It will be a friendly reunion for Manchester United fans on Tuesday night as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer brings his Cardiff City side to Old Trafford.
The Reds were knocked out of the League Cup at home to Sunderland last week but have been buoyed by the signing of Juan Mata over the weekend, and will use this boost to get their season back on track with a win over their Welsh opponents. Solskjaer will be relishing the opportunity to return to his old club as a Premier League club but obviously nothing less than a win will suffice.
David Moyes still has a number of players unavailable for selection. Michael Carrick, Nani and Robin van Persie are yet to find out when they can return. Rio Ferdinand, Marouane Fellaini and Wayne Rooney could be back in training this week; but, the game against Cardiff may be too soon for them. However, at least Moyes has good news in that Mata will be able to make his debut for the club.
Cardiff only have one injury to Anthony Taylor. Other than that, Solskjaer has a fully fit squad to choose from for the trip to Manchester.
- Out of their last five league games at home, United have won twice and lost the other three.
- Danny Welbeck has scored six goals in his last seven league appearances for the home side.
- United have earned 998 points at home in Premier League history – more than any other side.
- Cardiff have lost six of their last eight away games in the league and drawn the other two.
- Cardiff have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last six league games and have conceded 16 goals in the process.
- The last time the Welsh side won at Old Trafford was in 1954.
Januzaj has been one of United’s best players this season and has provided a threat that has been sorely lacking in other areas of the team’s play. He is good on the ball, having 31 successful dribbles from 57 attempts. However, his crossing could be much better with only eight of his 50 crosses finding a team mate. He has created 18 chances overall with 11 of these coming from open play and as a result, he has two assists. This means he is creating a chance every 58 minutes.
He has even chipped in with some goals as well, scoring three so far this season. He has attempted 18 shots on goal but as only eight of them were on target, and he has a shooting accuracy of just 44%.
Januzaj has arguably been United’s best player this season and with Mata’s arrival, he can only get better.
Medel has been a good player for Cardiff this season and his efforts in the holding role have only been undermined due to the frequent incompetence of the defenders behind him. The midfielder has attempted 46 tackles so far this season, with a success rate of 76.09%. He has also made 43 interceptions and with only two defensive errors all season, he is only making a mistake every 872 minutes. When in possession of the ball, he has lost it 143 times but, he is very good at winning it back: he has won the ball back 52 times in the defensive third and an even better 60 times in midfield. This means he is winning back possession every 16 minutes on average so far this season. If he can replicate this kind of performance against United, then he could make it very hard for them to attack.
Cardiff have been hopeless away from home and I can only see that continuing here. The arrival of Juan Mata will be a big boost to United and their fans and this will be reflected in the result. I think it will finish 2-0 to Manchester United.