Cardiff City Stadium exterior at night

Your match preview for Cardiff City v United

Tuesday 18 December 2018 17:20

Ole Gunnar Solskjær will take charge of his first Manchester United game as caretaker manager when the Reds travel to South Wales to face his former club, Cardiff City, this weekend.

The Bluebirds, who were managed by the Norwegian from January to September 2014, gained automatic promotion from the Championship at the end of last season under the stewardship of Neil Warnock. This Saturday's visit to the Cardiff City Stadium will be the first for the Reds since a 2-2 draw in the Premier League in November 2013.

This is the first of four games in the space of just 11 days over the festive period for United, who will look to return to winning ways after last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Liverpool. 

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's teatime kick-off...

Our next fixture

Saturday 22 December | Premier League | Cardiff City Stadium | 17:30 GMT kick-off | Live build-up on MUTV from 16:00 GMT | Referee: Michael Oliver

The Reds were boosted by the return of Victor Lindelof as a starter and Anthony Martial as a substitute after injury in last weekend's game at Anfield. Fellow centre-back Chris Smalling was due to start against Liverpool but was replaced in the starting XI by Eric Bailly just before the game. Luke Shaw has been out of action since the Southampton match at the start of December, while Scott McTominay has missed the last couple of matches.

As for the Bluebirds, forward Danny Ward (knee) and full-back Jazz Richards (hamstring) are expected to miss Saturday's game, but left-back Greg Cunningham could return from a knock to feature against United. Joe Bennett (hip) is a doubt for the match having not trained this week.

We have met Saturday's hosts on 29 previous occasions and go into the game with an impressive record against the Bluebirds - winning 14, drawing eight and losing just seven times. While we have not played the Bluebirds on a regular basis in recent years, United and Cardiff met frequently in the old First Division during the mid-1950s, with the Reds often coming out on top when Sir Matt Busby's side travelled to Cardiff's former home ground, Ninian Park.

Our first meeting of the season with Cardiff will be just the second time that the Reds have made the trip south to the Cardiff City Stadium, which first opened in 2009. The previous visit, in the 2013/14 season, saw the Reds return to Manchester with a point. However, United won the reverse fixture at Old Trafford 2-0 thanks to goals from Robin van Persie and Ashley Young against Solskjær's former club in what was Juan Mata's debut following his arrival from Chelsea in January 2014.

After a tough start to life back in the Premier League following their promotion from the Championship last term, the Bluebirds have improved in recent weeks. Neil Warnock’s team failed to win any of their first eight Premier League games, but have tasted victory in three of the last six matches - including an impressive 2-1 win over Wolves at the end of November. Cardiff have gained 14 points from 17 games so far and currently sit 16th in the table, two points above the bottom three.

Who's their manager?

Neil Warnock took charge of the Bluebirds in October 2016, with the side second bottom in the Championship. However, the 70-year-old led Cardiff to promotion last season and is performing admirably again this season.

Junior Hoilett has caught the eye in the last few games for Cardiff City. The 28-year-old winger scored stunning goals against Wolves and Watford in the last four games - both of which were curling efforts from outside the area. The Canadian joined the Welsh outfit in October 2016, becoming Warnock's first signing at the club, and has previously represented Blackburn Rovers and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League.

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Michael Oliver will be the man in the middle on Saturday. The 33-year-old Fifa official, from Northumberland, will take charge of his second United fixture of the season, after handling our 3-1 defeat against West Ham United at the London Stadium in September. Oliver will be assisted by Simon Bennett and Mick McDonough, with Roger East serving as the fourth official. 

Wolves and Liverpool kick off the final round of Premier League fixtures before Christmas on Friday night when they meet at Molineux. Here's the schedule in full...

Friday 21 December
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Liverpool (20:00 GMT)

Saturday 22 December
Arsenal v Burnley (12:30 GMT)
AFC Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion
Chelsea v Leicester City
Huddersfield Town v Southampton
Manchester City v Crystal Palace
Newcastle United v Fulham
West Ham United v Watford
Cardiff City v Manchester United (17:30 GMT)

Sunday 23 December
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur (16:00 GMT)

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