Sunderland v Manchester United: A must-win in August

Ander Herrera was one of few bright sparks for Manchester United in their season opener

Ander Herrera was one of few bright sparks for Manchester United in their season opener

The Stadium of Light will aptly shine some answers this Sunday afternoon on two clubs presently in the dark.

Sunderland’s miraculous rescue mission last season – including shock triumphs at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge and a tremendous point at Manchester City – certainly reinvigorated a side that lay fractious and shredded of confidence after Paulo Di Canio’s reign of madness, but a nothing-to-lose charge is one thing: now we uncover the true extent of the damage the erratic Italian caused and whether indeed Gus Poyet is the man to bring stability and standing back to Wearside.

An encouraging opening day draw at the Hawthorns bodes well and arguably a passionate home clash against the thirteen times Premier League champions is the perfect early opportunity to measure how far down the road to convalescence they are.

Sunderland v Manchester United Betting Odds:

Sunderland win – 15/4

Manchester United win – 7/10

Draw – 5/2

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)
This is equally true – and seemingly when is it not? – of Jack Rodwell, Sunderland’s £10m summer acquisition, who should benefit from an hour’s workout at West Brom and will hope for similar this weekend partnered alongside the fiery Lee Cattermole.

Cattermole is guilty at times of resembling a headless chicken that has staggered its way into a pair of boots but the onus falls on him this term to bolster an otherwise lightweight midfield since the unexpected north-east defection of Jack Colback. A huge season awaits the fan’s favourite and it is imperative that he finally curbs his infamous disciplinary problems that averages a red for every 27 games and has led to the second most dismissals since the Premier League formed. These are damning and startling stats for a 26 year old.

Unless Poyet can turn around a frustrating transfer window and strengthen the spine Cattermole will be as instrumental to Sunderland’s fortunes as the calm assurance provided by Brown and O’Shea who will both be once again looking to show their former employer that they’ve aged like fine wine or George Clooney’s face. The duo have forged an impressive bedrock of experience at the back for the Black Cats and boast a decent 2014 record against United, winning two and drawing one of their three encounters. It’s a record they will want to continue.

 

From a neutral’s point of view most eyes will be on the visitors this Sunday with a million ABUs (‘anyone but United’) desperately hoping to share yet more gifs of David Moyes manically laughing.

This very fixture two years ago was the most defining in Manchester United’s recent history leading to a chain of events that took in short-term success, upheaval, catastrophe, and ultimately the temporary loss of their famed fear factor.
Despite the Reds disposing of Sunderland on the final day of 2012 their bitter city rivals achieved last-gasp immortality and perceivably wrestled a large chunk of the power and prestige long-held in Salford across to the blue half of Manchester.

This forced a wounded Sir Alex Ferguson to postpone his retirement for a final campaign and the proud Govan man was never going to risk his personal quest for departing glory by making the necessary overhauling of an aging, mediocre squad. After somehow bullying and cajoling the tired limbs of Ferdinand and limited vision of Cleverley to a title he then handed over the shambles-in-waiting to Moyes. Faced with a daunting task of dismantling a clique of established superstars whilst attempting to fill impossibly large shoes Moyes’ fate as the chosen scapegoat was sealed the minute he took the job.

 

Which brings us to the here and now of Louis Van Gaal, a Champions League winner with the stature and arrogance to carry the oppressive demands of bossing United snug in his suit breast pocket.

The narrative of this summer is that the Dutchman will bring attacking adventure and imperious swagger back to Old Trafford and both the supporters and media have been keen to depict him as Ferguson 2.0. But a shock 2-1 reverse to Swansea last week pricked the confidence and allowed doubts to seep in that one individual – no matter how savvy and worldly-wise – is not the instant solution to fundamental shortcomings.

