Saturday, October 06, 2007

Weekend Outlook (06 Oct 2007)

Manchester United vs Wigan Athletic

"...we will be looking to Scholes to carry the game today...."
- JayWalk, 06 Oct 2007

It's really tough to be ManUtd. A 1-0 victory and people will ask what's wrong with our attack. If we pulled off a Portsmouth-Reading 7-4 victory i.e. scoring 7 goals, people will question what went wrong with our defence?

Perhaps the 1-0 disease is passing along from Boring Arsenal of the old days, to Chelsea just a couple of seasons ago, and now ManUtd. Hopefully, we can pass this onward to the next unfortunate club and soon!

In all competitions, ManUtd has played 12 matches from which, only the victory against Chelsea, we scored more than 1 goal. Then again, I refused to recognised the second goal coz Saha cheated the penalty.

Still, I am sure as far as the league tables are concerned, nobody is complaining much as the solitary goal still bring in the 3 valuable points.

We look at the stats against AS Roma and you could tell that the Italians have clearly wisened up since the last 1-7 mauling. We were evenly matched during that game with AS Roma having more shots and shots-on-target than us. These numbers carry more weight since they are the visiting team. We need to do better if we want to survive the return leg. Fortunately, we were able to effectively contained them this time and worked up a well-deserved 1-0 victory. Now this is one 1-0 victory that I have no complain. Instad my beef is with the other relatively weaker teams where we have close to 20 shots and close to 10 shots-on-goal and still we only score 1 goal. That to me is NOT RIGHT.

Looking ahead, ManUtd will be looking forward to the long break, as we go into Euro2008 qualifers next weekend with no midweek games before and after. So essentially, that means that we are getting 3 consecutive match days with no game on. Excellent time for our injured players to catch up with their recovery process as the break stalls us valuable time.

JayWalk The Talk: We have a slight injury crisis in midfield as both Hargreaves and Carrick are injured. Looks like we will be looking to Scholes to carry the game today. The good thing about Scholes is that he has retired from international football and as such, assuming no injuries at the end of today's 90 minutes, we will be counting on his services again for our next game away at Villa Park. Speaking of Park, Park Ji Sung is still injured. Ok sorry. Couldn't resist that. The rest of the injury list look quite depressing as Van der Sar, Fletcher, Brown, Neville, Silvestre and Fosters are all out.

Looks like we have a hole in the midfield that we need to plug up. I am guessing that Fergie would probably use one of the following three options: (a) Move utility man O'Shea up to midfield, (b) start with Anderson or (c) shift Giggs from the flank to the middle. I hope there is a more viable alternative option since (a) dampens our attack as O'Shea is not a very aggressive attacker, (b) may make us lose control of midfield as Anderson has yet to prove himself and (c) lose our flank advantage as Giggs' forte is at the flank not the middle. What we need is a playmaker like Cantona. Years ago, we wanted to get Pavel Nedved but alas we weren't fated.

Up front, we are well stocked with Saha, Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney to provide the goals but question is if our midfield is able to provide the ammunition i.e. the thru passes and crosses? Oh heck, can we even dominate possession?

On the Latics side, injuries are just as many with Sibierskio, Heskey, Bouaouzan, Valencia and Landzaat all unavailable. While the headcount is lower than ours, the impact is greater on their side as ManUtd has a much deeper squad depth. Still, the saving grace for Wigan is that Hutchings has as many as 8 midfielders available for selection.

Problem who is going to finish for them?

JayWalk The Walk:
Bookies are giving ManUtd to give up a 1.75-ball handicap with a 1.975 decimal odds to beat it. Strange considering the fact that ManUtd seems, of late, to be stuck in the 1-0 doldrums. Why such a big handicap? The answer is history on four counts.

  1. Wigan has 17 consecutive losses against the Big 4 teams and as such is not expected to pull any surprises here. Not even a draw. However, one may argue that a 1-0 scoreline is still a victory but a loss as far as the handicap is concerned which brings me to...
  2. ... our last 5 head-to-heads where we are 5-0-0 over them with scores of 3-1, 3-1, 2-1, 4-0 and 4-0 in reverse chronological order.
  3. Next, we look at current league form where we are on a roll of 5 consecutive wins while the Lactics are going through 5 consecutive games winless.
  4. Lastly, ManUtd despite their lousy goal count has 5 consecutive clean sheets in domestic league and the opposite is said for Wigan who had none in the last 5 games.
So the question is not if we would win tonight but rather is we can win by more than 2. At 1.975, the numbers say a smack 50-50. It could go either way. Unless you are a ManUtd fan, I would advice against punting here as I am looking at a 2-goal victory at best which would only yield a miserable half-wager win.

The way I see it, it is unlikely that we are able to switch from 1-0, 1-0, 1-0 to a 3-0 or more mauling overnight. Still, I believe the key tonight for me to win that half wager is that we score an early goal in the first half.

Wish me luck.

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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