Last Updated: 28/01/14 9:57pm
Man Utd 2 Cardiff 0. A good night all round for the hosts with Mata debuting and Van Persie and Rooney making their respective returns to action. Back to the drawing board for the rock-bottom Bluebirds.
Final few seconds and Campbell is seen off by a combination of Jones and Evra. Valencia races out, but United aren't looking for a third now.
Rooney trying to get in on the act again. Januzaj tees him up 25 yards out. He looks to bend the ball across Marshall, but sends his shot dipping past the outside of the post.
Rafael allowed to carry the ball a long way, before bundling wide to Valencia. United work the ball across the edge of the box. Evra then tries too much and Cardiff can clear.
So close to three for United. Evra able to slip down the left again. He cuts back to Januzaj on this occasion. He opens up his body, but guides a low effort past the post.
Rafael beats John and then comes back for more. He can't repeat the trick twice and the ball bobbles off his boot and behind for a goal kick. Moyes out urging one final effort from his troops.
Campbell has support now, but can't get the ball out from under his feet. Valencia can lead United out on the counter. Hosts happy to keep the ball away from Cardiff.
Campbell lets the ball run through to Kim. He is always looking to get the ball onto his left foot, but sees a speculative shot deflect behind for a corner. Bellamy takes again. The ball drops in the box, but Campbell can't react quickly enough when it falls his way.
Rooney spots Marshall off his line and tries his luck from just outside the centre circle. Worth a go at 2-0, but he doesn't get enough on the effort and it floats into the arms of the Cardiff keeper.
Bellamy still making a nuisance of himself, chasing lost cause and forcing a corner. He will take the set-piece himself. He scuffs his delivery off Rafael and is fortunate to get a second chance. Bellamy tries again, but Rooney nods out at the front post.
Mata given a standing ovation on his debut as he makes way for Januzaj. Two players United hope will play a big role in their future. Mata can be happy enough with his night's work, but there is definitely more to come.
Young runs away from Kim, then produces a neat flick into Evra. Cleverley then looks forward, but Young can't produce a killer pass.
De Gea under no pressure as the ball comes back his way. Cardiff get it back and Campbell wins a free-kick. Daehli picks out Bellamy, but his run takes him through the box and out of the other side.
Not the most convincing of defending by Cardiff as Turner tracks a run into the box from Rooney. He nods past Marshall and out for a corner. Set-piece played short and then dealt with by the Bluebirds.
Cardiff doing their best to find a route back into the game, but can't open the door. United then pick their pocket every time they get near the final third.
Jones caught by Campbell as he pokes clear. He bounces back to his feet and doesn't look to make a meal of the challenge. Young leads United forward and has Evra in support. He drags back to Mata, but he can't put the icing on the cake as his shot is blocked up into the air.
Daelhi provides another United-Cardiff link here, with the youngster a former academy star at Old Trafford. He is eager to get involved, but the ball is worked away from him and towards Bellamy on the left.
Evans across to the corner flag to cut out Noone. An attempted cross flicks off the United man for a throw. Noone's final involvement as he makes way for debutant Daehli.
Rafael leaves the ball for Valencia and Mata. He looks for Rooney, but Whittingham steps in. He has had to do far more defensive work tonight than Cardiff would have been hoping for.
United now sitting off and letting Cardiff have more of the ball. They know they only have to keep the back door bolted to collect three points. Campbell poses no threat as he crosses towards nobody.
The opportunity looks to have gone as Valencia stops in the box, but works a yard again and sees Marshall tip a stinging shot onto the post. Ball put behind and the resulting corner comes to nothing.
Medel into Bellamy, but he has nothing in front of him. Cardiff forced backwards to Caulker. The visitors give the ball away and Valencia can break into the box.
Free-kick taken quickly to Rooney, who sets himself and sees a 25-yard effort flick inches past the post off Caulker. Rooney takes the corner himself, which is seen out by Whittingham.
Jones wide to Rafael. Ball them moved inside to Valencia. United looking for a gap to open up. It doesn't and Medel can chase Mata away from the box. He then tugs at Mata's shirt and concedes a free-kick.
Campbell clashes with Smalling. He is hobbling, but will be okay. United decide to make their second change, with Cleverley replacing Giggs.
Kim looking lively for Cardiff, but Rafael can hold him off on this occasion and prevent him from chasing down a ball fed down the left flank. Will Solskjaer turn to his new boys for inspiration?