 

For all the talk of Van Gaal mirroring his United side on his Holland team that nearly stole the show in Brazil – with three at the back and incisive moment – the likes of Young, Valencia and the up-and-coming Januzaj are not fit to grace Arjen Robben’s jet-heels while a trio of Jones, Smalling and Blackett as a defensive foundation are, quite frankly, perfectly ordinary.

There will be as much interest in his line-up this Sunday as the performance and result and even more interest in any transfer movement that urgently needs to happen.

So will Sunderland’s great escape last May prove to be nothing more than a stay of execution? Or has Poyet steadied the ship as they sail to mid-table calm waters?

Will Van Gaal bring glory, glory back to United or will a second defeat hint at continued crisis and the distant sound of knives sharpening?

Ninety minutes at the Stadium of Light won’t provide all of the answers. But there will be clues aplenty.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Sunderland to avoid defeat and increase the pressure on their visitors is 2.02 with Intertops.eu

 

Ste avatar STEPHEN TUDOR is editor of the Daisy Cutter, the football newspaper that only sometimes lies. He also writes  for  Sabotage Times, When Saturday Comes, Late Tackle and others. Follow him on Twitter.

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Champions League Quarter Finals: Chelsea and United on the Brink

Will the return of Samuel Eto'o inspire Chelsea to victory?

Will the return of Samuel Eto’o inspire Chelsea to victory?

‘I believe and my players believe. That’s the most important thing.’

 

José Mourinho was in bullish mood in his pre-match press conference, hashtag fodder (#BELIEVE #CHAMPIONSOFEUROPE) spewing from the Portuguese before his side’s attempt to overturn a two-goal deficit against Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Confidence, of course, has never been a problem for José, even if it has been tempered this season by the improbable assertion, made when Chelsea sat atop the Premier League table, that they were out of the title race, or the weirdly public protestation that the strikers at his disposal were either aging (to the point of elderly), incompetent, or both. Perhaps Johan Cruijff was right when he told De Telegraaf this week, ‘It’s always the same with [Mourinho]. When things are going well, it’s the result of his good work, but the players are to blame when things are going badly.’

 

Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain Betting Odds:

Chelsea to qualify – 3.20

PSG to qualify – 1.34

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

More often than not, though, that confidence is justified. And so while the task at hand is great, Chelsea fans, like their manager, do ‘believe’. In 2012, the year of their Champions League triumph, Chelsea faced Napoli in the last 16. Then, as now, they sank to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg. But a 4-1 victory at Stamford Bridge followed, and Chelsea progressed. PSG will prove a sterner test—they can boast 11 straight wins and a strong European away record—and there is no Didier Drogba this time to drag the team through by sheer force of will. But the precedent is there.

Samuel Eto’o is in line for a return for Chelsea, injured soon after scoring in March’s 6-0 mauling of Arsenal, and much will depend on his sharpness. PSG, meanwhile, have their own missing striker; Zlatan Ibrahimović’s absence, however, is no disaster, allowing Edinson Cavani to move into a more central role and opening up a space for Lucas Moura in the starting lineup. Yohan Cabaye might also start in place of Marco Verratti, in part for his experience against English opposition, in part for his rugged handsomeness.

Even with a firing Eto’o, stopping such a side from scoring will be a big ask. Glorious (aggregate) defeat, then, is the most likely outcome, after which Cruijff might once more be proved right.

—————-

Manchester United, too, ‘believe’, or at least Patrice Evra does: ‘We always believe when you play for Manchester United,’ he said after a belief-boosting 4-0 win away at a Dan Gosling-‘inspired’ Newcastle side whose manager is still banned from the touchline after head butting a player. Heady days for both clubs.

What Evra ‘believes’ is that the seventh best team in England, two points behind Tim Sherwood’s Spurs, can beat the best team in the world, 20 points ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund. In Munich.

