Sat, Jan 11, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Fading United plotting swift payback over Swansea City

AFP, LONDON

Manchester United’s Danny Welbeck, front left, attempts an overhead-kick past Tottenham Hotspur’s Michael Dawson, right, in their Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on Jan. 1.

Photo: Reuters

Manchester United will look for immediate revenge against Swansea City today, a week after the Welsh club pulled off a shock victory at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Having lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the league and Sunderland in the League Cup either side of last Sunday’s defeat by Swansea, United have lost their first three games of the year for the first time since 1932.

The New Year’s Day defeat by Spurs left David Moyes’ side 11 points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League and striker Danny Welbeck has admitted that the defending champions face a struggle even to finish in the top four.

“Being a Manchester lad and being a United fan, there is extra passion inside me and it does hurt me when I see the team losing. It hurts a lot to see United not winning,” Welbeck said. “I can understand why fans are concerned. We are not around the Champions League spots at the moment. We need to get our form back and just win the next matches. It was very disappointing to go out of the FA Cup against Swansea and we have to rectify that at Old Trafford on Saturday.”

With leaders Arsenal not in action until Monday, when they visit Aston Villa, third-placed Chelsea can take over at the top by winning at Hull City in today’s early fixture.

Last season’s Europa League winners have yet to capture the imagination in this campaign, but midfielder John Obi Mikel believes that manager Jose Mourinho’s exacting methods are beginning to bear fruit.

“He always wants us to play in a certain way and give 110 percent,” Mikel said. “If you don’t, you’re out. You can see by the way we press up the pitch. That is important for the team and we’re doing well.”

This weekend’s games are the reverse fixtures from the season’s first round of matches.

While Arsenal’s 3-1 capitulation at home to Villa on the opening day seems a long time ago, Manchester City continue to look every bit as impressive as they did in their 4-0 victory over Newcastle United on Aug. 19.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side continued their astonishing home form by destroying West Ham United 6-0 in the League Cup on Wednesday and they will also have designs on leapfrogging Arsenal when they visit Newcastle United tomorrow.

City have now scored 92 goals in all competitions, just one less than they managed in the entire 2012-2013 campaign, but midfielder Javi Garcia says that they must keep their feet on the ground.

“I think this season we can win a lot of trophies, but we have to keep working like this,” Garcia said. “The most important thing for us is that the players keep working, because we have so many games. This is the way we have to keep going.”

West Ham United have conceded 11 goals in two games, having previously been defeated 5-0 at second-tier Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, and find themselves second from bottom ahead of today’s trip to Cardiff City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be taking charge of his first home game as Cardiff manager, after masterminding a 2-1 win at Newcastle in the FA Cup last weekend in his first match at the helm.

Buoyed by the midweek success over Manchester United in their League Cup semi-final first leg, bottom club Sunderland will hope to bridge the four-point gap that separates them from safety when they visit fifth-from-bottom Fulham today.

Meanwhile, third-from-bottom Crystal Palace face Tottenham Hotspur, who have climbed to sixth on the back of a four-game unbeaten run under rookie manager Tim Sherwood.

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