Hudson has had to make way, with Turner taking his place. Campbell looks to be okay. Play back under way, with Turner's first touch seeing him not out over the top of Mata.
Solskjaer down on the sidelines trying to work things out. He doesn't look too happy. The smile which greeted his appearance at kick-off has been replaced by a scowl.
Campbell not happy and gesturing towards the bench. He is going to have to come off. Hudson also down for Cardiff. Dropping like flies all of a sudden!
Kim trying to produce something for the visitors, but has three red shirts in his face. Cardiff cut back inside and out to their left. John has no room for a cross. Patient from the Bluebirds. The ball ends up back with Kim, but he drills straight at De Gea from the edge of the box.
Evans has been allowed to drift forward on numerous occasions. This time he keeps on going and finds himself 25 yards from goal. He decides to try his luck, but slices well wide of the target. A defender's finish in the end!
No way through for Noone again as he is halted by Smalling. Young can set off down the left and find Rooney. He sprays a great pass out to Valencia. He skips past John, but sees a cross headed out by Caulker in the middle.
Van Persie given a breather as he makes way for Rooney. Positive night for United as they welcome both of their main frontmen back into the fold.
Mata with an effort on goal, which is comfortably saved. He is able to cut inside Medel with ease on the edge of the box, but rather scuffs his low effort with his right foot.
Two crosses from Noone are both blocked. Bellamy gathers from deep and is able to force the ball into the feet of Noone, who has now come central. Not his night as he is outnumbered on the edge of the box.
Movement on the United bench, with Rooney being readied. Good time to introduce him with this game all but wrapped up now. On the field, a Cardiff free-kick is flicked out to Noone on the right.
Not great defending from McNaughton. Young was also going to look at getting onto his right foot, and the Cardiff man showed him the way. Great strike though.
GOAL MAN UTD - YOUNG. A fantastic strike doubles United lead. Young gathers wide in the left, cuts inside and hammers into the bottom corner from 25 yards out. No chance for Marshall.
Noone stands over a cross, but Smalling gets up above Campbell. Much better from Cardiff as Noone threatens again. He gets to the by-line, but a cut-back is scrambled clear. Rafael sets off on the counter, but cuts his cross back behind Van Persie in the middle. End-to-end stuff!
Campbell wide on the right. He feeds a low cross towards the front post. Evans able to get in front of Noone and clear. Evra gets a tongue lashing from a few of those in the crowd for not closing Campbell quicker.
Young faced by two blue shirts. He cuts inside, but sees a pass flicked back to Evans by Kim. United try again. Mata drifts towards the box, but again the head of Kim is in the way.
John racing into acres of space down the left flank. He gets to the by-line and cuts the ball back. Campbell slips as he tries to get there and United can scramble clear. Hope for Cardiff as United remain prone to lapses in concentration.
Smalling back to De Gea, who goes square to Evans. Mata coming deep again to get involved. Not a bad tactic as it forces a Cardiff midfielder to come with him. United can't work their way forward.
Bellamy given no time on the ball. He is able to poke the ball over the top for Campbell to chase, but he is never getting there and De Gea can stroll off his line to gather.
Mutch can't continue. Kim is sent on in his place. United about to take a free-kick wide on their left. Giggs whips the ball over and Van Persie glances into the stands. Zonal marking from Cardiff, which allowed United to get runners attacking the ball.
Valencia able to send over a dangerous delivery from the right. Van Persie has a yard in the middle, but the ball arrives fractionally behind him and he can't make telling contact as he falls backwards. Valencia then fells Mutch, who requires treatment.
Bellamy has John to his left, but plays the pass far too hard and far too far in front of the full-back. Still not happening for the visitors. United work the ball back to De Gea, who has as long as he wants to clear.
Medel looking forward but has no options. Cardiff have to go backwards and along their back four. United not pressing quite as high now, prepared to conserve energy.
United going left again. Doesn't work for them on this occasion as Evra plays a pass into Mata out of play. Moyes back on his seat at the start of the second period. How long he stays there remains to be seen.
Whittingham tracks all the way back with Giggs to watch a Young pass run behind for a goal kick. Mata given far too space in midfield again to start the move. Cardiff leaving gaps at times in front of their back four - Medel's territory.
No changes by either side at the interval, so we are as you were. Bellamy on the deck after being tripped by Valencia. He caught the Cardiff man on the top of the boot. Painful one.
