Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weekend Outlook (21 Jan 2007)

Arsenal vs Manchester United

"...It seems almost unfair to a manager as talented as Martin O'Neil to have to suffer the indignity of managing a unmotivated lacklustre team (Aston Villa)..."
- JayWalk, 21 Jan 2007

They were never close in the FA Cup round and they were never close in last week's EPL fixture as we completed the treble over Aston Villa this season. It seems almost unfair to a manager as talented as Martin O'Neil to have to suffer the indignity of managing a unmotivated lacklustre team.

Possession-wise, we did not hit the 60% mark but we more than adequately made it up with a 27 vs 7 shots attempted and we more than tripled their shots-on-goal with a 17 vs 5 score.

I would like to talk more about the game but seriously, it was so one-sided that I don't have anything else to write beyond the 2 paragraphs.

Anyway, I resisted writing this outlook early (Saturday) as I wanted to wait for the outcome of the Liverpool-Chelsea game.

I hate to say this but Liverpool won.



As of right now, Chelsea is closer to Liverpool in terms of points than us. The million dollar question of the day: Can this be the day we pull 9-points ahead? If so, then would it be safe to say that this season's title is in the bag, barring any mishaps? Read on as I will reveal what I think of this later on.

JayWalk The Talk: Our form against Arsenal has been pretty even-stevens and the last time we won on Arsenal soil (Highbury) was in Feb 1995 where we won 4-2. Since then, there were 2 goaless draws and our most recent match-up was a 0-1 defeat at Old Trafford.

Arsenal will be looking forward to complete the double and at the same time close up the 3-point gap opened up by Liverpool. ManUtd on the other hand would be looking forward to pull 9 points ahead and exacting the home defeat earlier in the season.

The last we met, we were completely out paced, out played, out classed and out gunned by the Gunners with their very fluid passing game. It was so good that we did not have an answer to Wenger's tactics that we surrendered 0-1 meekly. This is Arsenal's strongest weapon as well as their weakest chink in the armour.

Arsenal's passing game is so good that they don't have a Plan B, should their opponents successfully counter it. This, I am sure Sir Alex would have spotted it and will be targeting this very chink as our road to success today.

I would expect Fergie to start Larsson as the evergreen striker is just the man to provide the goals when we catch them on the counter-attack. Larsson's experience with Barcelona will be invaluable as he would know how to take Arsenal apart from his ECL days.

In the sick bay, we have a full and healthy squad to pick from. So much so, that we were able to farm out Rossi to Parma. Expect Dong FangZhou (Zhou or Zhuo?) to show up in FA Cup matches as early as this season.

Over at Arsenal, Gallas is out while Ljungberg is out of favour. Gilberto is suspended but fortunately, Henry is back to take back the Captain's armband.

One interesting statistic is that Arsenal is the team that has been awarded the most penalty kicks in EPL matches this season. They converted 7 out of 8. Frankly, I ask how many were awarded as a result of a successful dive? I won't be surprised to see van Persie trying this today.

Fortunately, referee of the day is Mark Riley and rumour-mill has it that this referee tend to favour ManUtd a little more. Still, I think it is going to be a very busy day for Riley as both teams have a tendency to bring the game into an over-boil. However, I think it will be more subdued with the departure of Ashley Cole and Roy Keane. Either way, I still think there will be quite a flurry of card waving throughout the game.

JayWalk The Walk: Bookies plays even-ball today with ManUtd being less favoured with a 2.125 decimal odds to beat it. Both teams have had a good whole week's rest but looking ahead, Arsenal have a League Cup game in midweek against arch rival Tottenham Hotspur, while ManUtd continue to enjoy their rest leading up to next Saturday's FA Cup game against Portsmouth.

As many are aware, I am a sucker for conspiracy theory and I think today's game would be determine by Money. I don't think the "forces" behind will allow a ManUtd victory today. Think about it, wouldn't the Premiership be more exciting if the top 2 fall, leaving the 3rd and 4th to close up the gap to mount a more exciting run in to the season's end? The premiership may just as well be over as early as today, if ManUtd does indeed pull away. Think about the drop in TV ratings, gate attendance, media coverage, coffee shop talk and bets. Any drop in any of these means a drop in revenue. Surely the "forces" would not allow this. Yes? No?

Well, like I said, pure speculative conspiracy theory. Take with a pinch of salt.

My verdict? I doubt if ManUtd will win today but I can't say for sure, Arsenal will win either. A loss today will not change anything as we will still be 6 points ahead. I forsee this game ending with a draw and the consolatory point for ManUtd to extend their lead to 7 points and Arsenal get to keep their 100% undefeated-at-Emirates record.

However, this is a game between two teams who are ranked 1st and 2nd in the scoring department and surely there is no way this game will end goaless. 2-2 draw perhaps?

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 12:16 AM, January 22, 2007, Blogger C.O.O.L said...

referee change to steve bennett..


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