It is sure to be a great atmosphere on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 (11:45 AM Pacific, 19:45 GMT) at Old Trafford, as United welcome in their new hero Juan Mata, and welcome back one of their all time heroes in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Cardiff are in a spot of bother, of that there is no doubt, however, the signing of both Wilfred Zaha and Fabio Da Silva from United, as well as big Kenwyne Jones from Stoke City, should really help to boost their chances as Ole Gunnar bids to keep them in the League.
United, on the other hand, are a team in transition, and with new signing Mata ready to make his debut, Moyes is going to have to sort out his team selection and tactical nose very quickly, because, frankly, it hasn’t been good enough so far.
While he has always been able to hide behind the fact that he apparently inherited an ageing and weak squad (a squad that won last year’s title race at a canter by the way), as the new signings begin to arrive, and those surplus to requirements are shown the door, Moyes will have nothing to hide behind if results and performances continue in the current vein.
Rooney & Mata
While Van Persie is still unavailable but apparently nearing full fitness, Rooney is back and it will be a very interesting sight to see him combine with Mata and Januzaj, who just keeps on improving. As far as the season goes, 4th place is the best United can hope for, as well as a prolonged run in the Champions League, but this season must now be about Moyes finally working out what his best team is, and sticking to it for more than one game.
Team News Cardiff
The Zaha deal is likely to be a loan switch, so even if it is completed in time, you wouldn’t have thought he will play. Fabio and Jones are both looking to sign permanent deals and if completed, they will serve to bolster a Cardiff team that has generally struggled this year despite the odd fantastic result. They are currently bottom, but just one point from safety and will be keen to try to spoil the occasion for Mata and United, to ensure they don’t get cut adrift.
Team News United
We fully expect to see Mata start and given the number 8 shirt. Mata certainly will be hoping to live up to the billing, and with Rooney set to return, as well as more positive news on the fitness of Van Persie, the grey clouds above Old Trafford may finally be beginning to break.
Januzaj looks set to continue with his fine form being the only thing that Moyes can really take as a positive from January. After crashing out on penalties in another soulless display in the Capital One Cup, the team should receive a much needed boost with the arrival and return of some very important players.
Manchester United vs Cardiff City Prediction
The atmosphere will be electric and both sides will certainly be fully committed, but with Mata starting, and Rooney returning, it’s simply impossible to look beyond United. I would even go so far as to predict that Mata scores. For Cardiff, there are more important games coming up and they have a good chance of staying up in my view, but here, they will be heading back to Wales rooted to the bottom of the league unfortunately. Manchester United 3-0 Cardiff City.
Manchester United vs Cardiff City TV Info
The match will be televised on Premier League Extra Time (USA), and MUTV Online (stream).