Man United v Cardiff 19:45
Manchester United welcome club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer back to Old Trafford in the middle of a difficult time for the club after being knocked out of both cup competitions and losing to bitter rivals Chelsea in January. The fixture could be a fascinating one as bottom club Cardiff take on the reigning champions struggling for form.
Chicarito Henandez scored United’s only goal against Chelsea, remarkably just his second Premier League goal of the season. Chicarito has had just ten shots at goal though, with 90% on target, so his goal tally says more about the number of chances that are being created for him than his finishing, which remains as efficient as ever.
Manchester United fans will look forward to seeing Juan Mata in action soon, after the Spanish midfielder completed his move from Chelsea. Mata has struggled for playing time in the Premier League this season, but has still completed 366 passes in the opposition half at a rate of one every 2.27 minutes, the sort of creativity that United fans will be excited to see.
Mata spoke highly of new team mate Wayne Rooney at his unveiling as a Manchester United player. Rooney has nine goals and eleven assists this season, making him directly involved in 20 of United’s 36 goals, or 55.6%.
Cardiff were unable to repeat their early season heroics against Manchester City, losing 4-2 despite goals from Craig Noone and Frazier Campbell.
Craig Noone should be saluted for taking the game to Man City, completing eight dribbles in the game, more than any other player in the last round of Premier League games.
David Marshall also tried valiantly to stem Manchester City’s attacks, pulling off six saves in the game, the joint highest of any goalkeeper in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index in the last round.
That took Marshall’s tally for the season to 88, the busiest goalkeeper in the Premier League.
If United want to beat Cardiff’s defences they will need to look beyond aerial balls into the box. Cardiff’s defensive pairing of Ben Turner and Steven Caulker are the 3rd and 4th ranked players in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for clearances with 200 and 192.