Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Midweek Preview: 29th November 2006

Manchester United vs Everton

"The league is not going to be won by one game. We need to be consistent and win the next two, three, four games to be up there in May." - Rio Ferdinand, after the 1 - 1 draw with Chelsea

Perhaps it is an indication of how much the bar has been raised, and how well Manchester United have been playing this season, that I am supremely unhappy at the draw with Chelsea. A season ago, I would have heaved a huge sigh of relief at getting away with a draw. I guess I can take that as a positive.

This is the time of the year which will test the mettle of the manager and players both, as Man Utd embark upon a congested and breathless fixture list all the way into January. The important thing now is for the team to continue in their fine form and minimise any points-dropping. It's no use beating all the top teams, but stumbling against smaller teams. Happily, United have so far gone about their job, efficiently and ruthlessly putting the so-called less glamourous teams to the sword. And that is exactly what they need to do when Everton visit Old Trafford tomorrow.

I do not really foresee Everton giving us any problems at home, and furthermore they are shorn of their 2 most dangerous men: Andrew Johnson and Tim Cahill. We should be thankful that Johnson will not be getting the chance to add to his respectable tally of 6 goals in 15 games for Everton, and even more grateful that our midfield and defence need not cope with the danger of Cahill. David Moyes will probably stick to a strikeforce of James I-can't-score Beattie, and James neither-can-I McFadden. Not a strikeforce to make Man Utd's defence quake in their expensive boots.

Oddly, whenever I played Championship Manager, James McFadden is one of the first players I usually buy because he's relatively cheap, his stats are amazing, he is incredibly versatile (a two-footed player who can play as a winger, attacking midfielder, or forward right, left, and centre), and he scores over 20 goals a season for me. Whatever happened in real life?!

Louis Saha, our hero-turned-villain (or deflated hero, as Jaywalk calls him), is probably living in a nightmare now, but he still has the ability to turn the game on its head in a moment of exquisite brilliance (or exceptional stupidity). Despite limping off the pitch on Sunday night clutching his thigh after a terrible challenge from Cashley Cole, there are no indications that he will be unable to start tomorrow, so expect the speedy partnership of Saha and Rooney to cause the aging Everton defence problems.

Rooney, on the other hand, has no such problems with confidence as Saha does, and he seems to have made a habit of scoring against his old club. Michael Carrick, who I have to say thoroughly deserved his Man of the Match award against Chelsea, is doing a magnificent job with his instinctive pinpoint passes, incisive distribution and willingness to track back and get into tackles. He is no Roy Keane, but he is maturing slowly but surely. In three seasons he will be a complete and all-rounded midfielder.

All in all, I have no complaints about the performance of the players, and even Rio Ferdinand seems to be getting over the lapses of concentration that so often plagued him in the past. Everton are a combative and physical team with some very good young players, but with their attacking threat well blunted and their defence leaky, this will be a stroll in the park for Manchester United.

Man to watch (Manchester United): Wayne Rooney. If I'm not wrong I believe he has scored in every game he's played against Everton (please correct me if I'm mistaken). And his work-rate against Chelsea told of a player champing at the bit to score. A goal is long overdue.

Man to watch (Everton): This space would ordinarily belong to Tim Cahill, but without him all focus must shift to Mikael Arteta. The Spanish midfielder has been chipping in with his fair share of assists and goals and is more than capable of scoring stunners from range. Edwin van der Sar needs to be alert the moment Arteta has the ball at his feet.

Jaywalk's Encyclopaedia of Bookies' Odds says: Man Utd are giving 1.25 ball and decimal odds of 1.85 to beat it. Normally I'd steer clear of making definite predictions, but for this match I'm confident enough to believe that Man Utd can overcome the handicap quite easily. A 2-0 , 3-0 or 3-1 win for Manchester United is very very possible.

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.


Post a Comment

<< Home