Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend Outlook (11 Nov 2007)

Manchester United vs Blackburn Rovers

"...I say we should take this point (or 3) at Lisbon in the next fixture..."
- JayWalk, 11 Nov 2007

Despite having a long list of injuries and just as many people admitted into the sickbay as they are coming out, nothing seems to be able to go wrong at ManUtd these days.

Murphy has left the building.

We got away pretty much unscathed at the Emirates Stadium and while everyone was lamenting about the last minute Gallas goal robbing us of our win, I felt that the 2-2 draw scoreline was a good enough for us at this stage of the season. Wait till we get nearer to the end of the season where a game as big as this is worth 6 points and guess what? It will be at Old Trafford.

In a way, it is the same theory that I applied to the ECL knock-out stages, where we meet our worthy opponents, where I always say to grab an away draw (if we can kill them in one,...), then bring them back home for the silver bullet (... then kill them in two.)

Moving from there, we had the midweek Round1-Game4 of the ECL where we have had so many cock-ups on this particular matchday in the past few seasons, that I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief that we are now 4-for-4. Not only did we win 4 ECL games on the trot and qualify with 2 games in hand, we did it in style with a 4-0 thrashing of Dynamo Kiev on their own turf.

However, as Rooney had observed during the game, the Ukrainians played without heart which led to the mauling. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that we are not good but certainly not Kiev-Four-Zero good.

At 23 shots (10-on-goal) against their 8 shots (2-on-goal), I strongly recommend against getting our heads too big coming into the next match.

All that is left for us in Round 1 is a solitary point to cement our status as Group Leader, thus ensuring an easier draw in the next round. I say we should take this point (or 3) at Lisbon in the next fixture. That way, when we meet AS Roma on the final match-day of Round 1, neither team has to exert too much and risk injury for an inconsequential game.

So anyway, like I said in my earlier entry, we have no more big games all the way until 14 Dec 2007 where we take on Liverpool. After the Blackburn game, we have a mini break (Euro2008 qualifiers) until 24 Nov 2007 where we will travel to Bolton. Perfect timing to slot in some rest and recovery time for our casualties.

JayWalk The Talk: Speaking of casualties, we have a few recent setbacks, Neville is back in the sickbay, while Scholes, Van der Sar both picked up injuries at Kiev. Rooney suffered an ankle injury during training yesterday, joining Foster, Silvestre and Park back in the ward.

Fortunately, Van der Sar's injury is only slight which means a high chance to return to manning the sticks tomorrow. Saha is back and ready to replace Rooney and partner Tevez. Good opportunity to test if the Saha-Tevez partnership would work just as well, if not better than the current Rooney-Tevez one. Giggs was rested in midweek and I will be watching the prolific Welshman gunning for goal today as he is a goal shy of a century of career goals. Yes, the BIG 100 milestone.

I would expect Saha to get on the scoresheet too as he has been able to score against Blackburn in ManUtd's last 4 encounters. 5-for-5? Elsewhere, we have a rejuvenated Vidic who signed a new contract and will be partnering Ferdinand, the only player in the club to have started in all games this season.

Skysports' man to watch is Anderson but I say let's not forget that we have Carrick, Nani, Giggs and Ronaldo too. Pique and Brown should probably make up the rest of the defence.

In most Blackburn encounters, I would keep a special eye out for Robbie Savage. He is not exactly a superstar-grade player but his combative nature is always a big migraine headache for ManUtd's midfield. His tactics are often then not in grey areas, where it look like a yellow/red card challenge and yet always be able to get away scot-free. Newbies would have been baited by his provocative antics and do something that would ironicially earn the former the yellow/red card instead.

Fortunately for us, Robbie Savage will not be playing tomorrow. I foresee a pretty subdued Blackburn midfield tomorrow which means that Benni McCarthy will not be causing must problem for us, coz he would be seeing much fo the ball in the ManUtd half. Hughes better pray that Friedel will be at the top of his game tomorrow.

JayWalk The Walk:
Bookies are giving ManUtd a 1.95 decimal odds to beat the 1.25-ball handicap. It was 1.975 before 1pm (10 Nov 2007 GMT +8) was subsequently pushed it down a notch to 1.95.

While I still don't have the money-stats (i.e. percentage of wagers by value on the respective teams), I am guessing that the money on ManUtd is pouring in a little faster that bookies have to water down the odds a little. In English, ManUtd is looking better and better for tomorrow.

My sentiment yesterday, before writing this, was a "2-1 win" feeling where we would still earn the 3-points but lose the handicap. However, as we approach the kick-off, the confidence kind of grew more and more.

Anyone has the same feeling?

I am still undecided whether to punt on ManUtd for this game at time of this entry. I would probably let it soak for another day, since this is a Sunday game and would decide when the kick-off gets nearer.

Watch for my verdict in this week's Beer Fund Raising entry.

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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