Brent Hinman says: "I am watching the game on the internet at work in Christchurch, New Zealand. Like most fans, I am desperate for Mata to do well on his debut and make an instant impact. It's good to see van Persie back too. Wishful thinking but I'm hoping for a 3-0 win. Van Persie and Mata to score in the second half."
Karl Dammer says: "You can see the over anxiousness in United right now, we are rushing to make this a sealed result. I think second half we will see young Januzaj and Rooney, the injection of enthusiasm will probably take over from pressure and see us run away with the game a little more. Sometimes the pressure of having to deliver takes the natural flow from things, its all a bit forced first half, too much drive and not enough expression. Hopefully the youth of Januzaj and the ever green hunger of Rooney will change things, even Kagawa, we need a little more sparkle and less obligation but I don't see us losing by any means. I'd take 4-0 from here."
Eain says: "Mata needs a few more minutes and he will sparkle, Rooney and Januzaj should be brought on."
Lewis Bres says: "I still do not see why Young is playing? Second half, off go Giggs and Young, on go Fletcher and Januzaj, job done..."
Remember you can also bet in-play at Skybet.com. United are now 1/16 to take the points, with Cardiff 28/1 and the draw 9/1. You can get the hosts to win 3-0 at 9/2.
How do you see the second half going? Get your thoughts in to Chris.Burton@bskyb.com or @SkySportsChrisB.
Man Utd 1 Cardiff 0. Comfortable for the hosts but they hold a narrow advantage and anything is still possible.
Cardiff in no rush to get the ball forward at the end of the half. Marshall eventually goes long and squanders possession. United happy to keep the ball.
Mata looks to scoop a pass towards Giggs and Van Persie, but splits the two and Marshall can gather. Bellamy and Noone lead a counter. Final ball lets Cardiff down as it is played behind Campbell as he cuts across the edge of the box.
Flag up against Van Persie. Moyes down on the touchline. He knows how vital it is to get three points tonight and is currently kicking every ball. He knows this game is still finely balanced.
Solskjaer sat arms folded in the stands. Not a lot he can do at the moment. He may, however, need to mix things up at half-time. His side win a free-kick as Young slides into a full-blooded challenge. Marshall can hammer down field.
Campbell now starting from a wider role, but can't trick his way around Evans. United look to counter again. Giggs slows things down in midfield. Cardiff pull 10 men back behind the ball.
Corner is nodded clear. Cardiff remain on the front foot, with United pegged back from the set-piece. Noone cuts back onto his left foot, but sees a cross cleared by Evra. Young tries to run McNaughton down the left, but the Cardiff man gets a toe to the ball and concedes a throw on halfway.
Space for Mutch to collect and turn. He goes right to Noone. He cuts back to McNaughton, who sees a first time cross cleared by Jones. Cardiff gather again and John hangs over another cross. No communication between De Gea and Evans and the United keeper fumbles behind.
Whittingham caught on the ball as he runs it out. Jones wastes no time getting a shot away from 20 yards out. His effort is blocked and Cardiff can win a throw. Bluebirds doing themselves few favours there.
Giggs long down the middle for Young, but Hudson is there for the visitors. His clearance drops to Van Persie. United work the ball from left to right, before Mata sees a pass cut out as he looks for Young inside the area.
Cardiff have to go long looking for Campbell, but he needs much better service. Hit and hope isn't going to work as he is often all alone against four United defenders.
Cardiff still looking to play, but United are closing from the front. The visitors struggle to get anything going and see things break down on halfway.
McNaughton with an inviting cross from the right. Cardiff have four bodies attacking the ball in the middle, but none can make contact and the ball flashes through the six-yard box and away into open field.
Young goes short to Mata, and gets it back. He squares into the box for Evra, who slides into Van Persie. He is faced with a tight angle and drills across the face of goal and wide of the far post. Inches away from number two.
Rafael prevents Bellamy getting to a long ball down the Cardiff left. United then work their way to Evra. He has Young ahead of him, but McNaughton can slide the ball out for a throw. United keep pressing and force a corner.
Noone with a direct burst he hopes will take him past Evra. The United man halts him, but pokes the ball into the path of Whittingham. A fierce drive from distance cannons into Evans.
Mata allowed acres of space in midfield. He tees up Valencia, who sees an ambitious shot from distance blocked at source. Mata gathers again for United as they continue to probe.
