Friday, November 10, 2006

Weekend Preview - 11th November 2006

Manchester United vs Blackburn Rovers

"Forget the Carling Cup, the Premiership is always our top priority..." - Sheena and Jaywalk

Most people would have said that, after the Carling Cup debacle, the best way for the Red Devils to soothe their ruffled egos would be to thrash the next team that comes their way. And given that Man Utd have been flying high in the Premiership, I would normally agree.

Except for the fact that our next match is Blackburn at Ewood Park, and with Rovers under the management of old-boy Mark Hughes, we have never done very well against them. Last season alone they completed a league double over us, and allowed Chelsea a free 6-point lead just by doing that.

This season, Hughes has strengthened his squad with the addition of ex-Porto striker Benni McCarthy, who already has 7 goals to his name. David Bentley, on-loan from (or bought, I can't remember) Arsenal, has plundered 4 goals. Their other midfielders have all been chipping in with a goal or 2 each, and Morten Gamst Pedersen is always a threat from dead-ball situations. In fact, he seems to be making a habit out of scoring free kicks against Manchester United.

In short, Mark Hughes has put together a good, tough team, with Robbie Savage always at the ready to kick someone's ankles out, and the strikers and midfielders putting the ball in the net with some regularity.

Man Utd will need to be at the very top of their game if they want to nick this and maintain their lead over Chelsea. Rovers are not a very pacy team, so Man Utd can run circles around them, but unfortunately we don't have a midfield enforcer in the mould of Savage since Michael Carrick is, well, not savage enough. This match will be decided down the flanks as both teams have good wingers and rely on them. Gary Neville and Patrice Evra will need to be on the alert constantly.

However, Manchester United's main advantage is still the fact that the goals are coming from every part of the team, so you never know where the next goal will come from. This means our players are a lot harder to mark and stop. We have people in the team who have had chances and should be getting on the scoresheet by now - like Carrick and (!) Gary Neville. Let's hope they break their duck this weekend!

Man to watch (Blackburn): Need I say it again? Morten Gamst Pedersen. Watch out for his wicked free-kicks! If the bastard scores against us again today I might need to draft a petition pleading with the club to buy him.

Man to watch (Manchester United): The whole team. Seriously.

Stuff which I don't understand: According to Jaywalk's encyclopaedic knowledge of bookies' odds, Man Utd are giving 3/4 ball and decimal odds of 1.8 to beat it. I have absolutely no idea what the decimal odds are, or whether they're even important. So just going by the 3/4 ball thing alone, I say stay away. We always struggle to beat Rovers at home and it wouldn't surprise me if this match turns out to be a draw game or even if we lose (I hope not)! I do have a sneaking suspicion though, that Man Utd will nick this by a goal.

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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