 

He’s not the only one, either. Bayern are technically on their worst run in years, losing to Augsburg at the weekend and drawing with Man United and Hoffenheim the week before. Jeff Stelling and men of his ilk are crowing about how all the ‘momentum’ is with David Moyes’s side, as if the Augsburg defeat wasn’t Bayern’s only one in 53 league games, or as if they hadn’t won the title by March, or as if Marouane Fellaini’s flailing limbs (mostly elbows) really were a match for Philipp Lahm’s actual footballing ability.

 

Which is not to say they have no chance. Bayern’s ‘poor form’ does count for something, though not as much as some are making out. As does Man United’s ‘good form’, with the same caveat. The absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez, both through suspension, is a boost for the away team. But the midfield they face will still be better than the black hole that is their own, Lahm holding expertly and Toni Kroos playing with a point to prove.

Man United have absentees of their own, of course, with Robin van Persie definitely out, Juan Mata cup tied, and Wayne Rooney struggling. Rooney, however, looks as if he will play, despite not being 100% fit (because that’s worked so well for England in the past – ed.). Moyes has revealed how staff have ‘worked him hard… in the swimming pool’, managing to distract him from the water slides and wave machines for just long enough to do some aerobic work. But even if he does start, their chances of victory are slim at best.

 

We have, at least, moved past the stage where Man United losing every week is considered comedy gold. Everyone by now is used to their weakness, and, in a way, this stands them in good stead. It means that Moyes can set up as he did at Old Trafford without any negative reaction, limiting Bayern to long shots and harmless possession in the first two thirds of the pitch. It means that anything but a comfortable Bayern win can be considered a success for the manager and his players. And it means, for once, that the majority of football fans will be supporting Man United tomorrow night. For that would be the real comedy gold: an Alexander Büttner winner at the Allianz Arena. #BELIEVE.

 

Betting Instinct Tip – With United likely to set out in a defensive formation, we suggest backing Bayern to win to nil at 2.08 with GR88.com

 

Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS (kierandodds) is a history student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and  current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and  others.

Manchester United can dent Liverpool’s title bid at Old Trafford

Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal when these teams met at Anfield in September

Daniel Sturridge scored the only goal when these teams met at Anfield in September

Everything is wrong. Not wrong in the sense that the way everything is shouldn’t be that way, but wrong in the sense that it doesn’t feel right.  Manchester United won the league last season and are a Belgian and a Spaniard stronger, yet – and look away now if you don’t want to see me get real – they won’t qualify for the Champions League. The days of Alex Ferguson must feel like a lifetime ago, especially for those born after the days of Alex Ferguson. Given that failure to attain Champions League qualification begets failure to attain Champions League qualification, the future looks grim for Manchester United fans, and everything is wrong.

Manchester United v Liverpool Betting Odds

Manchester United win – 2.40

Liverpool win – 2.85

Draw – 3.20

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Everything is also wrong because Liverpool are doing quite well, which hasn’t been the case for about five years (kind of goes back to that failure to attain Champions League qualification begets failure to attain Champions League qualification point – ed.). In fact, it was at this point in the 2008/09 season when, a few days after hitting four past Real Madrid in Europe, they met Manchester United at Old Trafford and did the same again. The omens are looking good, if you believe in that kind of thing, and I do.

Back at the beginning of this season, when the world was innocent and David Moyes looked his age, Liverpool won this fixture at Anfield, a solitary Daniel Sturridge goal the difference. Of course, we’re well and truly through the looking glass now. Manchester United are capable of the relatively routine, but then they’ll lose to Stoke. Conversely, Liverpool throw away chances against lesser opposition, yet are second in the league.

“We already know this Max!” you cry. “Get onto the hard statistical analysis, the fact-based assessment of the coming match, and the well-conceived prediction grounded in reality and probability!”

Ok, well, don’t say you didn’t ask for it. Manchester United have won eight of the last nine home league games against Liverpool, but these are two very different teams now. Robin van Persie has scored six goals in his last seven starts against Liverpool, but these are two very different teams now. There’s a pattern here, one which should demonstrate just how useless the statistics are – there will be two teams playing football, and without stretching out the word count by listing other certainties, that’s about all we know for sure.

