Saturday, February 10, 2007

Weekend Outlook (10 Feb 2007)

Manchester United vs Charlton Athletic

"...(I) reckoned that we should need another 6 victories from our last 12 games to seal the title..."
- JayWalk, 10 Feb 2007

There is something conflicting in the stats during the last game against Spurs at White Hart Lane. The possession %, shots attempted and shots on-goal were very close but yet the 4-0 scoreline just doesn't tally up well.

That calls for a closer look at the Shots Map and we can see that the game started off relatively sluggish and we see most of Spurs' shot attempts were relatively long range wishful thinking.

The lone red dot in the first half belonged to C.Ronaldo's penalty conversion which I must speak out against.

It was a dive. No question about it.

We don't need to win games in this fashion. Even without this goal, the revised 3-0 scoreline would not have altered the headlines the next day. Blind faithfuls would, right about now, jump in to the Portuguese player's defence saying that there is psychological advantage entering the changing room at half-time with a goal advantage. I say screw that. I rather drop points than to win games in such a disgraceful fashion.

This certainly speak volumes of C.Ronaldo's integrity and I won't be surprised if the young lad ditch us at the end of season to chase the money bait, rumoured to be laid out by Barcelona and Real Madrid.

I won't deny that C.Ronaldo is a talented player with a very very impressive set of skills, but like Rivaldo, he will only be a good player as his integrity, or rather the lack of, would prevent him to elevate further to that of being a great player.

Coming back to the Spurs-ManUtd game, the game certainly did pick up in the second half as both teams starting to find their respective rhythm and shift up into high gear. Both teams had close shots in the penalty box but yet ManUtd managed to convert 3 of them while Spurs managed none.

Why? Spurs self-destructing again?

Probably, but I would think that the answer lies with one man. Edwin van der Sar. He was absolutely fantastic that day and it was a pity to have his nose broken by an over-zealous Robbie Keane. Nothing malicious there. Just plain unlucky.

Looking ahead, the month of February will be an exciting one with the second stage of the European Champions League starting right after our 5th Round FA Cup game at home to Reading. Mark the weekend of 24-25 February on your calendar for it is an important date for ManUtd. Chelsea will be playing Arsenal for the Carling Cup that Sunday and 24 hours before that, we will have the chance at Craven Cottage to pull 9 points ahead, assuming no mishap from ManUtd nor Chelsea today.

As we are fast approaching the season's run in, I was prompted into looking at the league table closer. I made a mental calculation and reckoned that we should need another 6 victories from our last 12 games to seal the title. If we are able to continue to steam-roll over our opponents, we should even be able to wrap up the title even before we play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 15 Apr 2007.

JayWalk The Talk: van der Sar is out with a broken nose and that means that Kuszczak will be between the sticks today with Heaton on the bench. As an added precaution, expect Fergie to feature Ferdinand on the pitch and have him double as the standby "third keeper". That being the case, then congratulations to Rio Ferdinand for this 200th ManUtd game.

Afternote: My mistake here as it was O'Shea who donned the green jersey after van der Sar got escorted off the pitch. Still, Ferdinand still get to start in the next game while O'Shea was rested.

Another good news would be that of Rooney fit again to start today, after a swift recovery from a minor ankle injury picked up during the earlier Spurs game.

The picture is not as rosy at the Charlton's end with the Addicks stucked in 19th spot. A win, albeit unlikely, still won't get them out of the relegation zone. Morale is low in the Pardew camp.

The only player worth watching out for in the Charlton side is Darren Bent but don't expect much from him today as he returns to the pitch after a 6-week layoff due to a knee problem. Bougherra will be making his debut for Charlton in place of El Karkouri who is suspended. With a calf problem and still in the process of assimilating into the Charlton team, Bougherra has certainly picked a wrong time to make his Charlton debut.

Song, on loan from Arsenal, will also be making his debut today. The way I see it, both debutants are being thrown directly into the deep end of the pool today.

I think both of them will drown.

JayWalk The Walk: Mark Riley will be the referee for this game and that would probably mean that decisions will be slightly skewed in our favour, if the rumour holds true.

Charlton is one game short of 900 post-war league victories but bookie's 2-goal handicap and a decimal odds of an even 1.95 for ManUtd to overcome the deficit means Charlton will be stuck at 899 until next week.

I would expect to see C.Ronaldo getting onto the scoresheet via diving or otherwise, as he is currently tied with Drogba for the lead for the Golden Boot award at 15 goals apiece as of today.

Giggs will be another player anxious to put the ball in the net as he currently stands at 97 league goals. A hat-trick will finish the game nicely for him with a milestone century of goals.

Verdict? With ManUtd chalking up 9 goals-over in the last 10 games. Expect a bloodbath at Old Trafford. I say give the 2-goal handicap and pick up your winnings when the whistle blows 90 minutes later.

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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