Filed: Friday, 12th March 2010
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy has an IQ that is actually greater than Frank Lampard's. However, like Lampard he hides it well.....
Next up we pop down the District Line (in the unlikely event that it’s actually working) to Fulham Broadway for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday against Chelsea.
Chelsea are in second place on 61 points, two behind Man Utd with a game in hand. They are ahead of Arsenal on goal difference with a game in hand over the librarians. Form-wise, in their last 6 league matches they’ve won 3 (away at Wolves and Burnley and at home to Arsenal), drawn 1 (at Hull) and lost 2 (away at Everton and at home to Man City). They’re currently 2-1 down to Internazionale after the first leg of the last 16 of the “Champions” league and, after last weekend’s 2-0 win over Stoke, they are through to the semi-final of the FA Cup where they’ll meet Aston Villa.
The papers have, of course, been all over Chelsea in recent weeks regarding “Bridgegate” and more time was spent photographing and videoing the “handshake that never was” than covering the actual match. Now I’m not one to waste an awful lot of time on the shenanigans of someone as obnoxious as Terry – even if it is clear that, coming as he does from a family of shoplifters and drug dealers, the apple hasn’t fallen far from that particular rotten tree. However, the whole affair – and the reaction of the club and its supporters just goes to show that money can buy you almost anything but class.
The home side have major concerns about their goalkeeping situation. Petr Cech picked up a knock in the first leg in Milan and has been missing ever since. He’s unlikely to be back twixt the sticks until the end of the month. Hilario has been deputising though many observers have commented that he has been less than convincing in the role. Maybe his mind has been on other things. In any case he will be out of this one with an abductor muscle problem. This leaves them with a choice between Ross Turnbull and Rhys Taylor. Turnbull is the more experienced of the two, and I remember him having a superb match against us at the Riverside a few years back. Listening to local radio in the cab on the way back to the hotel after that match, Turnbull was being spoken of in terms of an England place. However, his form dipped and it was a major surprise when Chelsea snapped him up at the end of his Boro’ contract.
They’ll also be missing Ashley Cole whose injury will at least give him some time to sign the divorce papers. He’ll be finding that a broken ankle tends to cramp one’s style somewhat – and I speak from experience. There again I didn’t notice an awful lot of difference after the plaster came off. Mind you that was in the days before mobile phones became so commonplace.
Full-backs have been a bit of a problem for Chelsea of late. Apart from Cole, there have also been injuries to Bosingwa (who won’t appear again this season) and Zhirkov (who is rated either “extremely doubtful” or “available” for Saturday, depending on which source you believe). Ivanovic has coped well on the right and one-time Hammer’s target Ferreira may start on the left. Malouda is also a possibility for left back having filled in there on an emergency basis from time to time, notably in the Man City match. However, the feeling is that by playing Malouda in defence they lose a little going forward.
In midfield we will, of course, see Frank Lampard who has over 120 league goals to his name. Or 45 if you discount deflections. It’s predictable that Lampard will receive a fairly hostile response from the travelling support. On past form, this will provoke a wildly hypocritical response from a certain Sun journo, who will be so incensed at the stick that Lampard will get he will a) fail to hear anything from the home crowd, and b) completely forget to mention that, as Lampard’s official biographer, he has a financial interest in presenting his client in a suitably rose-tinted light. I believe the technical term for such memory lapses is “Holting”.
Up front of course we are likely to be confronted with Duane Dibley lookalike Didier Drogba. Drogba is, of course, notable for his “unsteadiness” though to be fair to the player he does suffer from the UK media’s xenophobic tendency to highlight such antics whenever the player involved. Whilst there is no doubt he does go to ground far too easily from time to time, it is interesting to see how his antics are reported when compared to Steven Gerrard who, if anything probably eclipses Drogba in the “Bambi On Ice” stakes. There will also be the prospect of facing Anelka who, since arriving at Chelsea, has kept his head down – unlike one or two of his team-mates. Another former Hammers target, Daniel Sturridge may play a part up front. You may recall that it was his dive in the match at the Boleyn that earned the visitors an undeserved draw, showing that he has learnt quickly from the senior pros in the squad since his move south from Man City.
So what of us? Well like the home side we have a few problems with the full-back slots. Faubert’s injury picked up against Bolton makes him unlikely to start whilst Cheri Ilunga’s calf will keep him out for at least another week. This may mean a first League start for Daprela, who looked promising in the Cup match against Arsenal earlier in the year. If that’s the case, Spector will move over to the right. Central defence may be interesting. Tomkins had a poor game against Bolton – even allowing for the leniency afforded to Davies by a poor referee. Gabbidon is said to be available for selection and it is suggested that he may come in to give the shell-shocked youngster a breather.
The composition of the midfield will depend to a certain extent on who lines up in defence. Behrami dropped back to right-back when Faubert went off last week and where he appears will depend on whether Zola risks Daprela at left back or prefers to stick with Spector. Dyer, amazingly, may be available for a third match running, which should at least please the owners as his average cost per match starts to come down.
Another notable absentee in recent weeks has been Benni McCarthy. However, he is said to be available for selection which will give the management a choice of Cole, McCarthy, Franco, Mido and Ilan up front. Well it makes a change from having no strikers at all I suppose.
Prediction? Well this is a classic case of the head saying one thing and the heart the other. On the face of it we should have little chance against this lot, given the depth of the squad that they can afford to throw money at and the head suggests a heavy defeat. However the heart is saying something different to me – and it’s not just “don’t you dare run for that bus” for once. There are a couple of things that make me think that there’s a chance – admittedly a small one – of picking up something here. The goalkeeping situation and their recent form suggest that they are not invincible. But for the refereeing (thank you yet again Mike Dean) we would have picked up a deserved three points at the Boleyn and, for all his rather embarrassing posturing, the always overrated Terry has looked shaky from time to time in recent weeks. So I’m going to go with the heart instead of the head and plump for the most unlikeliest of 1-1 draws this time round.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Drew 1-1. Bellamy gave us the lead in the first half before Anelka’s 51st minute leveller. Cole should have given us all three points in injury time.
Danger man: Frank Lampard. Always scores against us unfortunately. And when he doesn’t look like scoring he can usually rely on kindly officials for a penalty or three. Talking of which.....
Referee: Mark Clattenburg. Sacked last year over his personal finances then reinstated after an 8 month suspension. In any other walk of life it would be his poor performances that would see him on the dole queue rather than his personal life. One can but dream.
Football Sports Betting is often not about the actual winner of a match but how to make money out of it. In particular it would be hard to back West Ham United at 12/1 to beat Chelsea at home this weekend on extrabet. To boot, the 1/5 for the Chelsea win aint going to pay off the mortgage. However what has to be said is that draws aren’t a huge amount of use to either team at this stage of the season. West Ham would of course take it but they’d prefer three points of course. As such the time of the first goal in the match at 33-36 must be a sell on extrabet’s football spread betting prices.
Elsewhere the time of the first Chelsea Goal trades at 36-39 minutes with West Ham’s at a whopping 71-74. Remember, SELL if you think the goal will be before the price and BUY if you think it will happen after the price . If Man City can ship in four (and even Cardiff one) you would think that West Ham have one in them.
Online betting company extrabet tell it how it is; from their trading floor man Chris Shillington: "West Ham backers remain as true the cause as ever. People outside London sometimes forget what a massive club they are and we continue to see punters selling the time of their first goal against Chelsea this weekend at 71 minutes."
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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