Report - Swansea City 2-1 Manchester United
21st February 2015
Swansea City manager Garry Monk`s tactical changes paid off as they made history after completing a famous League double over Manchester United - coming from behind to win 2-1 in front of an ecstatic Liberty Stadium crowd of 20,800.
Monk has been criticised lately for his lack of tactical awareness, and being unable to make effective tactical changes - and only making like-for-like substitutions during games.
But today he certainly proved his doubters wrong - and what a game to do it in - against Manchester United - and to beat them for a second time this season.
Manchester United arguably offered Garry Monk the most challenging of tactical tests as they constantly make personnel and system changes, as manager Louis van Gaal rotates between different players and formations - with 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 diamond all being used - and it was the latter they went for again today.
Garry Monk read it well though. Understanding that United would have extra numbers through the middle, while the full backs offered the width. The Swansea boss adjusted his formation accordingly.
Jefferson Montero dropped to the bench, and Wayne Routledge returned after injury but not in his usual winger role. He gave Sigurdsson and Gomis support and also moved out wide when needed. Shelvey and Ki were on the outsides of a midfield three with Cork in the middle - facing the challenging task of dealing with the physical strength and bullying tactics of Fellaini.
The changes also played into Gomis` hands, as he produced one of his best performances of the season, and was given the winning goal as Shelvey`s fierce shot took a slight deflection off the Frenchman to help the ball past a helpless de Gea.
But it was Herrera to give United a brief lead - for 2 minutes or so as Ki Sung Yueng saw the game again on the half-hour mark.
Herrera steered a shot into the far corner after being found in acres of space just inside the penalty area. Could you say that United had been 'knocking on the door` up until that point? Possibly, but van Persie wasted a couple of chances that you`d expect him to convert and Swansea City could have taken the lead early on.
Gylfi Sigurdsson sent in an out-swinging corner from the right that Gomis got a powerful header on to, but Herrera was well placed on the post to block it out.
Another corner showed United`s defensive struggles at set pieces, but this time Gomis couldn`t keep his header down as it sailed over the cross bar.
At the other end, United were finding space, particularly out wide but Fabianski was rarely called into making any decent saves.
Louis van Gaal made an expected substitution at the start of the second half, replacing McNair with Valencia to give them better attacking quality down the right.
Valencia was rarely called into any defensive action as Manchester United dominated the first 15-20 minutes and had the Swans camped in their own half.
But despite their dominance, United were only forcing Fabianski into catches and punches, rather than saves as the defence crowded them in the box and competed well to clear the danger on numerous occasions. Bafetimbi Gomis also contributed well in his own 6-yard area by making a number of headed clearances.
For all their dominance, crosses and long balls pumped up to Fellaini, it was the Swans to score the vital winner - coming from their first chance of the second half.
Shelvey broke forward into space following a rare counter attack, his strike took a slight deflection off Gomis to help the ball past de Gea.
Montero then came on for Sigurdsson to help manage United`s dominance on the flanks, as Valencia and Young often had far too much freedom as the full backs kept tucking inside.
The Swans held on for a very memorable win, and a desperate United team resorting again to lumping it long was never going to bring them a late equaliser.