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Sunderland v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 14th April 2017
By: Preview Percy

When we went to pick up this week's offering from Preview Percy we noticed lots of children hanging around outside the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered all in tears. Apparently the grumpy one sent them all on an Easter Egg hunt. Without actually supplying any Easter Eggs. Here's his look at this weekend's trip to Wearside....

Next up is Sunderland. 3pm Saturday and all’s right with the world. No engineering works up there to speak of. And, of course, because we are away all trains through Stratford are ok. I haven’t checked yet but I’d give you short odds on the usual disruption returning for the Everton game.

So Sunderland then. As I’m sure I have pointed out elsewhere, all the scientific analysis of their current position points to one conclusion, namely that they aren’t any good. 31 games played, 20 points gained, minus 32 goal difference and, with seven left to play they are in 20th place 10 points from safety.

The only person who thinks that this does not look good is Preview Alastair, the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s resident Geordie (it’s a diversity thing). He has been saying since the end of last season to anyone who will listen that Newcastle’s relegation last term ensured that the Mackems would go down this time around, the logic being that, without the points gained by Sunderland against they would have gone down years ago.

And do you know what? According to the work experience girl wearing the Futureheads t-shirt without knowing who they are he might just have a point. For once. The evidence is pretty damning:

2013-14 Number of points clear of relegation: 5 Number of points gained from Newcastle: 6.

2014-15 Number of points clear of relegation 3 Number of points gained from Newcastle: 6

2015-16 Number of points clear of relegation: 2 Number of points gained from Newcastle: 5

It seems that they have been getting closer to the trapdoor year on year and, without their neighbours to rely on, this looks like the year that the chickens will finally come home to roost.

Their last outing saw them go down 3-0 at home to a Man Utd side that barely broke into a sweat, even before the slightly dubious sending off of Larsson against which an unsuccessful appeal was lodged. Most independent observers reckoned the yellow to be harsh but the usual closing of ranks for referees kicked in and the appeal was rejected. Which just goes to show just how bloody awful the decisions we’ve got in recent years must have been for us to get all those red cards overturned.

Manager David Moyes was at least honest enough to acknowledge that the sending-off was unlikely to have altered the result. Moyes, never the cheeriest of souls, has of course had issues of his own to contend with of late with the FA beak inviting him round for a bit of a chat on the subject of whether he really thought he ought to have been threatening a female reporter with a “slap”. Moryes claimed that the comment was “light-hearted” in nature. Perhaps for the true “Carry On” effect he should have added the words “and tickle” into the sentence somewhere and thrown in a Sid James laugh just to cover himself.

Back on the pitch and there was a belated return to England action last month for Jermain Defoe who scored against whichever one of the 482 countries that used to be Yugoslavia we were playing. I say the player’s return was belated – I certainly wouldn’t have been upset at seeing him replace Kane, to just name one of the Spurs players who did so “brilliantly” for us in the Euros, against Iceland.

Defoe is the sort of player who will always score goals – even when surrounded by rubbish. His current position with Sunderland reminds me of the position we were in back in 02-03 when, due to Kanoute’s injury and Di Canio’s refusal to play for Roeder (or “mystery injury” as it was called at the time), Defoe was effectively our only attacking option.

He scored but the burden was unfair on someone who was a) just a kid, and b) not what you might call a target man. Some haven’t forgiven him for the poorly-timed transfer request at the end of that season but comparisons with Ince are unfair – Ince was a devious **** who was taking instructions (and possibly money) from Man Utd all the way through (the shirt thing was a red herring), whereas Defore was just young and stupid.

As mentioned Defoe has largely been bearing the goalscoring burden on his own. He has scored 14 times in the Premier League this season, which is a whopping 11 more than the next players in the list, Victor Anichebe. And Patrick Van Aanholt both of whom have three. Van Aanholt won’t be adding to his Sunderland tally any time soon seeing as he left for Palace during the last window. Anichebe on the other hand has largely been absent over the past couple of months with a knee injury.

He returned from injury as a late sub against Leicester and played the full 90 against Moan Utd both with little joy. However, he was hardly prior to what was his fourth injury absence of the season. In fact his three goals came in a two week period in November when they actually won two in a row, scoring once in the 2-1 win at Bournemouth and picking up a brace in the 3-0 win over Hull. Those heady days (they got up to 18th as a result of the Hull win) must seem such a long time ago now.

So Defoe (14) Anichebe & Van Aanholt (6 between them) account for 20 goals. They have only scored 24 in the league this season which tells you a lot about why they are where they are. So one might have thought they would have spent a few bob on a striker to lighten the burden on poor old Jermain. Nope. They brought in a couple of defenders and a midfielder.

If ever you had wondered “whatever happened to Joleon Lescott” today is the day your wishes are fulfilled. He was brought in on a short term deal until the end of the season from AEK Athens. Technically he was a free agent at the time of signing as his contract had been torn up “by mutual consent”. It wasn’t the happiest of times in Athens for the defender who, lest we forget, was once an England regular.

He signed for AEK in August 2016 after being part of the dreadful Villa team that crashed and burned so spectacularly last season. Pleasant weather, the Acropolis, all the taramasalata you can eat, what’s not to like? Well things went pear-shaped pretty quickly. The official version says that Lescott damaged a cartilage whilst cycling in his apartment, meaning that either he had one hellofa big apartment or the author of that particular Wikipedia page omitted the word “exercise” before the word “cycling”. Could be either.