Everything else is conjecture, but I need to help you out and tell you what I think will happen. Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge are both still around, so Liverpool will probably score. Therefore, if Manchester United want to avoid losing, then they’ll probably want to score as well, and this is where the difficulty in predicting this match lies. Nobody is really sure how good or bad this United side is – they won the league last season, which they had to be good to do, and with the addition of Mata and Fellaini it would be foolish to say that United are a bad side. On the other hand, they’re seventh, and deservedly so.

These are two clubs that inexplicably rise to this particular occasion despite respective circumstance, so you should expect a close game, or at the very least a violent one. My personal bias towards Liverpool is mitigated by an unshakeable belief that they will always lose their next game, but I think that they’ll win this time – everything may well be wrong, but there’s absolutey no reason why they shouldn’t.

Betting Instinct Tip – Either team to win by a one-goal margin is 2.30 with GR88.com

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE (maxjgri) is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United: another opportunity to indulge in David Moyes’ misunderstood genius

One word was on everyone's lips at Old Trafford on Sunday

One word was on everyone’s lips at Old Trafford on Sunday

Like any great auteur born before their time, David Moyes is struggling under the oppression of those who just don’t get his greatness in the here and now. Arsene Wenger has suffered similar injustices from an ignorant public over the years, with many failing to appreciate his innovation of turning a league position into a trophy.

After all, the glory of fourth place isn’t the only new idea brought into the English game by Arsenal’s long-standing patriarch. His greatest teams also introduced the idea of taking one too many unnecessary passes in the box rather than shooting for goal. In a land more used to the obvious glory of winning games, this new style of playing took some time to catch on. Thankfully, his friends in Spain—like Bowie opening up the UK to Kraftwerk—have helped him achieve mainstream popularity, and we have come to live in age in which the pass has been fetishized as something greater than a goal. As shark-faced sage-in-waiting Brendan Rodgers is known to crow at anyone willing to listen to him after games: we won the passing. And who can argue with that?

Now, before our very eyes, we are watching a similar genesis of a revolutionary footballing trend rising into the ascendency. If goals are vulgar, passes will soon be passé, but then what comes next? Crosses. Lots of crosses.

Arsenal v Manchester United Betting Odds:

Arsenal to win – 2.04

Draw – 3.25

Manchester United to win – 3.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

The 81 crosses made by Manchester United against Fulham were not an aberration but a giant leap into a great unknown. Just as football theorists grew to better understand the game following its discovery in 1992, uncovering the assist and then the key pass in their vital research, future soccerologists will mark this season as a landmark juncture. The crossed cross and cross from within the box are upon us, and from this day on they will be known as the criss-cross or inverted-daisycutter.

No longer the preserve of FIFA and Pro Evo players, whose refined muscle memories are known to unstuck when mashing unfamiliar controller layouts, the age of launching it into the mixer from within the mixer is here. All thanks to the visionary David Moyes. When he mistakes a square for a circle—an A button for a B—he means it.

A school of thought has emerged that suggest that Moyes somehow held Everton back these past few years, but it’s now becoming clear that it was Everton who held back David Moyes. At Old Trafford he has been handed the budget to make his most vivid dreams come true, and those dreams are filled with crosses.

Forget Marcelo Bielsa and his vertical football. That now belongs to the past. The new buzz word will soon be David Moyes’ crosssectionality. Struggling to lump balls in from wide? Well, your team are lacking in crosssectionality. Playing through the middle? Suffering due to limited crosssectionality. Repeat it and spread the word brothers and sisters.

But where does this leave Arsenal? Wounded from their 5-1 defeat to Liverpool, can they weather Moyes’ coming storm? It all hangs on whether the former Everton manager can complete his life’s work and find an elusive third flank down which he can play another full-back and winger to fire yet more wide deliveries into the opponents’ area. Of course, ever the thinking man, Wenger has already moved to solve this impending dilemma by over-fielding midfielders to the point where Arsenal at times seem to pose the question of whether the concept of flanks exist at all.

