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Arsenal v West Ham United


Filed: Friday, 13th March 2015
By: Preview Percy


What have asteroid strikes, inter-war British cinema and broken teacups all have in common? Nothing, obviously. You'd have to be mad to think so. Here's Preview Percy then....

Next we are back on the road to the New Library where we will be hosted by Arsenal. Kick-off is 3pm on Saturday, which, of course, is as it should be. It’s a pretty clear day for engineering works on the tube with only the middle bit of the Central Line between Bethnal Green & North Acton showing up as closed for the weekend so if that forms part of your travel plans seek alternative routes.

The librarians currently sit in 3rd place with 54 points from their 28 games played so far. They have arguably the easier of the two FA Cup semi-finals to look forward to having beaten Moan United earlier this week in a game which will either turn out to be a turning point in the annals of modern refereeing or, and I fear this may be the more likely outcome, a major blip in the otherwise steady downward slope of modern refereeing standards in this country.

For those of you who didn’t see the match because of being forced to watch some god-awful soap or other, young Master Oliver actually cautioned players for diving, even though a) he was at Old Trafford, b) the players cautioned played for the home side and c) there had been the teensiest bit of contact from an opponent.

There has, in recent years been this tendency to excuse diving where there has been minimal contact from an opponent – many of the apologists for this practice unsurprisingly having connections with Liverpool. How many times have you heard the phrase “well there was contact so he had every right to go down there”? Well I have long been of the opinion that a player should only go to ground if the contact forces him so to do. Feeling the lightest touch of a hand on your shirt shouldn’t entitle you to throw yourself to the floor as if hit by snipers. Unfortunately, this “he’s entitled to…” mantra has been repeated so often over the years (Hansen, Lawrenson, Carragher) that referees seem to have absorbed it into their bloodstream as fact. Maybe, just maybe there’s a glimpse of common sense creeping in here. Better not tell Riley though, he’ll stamp all over that.

As I say I fear that this will have been a blip and we’ll see a return to what we saw at, for example, Chelsea away around Christmas time where the home side was rewarded for every slight brush with a free-kick. Maybe that day’s ref could take a lesson from Michael Oliver. Who was he again? Oh…..

Over at the library, when it comes to transfer window time it’s long been a complaint of their support that either Wenger or the board (insert scapegoat of choice) don’t go shopping enough. In fact at their London Colney HQ the goalposts are made from the skeletons of deceased Sky Sports hacks sent there on deadline days past only for them to die of boredom outside the gates. However, in the January window there was apparently some sort of rush of blood to the collective heads where they acquired the services of no fewer than TWO players.

Gabriel Paulista arrived from Villareal for £11.3m. A central defender by trade, one wonders whether it will have done his confidence any good to have heard his manager preparing the crowd by warning them that the player would be a bit prone to error because his English isn’t that great. There again that’s never seemed to have done John Terry any harm and, I suppose, if Paulista’s English isn’t that great he won’t have understood what Wenger was going on about in the first place. Meanwhile Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell (whose World Cup exploits raised a few eyebrows last season) made the reverse journey to Spain on loan as part of the transfer deal.

Slightly less heralded was the arrival of Polish midfielder Krystian Bielik. Probably because, at the age of 17, his arrival for a rumoured £2.4m is one to file under “one for the future, possibly”.

Top scorer is Alexis Sanchez, 13 of whose 19 goals have come in the league thus far. The Chilean cap first came to the attention of English eyes a couple of years ago when he netted a brace in his country’s 2-0 win over England at Wembley. He’s been a highlight for them this season, which is quite funny for those of us who dislike Liverpool (ie every sane and rational person in the world) as the scousers were, for some reason, convinced that Sanchez was coming to them last summer only for the player to pitch up at the library. There were mutterings of dubious goings on behind the scenes which, if one millionth of a percent true, would sent the Irony-ometer off the scale given that Liverpool’s last legal transfer was so long ago it probably involved their buying someone returning from national service in the Boer War. (We sent the work-experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips off to the public archives a couple of weeks ago to find out but she hasn’t returned yet).

Next in the scorers list is “Laurence” Olivier Giroud. He’s had what you might call a mixed season. He missed a few months early on having broken a tibia (English translation: leg) back in August. He had another unintended and enforced layoff in December for a really daft head butt over at QPR. He was also in disciplinary bother with his wife last year after what appeared to be an unauthorised away fixture with a model. Though he denied adultery had taken place he apologised anyway to be on the safe side. As you do. He had a bit of a ‘mare against Monaco the other week, describing his performance as “embarrassing”. Saving himself, no doubt, for a blinder against us then. Always happens doesn’t it.

