Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weekend Outlook (26 Nov 2006)

Manchester United vs Chelsea

"...It was a real shame Fergie couldn't get him (Joe Cole) when West Ham got relegated....."
- JayWalk, 25 Nov 2006

We are just a third of the way into the season and people are harping about how this coming match would be the title decider, which personally, I think is a bit daft.

While I concede that title decider will be the match between these two clubs but I have my sights set on 14 April 2007 when these two play at Stamford Bridge instead.

The Premiership isn't a 100m sprint event. It is a marathon where the winner is declared only when the finishing tape is breasted.

Both teams lost their respective matches during midweek at ECL but the problem is that Chelsea's loss may be a deliberate tactical move to eliminate Barcelona at Stage 1, given that they have already qualified. ManUtd, on the other hand, have painted themselves into the corner with another (!) freak loss. It was obvious that the upcoming game against Chelsea was too much of a distraction that despite dominating the game at Celtic Park, we came away the loser. We were good for the first half before the midfield ran out of ideas and the forwards firing blanks. If only Saha had converted the penalty, we would even need to worry about the final game against Benfica.

Let's look at the game stats in the Celtic game. Granted we controlled possession as usual but look at the Shot-On-Goal. It was a measly 4 out of 16 attempts. What the hell were the strikers doing?

We got eliminated by Benfica last season. It was a painful memory. Again, in a fortnight's time, we will be facing them and I wonder if it would be deja vu all over again. History has a knack of repeating itself in the most cruel fashion. Are we are going to shoot ourselves in the foot again?

A win here over Chelsea has a psychological impact of untold proportions. It would even be larger than a 6-point gap. A win today may send Chelsea down the spiral. Premiership-wise, an away game against Bolton, followed by a home game against Arsenal, spell great points-dropping potholes for them. Don't forget they still have to deal with the Carling Cup tournament on 20 Dec 2006, just before we enter into the hectic Christmas and New Year's fixtures.

Unfortunately, a loss here also spells the danger of sending ManUtd into the downward spiral, regardless if our next few opponents are relatively easy to overcome.

JayWalk The Talk: First XI against First XI, we are by far the stronger team. However, if we look further into the bench, Chelsea are not only able to fill all 5 seats with first-team internationals, but also have a couple more internationals on the bleachers as a result of spillover. Such is the strength of the Roman Roubles.

Saha's showing during midweek was terrible and Fergie should have had him substituted. Problem is, with who? We may be a relatively big club by international standards but standing next to Chelsea and we are transformed instantly into minnows. Our best hope is for Saha & Co. to figure out what went wrong earlier and get it fixed as quickly as possible. Hopefully before Sunday's game.

Injured list-wise, Park is still out but the good news is that everybody else, including the doubtful pair of Ferdinand and Neville should be available for call up this weekend. Over at Chelsea side, well.... it doesn't matter, does it?

Despite rumours, Ballack and Drogba should be fit to start this game. Joe Cole has always done well against ManUtd, dating as far back as his West Ham days. For some strange reason, Cole seems to have the talent to figure out ManUtd's game pretty easily. It was a real shame Fergie couldn't get him when West Ham got relegated. Hopefully, Mourihno doesn't know about this.

JayWalk The Walk: Bookie odds is even ball but for now but the decimal odds is 1.775 for the home side to beat it. Now, because this game is going to be very tight, I would expect the odds to fluctuate all the way until kick off. The word in the grapevine is that the handicap, may be shifted to ManUtd giving 0.25 ball and Chelsea a decimal odds of 1.8 to beat that.

What I interpret from this is that, by creating a 1.775 odds at even ball, the bookies are projecting a false confidence backing the home team. My feel on the ground is that folks (sans the die-hard fans) are staying away from this punt as it is too hard to decide. Now, we all know that bookies can only be profitable if transaction volume is high and so a 1.775 facade is to lure the ManUtd punters out of their shell and lifting their money out of their wallets. Thereafter, a drastic 180 degree shift to Chelsea receiving 0.25 ball and 1.8 decimal odds would lure the other side to even up the whole trade balance.

Very sneaky indeed.

Now this will be a very tight game but yet, the first team to score would probably finish with all 3 points. Expect action to be fast and furious as soon as the kick-off whistle is blown but I doubt if it would be a high scoring affair.

My crystal ball says that it would be a draw with ManUtd gaining 1 point and Chelsea dropping 2.

No bet.

Update (25 Nov 2006 15:50 GMT+8): Odds have been changed to Chelsea giving 0.25 ball with decimal odds of 1.775 to beat it. Looks like my conspiracy theory holds true after all. Stay tuned as the fluctuation progresses.

Update (26 Nov 2006 20:00 GMT+8): Odds are back to EVEN ball and back to ManUtd having the decimal odds to beat it. The way I see it, this game is headed for a draw and the bookies had to revert back to the old handicap because too many people are betting on Chelsea to take advantage of the 0.25 ball handicap.

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 3:26 PM, November 25, 2006, Blogger C.O.O.L said...

next match against chelsea at stamford bridge is 14 april 2007.. not 2006..

man u is at home against benfica.. which i think it will be easier to go for a win than a draw.. skarli benfica got other ideas..

At 8:22 PM, November 25, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Thanks for pointing out the error. 2007 indeed.

At this point in time, I dare not speculate any more be it playing at home or otherwise.

Too much egg in the face liao.

At 10:14 PM, November 25, 2006, Blogger limyengchuan said...

Losing to Benfica might not be a bad thing. The American Glazers do have have deep pockets to challenge Chelsea. Maybe if United were to drop out of champions league again, they will bail out and sell to someone who is less profit oriented and more of a ManU fan.

One can only hope.

At 10:59 PM, November 25, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Oh worse, stayed on but start cost cutting by laying off Fergie and selling key players to service the mounting debt that they have gotten us into the first place.

After that we suffer the same fate as Leeds and get relegated.


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