PUN-ting ahead 04 (28-30/DEC/12) – “Animal Farm” Edition

“Some animals are more equal than others”…or are they?  The fallout from the touchline events that transpired at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, has led some to place credence in George Orwell’s statement.  The fact that Sir Alex Ferguson (SAF) has escaped Scot-free without being sanctioned for his boisterous exchannge with the match officials, would seem to endorse the belief that double standards are in play once again…..BUT are they?  While I agree that the scenes were ugly and unbecoming of such a public figure, warranting some action, I am not entirely convinced by all the conspiracy theories. Perhaps the powers that be just felt that it would be in bad taste spoil his new years eve birthday celebrations.  Or maybe there’s a senior citzens pass, I mean who in good conscience can be mean to the elderly?  The debate on that will rage on, as will the one sparked by a few of the following PUNts.  So before I spark the next revolution, let’s see if I can influence your weekend sporting oppinions (without the input of a referee’s assistant) by DIVING straight in.

FOOTY

EPL:-

Manchester United (1st) v West Bromwich Albion (6th)

SAF (aka Napoleon to some) may be gearing up to celebrate his 71st birthday but I am sure his heart has been forced to pump through a decade more worth of blood due to the comebacks he has had to endure.  BUT as they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so his heart may have been better conditioned by the extra strain.  His vow to never again lose out on a title due to goal difference has seen him purpotedly set a 100 goal target for his charges, which they are well on course to reach.  Problem though, is that only solves half the problem.  United’s defensive deficiencies have meant that whilst they lead the league with 48 goals scored (next best is  Chelsea’s 37),  the 28 goals conceded (which are alarmingly only one less than last season’s entire total) have diluted their goal difference to +20 (joint best with Chelsea and only 2 better than Citeh).

The constant comebacks, though good for the neutrals and the Old Trafford faithful, will bother SAF as much as it partially inspire Steve Clarke and his Baggies.  Long gone are the days when teams’ only tactical option for a trip to United was sanctioned by The Ministry of DEFENCE.  Now every team has a justifiable reason to back themself have a go and I expect nothing less from WBA, especially as they have only failed, on two occasions, to score away from home.  Plus, it would appear Shane Long & Peter “How-dare-you-ommit-me-from-the-national-squad” Odemwingie, were rested for such a time as this.

PUN-dit Pointers

  • Manchester United have won their last 6 home matches in the Premier League.
  • Manchester United have scored at least 2 goals in their last 9 matches against West Bromwich Albion in all competitions.
  • United have only kept two clean sheets at home this season, conceding 13 goals (already 1 more than they conceded at home the whole of last season) in 9 games at Old Trafford.
  • The Baggies have won three of their last five away league games.

So Mr Clarke hopes to boldly go where only one other Steve (Kean of Blackburn)  has gone before and spoil SAF’s celebrations by beating him on the “eve” of his birthday.  BUT I doubt that Napoleon will let that happen in back-to-back seasons.  Besides, Manchester United have never lost to West Brom in their 12 previous Premier League encounters.  I don’t expect them to start now so I am PUNting a HOME WIN FOR MANCHESTER UNITED.  Also expect Napoleon to behave, only because even in his old age, he would have learnt from Boxing Day that, Big Brother Is Always Watching You.

 

Norwich City (11th) v Manchester City (2nd)

Carrow Road, the scene of one of the more eyebrow raising results of the season.  Not only did The Canaries beat Manchester United, BUT more surprisingly they stopped them from scoring too.  It occurred at the mid-point of an impressive 10 match unbeaten run(6 wins & 4 draws) which, until it was recently ended by The Baggies, was second longest such streak in the EPL this season.  BUT it did end and now The Canaries will be hoping to stop the ensuing losing sequence at 2 games.  Enter Manchester City, owners of the EPL’s longest unbeaten streak this season with a 15 game run BUT also hoping to avoid recording back-2-back defeats.

The Canaries will be hoping for a repeat of the result they engineered when they last hosted a team from Manchester, while Citeh will take either one (5-1 at home and 6-1 away) of the results they inflicted upon Norwich City last season.  If that were to happen, it would go a long way to papering over some of the cracks that are emerging at the The Etihad.  Such a goal glut would also atone for the un-champion like record of having scored only one goal in the last matches versus Reading and Sunderland.  So even if it may not help close the 7 point gap with Manchester United, the boost in the goal difference will be welcome.

PUN-dit Pointers

  • City have won three of the four Premier League meetings between the sides (W3, D1).
  • Norwich have won five of their last six home league matches.
  • Norwich are three points better off than they were at this stage last season, although they are one place lower in the league (11th).  While City have six points fewer than they did after 19 games last season – although they have lost the same number of games (two).
  • On the last nine occasions that Manchester City have lost a Premier League match, they have bounced straight back with a win. They haven’t lost two in a row in the league since October 2010.

So on the back of that last PUN-dit Pointer I will PUNt A COMFORTABLE WIN FOR CITEH!  which should see Mancini easing up on accusations that his team’s fortunes were adversely affected by match officials (aka the Grinches-who-stole-Citeh’s-points) who over indulged on the festive buffet.  Instead it is MUNCH-ini that may be accused of over indulgence, if he is caught grinning like he has swallowed The Canaries.

