Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weekend Outlook (17 Mar 2007)

Manchester United vs Bolton Wanderers

"...I certainly would also hope to see Alan Smith finally getting the chance to shine and repay that faith that I have in him since his Leeds days...."
- JayWalk, 17 Mar 2007

On a normal day, I would have lamented a draw as a bad result. Worse, if it results in an extra, if not unnecessary replay to jam the already congested fixture schedule. When it comes to the run-in towards the end of the season, the luxury of rest days get increasingly more valuable as the season draws near.

However, the last draw against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium in the FA Cup was a crucial, if not tactical one and in contrary, was actually a good result.

With a spate of injuries and suspensions, we were severely tapped out and if we can't overcome the hurdle in a single bound, it does actually make sense to break it up into 2 steps.

Like an old golf saying. As long as the ball gets to where it is supposed to be, nobody cares how ugly your swing is.

I would expect ManUtd to deploy the same tactic against AS Roma in the Quarter-Finals of the ECL. Fight for a draw first (win would be better, of course), then bring them home for the kill. In the case of the ECL where away-goals is in play. A high scoring draw away would be ever better. Still, a simple win would trump that anytime.

Coming back to the last game, kudos to Boro for making a spirited fight that took us all the way to the final whistle. We may have had more possession but in terms of shots attempted and shots-on-goal, we are pretty even. And so, the 2-2 draw seems like a pretty fair result.

Looking ahead, we will be meeting them again on Monday as a result of the ManUtd vs Euro XI friendly in midweek. This is going to be a tough game in terms of stamina it means only a Sunday rest tomorrow before the boys head out to the pitch again. Fortunately for us, it would be the same for Boro. In terms of fitness, we are a notch above Boro and couple that with home ground advantage, I don't see how we can't get through to the next round. My only worry is perhaps if we have more players injured or suspended after today or if Fergie, for some reason or another, field a fringe team come Monday.

JayWalk The Talk: As I have mentioned, we have a full house in the sick bay with van der Sar, Fletcher, Solksjaer, Silvestre, Evra and Saha all injured. Larsson has completed his last game for us while Scholes is still serving his suspension. Dong FangZhuo is probably on the way back to Guangzhou on international duty but I doubt if the Ch1nese strikers will get to feature in the EPL anyway to begin with, but the chance to see him on Monday is now a negative with certainty.

Coming into today's game, we will have Kuszczak manning the sticks and Ferdinand has been cleared to play today after a cracked rib scare which turned out nothing more than a bad knock. He should be partnering John O'Shea at the back and if the Irish lad plays today, it will be his 200th start for an English club. With the depletion of our squad strength, ManUtd will be looking to Rooney to bring in the 3 points. Expect the young lad to get himself onto the score sheet as he is currently 1 shot of 50 ManUtd goals. Giggs to score too? Let's hope so as he stands at 98. A nice brace today will get him his century of goals. I certainly would also hope to see Alan Smith finally getting the chance to shine and repay that faith that I have in him since his Leeds days.

At the opposite corner, things are not looking too good for Big Sam as he is staring at a possibility of a third consecutive defeat. Certainly not the best time to hit the pothole as they were, for a while, actually doing well enough to challenge Liverpool for a place in next season's ECL. However, we will see if Liverpool are able to use this opportunity to pull away and further consolidate they 4th spot but word around town says that it may be a draw at Villa Park. Anyway, if Liverpool managed to bring home the 3 points this weekend, if may mean that Bolton would have to settle for a consolatory UEFA Cup spot. That is, if they can hold off the challenge from teams like Everton, Reading, Portsmouth, Spurs and Blackburn.

You know things are not going right if we see Allardyce playing Kevin Davies today. Fresh out of the sick bay and hitting the pitch this week after a 6-week absence, Bolton must be desperate. I don't see how Davies is going to make an impact without first shedding 6 weeks' worth of rust. O'Brien will also not be available for selection today but other than that, I don't see any more selection problem for them, except a dip in general form for all players concerned.

Would I be too worried about Anelka? Nah. Diouf is the man that I would mark as Liverpool was stupid to have him slipped out of Anfield. He may have some disciplnary issues but his work ethics and skills more than compensate for the shortfall.

JayWalk The Walk: ManUtd is giving a 1-1/4 ball handicap with a decimal odds of 2.025. With van der Sar out of action, I don't have high hopes of keeping a clean sheet today. Still I think we have enough fire power to overcome the handicap with a hat trick of goals or even more if we are lucky.

Still I would have preferred a clinical 2-0 finish and rest up ahead of Monday's FA Cup replay against Middlesbrough.

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 12:23 PM, March 17, 2007, Blogger Jiahao said...

Yeah, I am having my utmost faith in our Smudger.


At 1:16 PM, March 17, 2007, Blogger JayWalk said...

Let's see how it goes tonight.

Fingers' crossed!

At 12:31 PM, March 18, 2007, Blogger C.O.O.L said...

last goal was a nice assist from smith!!

At 5:50 AM, March 19, 2007, Blogger JayWalk said...

Yeah, I just saw it on the news. Nice precision pass.

Too bad, Smith didn't get a goal but Rooney crossed the 50-ManUtd goal mark!

Let's wait for Giggs to hit the 100.


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