Saturday, February 11, 2006

Weekend Outlook (11 Feb 2006)

Portsmouth vs Manchester United

"3 goals and van Nistelrooy shall join the ranks of Charlton, Best and Law."
- JayWalk, 11 Feb 2006

I had a dream last week.

That we were 3-0 up against Liverpool at half-time.

Too bad, I woke up before the start of the "second half" but it certainly got me out of bed with a smile on my face.

While we may be playing Portsmouth today, our real opponent is actually Liverpool and here's why:

1) The Challenge For Second Place
Certainly good news to hear that Liverpool has fallen to Charlton in midweek. It certainly exposed the over-reliance on Steven Gerrard as their most critical weakness.

After squandering the match-in-hand against Charlton, Liverpool is 6 points behind with one more game-in-hand. Unfortunately, the "game-in-hand" is against Arsenal which I think would be a difficult task to earn 3 full points, even if Arsenal has been terrible away from Highbury this season. A ManUtd win today will ease the pressure of us from the challenger as we keep our fingers crossed in the hope that Liverpool's dismal form will extend beyond today's match against Wigan.

2) The Challenge For the FA Cup
The fixtures are certainly in our favour, leading up to the 5th Round FA Cup clash. Liverpool faces a tricky match against Wigan not so much that Wigan is a tough team to deal with but more so of the overhanging dark cloud of a clash against Arsenal, 3 days later. The situation is further aggravated when Liverpool will be facing ManUtd, 4 days after that. The FA Cup encounter looks to be there for ManUtd's taking as Liverpool has to travel to Benfica 3 days after that.

So here's the situation. Liverpool meets ManUtd in the FA Cup 5th Round clash. A match that is sandwiched between an EPL fixture against Arsenal and an ECL fixture against Benfica. All these in a span of mere 8 days. I seriously doubt if any team (perhaps except Chelsea) has the resources to withstand such an onslaught of fixture punishment. Surely one of these 3 matches will be the proverbial sacrficial lamb and I am thinking that it would most likely be the FA Cup encounter against ManUtd.

Earlier, I said that the 2nd EPL spot has been 99% signed, sealed and delivered to Anfield. I guess I have to eat my words now that the remaining 1% is shining brightly for ManUtd when the Reds went down 0-2 to the Addicks.

In that same entry, I also spoke of the Spiral Concept and the defeat of Liverpool by ManUtd on 22 Jan 2006 illustrated just that, as Liverpool won just once in their 4 games thereafter.

The Gods are not smiling on Liverpool.

JayWalk The Talk: One of the 2 parks that ManUtd always find themselves struggling. Ewood Park and Fratton Park, of which the latter is where ManUtd will be playing today. Harry Redknapp may have done well for Pompey during his first stint a few years back but he seems to be struggling this time round, in his current second shot at managing Portsmouth.

Portsmouth has not won in their last 5 games and conceding a total of 11 goals in the process.

However, before we get too cocky, it must be said that ManUtd's picture isn't as rosy either. It has come to the point for ManUtd that we have to "score one goal more than the opponent" in order to win. I doubt if we are going to see a clean sheet today. A glaring mark highlighting our deficiency in the midfield department.

We have no problem in the fire-power department as long as midfield can support them. We have Rooney, van Nistelrooy and Saha in good shape. Even Park and Ronaldo look likely to get on the scoresheet easily as well. I was about to throw in Ferdinand's name as well but let's not get carried away, shall we?

Scholes, Heinze and Fortune are still out but expect Giggs to make a return, although I think the subs bench will be as far as Fergie will allow.

Stefanovic will be missing from the Portsmouth line-up today with an injury that is likely to rule him out of this season. Lua Lua will be the man to watch today but I am sure the recent African Nations Cup would have robbed him of his freshness of legs by a little bit.

JayWalk The Walk: Bookies offer ManUtd to give up a 1-ball handicap. A good and favourable odds for ManUtd-supporting punters. van Nistelrooy will be hoping to get a hat-trick in order to get his 150-goal mark, a feat where only 7 players in the entire ManUtd's history has achieved so far. 3 goals and van Nistelrooy shall join the ranks of Charlton, Best and Law.

ManUtd to beat the handicap and van Nistelrooy to get onto the scoresheet.

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 5:08 PM, February 11, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

I didn't know about Liverpool's packed fixture list until I read this.

Indeed, before reading this post, I (and a friend who is also a Man Utd fan) was despairing how suay Ian Rush's hand had been in drawing Liverpool to meet Man Utd in the FA Cup.

But after reading your post, my optimism is back. *Big Grin*

At 5:27 AM, February 12, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Yeah and the fact that Chelsea were trounced 3-0 at Riverside. Not that it will change anything as far as the title chase is concerned but no harm wishing for the Spiral Concept to apply to Chelsea right?

At 6:58 AM, February 12, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

I'm evil.

Whilst I think the title race is over, I would like to see things tighten up a little for Chelsea these few weeks. Why? Because they will get nervous about their league form when they meet Barcelona in the Champion's League and hopefully lose.

You see, I really cannot tahan that Mr. Boh Ho Se.

Like I said, I'm evil. :P

At 8:41 AM, February 12, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Can I get any more accurate!!!????

Heh heh... lim peh now Ya Ya Papaya liao... hur hur hur....

Van der Sar kena substituted at half-time. I think there is some cause for concern in the goalie department. Injury?


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