Football writing hasn’t quite caught up yet to these events, with metaphysics still trailing behind the dominant genres of tactics and stats in the blogosphere. Yet that won’t stop Arsenal versus United from being the most progressive spectacle of the season. Purity is a rare thing in football, with prolific cowards such as Jose Mourinho and his ilk compromising their ideals to gain victory through problem solving and pragmatism. Not in Moyes and Wenger’s name.

Neither man will end the season with any silverware but they are already managing on a higher plane of understanding, without need of trophies or success. Like Rodgers, Moyes already knows what his victory looks like. “We got to the byline lads, and that’s all that matters”, he’ll say while tearing up with pride in the away dressing room. In the future, the byline will be all that matters.

Betting Instinct tip – With both teams involved in high-scoring games over the weekend, more than 3.5 goals is 2.90 with Intertops.eu

 

Greg avatarGREG JOHNSON (gregianjohnson) is a freelance football writer based in London and contributor to FourFourTwo, Squawka, Drowned In Sound and Mirror Football. He also co-edits The False Nine football blog and podcast.

Juan Mata to make the difference at Old Trafford tonight?

Manchester United record signing Juan Mata likely to debut at Old Trafford tonight

Manchester United record signing Juan Mata likely to debut at Old Trafford tonight

The roar from the Old Trafford faithful at the start of tonight’s Manchester United v Cardiff Premier League clash is going to be a deafening one as they welcome one new and one old face to the Theatre of Dreams this evening. Juan Mata has signed on for a club record fee of £37.1m and David Moyes along with the Man Utd fans will be hoping that the diminutive Spaniard can create chances and goals for the strikers to lead them back towards the top of the table.

One man that will be hoping that Mata does not succeed for tonight at least will be the man in charge of the opposition, and one half of the pairing that brought the European Cup to Old Trafford in 1999 with that late, late comeback against Bayern Munich at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium, in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He’s guaranteed a massive cheer from the crowd, but will he manage to direct his side in such a way that that sees Cardiff City take points away Manchester United this evening?

GR88.com don’t see it happening and their Man Utd v Cardiff match odds see Juan Mata and co. running away with things tonight.

Man Utd v Cardiff Odds:

Home Victory – 1.22

Draw – 6.20

Away Victory – 14.00

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Cardiff are the massive outsiders for victory this evening with good reason and this is that they have managed to secure just a single point in their last six Premier League games, at home to Sunderland in a 2-2 draw. They have won just once in their last 12 matches, again at home as they defeated West Brom 1-0, and their away form in the league has seen six defeats in their last eight matches. The other two saw them draw 0-0 at Stoke and Norwich, while this eight game winless streak has seen just four goals scored.

United are in equally poor form as they have lost four of their last six games, beating only Swansea and Sunderland in this time. The second of these two wins came in the Capital One Cup Semi Finals, but they still were eliminated from the competition in a penalty shootout. This run of form will have United short on confidence, but David Moyes will hope that the big name signing of Mata this week will have the desired effect of boosting morale, while Marouane Fellani, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie all returned to training this week so are likely to at least make the bench tonight. This is sure boost confidence even further, but will it see them take all three points tonight?

Cardiff last won at Old Trafford in 1954, but they did manage to take a point at the Cardiff City Stadium earlier this season as they scored a late, late equaliser. However, with the return of the trio of Rooney, van Persie and Fellani adding to the arrival of Mata tonight I really see United cruising to victory in front of their own fans this evening.

Back Manchester United to win and there to be at least three goals in the match @ 1.69 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Chelsea Favoured to Win the Big Game this Super Sunday!

Juan Mata celebrates the winner at Old Trafford as Chelsea won 1-0 last season.

Juan Mata celebrates the winner at Old Trafford as Chelsea won 1-0 last season.

