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West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion - Match Preview.

Filed: Tuesday, 9th November 2010
By: Preview Percy

The Large Hadron Collider has finally produced a result for all those billions - a rather pretty picture a schoolkid with some coloured biros could have produced. Undeterred, we slammed some rather larger particles (ok, a plank of wood) into the back of Preview Percy's head. The results, though cheaper, are just as disappointing....

Having had a trip up to the West Midlands on Saturday we next entertain visitors from that part of the world when West Bromwich Albion make the trip down for a 7.45pm kick-off on Wednesday evening.

The Baggies sit in 10th place as we speak with 15 points from their 11 matches so far. There's a nice symmetry about their last six having won 2 (3-2 at the Library and 2-1 at home to Fulham), drawn 2 (1-1 at home to Bolton and 2-2 at Old Trafford) and lost 2 (2-1 away at Blackpool and, most recently 2-0 at home to Man City). Like us they have progressed to the League Cup quarter finals having got rid of the O's, Man City and Leicester City in the earlier rounds. They face a visit to Ipswich Town in the next round.

I guess if anyone satisfies the description of “yo-yo club” then it's Albion who went up in 2007/08, down in 2008/09 and back up last season. Their last season in the top flight saw them gain more friends than points thanks to the style of their football. The boss at the helm when they ran onto the rocks last time down was Tony Mowbray, who departed the scene during the close season to take over at Celtic. He was replaced by former Chelsea player Roberto Di Matteo, who had made a promising start to his managerial career at Milton Keynes Dons. Di Matteo led them to second place in last season's Championship with 91 points, eleven behind the Geordies. Strangely, that points total was ten fewer than they had amassed during their previous promotion season, 2007/08 when 81 points were enough to give them the title.

They were pretty active in the window during the close season – as befits a newly-promoted side. They raided Hull City for 'keeper Boaz Myhill who left the KC stadium for an undisclsed fee following the Tigers' relegation last season. Myhill has yet to dislodge Scott Carson from the no.1 spot in the Premiership, though he has been first choice in the League Cup.

They shelled out £1.5m for Villa left back Nicky Shorey. Shorey was once linked with ourselves when he was at Reading but the move failed to materialise. Following Reading's relegation (a phrase that still raises a smile in these parts) Shorey moved to Villa but made only 24 appearances in his two seasons there. His Villa career was punctuated with loan spells at Forest and, more notably, Fulham, who he joined in February of this year with a view to a permanent deal. However, the permanent deal went out of the window with the departure of Roy Hodgson, allowing Albion to step in. Shorey is a doubt for this match with an ankle injury.

Up front they brought in a player with an interesting history in the form of Peter Odemwingie. Odemwingie who, pleasingly, can play as a winger as well as up front, was born in Tashkent which, at the time, was part of what was called the Soviet Union (ask your dad). Specifically, he was born in what they used to call the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic which these days is known as Uzbekistan. Mum was Russian whilst Dad was Nigerian, all of which meant that, following the break-up of the Soviet Union, by the time he was old enough to be looking at playing international football he had a choice of Russia, Uzbekistan or Nigeria. I expect he also qualified for the Republic of Ireland as well – well everyone else does. In the end he plumped for Nigeria. His club career took in Nigeria, Belgium and France, before Lille offloaded him to Lokomotiv Moscow for a shedload of petro-roubles. He suffered some appalling racism from his own supporters during his three-year spell at Lokomotiv, culminating in the depressing sight of the unfurling of a banner containing a picture of a banana and the words “Thanks West Brom” after his transfer to the Midlands. West Brom fans responded with a banner of their own showing Odemwingie celebrating his first goal for the club and the words “Thanks Lokomotiv” - which, in this writer's opinion, was a more intelligent and dignified response than the original banner ever deserved. One would hope that the Russian Football Federation's lack of action over the affair would be taken into account when FIFA finally award the 2018 World Cup, but given the generally corrupt state of the game's ruling body I wouldn't bank on it.
Odemwingie has missed the last few games with a knee injury which, although described as “not serious”, is also listed elsewhere as causing him to have “no return date”. This match therefore may be a few days early for him.

They've had a few problems on the disciplinary front of late. They had two dismissed in the defeat at Blackpool. The dismissal of Jara for a two-footed lunge on Luke Varney was every bit as deserved as the red card for Pablo Ibanez wasn't. The appeal against Ibanez's dismissal was (rightly) upheld which means that the defender will be available for selection, unlike Youssuf Mulumbu who became the third Albion player to take the proverbial early bath in two matches after going through the back of Carlos Tevez in the weekend's match against Man City.

And so to us. Well before the match at St Andrews I suspect most of us would have settled for 2-2. Having gone 2-0 up the result almost felt like a defeat. The fact that we didn't get all three points made the result almost feel like a defeat. The problem appeared to be one we've suffered from for ages, namely that when, in the lead we have a habit of sitting back and playing deep. We did it against the Geordies and failed to recover the momentum. I suppose it is a positive point that against Birmingham we did at least regain some of our attacking threat towards the end of the match. It was just a shame that we had to let in two goals first.

I understand that Manuel Da Costa is still a doubt with the ankle injury that kept him out of Saturday's line-up and, should he not be available for this one, I would expect that the back four would remain unchanged from that that travelled up the M1 & M6 last weekend. Actually I suspect that, assuming all are fit, AG may plump for an unchanged starting XI which would nominally see us playing 4-3-3 with Behrami, Parker and Boa-Morte playing across the middle. However, second guessing the boss is not my strong point – every time I expect an unchanged side he changes it. So I would not be too surprised to see a return to 4-4-2 if Dyer is fit enough to start and it's not too cold for his fragile muscles. This would see Cole returning to the bench.

Despite the difference in league positions between the two teams this is one that I can quite easily see us winning. They are not normally the sort of side to sit back, try and sneak a goal and then stick everyone behind the ball so this ought to be quite an open game. Let's go for a high scoring thriller and a 3-2 win which, if other results go our way, should be enough to see us get off the bottom.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: N/A

Danger man: Chris Brunt – I'm assuming that Odemwinge (their top scorer) will be absent as will Mulumbu (suspended). They haven't had a lot of goals from elsewhere and, although Brunt himself only has one to his name this term, he has had a habit in the past of popping up with important and timely goals. Of course the real danger man is......

Referee: Mike Dean – the epitome of all that is wrong with English refereeing. After so many years of self-promotion at the expense of the Laws of the Game and the paying public, it is little more than a scandal that he remains part of the so-called “select” group. In a barrel of poor quality apples he is the most rotten and maggot-infested of the whole crop. In the absence of anyone in authority coming to their collective senses and realising just how poor this official is, we have another three years until he reaches retirement age. (Editor's note – bandwidth prevents us from publishing Preview Percy's full 400-page rant about this official. Suffice to say that we stopped reading at the bit where Percy said “waterboarding is too god for him”).

Daft fact of the week: - As well as being known as the “Baggies” West Brom also had the nickname “The Throstles” that being an old name for the thrush. (That's the bird rather than the embarrassing medical condition). The story is they used to keep a caged thrush beside the pitch which, according to legend, would only sing when they were winning. Later, Arsenal and Liverpool supporters adopted the same tradition but without using the caged bird.

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 G.
08:22AM 10th Nov 2010
''Great piece - well written and funny, but also you make some very good points.

We'll come to your place and try to win, you'll try to take advantage of the space and the liklihood of a free-flowing game that we were both famous for (especially against each other) in the 60s and 70s is on.

So 0-0 it is then! Play well and hopefully we will both stay up with ease.''

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