Evra into the feet of Giggs. He works a yard and whips over a cross. Valencia attacking it, but can't get anything on it. Cardiff try to counter, but Campbell ends up catching the heels of Smalling. Ball back with United.
Jones late on Mutch. Free-kick to Cardiff on halfway. They go backwards and across their back four. Caulker then goes long looking for Campbell, but he is far too isolated up top.
Noone steps in front of Evra and leads a Cardiff counter. Bellamy takes over, but the move lacks pace and the Bluebirds are soon forced backwards. They are able to keep the ball, which Solskjaer will be pleased with. They haven't seen too much off it in the opening half-an-hour.
Evans allowed to stroll forward once more. Cardiff sitting very deep, inviting pressure. United happy to provide it. No way through on this occasion.
Giggs into Van Persie, and keeps on going. The Dutchman looks for the return, but Caulker can get his body across Giggs and blocks his route to the return pass. Marshall slides off his line to collect.
Van Persie collects wide on the left and looks to deliver early. The problem with that is that he is supposed to be the man on the end of such crosses and no-one has filled his boots in the middle. Marshall gathers with ease.
Whittingham delivers again. Hudson towers above those in the middle to nod down into the box. Noone is stood in front of De Gea, but the United keeper can get a toe to the ball and poke to safety.
Ironic cheers from the Cardiff fans as they get a free-kick in United territory. Whittingham over the dead-ball. He bends the ball into the box, but sees Smalling climb highest. John collects and returns the ball to the box. His delivery is too long, but collected at the back post. Noone hangs the ball up and Smalling blocks a Caulker header behind.
Valencia skips over Hudson, but goes to ground. Cardiff not happy and Bellamy is booked for kicking the ball away. Hudson clearly tripped Valencia so they can have no complaints. Bellamy likes to get involved though doesn't he. Mata's free-kick is glanced wide by Evans.
Evans caught by Mutch and stays down. Cardiff man gets a talking to. Evans back on his feet. Mutch did lead with his arm, but only had eyes for the ball.
Jones breaking down the middle and finding Van Persie. A smart first touch allows him to break Mata into play. From the right, he swings a dipping cross to the back post. Young arrives on cue, but can't make contact as he slides in to try and convert on the volley.
Bellamy pulls very wide on the left. He is found, but the flag goes up. He was looking along the line. United work their way into opposition territory. Mata drifting in and out of the game.
Noone able to cut inside off the right wing. He works space for a shot 25 yards from goal, but his effort is always rising and never troubles De Gea. United warned of the dangers of showing Noone onto his favoured foot.
Mata caught by Medel. He's not happy with the decision. He got his foot across the Spaniard as he tried to turn and did send him tumbling. United work their way forward to Van Persie. He spins off Hudson, but Caulker nods clear in the middle.
Caulker launches long, but only finds Evans. He goes back to De Gea and United start again. Evra unable to combine with Young down the left and Medel gathers for Cardiff.
Whittingham over halfway, but Mutch turns into trouble. He does well to keep hold of the ball and look left. John well forward, but blocked by Rafael. Mutch can deliver from the left, but Evans responds quickest to the loose ball as it bounces off Campbell's chest.
Cardiff new boy Kenwyne Jones is in attendance tonight. Not part of the matchday squad, but involved in the travelling party. On the field, United indulge in a bout of keep-ball on halfway.
Young looks to dart in behind McNaughton, but Mata expects him to stay wide and plays a pass out of play. Cardiff happy to then settle things down with a goal kick. Campbell breaks down the right flank, but the flag goes up.
Mutch steers a clever whipped delivery into the feet of Campbell. He is between United's centre-halves, but his too is heavy and Smalling can nip in and prod the ball out for a throw. United soon back in possession, with Giggs leading the charge.
Intensity so much better from United - they are closing from the front and giving Cardiff no time on the ball. Visitors are being rushed, and misplacing passes. Ball now back with De Gea, who drills long down field.
Young tries to get Evra in behind Noone. He tracks back well and is able to muscle the French full-back away from the ball, which runs behind for a goal kick. Cardiff, to their credit, trying to play their way forward.
Another neat move by United sees them free a buccaneering full-back. Rafael this time makes his way to the edge of the box, but fires a wayward strike from distance high into the stands. Cardiff can't get out of their own half at the moment.