The big game in the 22nd round of Premier League football comes from Stamford Bridge as Chelsea welcome the defending champions Manchester United. This season has been a massive change for both teams with the return of Jose Mourinho at the London based side seeing them become realistic title challengers again, while United are in freefall as they sit seventh in the table and 11 points behind the league leaders before the weekend’s action has begun.

Chelsea are the favourites to win this home clash with the champions thanks to a home record that has seen them win nine and draw one of their last ten matches in a run that has seen them unbeaten in domestic action and lose only once to FC Basel in the Champions League. The match odds for this Chelsea v Manchester United match from GR88.com make the hosts the odds on favourites, but can they live up to this favourites billing and go a sixth game unbeaten against David Moyes’ men?

Chelsea v Manchester United Match Odds:

Home Victory – 1.70

Draw – 3.50

Away Victory – 4.80

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Last summer Jose Mourinho had his heart set on taking over the hot seat at Old Trafford following the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson that he was taking his retirement from the sport, but the Portuguese manager who has won everything possible in football was overlooked for David Moyes by the Manchester United board. You can be sure that Mourinho will want to show these people what they missed out on by having his boys in blue put in one of their best performances of the season to pile more pressure on Moyes and the Red Devils.

United have struggled against Chelsea recently and are without a win since October 2012 when a controversial goal from Javier Hernandez saw them snatch a 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge and with Chelsea’s form in front of their own fans this season being massively impressive United will need to work hard if they are to upset the odds this weekend. As well as having won 11 of their 13 home matches this season Chelsea are unbeaten in 70 matches at Stamford Bridge when Mourinho has been in charge of the team so they will confident of victory this weekend and with United’s recent performances I am confident of Chelsea winning this match as well.

United may have ended their three match losing streak last weekend as they claimed revenge against Swansea with a 2-0 win in the Premier League following their defeat in the FA Cup at Old Trafford by the same opponents. However, United very hit and miss this season and with them missing both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney this weekend I cannot see them getting anything at Stamford Bridge like so many other sides this season. As a result, my pick of the day from this Chelsea v Manchester United match is back the home win.

Back the home win in this Chelsea v Manchester United match at Stamford Bridge @ 1.70 at GR88.com.

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Swansea City could profit from Manchester United’s continued struggles

Wilfried Bony scored the winner when these teams met last week

Wilfried Bony scored the winner for Swansea when these teams met last week

Manchester United’s recent run of form does not make happy reading for fans of the club. Four defeats in six home matches for the first time since 1985. Three consecutive defeats to start a calendar year for the first time since 1932. There is no way to paint a pretty picture of things for David Moyes and his players. They’ve made abject failure in the last few weeks looking utterly boring while do it.

 

Manchester United v Swansea City Betting Odds

Manchester United win – 1.55

Draw – 3.75

Swansea City win – 6.00

(All odds provided by GR88.com are correct as of today and subject to change)

 

There has been little notable fight from the squad of players as they have slumped to three 1-2 defeats at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur, Swansea City and Sunderland in all three of the domestic competitions. Swansea are back for second helpings this weekend in the Premier League and after winning at Old Trafford for the very first time in their history with a victory in the FA Cup, they’d be right to fancy their chances of a second victory all inside the same week.

Manchester United are not the way they were last season. Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have struggled of late with injuries and without them, the Old Trafford club are totally different when they go forward. Unsurprisingly, they don’t score too often without their big name forwards. Unfortunately, the back four isn’t strong enough to be relied upon for a defensive, tight Plan B that might see the club grinding out a string of wins.

Teams visiting Old Trafford are no longer just hoping to nick a goal and do their best to avoid a roaring defeat. For the last two seasons, so even before Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, teams have spotted opportunities to get at United early. They have conceded the first goal on 26 occasions in the last two Premier League seasons.

 

Last year, the presence of the manager on the touchline and the firepower up front gave them the confidence to fight their way back into the matches. Robin van Persie featured in all 38 league games and was usually on hand to score goals that ignited the comeback.

