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Liverpool v West Ham United


Filed: Friday, 6th December 2013
By: Preview Percy


Preview Percy likes the city of Liverpool about as much as he likes Croydon, though his campaign to have Merseyside gift-wrapped and given to Scotland as a "going away present" has yet to get much support outside Manchester. Here's his look at this season's fools errand to Anfield....

Next we haul our weary carcasses up the Ms 1&6 to Liverpool where our hosts will be Liverpool. Kick-off is at the holy time of 3pm and Virgin Trains, owners of the smallest and most cramped trains on the whole of the rail network, don’t appear to have anything running in the way of engineering works. My advice is take regular walks up and down the train to avoid deep vein thrombosis.

They currently sit in 4th spot, albeit on goal difference from their slightly less annoying neighbours, the goals for tally having gained a boost courtesy of their standard five goals against Norwich the other evening. 4th spot is the minimum that they want this season as they try to regain the status their whiney fans still think they have. 4th spot is also the minimum that the club’s American owners will be looking for.

Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For the Bewildered we are not without the odd “in the know” connection or two in the world of big business. Obviously one is reluctant to name sources but let’s just say that Matron was a good looking woman back in the day and she still keeps in touch with one or two old friends in the legal profession. Through these connections we hear that the Americans may be a tad disillusioned with their plaything this side of the Atlantic. If Matron’s sources are to be believed, the Americans may already have had a preliminary, if abortive, tete-a-tete with the owner/s of another English club (not us) with a view to getting shot of the scousers and taking over elsewhere. According to matron the talks didn’t actually get very far but (assuming that they did take place and matron’s mate wasn’t simply spinning a yarn to get out of having to pay that month’s hush money) they would be indicative of a general cheesed-offedness with things in the boardroom. Certainly one wouldn’t be expected the bosses to be overly impressed with qualification for the Thursday night league.

It was a mildly amusing summer up there watching them tie themselves in knots over the future of racist diving biting cheat Luis Suarez. He spent the whole summer telling anyone who would listen how he wanted away from Merseyside and, at one point, all sorts of rumours over legal action over broken transfer promises were being bandied about. Suarez believed that he had an agreement that he could leave Anfield if another club made a £40m offer for his services. However, when Arsenal duly made an appropriate offer, the player found that he was not the first to be stitched up by a club transfer policy that does not merely rip up the rule book, it pulls out the pages and uses them as toilet paper. Usually, however, the victims are other clubs rather than the club's own players. However, Suarez discovered that whatever agreement he thought he had in place, it would be nigh on impossible to enforce. Having so publicly expressed his desire to leg it as soon as possible he was then a bit stuck – football supporters tend to take a dim view of that sort of thing. So once he’d served his ban for deciding to make a mid-match snack of Chelsea’s Ivanovic, he knew he’d have to do something to get the crowd back onside. It wasn’t entirely subtle – he took to attending home matches dressing his kids in Liverpool kit. The masterstroke was carrying his toddler onto the pitch as a mascot for his return match. “Why” the faithful responded as one “Look! A baby! I’ve entirely forgotten how he has spent the whole of the close season trying to leave us in the lurch. Let’s get some new ‘Suarez is innocent t-shirts designed for the next time he does something indefensible”. I'd be willing to suggest that he won't be at Anfield this time next year though.

Someone else who has had an “interesting” time of late is skipper Steven Gerrard. There seems to be a trend whereby individuals target him for abuse and death threats. It’s a mystery why this should be the case – after all it’s not like the jail-dodger has any connections with persons connected to Liverpool’s criminal fraternity is it? In a bizarre twist to the latest incident, a member of the Merseyside plod got arrested on suspicion of “misconduct in public office” – the theory being that the officer had tried to get copies of the CCTV footage of, what I am sure was just a friendly example of that legendary scouse sense of humour in action. Of course the big mystery about Gerrard is what exactly is the hold he has over ITV's Andy Townsend, who seems incapable of awarding anyone other than Gerrard the MOTM in England matches. Even the ones he doesn't play in.

Gerrard's vice-captain is Dane Daniel Agger. If the spotty work experience kid who does my research is to be believed, Agger is a qualified tattooist who has promised his team-mates a special design if Liverpool ever win the Premier League. That's a promise much akin to the guv'nor of the Swan and Superinjunction's offer to knock tuppence off a pint of a pint of Allardyce's 4-6-0 Ale, for an hour, should we win back-to-back so-called Champions League titles, by 2015.

They'll be missing Daniel Sturridge or this one – he's got a sprained ankle (a remarkably prosaic injury in this day and age when everyone has a medial cruciate or a metatarsal). It must be a pretty bad sprain – when I were a lad a sprain meant a week off – maybe two at a push.

