Manchester United are expected to hand new club-record signing Juan Mata his debut, when they welcome Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff City to Old Trafford in the Premier League tie on Tuesday night.
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 7.45pm GMT (1.15am IST) start with live coverage on Star Sports HD 2 in India. The match can also be caught via live streaming online HERE in India. Catch the action in the US HERE. North Africa and Middle East viewers can catch all the action live online HERE, while viewers from the rest of Africa click HERE.
All eyes will once again be on United as we head into gameweek 23, though there is more than one reason for all the attention they are going to get on Tuesday. Under normal circumstances, the return of a legend - the man who helped Red Devils win their first ever Champions League - would be the lead story of this game but Mata has stolen the spotlight from Solskjaer hands down.
United completed the £37m signing of the Spain international from rivals Chelsea on Saturday night and the 25-year-old is in line to make his debut against at Old Trafford tonight. The arrival of Mata, who was voted by the Blues' fans as their Player of the Year in his first two seasons with the Londoners, has given the Red Devils and their new manager David Moyes a massive morale boost in their quest to achieve some kind of success in this topsy-turvy season.
The defending champions were out of the title race by mid-season and are now 14 points below leaders Arsenal (and 12 off third-placed Chelsea). Moyes' men were eliminated from the FA Cup by Swansea City at Old Trafford earlier this month, before they were beaten by Sunderland on penalties in the Capital One Cup semifinals last week; again at home - a former fortress.
United have lost four of their last six games in all competitions, and qualification for next season's Champions League is now their new target for this season. The club is currently six points adrift of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, who occupy the fourth and fifth spots respectively.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will make an emotional return to Old Trafford
Cardiff, on the other hand, are rockbottom of the table, having lost both games in the league since former United forward Solskjaer replaced Malky Mackay as manager earlier this month. However, the former Norway international has led the club to two big away wins in the FA Cup, first against high-flying Newcastle United and then against Championship side Bolton Wanderers.
Solskjaer, who won six Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a Champions League with United, will see a massive welcome from the Old Trafford faithful, as the 40-year-old makes an emotional return to the club, where he spent 11 colourful years as a player.
Meanwhile, Mata and Solskjaer are not the only standout elements of this particular game. The return of forward duo Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie - alongside summer signing Marouane Fellaini - to the first team, after recovering from their respective injuries, has also been much-awaited event for the United fans.
United: Michael Carrick (ankle), Rio Ferdinand (knee) and Nani (hamstring) will miss out, while captain Nemanja Vidic serves the second of a three-match suspension for his red card at Chelsea. However, as previously mentioned, the massive news is that Rooney, van Persie and Fellaini all trained on Monday and are expected to feature tonight.
Cardiff: Defender Andrew Taylor (ankle) is the only absentee for Solskjaer.
Expected lineups: United: de Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra; Fletcher, Giggs; Januzaj, Mata, Welbeck; Rooney
Cardiff: Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, McNaughton; Whittingham, Medel, Gunnarsson, Mutch, Noone; Campbell
Prediction: 2-1 to United
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