PUN-ting ahead 06 (11-14/JAN/13) – “Sub Plots” Edition

There is very little doubt that top-of-the-table clashes are unrivalled in terms of self promotion.  They easily command attention and even though they don’t always live up to expectations, there are very few other match-ups over the course of a season that will be as eagerly anticipated.  Relegation scraps only rise to prominence at the back-end of seasons when the inevitability of the drop is masked by the, at times, futile attempts to stage a Houdini act.  There are, however, some clashes that earn must-see status despite not being bottom end or title chaser head-ons.   We willingly choose to prioritise these games because of several reasons which include, historical rivalry, recent personnel swaps (which sets the stage for some awkward non-celebrated goals, tepid fan appreciation, questionable new-team badge-kissing, plus the chance for the b00-boys to flex their vocal chords).  The main headlines may not immediately whet the collective appetite, BUT we will nonetheless be maintain our eagerness, mainly due to the hope of witnessing first hand,  the playing out of the numerous sub-plots.

FOOTY

EPL:-

Queens Park Rangers (20th a.k.a last) v  Tottenham Hotspur (3rd)

Another week, another London Derby.  The number of times this is set to happen this season brings the whole issue of the disadvantages of “away games” into question.  Not many neutrals would have picked this match for its potential entertainment value, unless you are a sadist who takes great pleasure in seeing teams that are fighting for survival being pummelled by their much higher placed opposition.  BUT its sub-plots are what hold our intrigue.  We all want to know the following:-

  1. After their defeat of Chelsea can Spurs pull off another great shock and win back to back London Derbies?
  2. Will ‘Arry Redknapp have the last laugh, this season, over his former club.  For all the diplomatic &  politically correct responses that Mr Redknapp is giving to questions of whether revenge will be a factor, we all just want to see whether it will indeed be a dish served cold.
  3. Does ‘Arry have any inside info on his former charges that he can exploit to ensure that QPR replicates the same (1-0) result they enjoyed in the corresponding fixture last season.  Should that happen, Frank Lampard’s uncle  will be hoping to enjoy better fortunes after this result than the 1-win-in-nine matches run that his Spurs endured after their loss to QPR.
  4. Will Adel Taarabt (another former Spurs employee) prove yet again to be the difference in this fixture or will it be one of  the other 4 former Tottenham players?

PUN-dit Pointers

  • Queens Park Rangers have failed to win 9 of their last 10 home matches in the Premier League.
  • QPR have only ever lost once at home to Tottenham in Premier League history.
  • The last time the away side won this fixture was back in September 1995.
  • Tottenham have won their last 3 matches in the Premier League.
  • Harry Redknapp won 49% of his league games in charge of Tottenham (P144, W71,
    D37, L36). Andre Villas-Boas (57%) is the only Spurs boss with a better Premier League record.
  • Spurs are the only Premier League team to score in every away game this season.

Time will tell whether ‘Arry will ever be able to say that a stroll in the Park is just as easy as a stroll at The Lane If it is to be then QPR will have to live up to my PUNt of a LOW SCORE DRAW! 

Manchester United (1st) -v- Liverpool (8th)

Another season, another chance for bragging rights until the next season’s head-to-heads.  It is NO exaggeration to state that this is probably the biggest fixture this weekend……. (cue the Jeremy Clarkson impersonation)…. in the WORLD!  And yet it’s not a cup final, it by itself will not determine the final standing of either team at the end of the season, it’s the leaders versus a middle-of-the-pack team.  So on the face of it, there is no real cause to put this tie at the top of the perch.  BUT there it is, and there’s no disputing that if 1st played 8th and it did not involve these two teams, it wouldn’t be as interesting, and that’s a FACT!  The ingredients that make this match so appetising include more than just a pinch of history.  From generation to generation there will always be a generous helping of sub-plots and this time around is no different.  We will read between the lines, searching for answers to the following (all in the full knowledge that the Red Devil is in the details):-

