Ryan Giggs’s “emotional” return to his hometown team. Hold the Kleenex.
It’s taken 23 years, but Giggsy is finally set to face Cardiff
for Manchester United
– and should start too. Injuries to key men mean the evergreen Welshman, who turns 40 next week, is likely to line up for David Moyes’ men in the Welsh capital.
- Aston Villa 2-0 Cardiff (Prem)
- Cardiff 1-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Norwich 0-0 Cardiff (Prem)
- Chelsea 4-1 Cardiff (Prem)
- Cardiff 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
MAN UNITED FORM
- Man Utd 1-0 Arsenal (Prem)
- Sociedad 0-0 Man Utd (CL)
- Fulham 1-3 Man Utd (Prem)
- Man Utd 4-0 Norwich (LC)
- Man Utd 3-2 Stoke (Prem)
But look away hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia sufferers (don’t believe us?) – it’ll be his 666th league appearance for the Reds. Scary. FFT advises caution.
Cardiff, however, don’t have time for sentiment in the first meeting between these two sides since March 1975 (when United were a Second Division outfit, we hasten to add). Malky Mackay’s men might be two points above the drop zone after 11 games – certainly better than fellow promotees Crystal Palace – but there’s still plenty of work ahead if they’re to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.
Form has been patchy since the start of the campaign, but the Bluebirds proved there’s fuel in the fire with their South Wales derby win over Swansea three weeks ago. Defeat at Aston Villa before the international break, though, wasn’t so hot. They could do with adding a few more goals, especially up front – former United product Fraizer Campbell has only scored in one of his 11 games this season, netting a brace against Manchester City.
Moyes’ men, meanwhile, are now going OK after that rocky start. Three league wins on the trot, including a 1-0 win over table-topping Arsenal at Old Trafford, leaves them only five points off the pace with plenty of games remaining. Robin van Persie is back among the goals (four in four), and with Nemanja Vidic back in the side United may have turned a corner defensively – they’ve only shipped one goal in their last four games in all competitions.
So what’s not to like? Well, don’t get too far ahead – there are injuries to contend with, and that’ll give the hosts all the hope they need.
There’s no such joy for United, who have Michael Carrick (calf) out for up to six weeks, with Phil Jones (groin) and Danny Welbeck (knee) also out. Van Persie, Rafael and Vidic should be fit for the trip despite knocks.
Key battle: Andrew Taylor vs Antonio Valencia
Cardiff left-back Taylor has the task of nullifying one arm of the Premier League’s most wing-happy side. No side attacks through the middle less than United, where just 25% of their attacks are focused. Unsurprisingly they’ve averaged a league-high 27 crosses per game but also happen to have the worst accuracy rate at 16%.
Still, when Valencia’s around there are usually problems to contend with. As one of the league’s most unselfish wingers, the Ecuadorian is a dream for the likes of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney – the men most likely to torment Cardiff’s busy rearguard. That means Andrew Taylor has to be as Andrew Taylor-ish as possible – steady enough to keep his tricky opponent quiet. If he gets protection from Craig Bellamy again his job will be easier. If he doesn’t… well, good luck to him.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Man Utd 4-0 Cardiff (Div 2, Mar 75)
- Cardiff 0-1 Man Utd (Div 2, Aug 74)
- Man Utd 3-0 Cardiff (Div 1, Feb 62)
- Cardiff 1-2 Man Utd (Div 1, Sep 61)
- Man Utd 3-3 Cardiff (Div 1, Apr 61)
Two Scots trying to do their jobs in testing circumstances at opposite ends of the table. Moyes’ Everton and Mackay’s Watdiff sides never crossed paths, teeing up one of the many new managerial match-ups in the top flight this season.
Facts and figures
Tips and trends
- Cardiff have conceded first in 3 of their 5 home games this season, while only Crystal Palace have failed to score in more matches (5).
- Cardiff have the worst first-half record in the league (W0, D8, L3), while United have the best first-half record in their last 20 games.
- United have failed to score in just 1 match when Van Persie and Rooney have started together.
- United have scored first in 7 of their last 10 trips to middle-third teams, scoring in both halves in 6 of those games – more than any other side.
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