With Ferguson no longer looming in the dugout and without RVP and Rooney upfront, United aren’t the high tempo, balls-to-the-wall force that they have been. Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez can’t be relied on for goals and there isn’t the regular service from behind.

It’s clear David Moyes doesn’t have a preferred pivot for his midfield and from there; his ideal system just isn’t going to fly. Without a regular duo to set his plans in motion, the Red Devils don’t move the ball quick enough or with enough precision to cut teams open before they have a chance to set-up camp. After that, the pedestrian rate of passing only helps to concentrate the defensive minds.

 

Obviously, Man Utd are a side that needs investment. As shown by Moyes’ apparent interest in more than a handful of players during his first summer window at his new club, he knows where the weaknesses are in the squad. Ideally, he’d try to avoid deals in January. Prices are inflated, players are usually cup-tied for European competitions and they aren’t afforded time to settle in.

However, new signings are needed. Even to just get the fans back on side, United could do worse than throw more money than they should at a player to guarantee their signature.

 

In the short term, David Moyes could really do with a win. Swansea, despite their FA Cup win, have not been in good form on the road this season. Sunday is likely to go down as an exception rather than an upturn in their immediate fortunes. They’ve won just twice in their 11 on the road and failed to keep a clean sheet in any of those matches.

Plus the Manchester United squad are better than they have shown in recent weeks. A reaction to the recent slump can’t be far away and if Swansea are sluggish in the opening 20, an invigorated team should ease to a home win.

Of course, I’ve thought that ever since the home defeat to Everton and they still haven’t produced anything close to a complete display. For now just have confidence that we’ll almost certainly see both teams score.

 

Betting Instinct Tip Both teams to score is 1.83 with Bulldog777.com

 

Ryan avatarRYAN KEANEY (RyanKeaney) is a huge sports fan who spends most of his week toying around with sports data. He is the editor of www.thefootballproject.net and a co-editor for In Bed with Maradona.

Manchester United Manager Moyes Can See Off Threat of Former Club Everton

Everton's Romelu Lukaku (left) scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Old Trafford

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku (left) scored a hat-trick on his last visit to Old Trafford

Before I start, I’d like everyone to know that only the other day I picked more than 2.5 goals in both the Manchester City v. Swansea and Hull v. Liverpool games, Sporting Lisbon and Rubin Kazan to win, and a draw in the Tottenham v. Manchester United match. Fifty whole dollars richer, I think I know a thing or two about sports betting. I’d have recommended you bet on those games, but giving tips for games that have already been played isn’t allowed. Onwards and upwards. Well, onwards, anyway.

Manchester United v Everton

David Moyes never beat Manchester United while manager of Everton, but that doesn’t matter because now he manages Manchester United. Robin van Persie should be the difference at Old Trafford, with six goals and five assists in 10 starts against the Toffees, though he is not a certainty to start. It should be a close match: Romelu Lukaku is an obvious threat, scoring a hat-trick in his last game against Manchester United, and Everton have a good away record under Roberto Martinez. Having completed a short appraisal of Everton’s credentials, United’s home record against the boys formerly known as David Moyes’ boys – no defeats in their last 20 games – points towards an almost inevitable result. United win.

Manchester United v Everton Betting Odds
Manchester United to win – 1.67
Draw – 3.75
Everton to win – 4.75
Quoted odds are posted by Intertops Sportsbook as of today.

Liverpool v Norwich City

Liverpool are odds on to beat Norwich at Anfield, but then it’s going to take a few more games in the league/seasons of Being Liverpool before we all figure out whether we’re looking at the Liverpool of 2011, or the Liverpool of a few weeks ago when they were good. Fail to beat Norwich, and we shouldn’t worry about the sky falling in – this is Liverpool, after all. They’ve conceded six in their last two games to Everton and Hull, but Brendan Rodgers’ men have a strong defensive record at home and most would expect Luis “Seven in Three Matches Against Norwich” Suarez to find the net, especially against opposition who can’t score goals, but are good at letting them in. Liverpool win.

