Manchester United vs Swansea City: Another draw damages top four hopes

Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford by Swansea City, as they drew for the second game in a row. Wayne Rooney scored from the spot in the stoppage time of the first half, while Gylfi Sigurdsson levelled from a sumptuous free-kick eleven minutes from time.

The first half was a vibrant affair, full of intensity. United lost Shaw to an injury in the 8th minute, increasing the number of players on the sideline for a club that was forced to call up little known Scott McTominay to the bench. Sigurdsson missed Swansea’s first clear cut chance, as he blazed his shot wide in the 13th minute. On the other side, Fabianski did well to deny Lingard from point blank range. De Gea saved Llorente’s effort and caught Sigurdsson’s free kick. Just when it looked like it would be goalless at half time came the breakthrough. United were awarded a penalty, following Fabianski making a minimal contact with Rashford in the box, with many believing that the young Mancunian had purposely dived to influence the ref’s decision. Rooney made no mistake from the spot as he put United ahead just before half time.

The second half was equally fought as well. Herrera’s cross found Rooney in the six-yard box, but his seemingly perfect shot was blocked by his own teammate-Martial. Eric Bailly became United’s second casualty of the afternoon, as he limped off, later being replaced by Darmian. In the 79th minute, Sigurdsson levelled for the visitors with a brilliant free kick into the top right corner. Herrera initially stood on the goal line, but sensing that he was unknowingly playing Llorente onside, went back to join the wall. Sigurdsson stuck exactly where Herrera had been earlier. Llorente then missed a great chance, as he failed to make contact with Sigudsson’s free kick, as he could’ve easily scored the winner.

United broke their club record of the longest ever unbeaten run, but this draw dented their hopes of a top four finish, as they are now a point behind Liverpool, but have a far more difficult run-in. Swansea, on the other hand, won a crucial point as they battle relegation. They are now two points from safety, with just three games of the season remaining.

Here are the Talking Points from the Match

United’s Injury Crisis Deepens

United’s squad is on the brink of collapse now, as they’ve been restricted to only 13 or 14 senior players. Eric Bailly, who came off injured after the hour mark, has left an empty void as he has been a standout player for United this season, and there’s no natural centre-back who can replace him. Luke Shaw was injured in the beginning minutes only, as he looked to have strained his calf in the 8th minute. Even though he hasn’t been a pivotal member under Mourinho, he certainly has been an able deputy at left-back. With the hugely important tie against Celta Vigo on the horizon, these injuries could lead to United’s season collapsing. The return of Mata, however, would be a timely boost for the United faithful.

Shaw’s United Career Over?

Mourinho included Luke Shaw as he tried to rest first-choice Darmian. However, he failed to impress his boss yet again, as he came off injured in only the 8th minute. Mourinho has already questioned his desire and mental strength on two occasions, and Shaw’s inability to carry on today has further dampened his hopes to win over his boss. This sad saga is almost certain to end in a few weeks, as it is apparent that Shaw would be shipped out before the next season begins.

Sigurdsson Doesn’t Belong to the Second Tier

Even though Swansea can still manage to do otherwise, they are almost certain to go down. And if they do go down, Gylfi Sigurdsson would go down as well, but he surely wouldn’t play a single minute in the Championship. Why? Because he’s too good for that. He belongs to a top class Premier League side, if not the biggest sides. He’s been the sole shining spot in an otherwise poor side for the past two or three seasons. His quality is unquestionable, even if he’s a tad underrated. He could certainly do the job for a side like Everton or West Brom or Southampton, couldn’t he? Hell, he could even be wanted by major clubs like Arsenal or Liverpool.

Top Four Gone?

United came into the match just two points off Liverpool, having played a game less. However, they failed to capitalise and dropped two crucial points against a side embroiled in a relegation battle. They are now a point behind Liverpool and level with City, who have a game in hand. And with difficult league matches against Arsenal and Tottenham still to come, United could very well miss the top four. They must now hope that Liverpool and City drop many points in their remaining fixtures, and must try to improve in order to have any chance of sneaking into the top four.

Swansea Will Fight Till the End

Since Paul Clement has been appointed, there has been somewhat of an upturn in Swansea’s fortunes. They’ve looked good even in the matches they’ve lost, and their players look determined to help their team beat the drop. They were the much better side today. They’ve been disciplined in formation, and are sometimes a joy to watch on the counter. However, they’re still almost certain to go down, as they are now two points from safety. They could still steal safety from Hull City, who could lose to Tottenham on the final day of the season. Swansea, however, have an easier run-in, with winnable games against Sunderland, Everton and West Brom. If they dominate these games like they did tonight, they could very well spring a surprise by averting relegation.