Saturday, January 14, 2006

Weekend Outlook (14 Jan 2006)

Manchester City vs Manchester United

"...The team of ManUtd is like Van Gogh...
...they both draw a lot..."

- JayWalk, 13 Jan 2006

The team of ManUtd is like Van Gogh (or Claude Monet or even Picasso). Unfortunately, I wasn't refering to their common artistry in their respective crafts. It's just that they both draw a lot. At the level that they are playing, even a draw is not acceptable. It has to be all 3 points in the bag each game, even if it meant winning ugly goal-mouth-scrambling 1-0 victories. Football is a merciless game where even a draw is considered a loss. Back in the old days when only 2 points were awarded for a win, teams were more than contented to shoot for a draw sometimes, as it was merely dropping a single-easily-recoverable point. Not so much for the current format where 3 full points proved to be the right size for a good carrot to worth going after at all expense.

Anyway, welcome to the Manchester Derby this weekend and it is a 12 noon kick-off. Expect a full house today at the City of Manchester stadium. ManUtd has had a busy week drawing both with Burton Albion last weekend and Blackburn Rovers in midweek. It is a worrying time for despite dominating both matches for most of the time, they couldn't deliver the victory. What essentially means is two additional gruelling fixtures in their already very tight schedule. Fortunately, ManUtd does have quite a bit of squad depth to tahan. Had it been any other team (sans Chelsea), they would have started to crumbled by now. Don't believe? Just watch Wigan over the next few weeks.

ManCity's form is terrible of late, with only a single win in their last 5 league games. Sure people would be pointing out at me their FA Cup 3rd round success over Scunthorpe United. After trailing 0-1, Fowler bounced back with a hattrick to seal the game 3-1.

I was about to dismiss that with a nonchalant snort, citing that ANY premiership team would be able to put 3 past the Nationwide League 1 outfit when I remembered how ManUtd couldn't break the duck against an even-lower Burton Albion in the same round. *Hides in shame*

JayWalk The Talk: Squad-wise, it is a peachy picture for ManUtd with a relatively full squad. No injuries picked up from the League Cup semis against Blackburn but exhaustion from midweek? Hope not! Paul Scholes look unlikely to feature today, along with long term injury candidates of Fortune and Heinze. Good news, is that Fergie may take this game to showcase one or two of the new signings today. If we get in the goals early, we may even see them get a chance to get onto the pitch for a run-about.

The sky blue side don't look so sunny as Claudio Reyna is out injured. For those who bet on the number of yellow/red cards, go for low as Danny Mills is also out.

So, as far as fire power is concerned, there is the hattrick hero Fowler representing the home side but he would be up against the dynamic duo of Rooney and van Nistelrooy, whom together chalked up 25 league goals in total. ManUtd is the only team with 2 players in the Top 6 of the leading scorer list to-date. While Fowler may be scoring lesser than Joey Barton and Andy Cole, expect gaffer Stuart Pearce to put him ahead of the 2 in the starting lineup.

JayWalk The Walk: Bookies gave 1/2 ball handicap against ManUtd and a decimal odds favouring the Red Devils to beat it. Hmm... deja vu? Wasn't that the same odds with Blackburn Rover just a few days earlier? What did we learn from that lesson?

Granted that statistics-wise, ManUtd is way superior than ManCity in every aspect but it must be said that this is a local derby and there is a kind of an unexplainable magic in it that makes it so unpredictable and exciting to watch. I think ManUtd will do another Van Gogh here but at the same time, I don't feel quite comfortable betting on ManCity. Verdict? Stay away.

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.


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