Adrian Clarke looks at the key tactical battles in Matchweek 18.
After a disappointing start to the campaign, with two points from the first eight matches, the 70-year-old brought Aron Gunnarsson into the XI as a deep-lying midfielder and converted utility man Callum Paterson into a lone striker.
Results at home have been transformed. After earning just a point from four matches at the Cardiff City Stadium they have won four of their last five matches there.
Return of the Ice Man
Gunnarsson's return from a knee injury in mid-October can be seen as a big turning point.
But all three prefer box-to-box roles where they can make forward runs in support of the centre-forward. The return of Gunnarsson has enabled them to do that.
The 29-year-old is not an outstanding ball-winner but has injected strength and mobility into the central areas.
Knowing he will charge around the middle third providing cover, Arter, Ralls and Camarasa have been able to play a little further forward.
Consequently, the side have been better balanced.
Cardiff’s improving home record
|Per/90||First four matches||Last five matches|
|Shots on target||2.8||4.0|
|Shots on target conceded||7.3||3.4|
Although early home fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City should be taken into account, it is clear Warnock's men have improved at both ends of the pitch since Gunnarsson returned, as the table above shows.
The midfielder's steel has given the team greater stability, with and without the ball.
A new front man
Switching Paterson into the centre-forward role has also been a masterstroke.
The 24-year-old impressed in the Championship as a combative central midfield player who burst into the box to score goals.
From time to time he had even operated at right-back.
Yet across the last 10 Premier League fixtures Paterson has been the spearhead of the Cardiff attack, in a modified 4-1-4-1.
The Scot's power in the air is second to none. He has won more aerial duels than any other player in the league.
Paterson is a handful for defenders, producing knockdowns for midfield runners, and holding the ball up well, as well as alleviating pressure for his own team-mates.
Most PL aerial battles won 2018/19
Selecting Gunnarsson as the bridge between defence and midfield, and shunting Paterson into the striker's position has improved the efficiency of Cardiff's play.
If they can reproduce their recent home form, they will not make life easy for Solskjaer on his managerial debut for United.
Tomorrow: How Nuno Espirito Santo will approach Liverpool challenge
Also in this series
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