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West Ham United v Chelsea - Match Preview

Filed: Thursday, 9th September 2010
By: Preview Percy

The transfer deadline has been and gone but our attempts to send Preview Percy out on loan to FC Chernobyl fell through when we couldn't get anyone to pay the air fare. Or the bus fare. Or the postage. So here he is again. Unfortunately......

Next up we have Chelsea at home for a 3pm Saturday kick-off. Treasure it while you can you lucky people. The visitors are of course top of the league having had a goal-laden start to the season which has seen them dish out 6-0 thrashings to West Brom and Wigan with a mere 2-0 win at Stoke to follow. Being a bit busy at the time they were on, I wasn't able to tune in to any of the post-match radio phone-ins that it is compulsory to listen to on the way home from away matches but you can bet your last penny that, if a Chelsea supporter rang up to gloat about their current position, he or she introduced themselves with the words “I've been a Chelsea supporter since 19-whatever(insert any old pre-Abrahamovic date here). I never cease to be amazed at how many 12 year olds were about in 1955.

Let's get a couple of things out of the way early on. Firstly, no preview worth its salt could possibly fail to mention Frank Lampard. Lampard always says that he couldn't care less about the stick he gets from West Ham supporters and, on the face of it, this seems to be the case as in recent times there have been fewer and fewer four-page spreads explaining “twenty reasons why I couldn't care less about the stick I get from West Ham supporters”. However Lampard is nothing if not intelligent. Realising that his loyal Chelsea fans, all of whom have been supporting the club since 19-whatever, are unlikely to realise the link, he now gets the chap he paid handsomely to write his “auto”biography to moan about the stick he gets from West Ham fans in the Sun on his behalf. Of course some of the jibes – particularly those concerning his weight - are a bit old hat these days. However, I have to say that he did look as if he'd let himself go a bit when I saw him with his other half on breakfast telly the other morning – and he seems so keen to distance himself from his roots that he now seems to be affecting some strange Brummie accent. Lampard is something of a doubt for this weekend, having recently undergone surgery on a groin injury, though he has returned to training this week.

The second player worthy of scrutiny is, of course, John Terry. In the last few years this player has spent those moments when he was not getting off with team mates' other halves trying to make money out of his position as England Captain. It was a day of great joy in the Percy household when Terry was forced to relinquish the role, thus allowing the likes of Cuthbert Ottaway, Billy Wright and Sir Bobby to stop spinning in their respective graves (though no doubt rotation was resumed when injury forced the armband onto the arm of thug and gangster apologist Steve Gerrard). Terry's rap sheet of crimes (both footballing and actual) is so long that this computer hasn't got a hard drive big enough to cope. The papers' insistence that Terry was ever “world class” always baffled us. At club level his all too obvious shortcomings have usually been hidden by his being bailed out by players of better quality. Even at England level, without Rio Ferdinand to cover for him his lack of ability has often been exposed. This was painfully obvious in the World Cup defeat by Germany where poor old Matty Upson was made the scapegoat for the fact that the only time Terry was in the right position all match was at kick-off. His behaviour behind the scenes before and during the ill-fated tournament is also rumoured to have left a lot to be desired – though whether or not his welcome absence from the national side's decent start to the Euro2012 qualifying campaign will give Capello food for thought is another matter. Terry missed the two internationals through injury but his hamstring is set to have healed enough for him to start on Saturday.

Terry and Lampard famously started out their careers under Tony Carr, unlike another ex-Hammer Yossi Benayoun, who came from climes even further East than Chadwell Heath. Yossi was something of a favourite in his spell at the Boleyn until he blotted his copybook by succumbing to Liverpool's rather obvious illegal approach after his announcement that he would sign that bit of paper just as soon as he got back from his hols. His spell at Anfield was not a totally happy one, giving those who put their faith in the existence of Karma a bit of back-up for their views. He always seemed to be in and out of the side and, although Benitez's departure was greeted with some celebration in the Benayoun household, the change in management came too late for anyone to persuade the Israeli that Merseyside was quite nice really and the playmaker moved south for what for Chelsea was a knock-down price of £5m.

Benayoun's involvement so far this season has been limited to appearances from the bench in the 6-0 wins over the Baggies and the Child Slave Employers, whilst he failed to get on against Stoke. I guess that sort of thing is a bit easier to bear when the wages are better and you're part of a squad actually likely to win something bigger than the Europa League. He still has a way to go before he gets to emulate my all time favourite Chelsea player Winston Bogarde. Bogarde, you will recall, resisted all attempts to get shot of him during the years immediately prior to the Abrahamovic takeover. Despite being made to train with the youth team and being given a squad number higher than that allocated to the club's tea lady, the beefy defender loyally turned up on time every day and did all that was asked of him, happy in the knowledge that he was being handsomely rewarded for doing sod-all. In the end Ken Bates went before Bogarde did and there was a certain humourous honesty (albeit somewhat warped in nature) from the Dutchman who at least admitted he was only there for the money. Which of course is categorically not the case for any of the current Chelsea squad. Honest.

