Filed: Friday, 4th March 2016
By: Preview Percy
We hesitate to suggest that Preview Percy was actually happy after Wednesday night. However, we did notice what appeared to be a smile cross his lips whlie he was tapping away at his typewriter. There again it might just be his new dentures playing up again. Yes, thinking about it it's definitely that. Here's his look at this weekend's trip to Everton....
And so we wend our way back to Merseyside for the third time this season where we will be hosted by Everton in a traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off. Trains between London and Liverpool are ok but, as usual, there’s nothing running on the lines in and out of Liverpool Street so give yourselves extra time to get to Euston if that’s your usual rout into town. Or don’t. It’s no skin off my nose either way.
After the midweek games our hosts currently sit in 11th place with 38 from the 27 played so far. This leaves them a point and a place behind Chelsea, two and two behind Southampton and three and three behind Liverpool. They have a game in hand over the money launderers and the Saints, that being against Liverpool (who were hilariously getting beaten in the League Cup final against Man City during the weekend the dole queue derby was due to take place).
Recent form isn’t bad – they’ve won three of their last four in the league, though the most recent one of those was against Villa. There will soon be a rule change that makes wins against Villa worth only half points because, well, that’s roughly what they are worth really isn’t it?
The big news for them in recent days came in the form of the announcement that Iranian-born Monaco-based billionaire Farhad Moshiri. The original source of Moshiri’s billions isn’t exactly clear. However, if by his friends may ye know him, Everton supporters may want to be a little concerned. Moshiri is a close friend and business partner of Alisher Usmanov who is a somewhat more interesting character, having been given an 8-year sentence back in 1980 for fraud in his native Uzbekistan. That conviction was vacated after he had served 6 of the 8 years, the decision being credited to an instruction to the president from a noted Uzbeki drug-traffiker. Usmanov has a history of trying to supress internet comment about his past and you’ll look in vain for a particular article written about him in the Times a few years back in which it was revealed that his PR company had been editing unflattering comments about him out of Wikipedia.
Usmanov has a chunk of Arsenal, his shareholding being increased by the sale to him of Moshiri’s shares, a move that enabled Moshiri to take control of 49.9% of Everton only last week. Like Chelsea then, Everton may end up looking a bit nervously at the “foreign news” section of the papers should anyone ever seriously challenge Vladimir Putin for power. This has been Preview Percy, in Moscow for kumb.com news. Back to Sally in the studio for the weather….
If ever we could be said to have a bogey side I guess it would be the Toffeemen at the moment. And if ever we could be considered to have a bogey player within that that bogey team it would be Romelu Lukaku. To be fair it’s not just us he scores against – he has 22 goals this season and even without help from the work-experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles I can work out that not all of those have come against us. It just feels like that. He has netted in his last 7 games against us, most recently in the 1-1 draw with us at the Boleyn last November. Lukaku was on target in midweek at Villa Park but there again I guess he might have packed up and retired forever had he not been on the scoresheet in that one.
Ten goals behind Lukaku on the scoring charts is Ross Barkley of whom Roy Hodgson genuinely said “he reminds me of Paul Gascoigne”. There again, when asked about Mark Noble all Hodgson could do was mutter something about Drinkwater, possibly thinking that’s what he should do instead of raiding the drinks cabinet next time someone points out Noble on MOTD. Barkley has been known to indulge in that diving habit more associated with their neighbours on the other side of the park. Maybe it’s something in the water they take out of the Mersey.
When we last met at the Boleyn we were thrown out of our stride by the disgusting challenge by McCarthy on Payet that merited far more than the spineless yellow it actually got on the day. Clearly made with no attempt to play the ball and with, clear and deliberate intent to injure a fellow professional, the challenge was one of those that saw you begging for the FA to have another look at. However, the sad fact is that once a poor official issues a yellow there is no chance of a review. Even if the official is as useless as Anthony Taylor. And guess who they have given this game to again….
They didn’t go mad in the transfer window – the 1 February closing date came a few weeks before Moshiri came on board. They did lay out £13.5m on Senegalese international Oumar Niasse who arrived from Lokomotiv Moscow on deadline day. I know it’s a big old cosmopolitan world of football these days but it still seems a bit odd to me when you hear of South American and African players turning out for clubs in what we used to call the Soviet Union. I guess that there’s decent money to be made out there if you can handle it but it is noticeable that players rarely seem to settle there for four/five years say. Niasse lasted a couple of years out there, picking up a Russian Cup-Winners medal and getting voted Russia’s player of the year for 2015 in the process. He’s not featured heavily since his arrival at Goodison and it was suggested in certain quarters that his signing had been made with one eye on a potential summer move for Lukaku, though the arrival of Moshiri’s investment might help them fend off unwelcome interest in the Belgian.
