|Man Utd to sore over 3.5 goals||8/5||BetHard|
|Man Utd to win to nil||20/27||Karamba|
For the first time since under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United managed to score five goals in the Premier League in Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first match in charge.
The immediate difference between José Mourinho’s team and the one operating under Solskjær was startling, with fans expecting it to continue against Huddersfield in the Norwegian’s return to Old Trafford.
The Red Devils might have been expected to have played with more conviction after the sacking of Mourinho, but no one quite envisaged such a turnaround that would see them find the back of the net five times.
While there will be tougher times to come, and Cardiff played below what they are capable of, it was a start that Solskjær would have dreamt about.
Huddersfield, on the other hand, are struggling for consistency and are joint on points with 20th-placed Fulham after another loss to a relegation contender in Southampton. David Wagner’s side is short of considerable quality and their togetherness from last season appears to have evaporated.
The Terriers have an almighty uphill battle in trying to record a result against a Manchester United whose fans will be celebrating Solskjær’s arrival in the Old Trafford dugout. Here’s my predictions for the match.
Solskjær might have only had two training sessions before taking the team down to Wales, but it was apparent he got through to them and gave the players the license to express themselves freely.
One free-flowing move that resulted in Anthony Martial’s goal summed up the evening’s performance, with the likes of the Frenchman, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba interchanging one-touch passes in-and-around the box before finding the back of the net.
There were far more runs with and without the ball, creating space for others to run into, and a greater sense of urgency and hunger than seen in recent months.
While the players have some responsibility in how they have acted under Mourinho this season, it is clear that Solskjær has just told them to play expansive, attacking football in which they reaped the rewards against Cardiff.
The Terriers are in poor form at the moment and have conceded 31 goals in 19 matches, which does not bode well for them when coming up against an attack that has been given a new lease of life.
In 11 of United’s last 12 games there have been over 2.5 goals, and fans expect Solskjær to add to that tally in his first home game as manager of his former club.
With the attacking talent on display against a defence notorious for crumbling, United fans want to see eye-pleasing football that makes up for the dross they have had to watch in the past.
There is no doubt about it that Martial has been one of Manchester United’s best players this season, even under Mourinho.
The Frenchman looked sensational against Cardiff and was continually fed the ball in order to make something happen by taking on his opposite man. The same is likely to occur against Huddersfield at home, with the Old Trafford faithful in good spirits cheering United’s number 11 on.
Martial has found the back of the net eight times in the Premier League this season and will look to add to his impressive tally on Boxing Day.
Interestingly enough, the France international has the best minutes-per-goal ratio in the league, scoring every 111 minutes, five minutes better off than Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.
United’s best attacking talent on the pitch is 5/6 to add another to his tally this season at anytime with Paddy Power, but if you are feeling ambitious and in the Christmas spirit, they price him at 20/1 to score a hat-trick.
While clean sheets have not been easy to come by this season, Manchester United, under a new manager with a different approach, might just be able to get things back on track defensively.
They might have conceded against Cardiff, but United looked better overall in a defensive sense and were more controlled when playing out from the back. It is early doors to suggest that this is a massive turning point for them, but the confidence emanating from Victor Lindelöf and Luke Shaw will fill fans with immense hope.
David de Gea has been under threat from Ederson and Alisson this season and he will want to try and keep his name as the recognised number one in the Premier League.
While he is still pulling off world-class saves, the Spain International will hope he might just be able to control things in front of him in a more clear and concise manner.
Solskjær, above all, will want to keep United balanced throughout the spine of the team which means creating a strong central defensive partnership. With a lenient run of fixtures arriving over the Christmas period, the Norwegian is likely to test out a few different combinations.
Karamba offer odds of 20/27 for the Red Devils to win to nil against Wagner’s side.