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Arsenal v West Ham United - League Cup Quarter-Final

Filed: Sunday, 17th December 2017
By: Preview Percy

It's the League Cup when teams traditionally rest players and give understudies a run-out. We don't do that here at kumb.com. We only have Preview Percy. Sadly....

Arsenal? Again? So soon? 7:45pm kick-off at the Library with extra time and penalties in the locker should they be required to determine who goes into the next round.

Well it’s the League Cup – the competition with sponsors so naff that I probably wouldn’t mention their name even if they did pay me. This season’s competition has been notable for the many and varied ways the authorities have found of messing up the simple task of drawing one team out of a hat to play another. There was the early round when clubs were drawn to play two teams simultaneously. Then there was the round where they drew it at 4am UK time in order to gain exposure to the “lucrative” Asian markets that were so lucrative that none of the tv stations in the region could be bothered to broadcast the draw live. Then there was the last draw which got delayed for hours due to the twitter machine not working and not, our lawyers would like us to make clear, as a result of them having to do the draw dozens of times until the big boys avoided eachother. Irrespective of how far we go in the competition I can’t wait until the semi-finals are over. You mark my words – they will have a draw for the final and somehow put one of the losing semi-finalists in it.

Their progress to this stage saw them enter in round 3 where they beat Doncaster 1-0 at the Library. This as followed up with a 2-1 win AET against Norwich, a match that they were five minutes away from losing. That set up this tie – though don’t be surprised if someone from the organising committee runs on to interrupt play to say that they got the draw wrong again.

I went through their new signings – both of them – the other day so I won’t bore you with those again. Instead I got the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises to have a look at some of the fringe players that might be on display; this being the League Cup there will be changes to the team they sent out at the Olympic last week.

In goal, an injury to the usual no.2 no.1 Ospina led to a debut for Matt Macey against Norwich. Macey subsequently started in the Thursday Night League against Red Star Belgrade but, with Ospina returning to fitness one would expect him to replace Biggles between the sticks.

Their saviour in the Norwich match was Eddie Nketiah who claims to be 18 but looks so young that even Algernon, mine host in the Swan & Superinjunction not noted for his fastidious approach to licencing laws, might want to see some ID if he were to try and order a half of mild. Nketiah came on at 1-0 down to the Canaries in the 86th minute. 15 seconds later he had levelled the scores and went on to add the winner 6 minutes into the extra 30. He started out on Chelsea’s books but, possibly wanting to avoid becoming part of their loan trading business, he moved across town to Arsenal where, presumably, he can do his maths homework in peace and quiet.

Another youngster is the frightfully-posh sounding but actually from Goodmayes, Ainsley Maitland-Niles. AMN (to save time) was a sub in the England U21 side that won the age level World Cup against Venezuela earlier this year, coming on in the 75th minute of the victory over Venezuela. He is not without first XI league experience playing left back in the recent game at the Olympic, though, given the option he has expressed a preference for plying his trade further up the pitch.

In midfield it would be no surprise to see Egyptian international Mohamed Elneny start. He has started both games in this competition so far and his appearances in the league side since signing from Basle in January 2016 suggest that he is one of the players to be considered as a squad man as opposed to someone in line for a start every week. He has been capped over 50 times for the Egyptian national side and an odd – if highly niche - quiz question possibly only of interest to his family (and even then probably not) would be to name the ground on which he scored his first international goal. The answer is Brisbane Road. You know, the home of the club that Barry Hearne loved so much that he flogged them to a nutter and set them no the road to non-league obscurity.

Difficult to predict who will start up front. Lacazette usually gets the nod over Giroud in the league which means that you might expect to see the latter start in this one. Except, in last week’s 0-0 Giroud started ahead of Lacazette – possibly there is a thought in Wenger’s mind that Giroud has a thing about scoring against us – horses for courses and all that. Another option is Welbeck who seems to be used largely off the bench these days.

Actually I'm fed up with trying to second guess Wenger so let's move on to us. Saturday then. Firstly a word about Lanzini. Yes there was contact but In my opinion he was already going down before that contact was made. I know there is some poetic justice about us getting a decision in our favour against a side whose approach to the laws of the game is on a par with Lester Piggott’s approach to income tax legislation but it still doesn’t make it right. Should the beak look at Lanzini’s case and issue him with a two match ban he would have no grounds for complaint and if we could stop doing this – Antonio was unsteady as well on Saturday – I would be grateful.

