Filed: Friday, 10th December 2010
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy so dull that even Wikileaks doesn't mention him..........
Next we entertain Manchester City for a Saturday kick-off at 3pm PFT (proper football time). The District line is shut between Barking and Upminster so you'll have to find an alternative route if that's your usual matchday trip.
This week's visitors currently lie in fourth place having amassed 29 points thus far from their 15 games. My perception of their season so far is that it's been a bit, well, bitty. This idea has been shaped by the fact that every time one sees a mention of them in the paper it seems to be in relation to players having a pop at each other or the management. These things are, we are told, symptomatic of a buying policy that seems to target top players in each position without having much thought as to how they might gel together as a team. However, for all that, they are still in the top four only four points off the top and they are unbeaten since October,when they somehow contrived to lose 2-1 at Wolves. In their last six they have won three (2-0 at West Brom, 4-1 at Fulham and 1-0 at home to Bolton) and drawn three (1-1 at Stoke and 0-0 at home to both Man Utd and Birmingham).
The nature of the 0-0 draw against their Salford rivals drew some raised eyebrows coming as it did with an apparent lack of ambition to take anything other than a point out of the match. Which is a shame as they're not that hard to beat are they?!
When last they appeared on these shores at the back end of last season, they had a bit of a goalkeeping crisis on their hands. Shay Given had dislocated his shoulder and Joe Hart was down at Birmingham. Hart returned from the Midlands in the summer and, now that both are fit, he has become first choice for the onion-bag custodian role. Given doesn't strike me as the sort who will be over happy warming the bench and there have been murmurings about a possible loan move when the January window opens. The rub is that the Citizens would be less than happy to allow a move, however temporary, to a Premier League rival club, which leaves Given with the possible option of a spell at Celtic until the end of the year. Which is a dispiriting prospect for a decent 'keeper.
Since we last met in May, midfielder Nigel de Jong managed to earn a World Cup runner's up medal. That he didn't also earn a red card and a possible conviction for assault is one of the wonders of the modern world – Howard Webb certainly wouldn't have let him off so lightly had he been wearing his other uniform from his police job. It might be an interesting battle between him and Boa Morte if their paths cross. LBM is seemingly going through a spell of getting his retaliation in first at the moment. Although the usual dreadful Sky analysis of last weekend's match at Sunderland chose to ignore both Richardson's own studs up role in their rush to moan about LBM (not to mention Richardson's subsequent stamp on the back of LBM's leg), referees often have a habit of applying retrospective justice a week later so if De Jong starts leaving his foot in LBM will have to stay calm – perhaps he should be the one player Wally Downes shouldn't talk to this weekend.
The visitors will be missing a certain striker by the name of Tevez. Now nobody is suggesting that there was any touch of the “Real Madrids” about the yellow card he picked up against Bolton last week but the fact remains that it was the little Argentinian striker's fifth of the season and at least we'll be spared the goal that he traditionally scores against us. Of course there ought to mandatory cards for anyone who wears what I believe to be called a “Snood” - he'd never have worn one when playing for us. However, Carlos, should you be reading this, the return fixture is on April 30, just in case you need to time your next suspension.
Further back the pitch they'll be without Aleksander Kolarov, who, despite sounding like the sort of renegade KGB general who crops up in post cold-war spy stories, found that his diplomatic immunity did not extend to yellow cards, picking up two in short order in the Bolton match which means that he will be joining Tevez on the naughty step.
Interestingly, if that's the word, there is a big disparity in their goalscorers list. Tevez is, thankfully for my Fantasy League team way ahead as top scorer having notched 10, all in the league. The next highest scorers are Adebayor and Balotelli both of whom have five. However, here's a funny thing, Adebayor has only netted once in the league whilst Balotelli only has two, their goals coming in something called the Europa League. So, of the 21 goals they've got in the league, Tevez has scored ten of them. This probably means something deep and meaningful – once you've worked out what it is let us know.
Ok our turn. Hopefully last Saturday's defeat on Wearside will turn out to have been a blip. Indeed the defence looked, by and large, quite solid with Tomkins walking away with my personal MOTM award. Just one lapse cost us the match, though, as ever, we weren't helped by an official who stared straight at Ferdinand's shove on Spector without awarding a penalty. Not that you'd have noticed from Sky's coverage of course.
Spector was another who had a decent game – out Parkering Parker who, possibly for the first time this season, looked a little leg-weary. Spector has earned another start in my opinion, though I'm not sure that the same applies to Carlton Cole. Admittedly I'd probably have been annoyed had a ref awarded a free kick against me for having my shirt pulled by one opponent whilst another shoved me from the side. However Cole allowed the officials to get to him far too easily and what confidence he may have got from his efforts against Man Utd the previous week was wasted as he spent too much time moaning and not enough getting on with things. If it were me I'd revert to the Piquionne and Obinna partnership up front.
Not sure who'se available in midfield to be honest – Behrami faces a late test on his hip but it appears Dyer's bits and pieces may have survived the cold weather . Best news of all is the fact that Jack Collison has started proper training after a long spell in sick bay. It's way too early for a proper return just yet but warming news all the same.
We need to get Sunday out of our system and remember that we're looking at a possible three wins in a row at the Boleyn. The spirit of that night in the snow is what we need. The omens point to a hard match but it shouldn't be beyond a team that showed so much in its last home game to at least give it a go. Having said that, for some reason I've had “draw” in my head for ages on this one so I think I'll go with the gut and plump for 2-2. Why? Why not!
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Drew 1-1 Boa-Morte gave us the lead in a match that ended up so tame it looked like a continuation of the Tony Carr testimonial that had taken place earlier in the week.
Danger Man: Emanuel Adebayor – one time Hammers' target has that habit when we play him.
Referee: Phil Dowd - First time at the Boleyn this season for the rotund one who is still probably trying to catch up with the play from last season's disastrous 3-1 home defeat against Wolves.
Daft fact of the week: The late Malcolm Allison once signed Tony Book for Plymouth Argyle by getting the player to falsify his birth certificate lest the Plymouth board found out that Book was a lot older than he claimed. Sheffield United are looking at the legal implications even as we speak.
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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