Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weekend Outlook (27 Oct 2007)

Manchester United vs Middlesbrough

"...we are going to see goals even if Boro park a big lorry in front of goal...."
- JayWalk, 27 Oct 2007

Looks like the goal drought is over as we shipped 12 goals in the last 3 games. Suddenly our goal difference is starting to look healthy again.

We played very well against Dynamo Kiev during midweek as the game was particularly very tough when the pace was fast and the climate was around a nippy 5 degrees Celsius.

Overall, given that they had the home ground advantage, a more desperate urgency to get a win and they matched us evenly in every aspect, our attacking duo of Rooney and Tevez brought home the bacon as we put 4 goals into their net accomplishing a turkey of 4-goal wins with that.

All that is left for us hereon is that one solitary point that will book our tickets into the second round of the ECL. Looking ahead, we will be looking to securing the point (even better if it is 3) at home to Dynamo Kiev. However, this game comes after our clash with Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Fortunately for us, we already cleared most of our ECL fixtures and therefore even if we falter, albeit unlikely, against Dynamo Kiev in a fornight's time, we would still have Sporting Lisbon at Old Trafford to provide that buffer.

After last season's scare, I hope we learned our lesson and aim to seal the deal as early as possible this time round. That way we won't have to bother about traveling to Stadium Olmpico and play AS Roma on the last match day of round 1 as result would have been inconsequential by then.

With us already out of the Carling Cup and not much to worry on the ECL front, expect Fergie to put more focus on the EPL and start bringing the points.

Speaking of Carling Cup, it doesn't look so bad now than when we were eliminated earlier by lowly Coventry. At least, we get a full week of rest ahead of the game against Arsenal, who have to play Sheffield United away this coming midweek. Expect Wenger to play the B-team for that game in preparation to meet us.

Fortunately for the Gunners, they are also currently 3-for-3 on the ECL front and as such, would not have to worry if they tripped on Match Day 4 of the ECL as a result of exhaustion after playing us. Again, that is a highly unlikely scenario.

Once we clear this Arsenal game, it is all the way smooth sailing for us until we meet Liverpool next around mid-December at Anfield which would be the last difficult game for the year for us. By then, we should be in much better shape as our injured players should be returning to full fitness right about that time.

JayWalk The Talk: Speaking of returning to full fitness, we welcome back Edwin van dar Sar for making an earlier-then-expected return during mid-week. Granted that we leaked two goals in that game, I doubt if we are going to be so careless the second time round. Hargreaves and Neville are back and good timing considering that we lost Scholes and Evra (50-50 only) at Kiev. Still, I have doubt if Hargreaves or Neville would do any good this game. Better to start them from the bench and get Nani, Andersen, Pique or Simpson to fill the middle before a mid-game substitution.

As for the rest of Messrs. Park, Carrick, Saha, Silvestre and Foster, it is yet another week for them to watch the game from the bleachers.

The sickbay at Boro is pretty bad too as Huth, Jones, Arca, Aliadiere, Pogatetz and Bates are all not available for the game today while Mido, like Evra is currently 50-50.

I am expecting quite a lot of goals from ManUtd now that the flood gates have opened. With Rooney, Tevez, Giggs and Ronaldo on the pitch, we are going to see goals even if Boro park a big lorry in front of goal.

JayWalk The Walk:
Some pundits spoke against ManUtd chances based on Boro's head-to-head record with us, citing only a single defeat in our last 6 league meetings. However, let us not forget that those good results were under the management of McClaren. This is Gareth Southgate we are talking about. He is the Boro equivalent of Bolton's Sammy Lee. McClaren and Allardyce were the real maestros behind the respective teams' successes in the past.

I mean look where they are in the league table now? Middlesbrough is 17th and Bolton is 20th. Need I say more?

I hate the bookies when they slap a 1.75 ball handicap on ManUtd and a 1.95 decimal odds to win it. The keyword here is current form. We won all our 5 leagues games and running on a 7-win streak while Boro is a dismal 1-0-4 in the last 5 games and losing all 5 handicaps.

The worst case scenario, I can think of here is probably winning by a 2-goal margin and thereby getting half a win. Still, half a bottle of beer is still better than a whole bottle of tap water.

Go for ManUtd.

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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