Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Midweek Outlook (13 Dec 2005)

Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic

"虎落坪阳被犬欺 - The dog bullies the fallen tiger"

A win against Everton would have been a small consolation after ManUtd exited the ECL, as it could have led to the possibility of closing the gap with Chelsea to a more manageable 7 points.

However, the draw not only left us further behind with a 12-point deficit but also allowed Liverpool to pip us to the 2nd spot on goal difference. The task ahead for ManUtd is to reduce the deficit to 9-points and take back 2nd spot with this midweek game-in-hand. Hopefully, we will throw them further behind when they falter this coming weekend due to travel fatique.

I think ManUtd's problems in the defence, midfield and striker department are not very big on their own. However, putting them together and the cumulative impact on the team as a whole is disastrous. To resolve this problem, we have to tackle the midfield deficiency first and foremost. What we lack is a playmaker, as I have said time and time again. Roy Keane may have great control over his team but not so much over the entire game. As such, his departure would not have aggravated this any worse than it is now. The last great playmaker, IMHO, was none other than Eric Cantona. Subsequently, we missed the bid for Pavel Nedved and more recently, we missed the bid for Ronaldihno as worthy replacement candidates. On the home front, Joe Cole could also have the potential to be one but since we lost him to Chelsea, we will never know. These are the type of distributors that we so badly need. The last great distributor that I have seen in the ManUtd line up was that of Fabien Barthez but alas, he is a goalie and is very much confined to the penalty box.

Fergie has tried to create his own playmaker in Alan Smith but too bad, the young lad just doesn't have what it takes. Don't get me wrong. Alan Smith is a good player but sometimes these playmaker traits are inborn. Either you have it or you don't.

Had our midfield been more dominant in control and possession, we wouldn't run into the risk of getting our defence unnecessarily tested by so many chances of attack. In a way, a good midfield would be able to cover up for a lesser defence. On the other side, strikeforce's goal-shyness could also be attributed to the fact that the midfielders aren't supply enough balls up front. During ManUtd's heydays, everybody has an equal chance of getting their names onto the scoresheet as the playmaker possesses the vision of distributing the ball to whoever has the best chance of scoring regardless of the player's position.

JayWalk The Talk: Ruud van Nistelrooy will be back in the starting lineup having finished serving his 1-match suspension. Expect the Dutch to score in this game while I think, ironically, boy wonder Rooney will have trouble finding the net today. Wigan has gone 4 losses in a row but it must be said that they were against the top teams of Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool. If going along with the trend, then a ManUtd victory is nothing more than a shoo-in. However, that may be the case on any other day, except today when ManUtd is going through a rough patch. Strangely, the one draw against Everton has a more disastrous impact on ManUtd than Wigan's own 4 consecutive losses. Somehow, the cloud hovering about ManUtd seemed darker.

JayWalk The Walk: Bookies give Wigan the 1-1/2 ball advantage suggesting a home win for ManUtd. However, my confidence isn't there unfortunately. Somehow, ManUtd has a knack for losing goals very early only to have to climb back as they did against West Ham and more recently, Everton. I think it will be a win for the home side by a single goal, as long as Wigan don't have a chance to sneak in an early goal. A draw or worse, a loss here for ManUtd would not only mean the end of the title chase but also probably the end of Fergie's career. So a lot is at stake here. When backed against the wall, most people who think that ManUtd would be able to rise to the occasion in the face of adversity. Still, I would advise sitting this wager out to be on the safe side.

Disclaimer: The above views are purely my own two-cents' worth. In other words, I cannot and will not guarantee that my predictions are accurate. If you want to bet on the game, do so at your own risk. Also, please bet responsibly and within your means regardless of how "sure thing" that game may appear to be. As the old saying goes, "The Ball Is Round". Good luck.


At 7:28 PM, December 14, 2005, Blogger Merenwen said...

Si beh heng you put up this match preview. I was thinking I'd have to do it. Guess we're having a pattern now; you do the preview, me do the review. Thanks TPP!

At 2:08 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger JayWalk said...

This Lun go where one har?

Anyway, I will cover EPL and ECL. But now that ECL bor liao, I will cover FA Cup lor.

You can have the Mickey Mouse Cup though.

At 6:43 AM, December 15, 2005, Blogger Merenwen said...

Dang, I knew I'd get the Carling Cup.

I have no idea what happened to Lun. Let me try to contact him and set some duties for him.


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