The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era at Manchester United gets underway against former club Cardiff on Saturday. Tom Carnduff looks at the betting.
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Cardiff v Manchester United (Cardiff City Stadium, 1730 GMT, BT Sport 1)
The Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era at Manchester United gets underway in Saturday's late kick-off, coming up against his previous club Cardiff in Wales.
Solskjaer was sacked by the Bluebirds in September 2014 after overseeing their relegation from the top-flight. They would also make a poor start to life in the Championship with just two wins before his departure.
Despite that, he is tasked with getting Manchester United back on track with Jose Mourinho's spell coming to an end amidst a toxic atmosphere at Old Trafford.
Although a change has been made, United's issues won't disappear overnight as Solskjaer has to motivate a squad of players to try and close an eight-point gap between themselves and the top-five.
In Cardiff, they faced a side who continue to defy the odds under Neil Warnock's leadership and have won four of their last five home games in the Premier League.
That includes a victory over high-flying Wolves, while they were only beaten by a single goal when they took on Arsenal.
Given the period of change currently happening at United, Cardiff have every chance of picking up something in front of the TV cameras.
Score prediction: Cardiff 1-1 Manchester United (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)
Manchester United have struggled of late as reflected by the distance they are from where they would want to be. Cardiff's upturn in home form is evident and they know that results at the Cardiff City Stadium will be key if they are to stay in this division this season. It's going to take Solskjaer some time to adjust to the new role, which may see dropped points in the opening few games.
Best bet: Sol Bamba 1+ shots on target at 21/10
Last Christmas, the Cardiff fans gave Sol Bamba their heart, and I'm sure they will be doing the same this time around. The defender should be heavily involved in the attacks for the hosts as they look to the aerial route if they are to find the net. Bamba has two on his tally already this season and has had 15 shots on goal, the seventh-highest in this Cardiff team. Backing him to have one or more shots on target at the better side of 2/1 is value worth taking.
Goalscorer bet: Sol Bamba to score anytime at 13/1
I've already spoken about his attacking threat above, and you know Cardiff will be going direct here with the aim of finding the net. Sean Morrison's three assists this season highlight how he can be the target man to create chances, while Bamba is the more goalscoring option out of the two centre-backs. At 13/1, the price looks a tad generous for a player who has hit the net on multiple occasions already.
- Cardiff City have won only one of their last 12 league matches against Manchester United (D3 L8), winning 3-0 in November 1960.
- Manchester United are unbeaten in each of their previous seven matches against Cardiff in league competition (W5 D2).
- Only Arsenal (12) have won more points from losing positions in the Premier League this season than Cardiff City and Manchester United (9, level with Leicester).
- Cardiff City have won four of their last five Premier League home games (L1), as many as they had in their previous 22 in the competition (W4 D6 L12).
- Manchester United have lost their last three Premier League away games against promoted sides, as many as they had in their previous 36 such matches (W27 D6 L3).
- Manchester United have conceded more goals in 17 Premier League games this season (29) than they did in the whole of 2017-18 (28). Only Fulham (0) have kept fewer clean sheets than the Red Devils this season (2).
- Manchester United have picked up 26 points after their first 17 league games this season under Jose Mourinho; their worst points haul in the top-flight at this stage since 1990-91 (also 26 points).
- Manchester United won 176 Premier League points under recently dismissed manager Jose Mourinho; fewer than Manchester City (222), Tottenham Hotspur (202), Chelsea (200) and Liverpool (196) since August 2016.
- Of the 31 players with at least five Premier League goals this season, Romelu Lukaku has scored the highest percentage of them away from home (5/6 – 83%).
- Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock has failed to win any of his seven previous encounters with Man Utd in all competitions, losing six of those games (D1).
Odds correct at 1400 GMT (20/12/18)