PL Preview: Cardiff City v. Manchester United

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  • Manchester United has lost its last three league away matches against promoted sides, as many as it had in its previous 36 games.
  • Cardiff City has won four of its last five Premier League home matches, as many as it had in its previous 22 games in league play.
  • Of the 31 players with at least five PL goals this season, Romelu Lukaku has scored the highest percentage of them away from home. His five strikes on the road out of six works out as 83 percent of his goals.

A new era begins as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer makes his Manchester United managerial debut in prime time on Saturday at his former club, Cardiff City (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

After a shocking start to the season that fell way below club expectations, Solskjaer now has the task of lifting sixth-place Manchester United back into the top four places, although he has to make up 11 points from here through the end of the season. Cardiff City meanwhile is coming off a wild 3-2 defeat to Watford but is sitting just two points above the drop zone. A point at home for the Bluebirds would be crucial for their Premier League survival.

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Solskjaer will be shorthanded for the match as Alexis Sanchez, Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling remain out, while Romelu Lukaku hasn’t trained all week. On the plus side, Anthony Martial, Diego Dalot and Victor Lindelof have all been declared fit.

For Cardiff, Neil Warnock‘s side is only missing Joe Bennett for the big match.

What they’re saying

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on adjusting to the new job: “The job now is to get to know the players, observe them, see the qualities that we’ve got,” he added. “Of course, I’ve seen more or less every game from Norway when I’ve had time from the other job [as Molde boss]. But, to get to know the players and think about what I can do to improve them, that’s my job.”

Cardiff City’s Neil Warnock on facing Man United: 

“So many players will be wanting to prove certain things. There are some talented, young players there, and people like Rashford, Lingard, Martial, Mata and Pogba all have things to prove. It will be a difficult game for us in the circumstances. They’ve got pace and power everywhere. We’ll be trying to give them a good game, but we’ll need everyone to be at their best to get a result. It would be lovely to be outside the bottom three for Christmas. We’re disappointed we haven’t got a few more points, but it’s not for the lack of trying – we’ve just got to keep going.

“Anything can happen, and I think we can get a result at home against anybody. We will give it a good shot tomorrow, and the fans will be right behind us. I’m sure we will give a good account of ourselves.”

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Prediction

Cardiff City’s four wins this season have all come at home, where they’ll be on Saturday against a banged-up Man United squad. There’s pace and some decent attackers in Junior Hoilett and Josh Murphy and they could cause Man United some troubles. Solskjaer’s side’s overall quality should help them overcome some of the defensive deficiencies but not all. Cardiff City 2-2 Manchester United