  1. Can Liverpool get a result from Old Trafford, that will partially derail their rival’s quest for title number 20?
  2. Will Luis Suarez’s efforts be concentrated on matching and/or surpassing RvP in the golden boot rankings, or (due to the venue) will he be tempted to rather win the Theatrical contest of simulation by fending off the notable deceptive efforts of Ashley Young?  If Suarez opts for the former, he will most certainly enhance his deserved chances of featuring prominently on the Players’ Player of The Year ballot.  BUT if he opts for the latter he could counter his brilliant efforts by enhancing an unwanted reputation which has seen him construct the joint-second worst disciplinary record in the league, having picked up seven yellow cards this season.
  3. Will any of those goals be created by the EPL’s top Personal Assistant, Stevie G?  Or will RvP, presently in 3rd spot, carve out 2 more assists to become the joint top P.A. with 8 assists (which is only one short of Stevie G’s personal best in a Premier League season [nine in 2008-09]).  For the record Wayne Rooney is 2nd with 7 assists.
  4. If Stevie G , who has scored five goals in his last seven league matches against Manchester United, scores, will he kiss the badge and the camera again?
  5. Will Ashley Young and Suarez (inspired by The Theatre of Dreams) embark on a personal contest for the most theatrical tumble?
  6. Will United’s players be afraid to get stuck into Raheem Sterling, due to his “threat” that he will tell on anyone who roughs him up, to his captain.  And if it turns to be Vidic doing the roughing up, will it lead to him extending his record of 3 sendings off in this fixture?
  7. Aaaaah who am I kidding the real juicy sub-plot here.  The one we will ALL be  waiting for.  Is to see what impact Howard Webb will have on the whole tie.  Will he send off a  player, will he award a dubious penalty, will his watch be on SUP-aaargh SLOW-MO during injury time, and if any, or all of these afore-mentioned scenarios play out to Liverpool’s advantage. will SAF trade him during this transfer window?  These are the real questions we want answered…..   And that’s a FACT!

PUN-dit Pointers

  • United have the best record in the division when falling behind this season, having won 24 points from losing positions.
  • Daniel Sturridge, who is set to make his Premier League debut for Liverpool, scored his last goal for Chelsea against United.
  • Manchester United have won their last 7 home matches in the Premier League.
  • Manchester United have scored at least 2 goals in 13 of their last 14 home matches in the Premier League.
  • Manchester United have won 8 of their last 9 home matches against Liverpool in all competitions.
  • One of the most feisty and fiercely contested games in Premier League history, this fixture has seen 14 red cards over the years, and a great deal of drama to boot.
  • The last 5 fixtures in all competitions have seen 2 wins apiece and a draw, though generally the home team has dominated.

Old Trafford’s first ever match, back in February 1910, was against Liverpool, who dampened down the opening party with a 4-3 victory.  With the attacking options on both sides PUNting a similar score line would be realistic, especially when you consider the defensive frailties of both teams.  BUT my PUNt is for a bit of history from the 2007/8 season to repeat itself as the table-toppers complete a rare League double via a MANCHESTER UNITED WIN! With a customary late goal….hey they don’t call it a Theatre for nothing!

The Arsenal (6th)  Vs  Manchester City (2nd)

Another transfer window, another looooooong period for Monsieur Wenger to dread having to accept phone calls or money from Roberto.  Each tie with teams from the City of Manchester now affords Wenger a chance for a painful and uncomfortable reunion with some former members of The Wenger Boys, who have mostly gone on to end their trophy drought as well as collectively qualify for higher tax brackets and increased pension contributions.  He has traded more talent to Manchester than probably any other city, bar Barcelona, so I suppose he is somewhat justified to have the tune of the American 80s rock band Starship’s hit song ringing in his head, because he and the Arsenal board can accurately proclaim that….. We Built This CITEH!!  And that provides one of the sub-plots which include:-

  1. Whether or not Roberto will be “forced” to turn to Super Mario to salvage a result that will see them at the very least, keeping pace with Manchester United.
  2. Whether Tevez’ chosen mission of mentoring Balotelli will start to bear visible fruits that Citeh can enjoy.  I mean if there is anyone that knows a thing or two about coming in from the cold to play a decisive cameo role in hunting down and overhauling Manchester United, it would be Carlito.
  3. Whether Edin Dzeko will finally sieze the opportunity presented by Kun Aguero’s absence to shake off the uncomfortable role that sees him being continuously being type-cast as the chief protagonist in any of Citeh’s SUPER-SUB-plots!
  4. Wthether The Arsenal will finally break their sequence of 3 straight missed penalties against Citeh! ?  And whether Santi Carzola will actually make sure there is contact this time.  Or will Santi just stay on his feet and out of the box and exploit his talents from distance, capitalising on the fact that City has conceded a higher proportion of goals from outside the box than any other team in the Premier League.

PUN-dit Pointers

  • Arsenal are undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches in the Premier League.
  • Arsenal have scored 40 goals in this season’s Premier League, more than they had at this stage last season when Robin van Persie was leading the line.
  • Manchester City have gone 27 league matches without a win at Arsenal. Their last league victory came at Highbury in the old Division One on 4 October 1975.
  • City have not scored on their last five league visits to Arsenal. The last City scorer was DaMarcus Beasley, who scored in the 3-1 defeat in April 2007.
  • Manchester City are undefeated in 25 of their last 27 matches in the Premier League.  And the 2 times they have failed to get something out of a match have both come in the last 6 matches.
  • Manchester City have allowed the opposition just 56 shots on target against them this season, the fewest in the Premier League.
  • No Premier League team has conceded fewer than City’s 19 goals this season.

Despite the attacking talent on display, there have been just five goals in the last six meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and City at the Emirates Stadium.  BUT in spite of all this I am expecting multiple goals on Super Sunday with my PUNt being a HIGH 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. Stoke -v- Chelsea (EPL) – Failure to put away numerous chances against Swansea in mid-week, is hardly the way Gaffer Rafa was hoping to prepare for a trip to the Brittania. where The Potters remain undefeated in 17 matches.  Add to that, the fact that they then went on to concede twice from unforced errors and the preparations are worsened further.  This is because Stoke City will force Chelsea to make errors while limiting the number of chances Chelsea will have to shoot at at goal.  BUT reading between the lines I am persuaded, based on Chelsea’s recent run of 3 away wins, to PUNt = A NARROW VICTORY FOR CHELSEA!
  2. Malaga -v- Barcelona (La Liga) – What is it that they say about the meeting between an irresistable force and an immovable object?  Well whatever it is it is probably going to happen again when the Spanish Primera Liga’s best defense (13 goals) attempts to shut out the most potent attack in the Liga (61 goals).    Barca will find it tough, BUT still score enough goals to justify my PUNt of = A MULTI SCORING AFFAIR FOR BOTH TEAMS RESULTING IN A WIN FOR BARCELONA!
  3. South Africa v New Zealand (2nd TEST).  Despite the absence of Vernon Philander The Proteas should get all 20 wickets needed for  = A SOUTH AFRICA WIN WITHIN 4 DAYS!. 

The headlines are ready to be written, BUT let’s see just how many of these sub-plots play out accordingly.

Until then do all you can to read between the lines, you may just find a cause worth supporting beyond the obvious, BUT if that proves daunting then I just hope you’ll still be able to …….PardonthePUN-dit!

Be blessed …. and ….Be Great!

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4 Comments on “PUN-ting ahead 06 (11-14/JAN/13) – “Sub Plots” Edition”

  1. popcultmag1 Says:

    Just wondering if you’re putting your money where your mouth is and taking on the bookies.
    Very much enjoying the punning. Keep up the good work.


    • No, no bookies’ reserves are being harmed directly by me in the publishing of this blog. Glad to know that you are enjoying the PUNning. It’s appreciated with “muchness”

  2. Soccerpunk Says:

    Do you back your predictions financially? Are you up or down on your predictions?

    Cheers,

    Soccerpunk


    • HI @SoccerPUNk..

      Thanks for the response. Off the top of my head I am up on my predictions (it’s only been a few weeks though)…. Kindly explain what you mean by “backing your predictions financially”…but whatever it is I am certain I am not doing that now. Thought of doing a little log of my predictions, but yet to finalise that.


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