They also shelled out £3m on striker Shani Tarashaj. Tarashaj at 21 is probably seen as one for the future. Though Swiss-born Tarashaj is of Kosovan-Albanian stock and, with the status of that territory still being in dispute after all these years - Serbia thinks it’s theirs whilst they think they are independent - his Albanian ethnicity may end up being a major factor on his international future, if any. Although the former Grasshoppers forward had been capped at numerous age levels by the Swiss, the Albanian coach did say that the player was in his plans, a statement that takes on extra significance in view of Albania’s surprise qualification for Euro 16 (note for Scottish readers: Euro 16 is a football tournament that will be taking place in France this summer and Albania is one of the countries that, unlike Scotland, have qualified).
Their injury news is that left back and dead ball specialist Leighton Baines will be available despite being referred to a specialist over a long-term ankle problem. He’s had two operations on the offending joint in the last 12 moths and only returned to action after a month off in the Villa match. I wouldn’t worry Leighton, your England place is safe, there are probably Venezuelan amputees ahead of Aaron Cresswell in Roy Hodgson’s mind for that position. And Luke Shaw.
"Enough about them" I hear you say. And what of Wednesday night then? Lovely! One word for Spurs fans, especially the ones who got on my tube at Liverpool Street. Would it kill you to have a bath? I mean it’s only once a year but we’ll have a nice new gaff next year and, well we’d like to keep it nice if it’s all the same to you.
I mentioned that the Spurs supporter who cleans the windows here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered genuinely thinks that his club are “bigger than Barcelona”. However, it was notable that when some of Europe’s big guns (and Liverpool) got together to discuss possible breakaway leagues the other week Spurs were not represented, unless the drinks waiter counts. I expect your invite got lost in the post eh guys?
On Wednesday we ought to have been out of sight at half time. However, we rarely looked threatened in the second half even considering that they had more of the ball. The win was as thoroughly deserved as it was sweet and, by my window cleaner’s logic, makes us bigger than the club that’s bigger than Barcelona.
There were fine performances all over the pitch. Kouyate was superb in an unfamiliar back 3 role alongside the more established Ogbonna and Ginge, both of whom were superb. Antonio at wing-back was excellent – though I’d baulk at the MOTM award the sponsors gave him, presumably on the strength of the goal. Then there was Mark Noble who (with no caps) looked ten times the player that Mason does (with 1 cap). The main reason for that, by the way, is that Mark Nobe is ten times the player that Mason is. However my MOTM goes to the often unheralded Obiang who was simply outstanding. Shame he’s not English so that Hodgson could ignore him too.
The win did come at some cost – though with constantly snidey feet being left in by the visitors on Wednesday we might consider ourselves lucky that it wasn’t more. Sadly Ginge, who seems to be having a lot of fun this season, pulled up having caught hamstring so he won’t be about for a bit. The worry is that it will be a wee bit early for Winston Reid and with Tomkins “hors de combat” for another couple of weeks it might be thought that we are a bit short at the back. On the bright side Kouyate proved that he can do a job as part of a back 3 and young Oxford also did well when replacing Ginge, adding Alli to an ever bulging pocket already full of Ozil.
It was good to see Sakho back at the end on Wednesday – though one should praise Eminike who got through a lot of hard work and caused Spurs a number of problems the other night.
So a prediction then. Well great as the win was there will have been a physical and mental cost. The back four/five will need a reshuffle so we’ll be reliant on a lot of adrenaline to get us through te weekend. If we assume that Lukaku is likely to get himself on the scoresheet it would be helpful to get off to a good start. I think we can get something out of the game, despite their bogeyteam status, so I’ll be putting the £2.50 I was going to put towards buying the new Spurs bestseller “250 excuses for losing our cup final (vol 25)” on a wager at Winstones The Turf Accountants that the game will end 1-1.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met at Goodison Park Drew 1-1 (FA Cup 3rd Round January 2015) Collins gave us a lead that we held onto until stoppage time. You’ll never guess who got their equaliser. Of course the replay went down in history as one of those legendary Boleyn nights as Adrian threw his gloves off to net the penalty that got us through in the shootout.
Referee: Anthony Taylor It beggars belief that a ref that has made so many errors – particularly in this fixture – has been given this game again. Or indeed any game. Anywhere. Stem cell research has shown that in a few years it will be possible to grow a complete set of human vertebra in the lab. Whilst this is good news for back pain sufferers, we will still have to wait for a while before one can be installed in a Premier League referee where its need is greatest. The problem is that of rejection. Every time it’s been tried with a ref the backbone has rejected the body.
Danger Man: Romelu Lukaku Has to be really doesn’t it
Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Sylvester Stallone Apparently, unlike Michael Caine, he made no effort to interact with the footballers in the cast of cult “so bad it’s brilliant” film Escape To Victory. Allegedly he could have bought Everton years ago but didn’t so his wide and varied acting range never quite made it onto Merseyside.
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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