed to sit back as much as they did in the first half and will need to take the game to United, especially given the fact they are at home. If not, and if they continue to invite pressure upon themselves, it could prove to be a long afternoon for them.


Eric Bailly was delighted with his first ever goal for United since joining for £30 million last summer. His deft finish is the difference with 40 minutes left to go.

Swansea City v Manchester United - Premier League - Liberty Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images


And United try to double their lead. A neat dribble from Juan Mata gives him the space needed to pick out a cross. It is forced out for a corner which is easily headed clear at the first hurdle by Swansea.


A breakdown in communication between Bartley and Fabianski there. The goalkeeper shouted for possession as the ball trickled into the Swansea penalty area. Under no pressure whatsoever his defender booted the ball into touch.

Both players not best pleased with that one as a sense of vulnerability creeps in for the hosts. They are beginning to struggle a little bit and are pinned inside their own final third as United increase pressure minute after minute.


Juan Mata has been seeing a lot more of possession in this second half. He tries to thread a quick through ball to Rashford but a fine interception sees it come to nothing.


Well, Swansea do get a shot away. But it’s not a very good one, as the injured Fernando Llorente looks on forlorn and frustrated from the stands. Leroy Fer had the effort, but from distance and learning backwards it ballooned over the crossbar and into the stratosphere.


Now, that was better from Swansea. A fine, looping cross from the right sees Abraham afforded a lot of space inside the box.

He rises high but his header flies just over the bar. Jose Mourinho will certainly not be happy with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly’s individual lapses in concentration there, but alas his side escape with their lead fully in-tact.

Better from the hosts with half an hour to go.


United have been pinned inside their own half for some time now, but Mkhitaryan pushes forward to register their first shot in well over ten minutes.

It’s a powerful effort, but it lacks any accuracy and bounces well wide of the post, watched all the way by Fabianski.


That was another chance for Swansea! A quick corner flashes across the goal mouth with no one able to get a decisive touch.

Where it looked like United might have built on their first-half lead, now it appears they would be happy to escape the Liberty Stadium with their one goal lead, as Swansea continue to bombard them with chance after chance.


Yellow card for Leroy Fur: A poor challenge from the midfielder as United earn a free-kick in a promising position. Paul Pogba fancies it…


It’s a poor effort from Pogba. It beats the wall but curls well wide of the top corner for which it was intended.


Double substitution for Jose Mourinho…

Marouane Fellaini replaces Juan Mata

Anthony Martial replaces Marcus Rashford


Romelu Lukaku has been forced to drop deep repeatedly in this second half. No one has been able to find the striker as he continues to make movements across the Swansea back line, meaning the forward has had to do it all himself.

He tries a role reversal and picks out Anthony Martial with some brilliant vision, but the pass is intercepted as United continue in search of a second which would surely make their three points a certainty.


And Lukaku finally gets his goal! He has worked so hard in this game and he finally has a chance presented to him. Some excellent initial play to find the Belgian striker completely unmarked inside the penalty area.

With just Fabianski to beat he slots it into the back of the net.


All of a sudden this is turning into a rout! Paul Pogba gets his name on the score sheet with a deft finish.

He could easily have gotten United’s first with his booming header which set up Eric Bailly. But now the French midfielder gets his own, lifting the ball over Fabianski inside the box.


Swansea have come undone and it’s substitute Anthony Martial who has a fourth for United.

The hosts were left completely lost at the back and with little cover the French winger cut inside with swift dribbling before curling the ball elegantly into the bottom right-hand corner.


Me, oh my. United look simply ruthless and unstoppable at the moment. It must be said how hard a fight Swansea had put up, however following Lukaku’s goal to make it 2-0 the floodgates simply opened.

With a 4-0 win versus West Ham last week added to by another massive scoreline this weekend, it appears that Manchester United could be the team to beat this season. There could be more to come with just stoppage time to play here.


While the goalscorers will undoubtedly steal the headlines tomorrow morning, it must be noted how impressive Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been.

Two assists for the 28-year-old this afternoon, he has been the catalyst for destruction for his side .


Two minutes of stoppage time from three played as United swagger about the pitch, playing the ball side to side as their travelling supporters sing in high voice. A fantastic afternoon’s work.

About the author:

Aaron Gallagher


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