Filed: Saturday, 26th October 2013
By: Preview Percy
It's an international special from Peview Percy, this week. Ok it's not particularly special but it does involve going to Wales.....
For our next match we go on a European tour as we visit the Principality (geo-political term for area that thinks it's a proper country) of Wales where our hosts will be Swansea City. The match is on Sunday thanks to them playing in the Europa League, qualifying by virtue of their actually having won a trophy, as opposed to being given a place as a consolation prize for not being nearly as good as your deluded fans thought you were, like some other clubs I could mention. Kick-off is at 4.00pm.
Travel news is that, whilst there are trains running between Paddington and Swansea, there are engineering works in the Severn Tunnel which means that you'll be diverted around other parts of Mr Brunel's network en route. Expect it to take about four hours each way if you're lucky.
Our hosts currently lie in 11th spot with 10 points from the 8 matches played so far this season, winning three, drawing one and losing four in the process. Their last six have seen them beat West Brom away (2-0), draw with Liverpool (2-2 in a match that will forever be remembered as “the Jonjo Shelvey match), beat Palace away (2-0), lose at home to Arsenal (1-2), lose at Southampton (2-0) and win last weekend at home to Sunderland (4-0). Last weekend's win was therefore their first at home of the season, somewhat surprisingly. In between all that, their defence of the League Cup they lifted last season came to an end with a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham.
On Thursday they played host in the Thursday Night League to Kuban Krasnodar. Can't help feeling that the good people at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts have missed a “rebranding” opportunity there. Swansea were held to a 1-1 draw by the Russians at home, a result that contrasts sharply with their earlier 3-0 win in Valencia, a result admittedly assisted by the Spaniards having a player sent off inn the early stages of the match.
After a relatively quiet start to the transfer window, during which manager Michael Laudrup's agent was spouting out complaints that his client wasn't getting backed in the transfer market, they suddenly found themselves making a beeline for the European player tuck shop in the manner of a schoolboy whose postal order from Gran has finally turned up after being deayed for a week or two while the postman counted his profits from the Royal Mail share issue.
They broke their club transfer record in bringing in striker William Bony in from Vitesse Arnhem for £12m. Bony was one of the strikers we were supposed to have spoken with during the window. In fact there were few we didn't speak with or try to sign in that period. Except Darren Bent of course. When his name came up there was a shuffle, a cough and an awkward silence, before someone piped up “let's have another look at that 4-6-0 idea again”. Bony is their top scorer at the moment having netted on four occasions. Two of those have come in the league, including a spot-kick in last week's stroll against the Mackems. He was top scorer in the Dutch league last term and also picked up the Dutch “Player Of The Year” award.
Jonjo Shelvey arrived from Liverpool for a relatively modest £5m. In the match against his former club he ventured from good to 'mare in the blink of an eye, having as he did a hand in all four goals in the 2-2 game. He probably had one eye over his shoulder looking for Harry Potter (this reference has been inserted at the insistence of the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's zero-hours work experience herbert, who informs me that he saw it in a film once).
If Swansea (the City rather than the club) didn't have some sort of Latin quarter it jolly well does now. They signed another three Spanish players in the form of Alejandro Pozuelo (from Real Betis), Jose Canas (also from Real Betis) and Jordie Amat (who would have signed from Real Betis but for the fact that he played for Espanyol). With striker Alvaro Vazquez also on loan from Getafe I make that seven Spaniards in the Swansea squad at the moment. I bet you don't find too many Seat Ibizas in the club car park though.
One player they allegedy missed out on during the window was a certain Ricardo Vaz Te. There was a bt of a tussle with Crystal Palace for the plyer's services, all of which became a bit academic once our failure to pick up forward before the window shut meant RVT was going nowhere.
One of the Iberian signings from last season, Michu, recently made his full international debut for Spain. An absolute steal at £2m from Rayo Vallecano, he scored highly in last season's “signing of the season” sections of those end of term reports the papers like to do. He has been quoted as saying that he has no intention of leaving Swansea, though if rumours are to be believed the Scousers are set to test that resolve with a £22m bid when the window next opens.
Actually, being Liverpool they are probably already trying to open “unofficial” (for that read “illegal”) lines of communication as we speak. Michu also found time to become the 13th ruler of the Korean state of Silla during the first century, and if you're out that way, you can still see his tomb to this day in Gyeongju. Another tomb that you will soon be able to visit is that of the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's work experience herbert who did the research this week.
