Louis van Gaal will be hoping Swansea City do not spoil yet another of his special occasions when he marks 50 matches in the Manchester United hot seat on Sunday.
Swansea were the opponents when Van Gaal took charge of his first Premier League fixture at Old Trafford on the opening day of last season – the Welsh club coming away with a memorable 2-1 victory.
Van Gaal was unable to exorcise that demon when he paid his maiden visit to the Liberty Stadium in February, as Swansea came from behind to win by the same scoreline courtesy of goals from Ki Sung-yueng and Bafetimbi Gomis.
“My first match was against Swansea and we lost,” said United’s manager. “Now I have my 50th and I hope we can show that we have improved. We are better prepared this year.
“I don’t want to lose again. It’s the only club we could not beat or gain one point against [last season].
“I hope we can improve and that we can show that we are better than last year.”
Swansea boss Garry Monk is certain his side will come up against a much-improved United.
“They have spent lots of money and have brought in some quality players,” he said. “The super powers and the money they are spending on squads is phenomenal. It is getting more and more difficult to produce results against them.
“But we are trying, we are trying to impose ourselves.
“They are one of the title contenders. I hope we can cause them problems. It will have to be our best performance of the season to get anything.
“We’ve set high standards and we have to maintain them and improve on them.”
Swansea have won three of their last four fixtures against United in all competitions and, in Gomis, have one of the Premier League’s in-form strikers at their disposal – the Frenchman having scored eight in his last nine matches.
Wayne Rooney rediscovered his scoring touch with a hat-trick in a 4-0 UEFA Champions League win at Club Brugge on Wednesday and will be hoping to carry that form into Sunday’s trip to south Wales.
United remain without Phil Jones (mild thrombosis), while Adnan Januzaj is also out with a knock.
Swansea – like United, unbeaten this season – are at full fitness following their League Cup second-round victory over York City in midweek.
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