Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez struck in the first half as the Red Devils cruised to a comfortable win.
United got off to the perfect start, with Lukaku converting a chance created by Sanchez in the 5th minute of the game. With the Swans backing off, United took control of the game, applying pressure until the 20th minute, when Jesse Lingard, arguably the best player on the pitch, played in Sanchez to put United two up. At halftime, Carlos Carvalhal took off Nathan Dyer and and Ki Sung-Yeung, for Tom Carroll and Tammy Abraham, and though Swansea improved in the second half, United still coasted to a comfortable victory.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
Sanchez scores a confidence booster
It is fair to say that Alexis Sanchez has not enjoyed the best of times since swapping the red half of North London for the red half of Manchester. His performance against Swansea was a lot better, full of energy and intent. He also finally scored his second league goal for the United, a smart finish that will do wonders for his confidence. Even the best players can underperform when their head is not in the right place, and this seemed to be a problem with Sanchez, as he was constantly trying too hard in previous games. You could see how much the goal meant to him and his teammates, and Mourinho will be hoping the Chilean can build on this during the run in.
Lingard given space to thrive
One man that has not struggled for confidence this season is Jesse Lingard. The England man has enjoyed a fantastic campaign, and is currently United’s second highest scorer.
Swansea afforded Lingard time and space in his role behind Lukaku, and the he used this to wreak havoc. Eager to run with the ball, and exchanging passes with Juan Mata and Sanchez, Lingard ran the Swans’ defence ragged, notching an assist, and should have probably gotten himself on the scoresheet. Expect him to be one of the key players in the Manchester Derby next week.
Lukaku joins the PL 100 club
Romelu Lukaku bore the brunt of the criticism as United went through a rough patch from November to January. Despite that fallow period, the Belgian forward has 15 Premier League goals, tied with Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy. Against Swansea, he notched the 100th Premier League goal, and at the age of 24, his best is still yet to come. He has become one of Mourinho’s on-pitch leaders, and his all-around build-up play has come on in leaps and bounds from earlier in the season. He will be raring to go for the Manchester derby, and will be eager to put his performance in the last City-United clash behind him.
Carvalhal’s game plan was timid
Carlos Carvalhal came to Old Trafford with the intent to stifle United. This went out of the window in the first five minutes of the game. His five-at-the-back formation was situated about ten yards too deep, and gave United the room they needed to express themselves in a dismal first half for the Swans. At halftime, Carvalhal brought on Tammy Abraham and Tom Carroll, and to his credit, they were Swansea’s best performers on the day. It is still worrying that they had a spell of three full halves of football over two games without a shot on target, and they will have to be more adventurous if they are to survive.
West Brom up next is a must-win for the Swans
The Baggies are doomed – there’s no doubt about that. A loss to Burnley on Saturday combined with results elsewhere cut them further adrift from safety, and they will make ideal opponents for Swansea in the next gameweek. Carvalhal’s men will need a boost in confidence after their performance at Old Trafford, and the two halftime substitutes, Abraham and Carroll, pointed the way forward. Swansea are currently in 15th place, but just three points above the relegation zone. A win next week will put them on 34 points, and with how tight the bottom has been this season, another couple of points from there should guarantee safety. Carvalhal’s men have to come out swinging next week. West Brom are there for the taking.