Saturday, October 28, 2006

Weekend Outlook (28 Oct 2006)

Bolton Wanderers vs Manchester United

"... Perhaps Liverpool are spending too much time in mid-table that they are starting to believe they are indeed a mere mid-table outfit. ..."
- JayWalk, 28 Oct 2006

"Incoming cross from the left corner of the penalty box to the right of the 6-yard box. He traps it in mid-air with his right foot and with a deftly flick to his left, he easily loses his marker in the process. Without even a sliver of hesitation, he curled the ball into the top corner of the goal in the far corner, beating the helpless goalkeeper."

Sounds like a play from the likes of Ronaldihno, Maradona or Ronaldo but surprisingly, it came from Rio Ferdinand. I would have been less surprised had it be Cristiano Ronaldo or Ryan Giggs. However, before anyone thinks that I was totally floored by that display and have a 180 degree u-turn over my opinion of the bumbling defender, the answer is still "NO". Not yet anyway.

We beat Liverpool not because we were the better team but more rather, it was a Liverpool side who started the race with a flat tyre. Riise was totally fooled by Ferdinand with the latter's "deftly flick" but ahhh... the spin I put in the words to make Ferdinand to be of God-like stature when in actual fact it was a mistake on the part of Riise, that I would put it as schoolboy standards. Hyypia too, looked way past his expiry date as the Liverpool defense rolled over and played dead.

Perhaps Liverpool are spending too much time in mid-table that they are starting to believe they are indeed a mere mid-table outfit. Perhaps it's time to review our usual Top 4 suspects as Liverpool no longer look like an automatic candidate. Perhaps, we should start monitoring the likes of Spurs and Aston Villa with Bolton and Portsmouth with an outside chance as dark horses for the 4th candidate.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Speaking of Bolton, there are a few records coming into this game today. Bolton has yet to be defeated at home this season and more impressively, yet to concede a goal at home. ManUtd, on the other hand, has been undefeated away although I can't say they are equally impressive with the clean sheets, no thanks to bumbling careless defenders.

OK, who is in the mood for some trivia? If John O'Shea plays, it will be his 150th appearance. Alan Smith is 26 today and Edwin van der Sar will be 36 tomorrow. If this game ends in a draw, it will be ManUtd's 1000th in their entire history.

JayWalk The Talk: Heinze is almost certain to return to the Starting XI after a satisfactory performance during midweek against Crewe. We are definitely going to see Scholes play as the midfielder has a knack of scoring against Bolton. 7 in the last 10 meetings. Giggs and Solksjaer both have 4 goals against Bolton but I think the latter will take the bench to make way for Saha.

The team sheet for Bolton looked pretty bad at a time when ManUtd are slowly returning to full strength. Captain Nolan is on a 3-match suspension while Faye, Anelka and Diouf are all doubtful. Fortune is certain to miss a return to his former club with an injury picked up during midweek. Bolton's current good form will have to be attributed to the fine showing of their Finnish goalkeeper Jaaskalainen. If the goalie is in good enough shape to start today, then we really have a good fight on our hands. Otherwise, it will be Walker in goal, marking his 400th career league starts. Not a good day for celebration for Walker. Not against ManUtd, anyway.

JayWalk The Walk: ManUtd have not lost at Reebok Stadium in their last 6 visits but it doesn't automatically means that they are going to win. Bookies are making ManUtd give up a 0.5-ball handicap but assigned a 1.9 decimal odds to beat it. This is a game between a team with the best scoring record in the Premiership against a team with the best defensive record in the Premiership. I am almost certain that ManUtd will have Bolton's clean sheet erased but the real question that would decide if we win this punt would be if ManUtd themselves are able to keep a cleansheet?

This is going be a very tight game and I think this will be an "Unders" game i.e. less than 2.5 goals. Chelsea will be certain to collect 3 points this weekend and so ManUtd cannot afford to drop points today if they want to hang on to the lead. A loss would not only relinquish our pole position but also allow Bolton to beat us down to 3rd. Still, I think it is unlikely that we will be defeated today.

I'd go for a victory but scale back my wager to guard against a banana-peel draw.

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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