Saturday, February 18, 2006

Weekend Outlook (18 Feb 2006)

Liverpool vs Manchester United

"...We have never heard of 86th's the charm, have we?..." - JayWalk, 18 Feb 2006

The time has finally come for the BIG game. Yes, it's the FA Cup 5th round tie against Liverpool at Anfield.

Liverpool has never beaten ManUtd in a FA Cup game since 1921. Just like the fact where ManUtd has never lost a FA Cup semi-final fixture ever. A lesson Arsenal painfully learnt, when they went down 2 years ago. These histories are there for a reason and I seriously doubt if Liverpool would be able to break the jinx here. If they could, it would have been done long ago, like perhaps on the 3rd attempt. We have never heard of 86th the charm, have we?

When we look at a game ahead, we always look at games before and games after in order to more or less get a feel of the direction where the team is heading. After breaking a winless streak, Liverpool strung together back-to-back victories over Wigan and Arsenal prior to this game. One would ask if a lost against Arsenal in midweek would be better news for ManUtd? Not really. The real answer is that the outcome of the match against Arsenal will not matter much. What's more important is that Liverpool had committed an extra game prior to meeting a well-rested ManUtd. The proverbial cherry-on-top would be the fact that Liverpool does not have the option of an all-out "Last Burst" effort against us, as they still have to conserve some energy against Benfica 3 days from now.

I really don't envy Liverpool's position right now as they are caught between a rock and a hard place. Of all the teams in the EPL, Liverpool, by far, leads in the number of games required to play as they also had the Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Championship tournament to play.

As far as stretching of resources is concerned, Liverpool is taking a severe beating. Mark my words, Liverpool will collapse eventually as a result of exhuastion. Players like Steven Gerrard, even if he managed to finish the season strongly, may end up paying the price of fatique when the World Cup starts.

ManUtd, on the other hand, isn't really a perfect picture of peaches and honey either. We are very aware of the fact that we have an weaker midfield than our opponents today. Winner of today's match would be decided on which side has the better midfield. We fluked it the last time with Ferdinand heading the winner out from nowhere. Seriously, what are the chances we are going to be able to fluke it again and at Anfield to boot?

With a weak midfield, our defence are bound to be tested more often then normal. The real problem with ManUtd is that we have this tendency to leak silly goals from out of the blue. This is akin to the lone bullet in the Russian Roulette. You know is in there somewhere and it will go off at some point in time. The question is when? Would this be the match where the fatal bullet finally gets loaded into the chamber?

JayWalk The Talk: Squad-wise, both sides are pretty healthy with ManUtd having the edge in the "Fresh Legs" department. Fowler and Crouch will not be featured today, leaving only Morientes and Cisse to start. The picture is bleak for them as the striking duo have not scored in their last 9 games. I think they will need their midfield of Gerrard, Garcia and Kewell to win this.

ManUtd on the other hand, discounting the usual absentees of O'Shea, Scholes, Fortune and Heinze, is in the pink of health. We missed Smith the last time and I wonder if we are going to get him back on the starting line-up today. I also hope to see Park getting some playing minutes if he is not on the starting sheet already.

JayWalk The Walk: Even ball today and I wouldn't ask for anything more. The truth of the matter is that a draw is all ManUtd need to win the ticket to the next round. Not that there is a change in rules but ManUtd, in the event of a draw will earn a replay back at Old Trafford at a time where it is smack in the middle of Liverpool's ECL second round campaign.

Still I think both sides are shooting for the game to be settled in 90 minutes in their respective favours, of course.

I think a draw is on the cards here and ManUtd will lure them back to Old Trafford for the kill in 2 week's time. At even ball, there really is no point betting here if winning money is your primary objective. Otherwise, place a small wager on your favourite team, just to spice up watching the game a little bit.

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 6:01 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

What if Gary Neville steals a goal in the 90th minute, then celebrates in front of Liverpool fans again?

That would be a riot! :P

At 6:44 PM, February 18, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Nah... Neville has a hearing pending for him and may result in suspension.

Suspension at a time like this is stupid and Neville would be smart enough to avoid compounding the punishment.

BTW, I dreamt last week that we were 3-0 up at half time!!!


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