Betting Instinct Tip: Liverpool to win and keep a clean sheet is 2.10 with GEObet.com

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.

Tottenham aren’t in a lull, Manchester United haven’t turned the corner

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United's midweek win

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United’s emphatic midweek win

One match is seemingly a long time in football. Whereas teams used to be allowed weeks to get up a head of steam, players were allowed months to return from injury and everyone tried to avoid too many kneejerk reactions; that is no longer the case.

Tottenham Hotspur are a club in apparent turmoil after their 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday. The fact that Spurs had conceded only six goals in their previous 11 league games or that they went into the match ahead of Manchester City in the table after a steady start has been forgotten.

On the flip side, Manchester United – just two places and one point ahead of Tottenham – are a club that have finally “turned the corner” under their new manager David Moyes after their 5-0 win over a disappointing Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

(It’s at this point that we would like to clarify that the Europa League doesn’t count. We don’t know why; but it just doesn’t.)

Both reactions to recent results are kneejerk; plain and simple. Manchester United are not back to the “team of old” nor are Tottenham Hotspur a club in disarray with a buffoon for a manager. They are two teams with Champions League ambition and as such, victories over each other are necessary.

Despite a comprehensive win on the opening day, David Moyes’ Manchester United have failed to sparkle so far. After many years under the control of Sir Alex Ferguson, the change to a new boss was always going to take time. The players are still getting used to the change in system and the change in management style. Wednesday was the first sign of a “United team” still remaining at the club.

The selection was under-strength but they went out and got the result they needed. Leverkusen failed to show up and United profited with swift, attacking moves. It marked the first occasion since the beginning of last season that the Red Devils scored more than four in the Premier League or Champions League without needing Robin van Persie on the pitch. Fixed? No; but showing signs that Moyes has what it to takes the keep the players performing.

The same problems are affecting Spurs; and only a string of confidence boosting performances will help matters. After spending the summer improving the overall quality of the squad, Andre Villas-Boas is having a tough time integrating the new bodies into his system. It doesn’t help that he can no longer call on Gareth Bale to haul the club through a tricky situation.

Instead, he has to continue to work with the attacking players at his disposal and hope they can finally piece together their abilities. Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli are far too good to be part of a squad that has contributed just nine goals in 12 league matches. However, it may simply be that Tottenham aren’t quite playing to their individual strengths.

Soldado doesn’t come alive until inside the penalty area. He doesn’t make runs beyond the defenders or into the channels. As such, Eriksen’s vision and ability to thread a pass is rarely seen by the Tottenham faithful. Instead, the former Valencia comes alive when presented with wide deliveries that he can put himself on the end of. Sadly, the only “out-and-out winger” that Tottenham possess is Aaron Lennon and he’s only played 500 minutes of Tottenham’s season so far.

The rest prefer to cut inside and look for the movement ahead. For now, that isn’t Soldado’s game. His scoring figures are only able to remain relatively impressive thanks to the three penalties that he has dispatched.

As for Sunday, it’s unlikely both teams will continue to fulfil the apparent narrative based on their last result.

We’d expect goals. Manchester United have kept three clean sheets in their last four games (all competitions); but two of those results were in the Champions League. Seven of their last eight league games have seen both teams find the back of the net.

At home, Tottenham aren’t going to concede six goals as they did last week but they’ll be feeling the pressure to respond with a strong performance for their fans. That’ll mean scoring goals against Manchester United, which hasn’t proved tricky to do so far this season for other teams.

Betting Instinct tip: Both teams to score is 1.71 with Bulldog777.com, while over 3.5 goals is 3.30

Ryan avatarRyan Keaney is a huge sports fan who spends most of his week toying around with sports data. He is the editor of www.thefootballproject.net and a co-editor for In Bed with Maradona.