Up to that point Lescott had managed four games for AEK but that was it. The injury was already going to rule him out for the season, allegedly, but his refusal to let the AEK medical staff have anything to do with his treatment did not go down at all well. Neither did his return to the UK for treatment. In the end, the Bubbles got fed up with it all and the contract was terminated in November with barely a tub of taramasalata opened. As it turned out the injury wasn’t “season-ending” after all and he signed for the Mackems in January.

They also got involved in one of those “double transfers” they seem quite fond of up there. Left-back Bryan Oviedo (or O’Video as my Irish relatives insist it should be pronounced) and actual Irishman Darron Gibson arrived from Everton for a combined fee believed to be £7.5m or thereabouts. Oviedo is a Costa Rican international who missed out on the last World Cup due to a nasty broken leg (as opposed to those really lovely ones) that did for both his tib and fib. He’s likely to be missing this weekend too due to a hamstring problem.

Gibson was one of those players who was born in Northern Ireland that ended up playing for the Republic. In Gibson’s case he had been capped at U16 level by the North but was dropped from the squad when he left to have trials with Man Utd, for whom he eventually signed. He made the switch to the Republic at U17 level, gaining caps at U19, U21 and the lesser-spotted “B” level, whereupon the North remembered him and invited him back into the fold for full international honours, an invitation he felt quite able to decline, bcoming a full international south of the border in the process.

In goal highly-rated young ‘keeper Jordan Pickford has recently returned from the sick bay. Pickford made his Premier League debut in January 2016, a feat which meant that, by the age of 21, thanks to loan spells elsewhere, he had played in all four divisions plus the top flight of whatever it is they call the Conference these days. Those loan spells got lazy headline writers mildly excited as the “Pickford On The Move” phrase was saved as a template in Microsoft Word in newsrooms up and down the country.

He started this term as the no. 2 choice custodian behind minor character from the Godfather trilogy Vito Mannone but an injury to Mannone’s arm (caused by carrying a horse’s head, probably – they are heavier than they look. I am told.) saw Pickford step into the breach. Pickford’s status as top dog in the custodian stakes was underlined by his return between the sticks once his own knee injury had healed up.

Ah enough of them. What of us? Well the relief after last weekend’s win was palpable. Even Slav risked damage to his dodgy hip in his celebrations. It was a nervy finish, something that was caused by our failure to take advantage of the three or four excellent chances we had to put the game to bed. This meant that when we conceded a late corner, Randolph’s less than convincing attempts to command his box could have proved costlier than they needed to have done.

Lanzini’s booking for a dive was disappointing. Partly because I never want to see our players do that and partly because in a league containing Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Man Utd and Leicester it rather beggars belief that the only player I have seen on the box cautioned for simulation was one from a club where, thankfully, it’s still a rarity. When you see a referee tell Vardy to “get up it was a dive” before waving play on as happened in our match a few weeks back you do wonder why it is referees only seem to grow a spine when they referee us. Still three points and all that. That takes the pressure off big time.

Injuries and Sakho and Carroll are said to be likely to be available, which is good. Antonio’s hamstring is a major downer though and he may struggle to get another appearance in this season. Two more weeks for Winston & Cresswell they reckon, but the news is better for Byram – who had a fine match last week. The right-back was seen leaving the Olympic o crutches but that turned out to be a precautionary measure to keep the weight off and he reckons he should be fine.

Prediction. Do I go for the prediction on what ought to happen or on what would be “typical West Ham” if it did happen. They haven’t scored since early February which is usually enough to ring the “sequence-buster” klaxons around here. But I think the relief of last week will help – we oughtn’t be anywhere near as nervy – and they really are in a sorry state. So I’ll be spending the £2.50 that was going on hiring bodyguards in advance of my next United Airlines flight on an away win.

So Mr Winstone please accept this as a wager in favour of a 2-0 win to us. Now how many places are we off Europe?(!)

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Ludicrously-Named Stadium Of Light: Drew 2-2 Premier League October 2015
A shaky start saw us go down 2-0 to early goals from Fletcher and Lens. Jenkinson pulled one back before the interval. Lens saw red in the second half for a second yellow. Payet stuck away the rebound after the ‘keeper could only parry a Lanzini effort from distance. We battered them for the rest of the match to no avail.

Referee: Andre Marriner. Last seen giving Chelsea all the assistance they didn’t really need in beating us.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe – ok so he hasn’t scored in a while. Nobody has for them. But when you look at their side and you have to pick a potential scorer you are hardly spoilt for choice and he has still got that predatory instinct. So much so I’d have taken him to the Euros last summer.

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you what was so unusual about Swansea striker Walter Boyd’s red card for Swansea against Darlington in 2002. Congratulations to Mrs Hilda Hardy-Willis (no relation) of Wendens Ambo who informs us “The sending off is believed to have set a world record for occurring at ZERO seconds after the player had come on as a sub. Boyd came on during a stoppage in play caused while the ref was sending a Darlington player off. As Boyd trotted on he got into an altercation with an opponent who he ended up elbowing, prompting the ref to show Boyd a straight red before he had had the time to restart his watch” Mrs Hardy-Willis wins Wales. Well done Hilda.

For this week’s poser we ask you: What was unusual about the transfer of Ivor Broadis from Carlisle United to Sunderland that took place in 1949? The first correct answer out of the digital hat wins a copy of the book “1,001 things to do in Monkwearmouth” just as soon as the author has completed it. Call us back in 2024 if you haven’t heard back from us.

Good luck everyone!

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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