Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in-charge of Manchester United is up against his former club Cardiff City. Will the Red Devils begin their new era with a victory?
Cardiff City vs Manchester United – Premier League 2018/19
Venue: Cardiff City stadium
Date: Saturday, 22 December 2018
Kick-off: 5:30 PM BST
TV channel: BT Sport 1
Cardiff City are one of the three newly promoted sides this season in the Premier League and they are struggling to cope up with England’s elite sides. Two points safe from the relegation zone, the Bluebirds have conceded 33 goals this season (3rd most in the league) this season, four more than their opponents this weekend, Manchester United.
For Man United, there have been a lot of changes after the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool last weekend. Jose Mourinho was sacked on 17th of December 2018, after the Glazers patience with him ran out, which ended his three years of service at the club. In his place, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, made a switch from Molde FC to be appointed as the interim manager for the Red Devils. Solskjaer previously had a spell with Cardiff City in the Premier League in 2014 which ended up with the Bluebirds being relegated to the Championship. It’ll be interesting to see if Solskjaer can change his fortunes this time around.
The likes of Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku will now need to step up and while Solskjaer is getting his drills in, he will have to wait to see the later two as Alexis Sanchez is sidelined with an injury and Romelu Lukaku has been given some time off.
Danny Ward and Jazz Richards are expected to miss out on Saturday’s game after suffering from knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
Greg Cunningham is expected to return to the squad after a knock while Joe Bennett is doubtful after being forced off in the second half of the 3-2 defeat at Watford last weekend.
Chris Smalling, who got injured in warm-up in the match against Liverpool, and Luke Shaw would be hopeful of making a return against Cardiff.
Romelu Lukaku is set to miss this fixture after he was given time off.
Marcos Rojo, Matteo Darmian and Scott McTominay missed the game last weekend and are doubtful for this match.
Alexis Sanchez is ruled out and is not expected to play any part in this game.
Head to Head
Cardiff City and Man United have met 29 times with the Red Devils having an impressive record of 14 wins. The Bluebirds have won seven times and both sides sharing points on eight occasions.
The last encounter between the two sides was back in the 2013/14 season when the Red Devils drew 2-2 against Solskjaer’s former club before winning 2-0 in the reverse fixture at the Old Trafford.
Cardiff City have won only one of their last 12 league matches against Man United (D3 L8), winning 3-0 in November 1960.
Cardiff City have won four of their last five PL home games, as many as they had in their previous 22 in the competition (W4 D6 L12).
Man United have lost their last three PL away games against promoted sides, as many as they had in their previous 36 matches (W27 D6 L3).
Man Utd have conceded more goals in 17 PL games this season (29) than they did in the whole of 2017-18 (28). Only Fulham (0) have kept fewer clean sheets than the Red Devils this season (2).
Stats that matter
Let’s look at the goal involvement of the players of both sides with the help of a graph:
For Cardiff, Bobby Reid is their most influential player having 2 goals and a assist in his last 6 games.
As for Man United, with Lukaku absent, Marcus Rashford could lead the line for the Red Devils. Rashford, who has a GI of 0.84 has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last Premier League games and is favored at 8/5 to score a goal anytime.
Cardiff City are placed 16th in the Premier League table with 14 points. The bluebirds won 1-0 against Southampton at home before losing 3-2 to Watford at the Vicarage Road last weekend.
Cardiff City last 5 matches (Premier League): LWLWL
Man United are 6th in the league table with 26 points. The Red Devils lost 3-1 to Liverpool which puts them 19 points off the league leaders Liverpool and 11 points off the top 4.
Manchester United last 5 matches (Premier League): DDDWL