Van Persie sniffing around the box again. Evra bombing forward once more and steering over a low cross. Only Valencia to aim at inside the box and he is unable to get in front of his marker. Very bright start by United.
Perfect start for the hosts. Welcome return for their Dutch frontman. Marshall did all he could to keep them out, saving Van Persie's first effort, but he was left grounded and helpless with the second attempt.
GOAL MAN UTD - VAN PERSIE. Mata starts the move by spraying wide to Evra. He finds Van Persie, who lays off to Young. His cross is nodded onto the crossbar by Valencia, but Van Persie is there on the follow up to nod in at the second attempt.
United caught napping for a moment, with Smalling gifting possession to Cardiff. Mutch is freed on the left, but he is unable to force a cross past Jones. Bellamy then gets back on the ball, finding Mutch. His touch is heavy and he has to dive in a challenge on Smalling. Free-kick to United on the edge of their own box.
Mata on the ball again, but slips a pass intended for Valencia out of play. He'll get better! Cardiff unable to get anything going as they end up lumping the ball aimlessly forward. Collected by Smalling.
United playing their way out from the back, through Evans this time. He crosses halfway before being closed down. Cardiff have enough numbers to bundle the ball into open field. Bellamy is then tripped by Valencia.
Patient build-up from United and they have Evra on the overlap. He bursts towards the by-line and Caulker has to bundle a low cross behind. Young's delivery is plucked out of the air by Marshall.
Giggs able to drift down the left and has Evra ahead of him. He works the ball back inside, before getting it back from Young. Mata's first touch gets a loud cheer.
Great reception from the home support for Solskjaer as he is introduced on his way to the bench. He will be delighted to be back in familiar surroundings, but is plotting United's downfall.
Pre-match formalities almost complete. Big night for both sides, at opposite ends of the division. Plenty of intriguing sub-plots as well so should be a good one. Here's hoping it delivers on its promise!
Mata last out of the tunnel. He is wearing gloves, but I'm sure United fans will let him off. It can get a bit chilly in the north west!
The players are in the tunnel so we will have to leave the feedback there for now. There will be further opportunities to have your say at half-time and at the final whistle.
Will Lavender says: "Can't see anything other than a United win, emotional return for Ole but can't see his Cardiff side making an impact! 2-0!"
Liam Ferguson says: "I think it will be 2-0 to Man Utd with RVP and Mata on the score sheet and a big congrats to Giggs on making it to game 800."
Martin Wall says: "Should be an easy win for Man United. can understand why leaving Rooney on bench - why risk both RvP and Rooney today after lengthy spell out. Should be Rooney starting though."
Paul Chatteris says: "Young is awful, don't know why were starting him over the kid, and Giggs starts while Fletcher's on the bench? We better win."
Clap for the crowd as the man of the moment makes his way back down the tunnel. Cardiff on their way back as well. Final chance for Moyes and Solskjaer to get words of wisdom across.
Willy Acho says: "The team selection could be better but I think it will still be good enough to win 3-1 with United stamping authority down and making a statement to the rest of the Premier League. Go go Giggs on 800th appearance (start) for the club...that man is amazing."
Christine Cliff says: "Not happy to see Giggs starting again. How many more milestones will there be for him? Playing his 800th game for MU and playing against his home side. He isn't able to keep up with the pace and we won't win while we keep playing a 40 yr old. He should retire with grace and dignity."
Sean Bowen thinks he's on to a winner: "I think only one bad thing could come from Rooney being on the bench and that's him thinking Mata has took his place! Should have started him not sure about the midfield either yes Giggs has been great for us but I think Fletcher could do a better job tonight! Utd to win 6-0 and make me £200 better off! #mufc."
Lewis Bres is feeling confident: "I can see a good result for United tonight, especially with the influence of Mata!"
Mike says: "Drop Smalling to the bench, Jones in defence. Fletcher into midfield, Young in the changing room and Januzaj on the left."
Kyle Williams says: "See united winning 2-0 and Mata having a man of the match performance, not sure why Young is in the team come on Moyesy."
Matt Barnes says: "Really? Great that Mata is starting and RVP is back. But Adnan and Rooney on the bench? It would have been the perfect match to see them all play in together! What is Moyes thinking?"
Mata out getting his first feel of Old Trafford as a United played. No surprise to find that the area of the ground closest to where the Red Devils are warming up is the first to start filling up. Everyone wants a look at the new boy, but will he deliver?