On the injury front the big miss for them will be the absence of skipper Ashley Williams. Williams is held in high regard by the Swansea support – there had been talk of him going to Liverpool so when the news came out that the scousesrs tapping up had been unsuccessful there were murmurs of approval all round. Only in Welsh. Williams has a dodgy ankle at the time of writing and has been out for 5 matches. Definitely out is Williams' fellow defender Ben Davies who also has an ankle problem, Obviously it's contagious.
One ought to mention the ex-Hammer in their squad. Leon Britton never made te grade at the Boleyn – his own comment on his spell with us was that he “wasn't good enough” - a degree of honesty unheard of in football. Britton has played in all four divisions for the Swans and is so well regarded the local town of Briton Ferry is actually named after him, though they were short of letter “T”s for the roadsigns. I expect.
Us? Well last week proved that going into matches strikerless will work against lesser teams but when you come up against a half decent side it may be a different story. Having said that, there was no shame in losing to a City side for whom both Aguero and Silva were a bit good.
The main injury concern is likely to be Guy Demel, who missed the closing exchanges of last weekend's match with a “dead leg”. Should he not be available, expect Joey O'B to start on the right hand side of the defence. Collins is still out with a hamstring problem so the central pairing will remain unchanged.
The big question is whether or not we will be fielding a striker. The manager was quoted as saying that Carlton Cole is “miles away” from full fitness, even though he got through another development squad 90 minutes in midweek. Should Carlton's fitness level turn out to be closer to that assessed by his manager than the levels he himself thinks he's at, this would leave us with Petric or Maiga as the two options should we actually play a forward. Which means I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if we saw 4-6-0 again.
Prediction? Well Swansea are better than Spurs and probably not as good as Man City. Which points me in the direction of parity. Like us they lack consistency this season. Whilst there's usually an advantage to be gained from playing a team 72 hours or so after they've had a European tie, I'd have fancied us a wee bit more had they just been travelling back from Russia rather than been simply recovering from a home tie. I'll therefore be putting the AGORFTB fund to hire Harry Redknapp his own work experience herbert to work as a fact-checker (£2.50) on a 1-1 draw.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At The Liberty Stadium – Lost 0-3 A bit of a wake up call after a win on the previous opening week of the season. We had our chances but failing to take them cost us dear.
Referee: Phil Dowd – Not as portly as he once was referee, whose biased performance at Old Trafford last term cost us three points and Sam £8,000 after the manager pointed out the obvious.
Danger Men: William Bony – I have a feeling our failure to sign him might come back to bite us in the proverbial.
Daft Fact Of The Week: Last year Swansea University felt the need to put up posters, complete with diagrams mind, with instructions for students on, wait for it, how to sit properly on a toilet seat.
A university spokeswoman told the BBC: ‘Swansea University is a multi-cultural campus community and the informational posters were produced, for use in both male and female facilities, to help address cultural differences that were unfortunately causing damage and hygiene issues.’ That's what happens when you make A-levels so easy even Spurs supporters can get to University.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 53; West Ham Utd 24, Swansea 17, Draws 12.
18th January 1958: West Ham Utd 6-2 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)
21st August 1954: Swansea 5-2 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, Division Two)
7th January 1922: Swansea 0-0 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, FA Cup)
Last Five Meetings
2nd February 2013: West Ham Utd 1-0 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
25th August 2012: Swansea 3-0 West Ham Utd (Liberty Stadium, Premier League)
13th January 1999: Swansea 1-0 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, FA Cup)
2nd January 1999: West Ham Utd 1-1 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
8th October 1985: Swansea 2-3 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, League Cup)
16th February 1980: West Ham Utd 2-0 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 5th Round)
A tight, tense FA Cup fifth round match was finally decided in the last five minutes of normal time - but not before the visitors, managed by John Toshack (the football league's youngest manager at just 30) had seen two 'goals' somewhat dubiously ruled out for offside.
With Lady Luck clearly on their side, West Ham - a division below the Swans at the time - took advantage of their opponents' misfortune and won the game with two goals inside 90 seconds. 17-year-old Paul Allen pounced to open the scoring after 'keeper Glan Letheran dropped the ball before David Cross made sure of the win a minute later. It was the first time in history that the Hammers had reached the quarter-final stages of both domestic cups in the same season - and all whilst a Division Two side.
They Played For Both
Noel Dwyer; Harry Lewis; Tudor Martin; Frank Lampard; Frank Nouble; Matthew Rush; Leon Britton.
Former Hammer John Bond, who sadly passed away in 2012, was the Swansea manager for 12 months between December 1984 and December 1985.
Between 1920 and 1926, "Bubbles" was regularly sung on the Swansea terraces and as West Ham played them three times in the FA Cup in 1922, it may well be the case that we got our song from them. Last season in their programme, Cardiff also claimed to be the first to sing "Bubbles" at their games in the 1920s.
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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