On the injury front, the aforementioned Paulista will most likely sit this one out as he’s not expected to resume training until early next week having succumbed to the hamstring epidemic that seems to be sweeping the country. You’d have thought that they’d have come up with a vaccination for that by now. Wouldn’t you. They have two other similarly afflicted players in the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (no return date) and Matthieu Flamini (outside chance of being available at the time of writing). Also in the infirmary is West Ham fan Jack Wilshire whose dodgy ankle is likely to keep him away for another week at least apparently. Is it just me or is he always injured?

And so to us. As usual I start this bit talking about the last match. And, as usual, I find myself talking about the refereeing (as I seem to have to every week now). The performance of Andre Marriner in the home match against Chelsea was pretty disgraceful by any standards – clearly he wasn’t about to give Mourinho any further chance to complain. The number of times Marriner and his assistants gave decisions in reaction to a shout from the Chelsea bench was incredible. This even extended to giving throw-ins on Mourinho’s say so, rather than bothering with the usual convention of actually waiting for the whole of the ball cross the whole of the line, and the speed with which Marriner decided a visiting player was seriously injured seemed directly linked to whether we or not we were in a promising position attack-wise.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that there was anything untoward about Marriner other than his usual notorious absence of vertebra, a condition exacerbated by Mourinho being allowed to issue instructions via Sky Sports. However, that was precisely the sort of performance you’d hope for had you left a brown envelope in his kit bag.

Since it was that bad you’d like to think that someone would at least have a look at it if only to make sure that the poor chap’s been feeling ok. I mean when something is that substandard you’d think they’d give the man involved a week off while they try to analyse what went wrong at least? Nah. ‘Course not. Marriner was given a Cup Quarter Final last week and has Man City this weekend and that one fact will tell you all you need to know about the contempt that PGMOL has for the game as a whole.

Looking forward, it’s been a bit quiet on the infirmary front of late. Of course this being West Ham we’re talking about something silly is never far away and I think we can close the book on “daftest injury of the season” now. Step forward (careful now) Enner Valencia who faces a layoff having had stitches inserted in his toe having trodden on a broken teacup. It’s not quite up there with Dave Beasant’s “jar Of Hellmans Mayonnaise” incident all those years ago but it’s still a bit bonkers. We could see a first start for Nene than.

We’ll also be without James Tomkins for the foreseeable future with him having survived all the hardship of a few days in the sun in Dubai, only for him to dislocate his shoulder on his return to Chadwell Heath. Reid’s another week away from a return so we may be looking at a return to the back four for Kouyate.

In midfield, Song, who missed the holiday, I mean warm-weather training, in Dubai to work on his fitness now has a knee problem and will be touch and go to face his former club. Carlton Cole is still a week away from a return suffering from the twin injuries of hamstring and wallet damage after the FA fined him for telling a Spurs fan to f*** off. Apparently that’s a crime now. Cole can consider himself extremely unlucky. I mean the odds on a Spurs fan tweeting something and actually finding the right person must be up there alongside getting hit by an asteroid on the same day as you win a EuroLotto Jackpot having impulse bought a ticket after seeing the headline “Riley Apologises For Refereeing Standards” on the back pages while you were in the newsagents.

Another key absentee will be Carl Jenkinson who can’t play against the club he’s too good for due to Premier League loan regulations. A rare start for Joey O’B is on the cards then.

There’s a sub-plot of sorts to this one. They have a vital So-Called “Champions” League match coming up in midweek against Monaco. Although they hilariously messed up the first leg at home and go into the return 1-3 down, that shouldn’t necessarily be an insurmountable score to overcome. This leaves the weird one something of a poser: does he hold back on a key player or two to keep them fresh for the trip to Monte Carlo or does he give up at 1-3 down and concentrate on the league. Or, to put it quite aptly given the venue for the second leg, “stick or twist”.

To be honest I think the sheer number of injuries we have in key positions will probably make things academic – we rarely get anything out of trips to the palace of padded seats and I’m struggling to see us doing so this weekend. I’ll therefore be sticking the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s collection towards the Jeremy Clarkson hardship fund (£2.50) on us to go down 3-1 as we regroup for a kinder run of fixtures.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at their place: Lost 3-1 (April 2014) We took the lead with a Jarvis header and the same player ought to have had a penalty when being kicked by Sagna in a tackle that was so mistimed it probably came from another match. A brace from Podolski and one from Giroud gave them a slightly flattering victory.

Danger Man: Alex Sanchez – Top scorer even if he has been known to miss the occasional spot-kick.

Referee: Chris Foy If Foy had applied the laws of the game in our match at Spurs in the same manner as Oliver did up at Moan Utd last weekend we’d have three more points. A noted “homer” he’ll be their 12th man.

Daft Fact Of The Week:The Arsenal Stadium Mystery was a 1939 British film shot on location at the old Highbury ground. In the film Arsenal play a fictional amateur team called the Trojans, one of whose players collapses and dies in mysterious circumstances during the match. The police make a point of interviewing the Arsenal manager only to be told that he “didn’t see anything”.


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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