In the absence of Sturridge there's been more of a role for Raheeem Sterling. Sterling was acquitted in September of charges of assault when the alleged victim, his ex-girlfriend, gave contradictory evidence. At one stage he was rumoured to have fathered numerous kids by numerous mothers. In the event it turns out that he has just the one, though he apparently doesn't know his daughter's birthday. Sending a congratulatory tweet on the occasion of the first anniversary of her birth, he was met with a rather terse response from the sprog's mum, who helpfully pointed out that he was a week early.

Gone since last season is Jamie Carragher whose new job appears to be to make Gary Neville appear tolerable on the box. He succeeds.

Us? Well yet again a spectacularly awful decision from the officials cost us dear. This is getting to be such a regular occurrence throughout the Premier League that, statistically speaking, it is now more likely for one of our matches to turn on a serious error by a match official than it is to be decided on the relative merits of the teams on the day. Which is a sobering thought really. I have been pointing out for some time that any system that effectively allows PGMO to write its own assessments is inherently flawed. Whether by accident or design such a system will only ever result in  the protection of the incompetent and the limelight-seekers amongst the refereeing fraternity. It’s no coincidence that the so called select group seems these days to be populated largely by a worrying mixture of those two groups.
 
Clearly there are major problems in the world of officialdom. The FA’s own Referee National Development manager is currently awaiting trial on charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misuse of computer data. That particular case is linked to that of a former FA referee training manager who was sacked for allegedly offering Wembley tickets to airline staff in return for an upgrade (a charge, I should point out, that the referee denied, with her coming to an out of court settlement with the FA over her dismissal). Sadly the only surprising thing about these affairs is the fact that the FA actually has or had someone in charge of the development and training of match officials. They’ve hidden it well.
 
Of course none of this would be a problem if we were able to actually score more goals. We could almost cope with having to score two valid goals for one to actually count were we able to actually stick the ball in the net more than once. For what it’s worth I think that Sam missed a trick against Palace. Though Cole stuck the ball away against Fulham, Maiga came off with his confidence given a bit of a boost by having had a decent game. His efforts had not gone unnoticed – Noble ran half the length of the pitch to show his appreciation and the crowd also gave him generous applause. So it was with a bit of a spring in his step that Maiga came ashore on Saturday. I’d therefore have started him at Palace where his mobility would have given the defenders a bit more to think about. Instead he was brought on when we were chasing the game – a situation perhaps more suited to Carlton Cole. Of course I don’t see the players in training and it’s entirely possible that the manager decided that Maiga’s energy levels didn’t end themselves to a start on Tuesday – having watched us three days previously I was still a bit knackered myself.
 
Injury-wise Rat's hamstring is a bit iffy and the Famous Five of Carroll, Reid, Diarra, Vaz Te & Petric are still residing in the “no return date” file. Carroll is said to have returned to training this week and, as yet, I have yet to see any “Carroll breaks down” headlines. Which can only be good news can’t it? Ravel Morrison is out suspended – he was lucky not to be sent off in an incredibly rare example of refereeing incompetence working in our favour.
Prediction? Well we haven’t won at Anfield since the 60’s – so long ago the Beatles were still saving up for the fare to London and I think that was the year that I started drawing my pension. One should add to that the fact that we are playing against a team that contains more than its fair share of divers. Liverpool managed to top the cautions league for “simulation” last season which was no mean achievement in a league that still contained Gareth Bale at the time. We have a habit of making tackles in dangerous areas and they have a habit of falling down in dangerous areas. Put those facts together, throw in the traditionally friendly refereeing that they get up there and the catalogue of poor decisions that we seem to be getting this season and the phrase “hiding to nothing” leaps to mind. I’ll therefore be sticking the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered fund to buy cook the next version of
the Nigella Lawson cook book (£2.50) on us to get thumped 3-0 – a free-kick from a dive, an offside and a handball should do the trick.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Anfield – Drew 0-0 (April 2013) Although we were on the back foot for much of the game the few chances we did create were the clearest of either side on the day. Collison had one cleared off the line and Tomkins was upended in the box by the sort of foul that even the home support thought was a penalty. Same old same old.

Referee: Michael Oliver You need a strong referee at Anfield. He isn’t one.

Danger Man:Luis Suarez – class but flawed player who, apparently has never scored against us. Another sequence waiting to be busted.

Daft Fact Of The Week: Top Tip – Want to know what Celtic supporters were singing a few weeks ago but can’t afford expensive satellite tv? Simply watch Liverpool on MOTD and listen to the Kop.


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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