Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend Outlook (13 May 2007)

Manchester United vs West Ham United

"...Dong FangZhuo should still need a couple of years in Antwerp before letting him back at Old Trafford...."
- JayWalk, 12 May 2007

It was a kick-about game in mid-week as what originally was touted to be the title decider, fizzled out like a damp firecracker. With ManUtd fielding a second string team, Chelsea also really no heart to play.

For those who stayed up to watch the game, I am sorry to hear you loss of sleep over a pointless game. You should have switched off the TV and go to bed as soon as the "Guard of Honour" is over.

Really nothing to talk about here except perhaps Dong FangZhuo should still need a couple of years in Antwerp before letting him back at Old Trafford. The young Ch1nese lad is simple not ready for the big time yet.

Anyway, this final weekend is all about the UEFA Cup spots as well as the 3-way relegation battle featuring Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic and West Ham United, of which the latter faces us at Old Trafford on Sunday.

There was been a few conspiracy theories going around and we start off with the rumour that Sheffield United may be colluding with Wigan to send West Ham down, by allowing Wigan to beat Sheffield United this Sunday.

What rubbish!

Let me dispel this rumour right now. Neil Warnock will not be stupid enough to allow this as it may backfire on them. At the present moment, Sheffield United's goal difference is superior to that of West Ham by a mere 2 goals. If Sheffield United, plays according to the alleged kelong, loses to Wigan, they risk relegation themselves if West Ham wins at ManUtd. With both games kicking off at the same time, they will have no idea what the outcome of the ManUtd-West Ham game. Expect the fans from these 3 teams to be watching their own game and plugging their ears to the radio broadcasting the other game.

Wigan will be fighting tooth and nail for their lives and hence is expected to be the hungrier of the two. While Sheffield United may not necessarily win the last game of the season, I reckon , with home advantage, a draw would not be too difficult to achieve. A solitary point would be enough for Sheffield United to ensure EPL survival.

The other conspiracy theory is that given the chum chum relationship between Fergie and Curbishley, Sir Alex may offer a helping hand by offering a draw or a win to West Ham and guide the Hammers safely ashore.

I will debunk this theory slightly later in the JayWalk The Walk section.

JayWalk The Talk: West Ham will be missing Ashton, Upson and Gabbidon while ManUtd continues to miss Park, Neville and Silvestre. Saha and Evra are doubtful and the young fledglings trio of Lee, Dong and Eagles, after a dismal showing against Chelsea, shall find themselves booted off the bench. In their place perhaps Rooney (100th game if selected) will take up the bench to make way from Alan Smith to wrap up the season.

Player to watch on the West Ham side would definitely be Tevez as the Argentinian has been instrumental in guiding the Hammers on The Great Escape, etching out 6 wins from their last 8 games.

As for the home side, I will be watching Scholes and Ronaldo (150th game if selected) to get themselves onto the score sheet. Scholes is a goal short of being ManUtd's outright top scorer of EPL goals while Ronaldo is currently 2 goals behind Drogba in the chase for the Barclays Golden Boot award. Given that Drogba has just recovered from injury, I expect Mourihno to rest him for this game ahead of the FA Cup final i.e. Drogba's tally shall remained stagnant at 19. That puts Ronaldo in the driving seat as 2 goals will tie while a hat-trick would seal the Golden Boot for him.

Giggs is a brace short of 100 league goals and I think reaching that milestone would be a thing for next season.

JayWalk The Walk: What d'ya know? We got around the Curse Of The Final 4 safely. We may have dropped points in the last game against Chelsea but it was inconsequential already. Bookies are giving ManUtd to let up a 0.75-ball handicap with a 1.975 decimal odds to beat it.

Coming back to debunking the conspiracy theory that Fergie would pan chance Curbishley.
  1. It is a home game i.e. the EPL trophy presentation would take place at the end of the game. Surely, ManUtd would like to lift the trophy on the back of a victory in front of 75,000 fans. No?
  2. Ronaldo has the chance to pip Drogba to the Golden Boot, I expect him to score a couple of goals. Unless West Ham can score 2 goals against ManUtd, I don't see how the Hammers can even hope for a draw.
  3. The first team was rested during midweek ahead of this coming game. The big guns will take to the field cause after the game got prize presentation mah. You don't expect all the kuching kurak players to step up to the podium to lift the trophy right?
  4. Their head-to-head EPL record at Old Trafford is ManUtd 10 wins, West Ham 1 win, 0 draw.
I don't see how West Ham can even steal a point here. Still, as bleak as it may sound, all is not lost. I think West Ham, despite the impending defeat, has already gathered enough points to stay in the EPL for another season. I simply cannot see Wigan win Sheffield United over at Bramall Lane.

Verdict: Go for a ManUtd win.

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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