Mohammed Kamran Miah sticking to a familiar theme: "Not too happy with the team selection! Happy to see RvP back but would've liked Rooney or Januzaj to start instead of Young! Shout out to Giggs for making his 800th Man United start today...Amazing record! United to win 4-1! GGMU!!!"
Temi Adams says: "I don't know why Young is always started ahead of Kagawa and Januzaj - Kagawa is a better player...@man United winning 3-1."
Half-an-hour until kick-off at Old Trafford. Keep your pre-match thoughts coming in to Chris.Burton@bskyb.com or @SkySportsChrisB.
Ben Gleeson another less than impressed with the United line-up, but sees them collecting three points: "I am struggling to hold back two things here Chris, one being my excitement at the prospect of Mata and RVP linking up together, the other one is my pure white hot rage at seeing Young picked once again. Hate is a strong word, especially for one of your own players, but my heart just sinks every time I see him playing. Expecting a United win but not as easily as others, Cardiff will score. 3-1 United."
Gary Hunter fears the home support will be left frustrated once again: "It's all very well everyone going on about Mata but that United midfield line-up is shocking, when will Moyes get the message Jones is NOT a midfielder, Valencia and Young ahead of Januzaj, Moyes has to be kidding. I'm not convinced, it will be a 1-1 draw."
Darragh McLarnon thinks the debut boy will get in on the act: "A 3-0 United win with Van Persie getting a brace and Mata to round it off!"
Mario Peterwas says: "Looks like a decent team! glad that RVP is back and Rooney, Mata making his debut, let's hope few goals will go in! #GGMU"
Nathan Collison says: "Happy to see Van Persie back in the squad. Also happy to see Mata making his debut, but Cardiff are tough opponents so I will say a close 3-1 victory for United #GGMU."
Jack Bland would have liked to see a different United XI: "Sick of seeing Jones in midfield give Kagawa a chance or put Young in centre he's just going to continue cutting in too obvious, that said can certainly see Mata being the difference."
Ben Hugill is looking forward to what should be a memorable evening, saying: "Glad to see Solskjaer back! Hopefully he gets a legend's ovation. It's good to see Mata starting, but I think it's equally beneficial that Van Persie is back! Should be a good game, Cardiff are tough opponents. Come on United!!"
Good work from Luke Bates here: "Think it's a 'Mata' of how many for @ManUtd tonight I'm going for 4-0."
Worth pointing out that tonight sees Ryan Giggs make his 800th start for Manchester United - a phenomenal achievement.
Sean Mc Grinder thinks the hosts will get the job done, saying: "I see it going alright, with Young and Giggs on. We need Januzaj, Rooney, Hernandez and Kagawa to play, that the strong team."
Tyleri is first out of the blocks, saying: "We need to start the game positively and constantly look to attack, and hopefully completely get rid of the negative sideways passing we have been playing recently. I'm going for a 4-0 win, Rooney and RvP two each."
Cardiff team: Marshall, Caulker, Hudson, John, McNaughton, Medel, Whittingham, Noone, Mutch, Bellamy, Campbell. Subs: Lewis, Turner, Kim, Eikrem, Gunnarsson, Daehli, Berget.
Man Utd team: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Jones, Giggs, Young, Mata, Van Persie. Subs: Lindegaard, Cleverley, Fletcher, Januzaj, Kagawa, Hernandez, Rooney.
You can also bet in-play throughout the evening at Skybet.com. United start as strong favourites at 2/9, with Cardiff 12/1 and the draw 9/4. You can get Juan Mata Price Boosted to 15/8 to score at any time.
How do you see the game going? Get your pre-match thoughts in to Chris.Burton@bskyb.com or @SkySportsChrisB.
They are, however, only a point from safety and could clamber out of the bottom three if results go their way tonight.
Cardiff, meanwhile, arrive at the Theatre of Dreams propping up the division after going six games without a win in the league - losing five of those fixtures.
United have lost two of their last three in the league and have a six-point gap to bridge if they are to force their way back into top-four reckoning.
Juan Mata will be hoping to start with a bang following his switch from Chelsea, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to ruin his big night and pile further pressure on the champions.
Tonight sees a big-money signing take the first steps in his Red Devils career, while a former fans' favourite returns as boss of the opposition.
There hasn't been too much for the United support to get excited about of late, but tonight has brought a spring back to their step.