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Everton v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 2nd April 2010
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has been missing of late due to "technical problems" with his PC. Unfortunately, he found where we hid his keyboard, so he's back.........

Next it’s up the M1 & M6 we go as we play the game of “How many more boarded-up buildings are there this time round” for a 4pm kick-off on Sunday at Godison against Everton.

If one may adapt one of the oldest of football clichés for a moment, it’s turning into a season of two halves for the Toffeemen. Their form since the turn of the year rivals that of the top five or six and, home and away their last six matches have produced 3 wins, two draws and a solitary defeat which came away at Tottenham. Even that was a match they ought to have got something out of, Septic loanee Landon Donovan missing a sitter that ought to have given them a point. More worryingly for us, their home form of late has been impeccable with the last 6 matches at Goodison all ending in a home victory .

The reason for the disparity between the start of he season and the end of it is fairly simple to ascertain. Their injury list has been as lengthy as ours has been at times. However, unlike ourselves, they had the resources in depth to grind out a few results to keep them ticking over until the cavalry had recovered enough to start picking up the points more regularly. Unlike ourselves, of course, when the cavalry turned up they actually started to perform with the result that they now lie in a creditable 8th spot on 49 points and there has been talk of Europa League qualification should their current form continue as the season ends.

Their custodian of the onion bag is, of course, Tim Howard. Howard had battled against many disadvantages in life to make it to the top, not least of which is the fact that he suffers from the sad twin afflictions of being American and of having played for Manchester United. After that, dealing with Tourette’s Syndrome to become one of the Premier League’s top ’keepers must have been a piece of cake. We’ll be bumping into Howard during the summer (or more accurately during the Southern hemisphere winter) in his role as first choice ’keeper for the US World Cup - apparently there is a World Cup for something called “Soccer” going on down there at the same time as the Football one.

Their last outing saw them surprisingly only draw 0-0 at Wolves, a result described by David Moyes as “ disappointing” in view of the number of missed chances. The match saw them come away with a couple of injuries, notably to the gifted, if sometimes erratic, Arteta who picked up a groin strain. The Sunday kick-off will give him an extra day of recovery and he is listed as a possible to make the squad for the weekend. Less fortunate was Dan Gosling, whose collision with Marcus Hahnemann has left him with a ruptured cruciate ligament that will keep him away from action for at least nine months. He is being pencilled in for a return about thirty seconds after ITV cut to an advertising break.

The defence will see a couple of old “friends” in the shape of the two Phils, Neville and Jagielka. Jagielka should never be forgiven for his disgraceful role on the last day of the “Great Escape” season where his rather obvious and baffling handball could have sent us down had we not inconveniently messed things up for Hypocrisy FC by winning at Plastic Trafford. The other Phil was once famously given a guitar by one of the Gallagher brothers (I always forget which one is Noel and which is “and Lyle“) on which the Oasis “axe-man” had written “How many England caps have you got? And how many do you think you deserve?” I always thought that a bit harsh to be honest. After all, which one of us contacted by England manager is going to say “thanks for the invite but I don’t think I’m really up to the task of top class international football”. Indeed, given the continued selection of Emile Heskey in recent squads I have deliberately kept this summer (or more accurately Southern hemisphere winter) free should my services be required up front.

Talking of strikers, another old adversary will be Louis Saha. He’s an irritating player really. You can watch him for 88 minutes and he’ll look for all the world as if he’s a player who has been contacted by a manager to whom he didn’t say “thanks for the invite but…etc”. Then he’ll somehow score two goals to see you lose a match that you looked totally comfortable in. Or is that just us?

Another danger will be Tim Cahill. The Aussie seems to have the knack of scoring time and time again - though I was rather surprised to discover his tally for the season thus far came to a total of 7 in all matches. Whenever one catches up on the goals of the week he always seems to be on it which means either he’s flogging goals to those less fortunate to himself or that I really ought to pay more attention when watching the highlights.

Ok what of us? Well I despair to be honest. The 3-1 defeat to a team like Wolves was a new low this season and whilst the performance against Stoke showed a few signs of improvement there was still a lack of intelligence, nous, guile, creativity, call it what you will that meant that even if we were still out there playing now (as well we might had the referee added on the right time for each Delap throw-in) I couldn’t in all honesty see us scoring.

On the injury front, as usual there is conflicting information as to the potential availability of certain players. Tomkins (who could easily be recovering from shell-shock rather than the foot/ankle problem that was the official cause of his absence from the Stoke line-up) is listed as either having “no return date” or “possibly available” depending on who you care to believe. My own thought is that DaCosta will continue either way. Other possible returnees include Franco, Collison and Ilunga. Given that Cole is likely to take up one spot up front, should we actually go with two strikers, expect the General to join him if fit on the grounds that: a) in the few moments he was on against Wolves he looked the liveliest player we had in the final third (not a difficult achievement admittedly); and b) the fastest that Mido moved all afternoon against Stoke was the amazing sprint that he made on the way to the touchline as he was being substituted . To nobody’s great surprise Kieron Dyer is likely to be missing and the patience of those at SuGo Towers must be wearing increasingly thin as a potential pay-off looms closer and closer.

Predictions? Sorry but we’ve been incredibly goal-shy of late and, against a side that is in cracking form at the moment - especially at home - I have a bad feeling here. If we’re not going to sore a 0-0 is the best we can hope fore but, on recent form, a 3-0 reverse is probably the more likely result.

Keep them crossed and enjoy the game!

Last season: Lost 1-3 It was all looking so good as a Kovac effort from distance put us one up. Then Cahill’s disgraceful dive got Tomkins sent off by overweight ref Phil Dowd. Saha stuck away the penalty. Yobo and another Saha effort made it 3-1 as the home side took full adantage of the extra man.

Referee: Howard Webb Traditionally one of the better officials on the list, he’s had a bit of an up and down season. Poor match up at Turf Moor last time we saw him where embarrassing Burnley dives were given free-kicks at every opportunity.

Danger Man: Saha another one who scores with depressing regularity against us.

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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