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West Ham United v Arsenal


Filed: Tuesday, 24th December 2013
By: Preview Percy


Hide the mistletoe - it's Preview Percy. On second thoughts just hide the drink....

Next up we drag our turkey-filled carcasses out of bed for the visit of Arsenal. Kick-off is at 3pm and I understand that the match is to be covered by something called BT. I believe that they're the chaps that took over that invention nicked by Alexander Graham Bell from the GPO awhile back, so quite how one is supposed to see what's going on from a phone box lord alone knows. By the way – if anyone knows where the button “B” one used to press for a refund has gone let me know.

The visitors arrive in 2nd place with 36 points from their 17 games so far, having relinquished top spot to the Scouse divers. Of their last six they've won three (2-0 at home against both Hull and Southampton and a 3-0 win at Cardiff) drawn two (1-1 at home to Everton and the other night's 0-0 stalemate against Chelsea) and lost the once - that being the hilarious 6-3 reverse at Man City.

The Arsenal support (yes there is some they just don't like to shout about it) would probably have bitten your hand off at the start of the season to be in the position they find themselves in at the moment. All summer there was a murmur of discontent at the lack of spending that was going on. In fact it took them until 10:30pm on the night that the window closed to actually shell out a few bob, though when they did actually splash the cash it was to the eye-watering tune of £42m, a sum that secured the services of Mezut Ozil who arrived from Real Madrid. Ozil incurred the wrath of team mate Per Mertesacker up at Man City for slipping off at the final whistle without going over to acknowledge the visiting supporters. Presumably he thought that, like the team, they hadn't turned up either.

Ozil, of Turkish extraction, is the proud possessor of a Bambi award which, surprisingly, isn't given to the player with the most dives in a season, but is an award given for successful integration with Germany. I believe the first such award was given to the population of France in 1940.

The opening day's 3-1 home reverse to Villa prompted more rumblings of discontent – comments such as “it'll take ages for all those new signings to bed in” were deemed “unhelpful”. However, since then it's been a lot better for them, though now they've been dislodged from the top spot look out for more moaning from the faithful.

Ozil's fellow midfielder Jack Wilshire will be an absentee, having picked up a two-match ban for raising a single digit at supporters after the 6-3 defeat to Man City. He's had the occasional brush with the law in the past, getting a warning from plod for spitting at a cabbie who wouldn't drive him home when drunk. The police were actually going to prosecute with a view to a long custodial sentence until someone pointed out that the cabbie was wearing a Spurs hat at which point the cabbie was also warned for possessing offensive headwear.

Top scorer so far this season is Taffy Aaron Ramsey who has 8 in the league this season so far. Ramsey survived a broken tib and fib sustained at the studs of Stoke's Ryan Shawcross a few years ago. Ramsey was famously tapped up by Man Utd whilst a Cardiff player, turning them down to join Arsenal in a move that hypocritical cheat and liar “Sir” Alex Ferguson felt compelled to refer to in his “auto”biography as being a “mistake” by the player. Well he would wouldn't he.

Olivier Giroud is not far behind Ramsey in the scoring stakes, having picked up 7 in the league so far. We at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered were delighted to discover that his first club in France had been an outfit called Olympique Club De Frogs. However, our amusement was short lived when we discovered that the spotty work-experience kid who does the research had mis-spelt the name of the town which is actually called Froges. I prefer my version. Giroud picked up a brace in our 5-1 defeat at the library last season as well as the equaliser in the 3-1 home defeat.

Giroud probably doesn't have to work too hard to keep Nicklas Bendtner out of the side. In a summer that saw no fewer than 26 players leave Arsenal, it came as something of a surprise that he was still there. Bendtner claimed that he is good enough to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona. I'm sure that he is as amazed that neither of those clubs has made a bid as we aren't. Bendtner received a police caution a few weeks back for damaging a door – his official explanation, that “it was stuck and I accidentally damaged it whilst trying to get in for a late night swim” is right up there with Father Ted's “that money was just resting in my account” in the list of world's least convincing excuses. He also had a six month suspension from international football following a spot of drink driving, or, as the Danish FA put it “The DBU have demanded that Nicklas Bendtner take six months off to think over his international future”. File under “idiot” then, athough in a squad as apparently devoid of personality as Arsenal's he's still about the most interesting player they have.

Us? Well the defeat at the theatre of dives was as predictable as the helping hand given to our opponents by Mike Jones who acted his given role as twelfth opponent in fine style. Having previously been fined for pointing out the bleeding obvious in the past, Mr Allardyce was slightly cleverer with his words this time round. Referring to the 1.000th clear penalty not given to an away side at Old Trafford, the manager wryly commented that he'd “seen them given – just not for us” - Quite.

Team news is that the skipper will return to the squad, although it is debatable as to whether he should return to the starting XI.

Tomkins will be available despite the rather depressing incident that led to him being charged with assaulting a police officer after the Man Utd match. The capacity for the modern professional footballer to make a tit of himself never ceases to amaze me.

The usual injury suspects are still out – with Carroll now being listed as being the first of the long-term quintet that also contains Downing, Petric, Vaz Te, and Reid, to be available for selection. Other than that it's as you were with Cole & Maiga vying for the probable one place up front.

Prediction time and I'm afraid that this is one I can't see us getting much out of. We are giving away too many daft goals and against a team like Arsenal this is not something that we can afford to do. Any points from this will be a bonus and with West Brom & Fulham up shortly we might be better served points-wise from those two matches. So the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's budget for “Free James Tomkins” t-shirts will be going on a repeat of last year's 3-1 defeat.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn – Lost 1-3 A Mo Diame wonder strike put us 1-0 up. Diame's error let them in to level the scores at the interval. We had a number of opportunities to retake the lead until we lost the right hand side of the team with Demel and Ricardo Vaz Te going off with injuries and two late goals

Referee: Phil DowdLucky to still be part of the select group after failing the fitness test last season. Not quite as chubby as he once was could still do a turn as a department store Santa without people noticing.

Danger Man: Aaron Ramsey can take teams apart single handed.

Daft Fact Of The Week Nut-job Nicklas Bentdner's other half is a Baroness whose ex-husband is the nephew of James Bond author Ian Fleming. So, whilst Bendtner may be Licenced To Kill, following his drink-driving conviction in Copenhagen back in March he is most definitely not Licenced to Drive.


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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