Manchester United vs Cardiff City
Venue: Old Trafford
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Manchester United will host relegated Cardiff City as both sides will look to round off their Premier League campaigns with a win.
Despite the gulf in points, both sides will be disappointed with where they are in the penultimate week. Manchester United are in sixth place, and fifth is the best they can achieve. This means that Champions League football will evade Old Trafford next season.
United will play in the Europa League, but they had a chance to amend that in recent weeks. Last week’s disappointing draw against Huddersfield confirmed that they will finish outside the top four.
Cardiff’s result last week was a disappointing one as well. Crystal Palace inflicted a 3-2 defeat upon them, which confirmed their relegation to the Championship. The Bluebirds have lost their last three league games. Many predicted Cardiff as favourites to go down, but that won’t ease the fall to the second tier. Neil Warnock’s side fought till the very end, but their stay in the Premier League was a short one.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a rebuilding job in front of him this summer. Improving on this season is necessary, and recruitments on and off the pitch are required for that. Cardiff, meanwhile, will look to mount yet another promotion challenge. Whether or not Warnock will be at the club is still unclear, he will have to make a decision in the coming days.
Solskjaer has a host of injuries before the final game of the season. The game carries little meaning, so he can afford to give playing time to some youngsters.
Romelu Lukaku is suffering from a thigh problem, and his season could be over prematurely. Jesse Lingard has a knee injury, and the midfielder will face a late fitness test.
Alexis Sanchez is another attacker who is in doubt. The Chilean has an ankle problem to deal with, and his game time is in major doubt as well.
On the bright side, this could mean that youngster Mason Greenwood could be primed for a start. The academy prospect is highly rated, but the first-team experience has been hard to come by for the teenager.
Marcus Rashford is primed to start, as is Paul Pogba. Scott McTominay played well against Huddersfield, and he should retain his place in midfield.
Anthony Martial is another player whose minutes are in doubt due to injury. Tahith Chong could be another youngster to profit due to the same.
Cardiff’s injury list has lengthened too, particularly in midfield. Victor Camarasa hobbled off against Palace last week due to a thigh injury. The Spaniard has impressed this season since his loan move from Real Betis. He is their top scorer this campaign, but he could have played his last game for Cardiff.
Harry Arter is also an injury doubt. He has a calf problem to deal with, and he missed the game against Palace for the same reason. Joe Ralls is ruled out, and he will take some months to recover from a thigh problem. Aron Gunnarsson will continue in midfield, and Leandro Bacuna could start the game alongside him.
Kenneth Zohore should start up front, as he has got limited minutes due to injuries. Danny Ward started against Palace, and he should drop to the bench. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing should start as well, as he impressed against Palace.
Predicted Starting XIs
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Pogba, Matic, McTominay; Greenwood, Rashford, Mata.
Cardiff City (4-4-1-1): Etheridge; Bennett, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Peltier; Murphy, Gunnarsson, Bacuna, Mendez-Laing; Reid; Zohore.
Score Prediction: Manchester United 2 Cardiff City 0
Cardiff have little motivation for the final game, and United will be keen to give their fans the perfect sendoff. The home side should get an easy win, and a clean sheet is likely as well.