Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weekend Outlook (17 Dec 2006)

West Ham United vs Manchester United

"...(ManUtd) is sitting on a 499-Goals-Away-From-Old-Trafford record..."
- JayWalk, 17 Dec 2006

Despite the distance of 11 places between the two Manchester clubs, it was by no means an easy mauling as the scoreline would have suggested. Kudos to ManCity who fought tooth and nail till the final whistle and my respect to a worthy opponent.

Possession was more or less Even-Stevens while we were slightly better off in both shots attempted and shot-on-goal.

The pie was further sweetened when Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw with Arsenal to send us 8 points clear, only to be brought back to 5 after Chelsea cleared and won their match in hand.

For now, the race for the Premiership title is still pretty much up for grabs albeit reduced to a mere two-horse race.

It was a quiet midweek for ManUtd, except for the ECL second stage draw which we were to play our first leg away to Lille. From the looks of things, it is unlikely we are to miss the boat to the Quarter Finals again.

JayWalk The Talk: This weekend, we travel to Upton Park. A place that brings me back in time to 14 May 1995. It was the final match day of the 1994-95 season and we were trailing 2 points behind league leader Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn Rovers lost to Liverpool on the final day which means that we would win the Premiership title that year if we beat West Ham. All went well when we opened scoring to lead 1-0 before a Steve Bruce mistake allowed the home side to equalise and costing us the title.

Champions Blackburn Rovers -89 points. Manchester United - 88 points.

Well, the West Ham of today is a very different picture with manager Alan Pardew getting the boot in midweek. In his place, we have Alan Curbishley making a return to Premiership management having left Charlton Athletic a few months ago. Besides Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp, Alan Curbishley is the third of the 3 Super Shoe String Budget Managers that I have come to admire. I am sure Sir Alex would share my sentiment and not take this game too lightly too.

Besides, teams are often known to play harder for the new manager in the hope of impressing the new gaffer, in the order to secure their place in the club. A reminder of caution is in order here.

Good news keep coming to Old Trafford as Dong FangZhou, Rossi and Larsson are all set to report for duty in the new year. Morale is certainly on a high as Solksjaer, Smith and Park are all back to full fitness too. Only casualty left in the sickbay is Patrice Evra but he should be expected to return very soon as the injury was not as serious as we would have feared.

Ashton and Gabbidon will not be available for West Ham this weekend while Anton Ferdinand is almost certain to return to face his brother, Rio, on the pitch.

Head-to-Head-wise, ManUtd completed the double over West Ham last season but only by a goal each. However, given West Ham's terrible recent form (lost 10 in their last 13 games of which, they have failed to score in those 10 games) will certainly be counting against them. The last time West Ham beat ManUtd at Upton Park was in 1992. Curbishley didn't fare too well either against ManUtd either as the last game against ManUtd was May 2006 when his Charlton were demolished 0-4.

ManUtd, on the other hand, is sitting on a 499-Goals-Away-From-Old-Trafford record. I bet everyone in the team would be eagerly fighting to be the last foot to touch the ball when it crosses the goal line for #500.

If Wes Brown gets to play, then this would be his 150th Premiership appearance. If Brown is on the bench and ManUtd is leading comfortably, Fergie may just throw him into the pitch for that milestone in the young lad's career.

Bobby Zamora, on the other side, will be playing his 100th game for West Ham and a goal from him would mark his 100th league goal of his career. I hope not. Well, not this game anyway.

JayWalk The Walk: ManUtd has to give a 1-ball handicap and an easy 1.85 decimal odds to beat it. ManUtd's 10 league games unbeaten and West Ham's no goals in their last 10 losses in 13 games says that it should be a comfortable victory and a clean sheet.

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 4:12 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger Acey Deucey said...

I always have this bad feeling when playing against a team which has just got themselves a new manager. No matter how bad that team's form had been previously, they always seem to perform way above themselves to impress the new gaffer.

My first thought after reading about Alan Curbishley's appointment was, why didn't this piece of news come a week later? If it had came a week later, I am pretty sure Man Utd would have three or four-niled them. As it is, I cannot but feel uncomfortable about Man Utd's chances.

I would love to be proved wrong this weekend! Fingers crossed!

At 4:37 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

Yes and No. It depends on the who the new manager is.

There is the confrontational revolution type and there is the smooth transition type.

Alan Curbishley is the latter while Roy Keane (Sunderland) is the latter with a plan and able to hit the ground running. Curbs on the other hand, needs a while to have a feel of the ground before even knowing what to do.

Let me quote you what Curbs said during the week:

"I do not think I will change things too much this weekend and I have not got any pre-conceived ideas.

Doesn't sound very confident, does he?

At 4:42 PM, December 16, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

* ...while Roy Keane (Sunderland) is the former...

At 9:48 AM, December 17, 2006, Blogger ahdokboy said...

ah..that infamous draw at west ham. I remember that i was only 9 then, and that was the match when i decided to become a man utd fan. The sheer tenacity at which they went for the winning goal that day was the defining moment for me as a utd fan.

Hope the good form continues at west ham today!

Oh, and it does feel good to be back reading blogs again, lol.

At 12:20 PM, December 17, 2006, Blogger JayWalk said...

welcome back Ahdokboy!

40+ days to ORD hor? But given that you probably have leave to clear, your last working day is essentially sooner right?

Are you going to resume blogging?

Keep me posted!


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