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Manchester United vs Cardiff Preview

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Manchester United vs Cardiff Preview

Record signing Juan Mata is set to make his Manchester United debut against former Old Trafford striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff City on Tuesday. David Moyes has indicated he wants the former Chelsea man, who completed a £37.1 million move on Saturday, to be involved, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returns to his former club.

Manchester United vs Cardiff
When: January 28, 2014 7:45 PM GMT
Where: Old Trafford — Manchester
Referee:‬ C. Pawson‎
Odds: 1.25 | 5.75 | 11.00 – Sign up with bet365 for a free bet up to £200
Tip: Man United 2 – Cardiff 0 @ Bet365 take 1.25

The Spain midfielder completed his £37.1 million move from Chelsea on Saturday and is expected to go straight into the starting line-up.

Mata’s arrival is a timely boost for United, who crashed out of the Capital One Cup on penalties in their semi-final against Sunderland last week on the back of a 3-0 top-flight defeat at Chelsea.

4/1 Juan Mata is 4/1 with William Hill to open the scoring v Cardiff
Manager David Moyes will be expecting Mata to provide the touch of class that United have been lacking in what has been a disappointing season so far for the Premier League champions.

United’s prospects of retaining their title are forlorn, as Moyes’ men are seventh in the table and 14 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.

Moyes will still be confident of clinching qualification for the Champions League, though, with Liverpool six points better off than the Old Trafford outfit.

United drew 2-2 at Cardiff back in November in the first meeting between the two sides since 1975, but Solskjaer has since replaced Malky Mackay at the Welsh club.

The 40-year-old can expect a rapturous reception on his return to Old Trafford, where he spent 11 years during his playing days and enjoyed a major role in such a successful period in United’s history, including scoring the winner in the 1999 Champions League final.

The Norwegian has been charged with the task of keeping Cardiff in the Premier League, but they slipped to the bottom of the table with a 4-2 defeat at Manchester City in their last top flight match.

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.

Solskjaer’s side did win at Bolton Wanderers in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, but Cardiff have taken just a point from their last six Premier League games.

The Cardiff boss will be hoping United strike duo Robin van Persie (thigh) and Wayne Rooney (groin) are not yet ready to return.

Moyes will also assess the fitness of Rio Ferdinand (knee), Nani (hamstring) and Michael Carrick (ankle), but captain Nemanja Vidic will not definitely not feature as he serves the second of a two-match suspension following his red card at Chelsea.

Kenwyne Jones could make his Cardiff debut if a swap deal with Stoke City involving Peter Odemwingie goes through in time and forward Jo Inge Berget 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.

For Man United, it has been a season best epitomized by taking the turn for the worst. In closer look, United did have a good bits of spell in form, in Europe and back home, with that sets of victories in December, playing at times terrific brand of attacking football, going full frontal, urgent from the off, firing from every nooks and crannies, and just a side born to score goals to get points. However, again, the poor spells are just one too many, with United so often in terms of display vice versa to the potential they can fulfill at their best. Add insults to injury, with just one victory this year, and the double cupsets in some short space of time, it drastically darkens the cloud over Moyes’ skies. But, with the Mata coup a genuine boost for United, it will be crucial for them to kick-start the season with that advantage to get closer point-wise to that 4th spot at least, one of it via a home victory against Cardiff. Simple as pie, United’s season as a whole has been underwhelming, due to one reason perhaps with Rooney and Van Persie appearing in and out from injuries, but within the troubles, there’s been a sliver of life for them from one or two players. Most prominently, on the limelight was Januzaj, so green experience-wise, but he’s been United’s consistent creative mastermind, with more threat pace-wise, maneuver-wise, and goalscoring-wise. Though, the game changer could rest on Juan Mata, a Chelsea gem pre-Mourinho, who exudes the creativity Januzaj have done singlehandedly for United, with his key asset technically his amazing two feet, good ball bearing, and such distribution strikers dreamt of. Up front, of course, there are the likes of Welbeck and Chicarito, both at their best, offers pace, clever maneuver, and goals that could depend on Mata’s sort of pass. Defensively, United need to be wary of set-pieces, Cardiff’s special weapon, outmuscling them in the air, as well as getting the springs on their feet from their fast counter-attack, but attacking-wise, Mata and Januzaj could really be key to pick Cardiff’s lock open.

As for Cardiff, it has been a very difficult season for them. To recall, they have produced such eye-popping display in that 3-2 victory against Man City, and almost similarly, the 2-2 draw against United, showcasing some decent attacking-minded football, via being tactically flexible, from the rocket science of playing some quick-paced, direct passing rhythm, to the simple, their secret weapon in the set-piece situation, which has been the genuine source of their goalscoring form. Though, on a broader scale, with being 20th, the root of the problem was obvious, consistency in terms of form, and crucially, goals, which outside set-pieces have been out in the blue for them. And so, Ole, despite the incredible run in the FA Cup, will need to veer his focus now into saving Cardiff’s league season, and with a history of matching United 2-2 in Wales, Cardiff will need to get a few passes as well as those set-piece situation going against the same team. Undoubtedly, with a hot goalscoring form needed to get Cardiff back up, that bits of creative spark and dynamism in midfield will be required to be able to counter United, and that attribute are best exuded in their double engine in Jordon Mutch and Craig Noone, the architects of Cardiff’s attack in that draw at Wales, with some springs on their feet, a few technical runs and skills, and instrumental with goals and/or assists. Then, there’s also another pint-sized, and simultaneously tenacious energy-wise in Korean Kim, who’s got that pace to run past defenses’ lines in open play, and as a reminder, a good aerial skill, as his equalizer against United last time out best showed. Though, still, the set-piece alternative would be another that can trouble United’s back-line, with the usual in Whittingham the precise distributor from the free-kicks or corners, and Campbell, quick-footed as well as a towering threat in one up front. Defensively, Cardiff needs to hold themselves steady, pack bodies in, get some springs on their feet, and also in the air to avert United’s passing flow, but attacking-wise, it’s those players mentioned most likely to give Cardiff the upper hand.

United are in their toughest, possibly probationary period in their history. At times, those old traits of United, the urgency, the hunger for goals, and just attack from every nooks and crannies for some more are still there, but just infrequent. Therefore, United will sure come out all guns blazing at home for three points against Cardiff. Though, Cardiff are in dire need of points of some sort, and did caused a few fuss on them in Wales via those set-piece situation, and they will need to replicate that sort of display to get something to lift them off 20th. Though, with possibly Mata injection and quality to honestly say, United could get back to winning ways again against Cardiff.

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