Everton (5th)  Vs  Chelsea (3rd)

So Chelsea’s +20 goal difference is a league leading stat shared with the table-topping Manchester United, and yet they find themselves 11 points behind them (albeit with a game in hand) and in 3rd place.  Perhaps some goal differences are “more equal than others”.  All jibes aside though this match-up, which is probably the tie of the round, will hopefully prove to have been worth the wait by the time it kicks of on Sunday afternoon.  There are so many intriguing sub-plots to be explored.  It offers Rafa his 1st return to Merseyside, and depending on his team’s performance, he may just find himself being booed by sections of BOTH sets of supporters!

This potentially sticky situation goes beyond the mere fact of Rafa’s past ties with The Toffees’ arch rivals.  His labelling of Everton as a “small team” during his tenure as Liverpool’s gaffer is what will probably make David Moyes’ task of motivating his players and the team’s fans a whole lot easier.  Then there’s the “personal” battle between the two managers.  Gaffer Rafa will want to maintain his impressive 7 game EPL unbeaten record against The Toffees,  and while this is sure to irritate Moyes, he will be buoyed by his charges impressive record(s), which sees them undefeated at Goodison Park this season BUT more specifically boasting a great record versus Chelsea.   Chelsea haven’t won a game at Goodison Park since April 2008, losing on their last three trips to Everton in the league (drawing 4 and losing 3)

PUN-dit Pointers

  • Everton are enjoying a seven-match unbeaten run in the Premier League and have lost only once in their last 16 fixtures.
  • Everton can set a new club record for fewest Premier League defeats in a calendar year. They have lost only six league matches in 2012, one fewer than in 2010.
  • Everton have scored in each of their last 16 league games and conceded in each of their last 14 – both are the longest current streaks in the Premier League.
  • Everton have never defeated Chelsea in seven previous December Premier League meetings (D5, L2).
  • A fourth consecutive home win over the Blues for The Toffees would see them leapfrog Chelsea.
  • Victory would see Chelsea record a fourth successive league win for only the second time this season.

The high scoring exploits of The Champions of Europe were halted at Carrow road, but as Rafa knows it’s the results that count in the interim.  I expect The Toffees to go toe-2-toe with Chelsea and maintain their unbeaten run at fortress Goodison, which should justify my PUNt for a SCORE DRAW.

NB* majority of quoted football stats above were sourced from www.whoscored.com / www.goal.com and www.bbc.co.uk/sport.

QUICK PUNts

  1. Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur (EPL) – AVB’s boys are the 2nd best form team in the EPL, which has helped them climb into 4th,  BUT last season’s unfortunate scenario will mean that they will have ambitions of placing higher.  Martin O’Neill will gladly take last season’s final position for the Black Cats.   Back-2-Back shock wins should be beyond them though resulting in = A LOW SCORING NARROW VICTORY FOR SPURS!
  2. Arsenal v Newcastle United (EPL) – A pending transport sector strike meant that The Arsenal players took in the festivities of the Boxing Day fixtures from the comfort of their living rooms.  The Gunners should be well rested, while the mid-week exertions of the Magpies could prove pivotal in the outcome, along with Newcastle’s poor record when they don’t have the comfort of a home cooked meal.  More high scoring misery for Magpies owing to this = HOME WIN FOR THE GUNNERS.
  3. NFL = Pending QUICK PUNt from last week = RG3 (Washington Redskins) will lead his team into the playoffs via a victory over Tony Romo’s Cowboys.  Adrian Peterson (Vikings) will fall short of the single season rushing yards record, he needs 208 yards.
  4. India v Pakistan (1st ODI).  India start their post Little Master ODI journey.  The first step should be = AN INDIAN VICTORY OVER PAKISTAN. 

George Orwell’s PUNts for how the world would be in 1984 may not have all been on point…..BUT his insights from Animal Farm on how double standards can emerge from well-intentioned initial efforts to EQUALISE all things still ring true.  Try as they may, the powers that be will NOT always get it right, & some crafty individuals will maximise on this flawed system that tries to view Knights as being on a level playing field.  Inevitably some will feel aggrieved ..BUT.. thanks to Mr Orwell’s easts Of England, we can find some reason to hope that this is a passing season.  Here’s my take on the first part of it (which I have renamed Teams Of England PL).

“Teams of England (Premier League), Team of Wales, Teams of every rank and clime, Hearken to my joyful tidings Of the Golden future time.

Soon or late the day is coming, Tyrant Fergie shall be o’erthrown, And the top “Peeerrrch” of England footy, Shall be trod by the previously marginalised Teams alone.”

BUT until then some endurance may be the order of the day, and in that I hope you’ll still be able to …….PardonthePUN-dit!

Blessed Transition into the New Year & ….Be Great!

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2 Comments on “PUN-ting ahead 04 (28-30/DEC/12) – “Animal Farm” Edition”

  1. Kuda Says:

    This is good stuff, keep them coming! I have always told you that you are in the wrong job my bru!

    I will certainly be following you!


    • extremely appreciated, coming from you igwe…. will most certainly keep’em coming… feel free to utilise the “follow” function on the blog page and that way you will instantly get all my posts as they are published “at Pump Price”…. BUT I will keep inboxing you anyway.


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