manchester_united_logo_(c)_www(dot)thehardtackle(dot)comMANCHESTER UNITEDCardiff City logo |

v

CARDIFF CITY

Old Trafford, Manchester

January 28, 2014; 19:45 BST

***

Juan Mata led Manchester United would be aiming to put their Old Trafford blues behind them as they Welcome Old Trafford legend, and now Cardiff City manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

David Moyes and Manchester United entertain Welsh club Cardiff City at Old Trafford in a game which they can’t afford not to win. The sombre mood around the Theatre of Dreams has suddenly given way to hope and excitement as United broke their club transfer record the past week. Juan Mata, surplus to requirements at Chelsea, has arrived and with him perhaps the lifeline to United’s drowning season ambitions.

Cardiff City will be led by a familiar face, an Old Trafford legend and an adored United great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But for the Norwegian, sentimentality cannot come into play at all, Cardiff are rock bottom in the league and must start picking up points now. Owner Vincent Tan has splashed out on a couple of new signings and the squad at Solskjaer’s disposal is good enough to avoid the drop but time sure is running out.

Man United – Team News, Line-up and Formation

Mata could have a huge impact on United's performance

Mata could have a huge impact on United’s performance

With almost no chance of retaining their league crown, United’s league campaign has disintegrated alarmingly, especially at home. However, there is still something to aim for. The fourth spot is vital for the club’s future and for attracting marquee players. And with three clubs to chase down in the table, United have to start winning and keep winning. With the arrival of Mata and possible return of Wayne Rooney, Man United’s attack looks potent again. Robin van Persie is also nearing his return and that could fuel United’s charge up the table. Man United may possibly line up the fantastic trio in this game but probably the fans will have to wait a little longer.

Michael Carrick is out due to injury and that is a colossal blow for the home side. Former Everton man, Marouane Fellaini could make his comeback and share the midfield duties with Darren Fletcher. However, Tom Cleverley too hasn’t featured in a while and might get the manager’s nod. Phil Jones is also a contender and would be pushing for a starting place as well. At the back, NemanjaVidic is suspended courtesy his red card offence at Stamford Bridge. Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling are expected to be the center back pairing flanked by Rafael and Patrice Evra.

United are expected to hog the possession and siege the Cardiff penalty area. New signing Juan Mata could turn out to be the key as the home fans are expected to raise the volumes.

Possible Starting X1:(4-2-3-1) De Gea; Rafael, Evans, Smalling, Evra;Cleverley, Fletcher;Valencia, Mata, Januzaj;Rooney

Man United v Cardiff City Line-Up & Formation

Cardiff City – Team News, Line-up and Formation

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reckons his side’s 1-0 FA Cup fourth-round win at Bolton was the perfect preparation for Tuesday’s Premier League trip to his old club Manchester United. The Welsh outfit claimed their second victory in four games since Solskjaer took charge, with the decisive moment coming in the 50th minute when Fraizer Campbell slotted in. However, both victories have been in the F.A. Cup as the Blue Birds occupy the last position in the league table. Cardiff need to improve their away form if they are to avoid a return to the Championship, as they have won only once on their travels in the top flight

Ole_Gunnar_Solskjaer_(c)wikimedia(dot)org

Kenwyne Jones could make his Cardiff debut if a swap deal with Stoke City involving Peter Odemwingie goes through in time and forward Jo IngeBerget could make his bow following his move from Molde last week. The likes of Fraizer Campbell, Steven Caulker and Craig Noone are expected to return to the starting line-up. Man United full back Fabio Da Silva is also expected to make the switch from Manchester to Wales but the possibility of him starting in this fixture are slim. Wilfried Zaha, the forgotten man at Old Trafford could get a loan move to Cardiff, although he would be ineligible to play against his parent club.

Possible Starting X1:(4-2-3-1)Marshall; McNaughton, Caulker, Turner, Theophile-Catherine; Whittingham, Medel, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Noone; Campbell.

Key Match Facts

  1. Cardiff City have won none and lost six of their last eight Barclays Premier League away games (W0 D2 L6).
  2. 37 points after 22 matches is the fewest Manchester United have mustered in any single Premier League campaign at this stage.
  3. Danny Welbeck has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances for Manchester United.
  4. Cardiff’s last victory away at Manchester United came in April 1954 when they ran out 3-2 winners

Player To Watch Out For

Juan Mata (Man United)

There could only be one. Mata’s record breaking £37.1million move from Chelsea has reignited United’s ambitions and the fans are hopeful of grand opening to a mesmerizing Old Trafford career.

Prediction

Man United 2-0 Cardiff City

United have been poor at home this season and records have tumbled. Visiting sides have enjoyed their trips to the Theatre of Dreams this campaign but Ole and Cardiff might just have to wait.