Saturday, December 22, 2007

Weekend Outlook (23 Dec 2007)

Manchester United vs Everton

"...I won't be surprised if Chelsea falls off the Top 4 as well...."
- JayWalk, 22 Dec 2007

Well, we got out of Anfield with a positive result and leaving them still staggering as to what hit them. How many clean sheets do we have at Anfield already? :P

Funny, we kept talking about the Top 4 with default reference, these days to Arsenal, ManUtd, Liverpool and Chelsea. However, if you think about it, Liverpool is currently 5th right now and Chelsea while still in a strong 3rd position, isn't who they used to be since the Special One, Jose Mourihno left. I feel sorry for the current manager, Grant, for having to apologise to everyone week in, week out, that while he is bringing the points for the clubs with consistent victories, he is not doing it the "Special Way".

All that we hear these days about Chelsea are bad news and more bad news. How Chelsea no longer strike fear into the clubs. How Chelsea lacked the killer ruthlessness adding more strikers on the field, even with a 3-goal cushion. How players are not happy at the club this seeking a transfer and that contemplating retirement? That on top of fresh injury news and the coming African Nations Cup which is going to take away even more key players from the already depleting squad.

I won't be surprised if Chelsea falls off the Top 4 as well.

So who will replace Chelsea and Liverpool?

Nobody. We will revert back to a 2-horse race with the rest of the teams 4 to 6 rungs below to sort themselves out for the CLQ and UEFA Cup places.

Coming back to last week's match. I felt that we got lucky with the 3 points as we were certainly outplayed in the midfield. Fortunately, Andersen did a good job locking down Gerrard but in returned, our pair of Hargreaves and Ronaldo where rendered ineffective by the opposite side. Even the introduction of Carrick as a sub did little to help.
Just look at the difference in our respective stats. It was really shameful and hard to believe that we were at the receiving end of a midfield hammering, despite winning the game by sheer dumb luck.

Like I said in my earlier preview, I hit the nail on the spot to say that the aging pair of Carragher and Hyypia will have problems holding down the speediness of our strikers. Tevez got the winner, just as I have predicted, courtesy of Riise's mistake for losing sight of his mark.

Rolling on my current psychic streak, what can I say when we drew Lyon for the second round of the ECL? Hopefully, this streak of good luck will continue to run through this festive week as we have a bumper crop of matches to wager on.

Huat ah!

JayWalk The Talk: Today's opponent is another Merseysider where although we have an excellent track record against them (we have won more EPL matches against Everton than any other club), is still a formidable opponent coming into this week on account of their recent great form (14 from the last possible 18 points compared to our 13).

Sickbay-wise, Neville is still out, alongside Park, Foster, Silvestre and Scholes. Other than that, the squad is still considered pretty full and Fergie should not have any problems trying to select his first team.

Not much problems over at the Evertonian side either albeit a much shallower squad depth. Osman, Baines, Stubbs and Turner will not be available for selection on Sunday.

JayWalk The Walk:
ManUtd has to give a 1.25-ball handicap today with a decimal odds of 1.90 to beat it. At Old Trafford, I don't see how we are going to lose or even draw this game today but the 1.25-handicap may still mean coughing up a loss to the bookie in the event of the 1-goal margin.

With ManUtd's 6 straight home wins to Everton's 2-2-2 away form, outcome is never a concerned but rather what is the scoreline. Had it been a "Give 1-ball" handicap, I would have jumped at the chance without batting an eyelid. We lost only once to Everton back in 2005 and that was at Goodison Park. Defeat at Old Trafford failed to register as my current archives date back to only 2003.

In our last 10 head-t0-head EPL encounters, we have the upper hand at 7-2-1. However, in the 7 games that we beat them, 5 of them were by a single goal.

As such, I think today's score would probably be 1-0 in our favour as we slowly pace our stamina through the festive schedules. Hence, we win the 3 points but we lose the handicap.

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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