As mentioned the visitors have been amongst the goals so far this season. The notoriously unsteady Didier Drogba picked up an opening day hat-trick and followed that with a second-half spot-kick against Stoke. Somehow he managed to avoid scoring in the 6-0 win at the Whelan-dome despite playing the full ninety, a feat that would surely have had questions being asked had he been a cricketer. If you see what I mean. Kalou and Anelka picked up a brace in that one whilst French winger Malouda has found the back of the net in all three of Chelsea's matches thus far this season. So it's fair to say that they're not dependent on any one player for their goals. It is, however, also fair to say that they've taken full advantage of a fixture list that has been as kind to them as it has been unkind to us. Sterner challenges will face them – as this season's “traditional curtain-raiser” made very clear.

And so to us. Transfer deadline day came and went with a fair degree of disappointment for many fans. To be fair the ever increasing emphasis on the final day of the window with its countdowns, its reporters stood outside training grounds and its videos of 'Arry denying accusations of wheeler-dealing, does rather tend to distort the window by compressing it all into one 24 hour Sky-hyped period. Looking at the window as a whole (rather than just deadline day), whilst it wasn't totally satisfactory, it could have been a lot worse. Incoming we had Hitzlsperger, Barrera, Piquionne, Ben Haim, Obinna and, on deadline day itself, Jacobsen and Boffin. These latter two were most welcome for two reasons – Jacobsen is the first proper right-back to sign for the club since the departure of Lucas Neill whilst Ruud Boffin, well it's just a brilliant name isn't it. Looking at the departure board it wasn't too much of a surprise to see Diamanti go, though Daprela's departure was disappointing insofar as the player had looked promising on his rare first team appearances. Clearly the management (both old and new) saw something in training they didn't like, hence the Swiss youngster's failure to hold down a regular starting place despite the long term injury to Ilunga. Whilst there were a couple of deals that fell through on the deadline day it at least made a change for us not to sell someone so late that we were unable to get a replacement. And, of course we kept hold of Scott Parker who was last seen signing a new four-year deal (that's how you keep a promise Yossi).

On the injury front, for Saturday Hitzlsperger still remains a big doubt. Green should have recovered from his “minor procedure” to start between the sticks. Someone called Kieron Dyer is set to astound us all by being available for the third league match in a row whilst Valon Behrami's mystery injury appears to have cleared up at one nanosecond after the window closed, once it became apparent that Roma weren't going to sign him. Take out the long term injuries to Collison, Hines and Kurucz and we now have pretty much a full squad to pick from. Which of course isn't much consolation when your next match is against a team whose goal difference from 3 matches reads 14-0.

Given the poor start to the season all logic points to another heavy defeat for this one. Even the bizarre and totally ludicrous omen that arises from the fact that our opponents seem to put six past every team whose name begins with a “W” is against us. (Hey you don't get this level of insight from the BBC!). However, there is some small inkling, some small thought forming at the back of my mind that we might get something out of this one. There's no logic to it at all – by any scientific analysis should put paid to any such thoughts. However, call it intuition, a feeling in my bones, or just plain madness borne out of spending over 40 years of my life watching this club but there's something that tells me that there's at least a point to be got. So let an old man have a senior moment and I'll go for a surprising 1-1 draw as we trouble the points table for the first time.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: drew 1-1 - a game we ought to have won. Diamanti's spot-kick was cancelled out by Lampard's penalty, wrongly awarded by Mike Dean who then went on to make Adrian Chiles take the kick three times. I would describe it as a shocking decision but frankly it was depressingly par for the course from an official who will never give a correct decision if a dodgy one means that he can affect the outcome of a match.

Referee: Chris Foy – thankfully not Dean again which means that, on paper at least it's all about eleven against eleven. Foy does seem to have a problem with Scott Parker though....

Danger Man: Lampard – if fit he always scores against us – though he's been a bit wayward with spot-kicks of late.

Travel tips - Yet again there's no District Line service to/from Upton Park guys and gals. You can ponder why TFL and the football fixture list people don't get their acts together as you make the long walk to the ground from Canning Town (Jubilee Line/DLR), West Ham (Jubilee/C2C), Forest Gate (National Express) or Barking (C2C) stations. Or as you celebrate another birthday as you wait for the woefully inadequate replacement bus services.

Daft fact of the week: - Chelsea hold the record for an aggregate score in European Competition having beaten Luxembourg side Jeunesse Hautcharage 21-0 on aggregate (8-0 and 13-0) in the 1971-72 Cup-Winners' Cup. An impressive result maybe, until you consider that Jeunesse were the Luxembourg equivalent of a pub side's second XI who somehow managed to win the Luxembourg Cup after a string of giant killing results. Against Chelsea, Jeunesse famously fielded a player with one arm and another who had spectacles thick enough to cause grass fires on dry pitches, an event that he sensibly prevented by keeping them stuck to his head with sellotape and a rubber band. To this day he remains the only player to have spent more on kit at WH Smith than at JJB.

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.

Your Comments

by Tell it how it is Charley
07:28AM 10th Sep 2010
''Don't you think that Daprela's departure was more due to inexperience? Look at Stanislas last year, he fell apart under the pressure, some of his displays were awful.

It's very questionable whether you can bring young players through the Acadamy in West Ham's dire predicament.''

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