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Cardiff v Man United betting tips: Will Solskjaer begin with a win?

Richard Marsh | 22 December 2018

Preview and odds for Europa League clash

All eyes will be on the Cardiff City Stadium tonight as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes charge of Manchester United for the first time.

The Red Devils legend has been handed the reins in a caretaker capacity, following Jose Mourinho’s sacking on Tuesday.

By coincidence, his first match in charge of his beloved club is away at the team where he endured a difficult time in his only previous Premier League managerial role.

Will the Baby-Faced Assassin erase the gloom which has clouded the Old Trafford outfit this season? Or will Neil Warnock’s Bluebirds hand Solksjaer a warning of what might be to come in the months ahead? It’s all live on the BT Sport cameras tonight, kicking off at 5.30…

Head-to-head

The two sides have only met twice since 1975, and that came in the 2013-14 campaign.  The points were shared in a 2-2 draw in Wales, with United winning 2-0 at Old Trafford in the return fixture.

As for the formbook, United come into this one with just two wins in eight across all competitions. Solksjaer also takes charge of a side with one league win in six. United have also failed to win five of their last six league matches on the road.

As for Neil Warnock’s Cardiff, they’ve won three and lost three of their last six. The pattern is clear, however. All bar one of the Bluebirds’ points this term have come at home.

Likely XIs

There will be plenty of attention focused on Solskjaer’s first United line-up. By the end of Mourinho’s tenure, he had resorted to only fielding players who still believed in him.

That did not include Paul Pogba. The new boss may opt to put his stamp on things straight away and include the pair of them.

The Norwegian is likely to be without Romelu Lukaku, so Marcus Rashford is the likely starter up front. Solskjaer also has to figure out what Mourinho never could – United’s best defensive line-up.

While Solskjaer’s line-up is a mystery, Warnock has been a relative model of consistency this term. Callum Peterson has been the focal point up front, while Junior Hoilett could continue on the right flank after an impressive few weeks.

Key battles

Under Mourinho, United had become a labouring force, largely devoid of inspiration or cohesion.

But nobody doubts the quality of the individual players at the club. Solskjaer has said he wants his team to enjoy playing for the team, so we should see a rejuvenated approach from the outset.

Cardiff and Warnock won’t make that easy though. They’ll have no time for the romance of Solskjaer’s return. Expect another physical and tactically astute performance from the Welsh side, who have been picking up points frequently at home.

Match odds

United are 4/7 favourites to hand Solskjaer a winning start. Cardiff aren’t out of the running at 19/4, however, while a draw is 3/1.

Lukaku and Anthony Martial share first goalscorer favouritism at 4/1. The latter is United’s top scorer this season with seven league goals.

Peterson is 9/1 to open the scoring for the hosts, with Hoilett 9/2 anytime following his recent spate of wonder-strikes.

And we should expect goals. League games involving United have averaged 3.4 goals this season, with Cardiff just behind on 2.9. There’s 3/4 about over 2.5 goals, and 15/8 for over 3.5.

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing