Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Too Many Words on a Simple Bet

My brother and I have put on a bet, between ourselves. He is sure that Gerrard and Joe Cole are going to work for Uncle Woy’s Liverpool, and I believe this is the year that Valencia and Nani come into their own for United down the wings. The bet is who will score more league goals this year? Gerrard & Joe Cole, or Nani & Valencia.

The more I think about it, the more confident I get.

Nani and Valencia are 23 and 25 respectively, they are both young players who are constantly improving. More so, United, with slight problems in the centre of midfield, will be looking more to these wingers to turn in quality performances. Nani, who has been developing into a proper talent, and Valencia, who is the poster-boy for consistency, stand a good chance of really hitting form this year. United will look to them to get forward, to get on the end of attacking moves, and score more goals than last year. Besides, even if they don’t quite hit top form, any player who is part of the United attack is going to score goals.

But more combined goals than Gerrard and Joe Cole?

Joe Cole has always suffered from injuries, often missing months of the season and then returning out of form. He has played most of his career out wide, and will now be asked to perform in the middle, and despite his capacity for moments of greatness, he is not what can be called a consistent player. Or even a goalscorer. In 08-09, he scored 2 league goals, in 14 games. In 09-10, he scored 2 league goals, and that was over 26 games. He scored 1 in 19 cup games, which is a poor show, and even though cup games don’t matter for the bet, it just shows how few goals he has been scoring in recent years. He hasn’t scored internationally since 2008, and that was against Andorra. Joe Cole is not a frequent goal scorer, and his injury record will keep him from being a first teamer for large parts of the season.

But the real force for Liverpool will be their captain, and Gerrard has a habit of scoring goals for his club. However, his tally has not been falling as some people suggest. In fact, Gerrard’s eye for goal has been vastly overrated by many due to one fantastic season. In 08-09, Liverpool pushed for the League Title, and Gerrard scored 16 goals. This was a great haul, but it was an aberration. It was the first time in his career he had scored more than 11 league goals. Last year he scored 9. This seems far more likely to be the situation again.

I say this because of the other factor that we must remember: these two are Liverpool players, and Liverpool are no longer the force they were. Instead of being a team pushing for a potential league title, they are struggling to hit a UEFA cup place. While United took Chelsea to the final day of season, ‘Pool finished 7th. I say this not to gloat, but to point out the obvious; winning teams score more goals. Last year United scored 86 goals, Liverpool scored 61. I don’t have any numbers to back this up, but it is not too much of a leap to suggest that teams that score more, do so because they create more chances. United will be creating more opportunities than ‘Pool, and it is Valencia & Nani who will show the results of this in the goals they score.

Now, what this all means, is that we can expect Joe Cole to score a few goals, likely 1-3 this season, and Gerrard to score around the 10 mark, so maybe 9-12. So between them, (if they don’t personally underperform, which I think they will), we can expect maybe a 12 goal tally.

Last year Nani scored 4 league goals, and Valencia scored 5, a haul I’ll be needing them to build on this year. However, Nani scored an extra 9 goals in cup competitions, and Valencia 3. If they improve, as I think they will, and score some of those cup goals in the league instead, we can expect them to hit double figures as a pairing, and hopefully to hit nearer the 20 goal mark.

The money will so be mine.

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