Sunday, March 26, 2006

Weekend Outlook (26 Mar 2006) - Supplement

"For the third time, Benitez is an idiot." - JayWalk, 26 Mar 2006

Just got back from my golf tournament and my thanks to Sheena for covering this weekend.

My only fear is that with 3 games in hand, ManUtd has no sense of urgency. I would like very much for them to nail Liverpool's coffin shut as soon as possible so that everyone can have an early rest ahead of the world cup.

Good news is that Steven Gerrard was sent off in the Merseyside derby which would mean a 1-match suspension next week against West Brom. While West Brom may not be the strongest of teams right now but they are definitely fighting harder than the teams above them as they hang precariously above the relegation zone. While the relegation candidates (Sunderland, Portsmouth and Birmingham) looked pretty certain at this point and especially so after Birmingham expecting to get mauled by ManUtd, it is always better to maintain a buffer in between. Granted that Liverpool are way ahead of them in the league table, I am hoping that West Brom's home advantage would be able to allow the Baggies to steal at least a point which would mean Liverpool dropping 2.

I have to correct Sheena here on her view of the Birmingham 0-7 thrashing by Liverpool in the FA Cup tie. Birmingham may not be the stellar team that they wish to be right now but neither are they that terrible to deserve the unflattering scoreline. To their defence, it must be said that Birmingham threw away the FA Cup game ahead of this EPL one. It was a strategic decision. Premiership survivor is priority over the FA Cup. On this aspect alone, I think Bruce is a smarter lad than Benitez.

Yes, I am sore about getting knocked out of FA Cup by Liverpool but at what price to Liverpool? To be objective, I think it is stupid to try to gun for all 3 (EPL, FA Cup & ECL) when it is obvious that Liverpool does not have enough mettle to pull it off. Benfica is not exactly a difficult team to beat in the ECL arena and yet Liverpool lost. With hindsight, wouldn't things be different with Benfica, had Liverpool rest up and throw the FA Cup game against ManUtd?

It would be a win-win. No? ManUtd gets to go ahead with the FA Cup while Liverpool keep their defence of the ECL alive (which also means more money for staying in the lucrative tournament).

For the third time, Benitez is an idiot.

JayWalk The Walk: A repeat mauling of Birmingham is in the cards today as ManUtd gets ready to unleash the lions on the Brummies battered gladiators in the colosseum of Old Trafford.

Here's the injury/suspended list of Birmingham

Goalie - Taylor
Defenders - Clapham, Upson
Midfielders - Butt, Izzet, Gray, Jarosik, Nafti
Fowards - Heskey, Sutton

Total Headcount - 10

A look at the name and you will notice that each and everyone is a pivotal player of the team. Taylor is their No.1 goalie. Heskey and Jarosik are Birmingham No.1 and 2 top scorers. Butt is joint 3rd with 2 goals. Imagine a tower with 10 of the pillars missing. The outcome is going to be bloody.

JayWalk The Talk: Bookies are upping the handicap odds to 1-3/4 ball in favour of Birmingham and a decimal odds of 1.85 for ManUtd to beat it. Granted that ManUtd only needed a 1-0 scoreline to claim the 3-points but they probably would go all out to grab a big scoreline as an insurance. An insurance in the event of Liverpool and ManUtd tie on points, there will be the advantage of the superior goal difference to nick it. As of today, ManUtd's superior goal difference of 9 goals over Liverpool has just been sliced to just 6. ManUtd would need to score big to restore that gap.

Another factor pointing towards a big scoreline today is that we have 3 strikers on fire fighting for 2 places. This will be a time where a single stutter would means getting the bench next week. Expect Saha to continue to score and thus keep Van Nistelrooy on the bench.

While Rooney is a virtual shoo-in for the World Cup England squad, van Nistelrooy and Saha have yet to make themselves a convincing case for selection. There is still work to be done for them.

I would recommend taking ManUtd today, only if you are a hard-core fan. For the more disciplined, I would recommend staying away as there are other games to punt on and at a lower risk margin.

p.s. I will be watching Ronaldo instead.

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 12:08 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

One of the games in hand is this coming Wednesday. Opportunity to put some daylight between Liverpool and ourselves, as well as reduce Chelsea's lead to single digits.

At 3:24 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Yup. But West Ham is hitting some kind of a form in recent weeks.

Our boys will need to avoid complacency.


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