Saturday, December 02, 2006

Weekend Outlook (02 Dec 2006)

Middlesbrough vs Manchester United

"...The 3-point lead over Chelsea was used on the Blues a week ago and a draw there ensured that we are able to use this insurance again today for a second time...."
- JayWalk, 02 Dec 2006

We were 3 points ahead last Saturday and 3 points ahead coming into this weekend's game on the back of a victory over Everton.

While everyone was saying that we squandered the chance to beat Chelsea, after leading 1-0, and going 6 points clear, I thought otherwise.

Looking at the stats, we were being dominated at home with a miserly 39% possession and weaker fire power of 5 shots-on-goals against their 7. If not for our defense (special mention to Van da Sar) and their continual misfiring of Ballack and Shevchenko, we would have lost the game. If was a lucky draw by any count, all thanks to the mind games that Fergie played on Mourihno during the week leading up to the game. We may have drawn this game but we certainly take 3 points in the battle of wits.

Problem is that coming the return fixture at Stamford Bridge, are we able to pull the double on them? Hopefully, we have 3 or more-point lead coming to that game.

Wednesday's victory over Everton is indication that we are back to business, even in the absence of Saha, Heinze and Scholes, with a whopping 63% possession and out-gunning the Toffees with 21 shots (6 on-goal) vs 8 (4 on-goal). Thus maintaining ManUtd's 100% victory record against teams in the lower half of the table this season.

Speaking of records, ManUtd also leads with the most shot-on-goal (130) as well as the dubious honour of hitting the woodwork most (11).

As much the Roman Roubles are scattered all over Stamford Bridge, it is ironic to see ManUtd leading the table with most goals scored and least goals conceded. Makes you wonder if the Chelsea superstars are earning their worth or just milking Ambramovich's money away lavishly?

JayWalk The Talk: This weekend, ManUtd travels to The Riverside Stadium to play Middlesbrough and we are remembered the humiliating 1-4 defeat a season ago. However, that does not make them our bogey team as many touted. In my opinion, that accolade goes to Blackburn Rover at Ewood Park. Fortunately for us, we cleared that hurdle with a 1-0 victory recently.

I am not sure what the team sheet will look like this week, in view of the do-or-die clash against Benfica this coming midweek. One thing for sure is that Solksjaer and Park are still out while Smith is not ready for call up. Vidic looks to be rested ahead for the Benfica game.

The Boro side aren't doing any better for Viduka and Christie are both out while Hasselbaink has gone to Charlton. That leave Yakubu, Maccarone and Euell vying for the 2 striker spots and Mendieta providing support from behind. Fortunately for us, Euell and Yakubu aren't really in good form these days while one can only speculate if Maccarone's match winner against West Ham (11 Nov 2006) was a mere fluke?

JayWalk The Walk: ManUtd has to give up a 1-ball handicap but a uphill decimal odds of 2.075 to beat it. It is hardly surprising to see these odds as all eyes are on the coming Benfica match instead than this. Another year of not making the cut to reach the second round of the ECL will have dire financial consequences for ManUtd and as such, Fergie has no other option than to win this coming match, even if it meant sacrificing this one. The 3-point lead over Chelsea was used on the Blues a week ago and a draw there ensured that we are able to use this insurance again today for a second time.

Looks to me that ManUtd's preparation ahead of midweek will hamper the goal flow at The Riverside Stadium. Hence, it looks unlikely ManUtd will beat the handicap while an accidental draw would bring the bacon home to Southgate's side.

Man-To-Man comparison and we are way out of Middlesbrough's league. Even Fergie is a proverbial head taller than Gareth "No License" Southgate.

The months of November to February has always been extremely hard on punters as results often gone awry. Main reason is due to the various teams' respective European campaign and as such, we have more banana slips then normal when teams don't play their 100%.

The verdict from me is to bet on ManUtd only if you are a supporter as I forsee a 1-0 (or 2-1) win and getting your money back. Otherwise, no point putting money out there and risking it.

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 1:12 PM, December 03, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

I think Ronaldo may have the even more dubious honour of being the player who has hit the woodwork the most number of times.

At 1:05 PM, December 04, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Yah man.... of all the 11 woodwork, I won't be surprised if he accounts for most of it.


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