It is refreshing to see so many supporters feel uneasy about this sort of thing – look how far Liverpool or Man City supporters go to defend their players when they do this sort of thing week in week out. The only down side is that, should Lanzini get a ban it will highlight the fact that nobody from the current top four or five has been similarly sanctioned, thus highlighting the ludicrousness of the disciplinary code in the first place. It's something that was a half-hearted attempt to deal with a genuine problem in the game without upsetting the main culprits in the first place. A proper procedure would have seen Delph in the dock for Man City’s equaliser the other week for example, and probably Chelsea would have to be spending a few of Abrahamovic’s trillions on international phone-calls in a desperate attempt to get some of the 33 players out on loan back to cover suspensions. And of course nobody must upset Liverpool. My hope is that the powers that be look at this first thing on Monday morning so that this cup match is the first of the two matches missed.

There was a lot of fun to be had on Saturday. The introduction of the modern technology known as electricity caused much confusion amongst a local population most of whom spent the rest of the weekend staring in awe at traffic lights (“ooh they change colour”). Watching Arnautovic wind them up was also highly amusing. Mark Hughes was his usual charmless obnoxious self, swearing at the player for whom his club trousered a shedload of money in the summer. Hughes’s earlier comments that he “doesn’t do relegation” are likely to be true – he’ll be sacked well before that happens. Meanwhile he might want to look up the word “dignity” in a dictionary – he will find that it’s not just an single by Deacon Blue.

The four on the injury list won’t be about for this. Fernandes is being linked with a visit to the operating theatre to sort his ankle out. Kouyate is said to be close to a squad return but Newcastle is more a possibility for that. Fonte is definitely 2018 whilst Byram is probably so. These injuries will probably mean that Ginge will retain his place for this after his return to action on Saturday, covering for the suspended Mr Angry Winston Reid, who I would expect to be saved for the visit of Preview Alastair’s Geordies. Deadlines mean that there’s no news at time of writing on Noble who limped off before the interval on Saturday but logic suggests he won’t be risked even if he is fit to play. Nobody seems to know where Carroll was at the weekend. Not showing up on the injury lists he may be in line for a start if anyone knows where he is.

Prediction? I’m a bit relaxed about this one. We seem to have had a lot of matches in a short space of time and the stupid first week of the new year schedule is going to test squad resources, even if we were to get the influx of new players that the owners traditionally promise ahead of the arrival of the likes of Robert Snodgrass (no offence Mr Snodgrass – I’m sure you are a decent chap but I don’t think you are good enough for the Premier League. Nothing personal). So expect starts for people normally on the bench – including Joe Hart – from both sides. Which makes predictions difficult – you’re comparing apples with nuclear power stations rather than the more familiar starting line-ups. We have been doing better lately the more cautious my predictions are so I will continue that trend and and put the £2.50 that was going to be sent to Stoke to pay their electricity bill on us exiting the competition, this time on penalties after a 2-2 draw AET. I also predict that the winners will be drawn against Queen Of The South in the semi-finals as the organisers find yet another unusual way in which to make a pig’s ear of a draw which will, by that time, only have four balls in the bag.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Library: Lost 0-3 (Premier League April 2017)

The only teams Arsenal had beaten in the previous six weeks had been Lincoln City and Sutton United. Enter us as sequence-busters. A goalless first half was followed by goals from Ozil, Walcott and Giroud as the loudest noise came from the away support taunting the Arsenal fans with the Wenger hokey-cokey.

Referee: Kevin Friend

The football equivalent of Father Ted’s Father Dougal Maguire. Nobody knows how he got the job, including himself. Like Maguire he’s not even sure what the job is other than he has to dress in black from time to time.

Danger Man: Olivier Giroud

Difficult to pick anyone out when you don’t know who is playing. He’ll do.

Percy’s Poser:

Last week we asked you what connects Stoke with the Maltese Post Office? A chunk of last year’s Christmas pudding goes to Mrs Sultana, curiously enough from Malta who informs us that Former Stoke legend Sir Stanley Matthews played for the Maltese Post Office XI after leaving the Potteries. Well you can’t blame someone for wanting to better themselves!

This week’s poser is less of a poser and more of a suggestion box. With the semi-final draw taking place later this week we ask you for your suggestions as to how the organisers could over complicate the draw this time around. We will pass on all your suggestions and the best will win a night out with Mark Hughes, subject to availability.

Good luck!

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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