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West Ham Utd v Burnley: match preview

Filed: Sunday, 20th February 2011
By: Preview Percy

We've had a few emails regarding the whereabouts of Preview Percy. We can reveal only that the old fool has been resting up this winter in a nursing home for the elderly and bewildered. We didn't tell the taxman or the Child Support Agency which one though....

We next entertain Burnley in the 5th round of the FA Cup in a 7.45pm kick-off at the Boleyn. The match is to be covered by ESPN which is on something called satellite television I understand.

The Clarets currently lie in 8th place in the Championship which is two places and six points adrift of Leeds who, at the time of writing, occupy the last of the play-off slots, though Burnley do have a game in hand thanks to the Cup. They’re in decent nick at the moment. In all competitions their last six matches have yielded four wins (2-1 at Pompey, 3-1 at home to Burton in the cup, 2-1 at home to Norwich and 3-1 at Watford) one draw – a creditable 1-1 down at Cardiff – and just the solitary defeat, a surprising 1-0 reverse at Doncaster. The win against Norwich and the draw at Cardiff, both of whom are pushing hard for automatic promotion, suggests that Burnely are coming into some decent form in the run-in and a play-off berth, whilst not being there for the taking just yet, is a distinct possibility.

Since their last visit to the Boleyn last season they’ve had two changes of management. Owen Coyle made himself popular (not) by upping sticks for Bolton. Brian Laws came in to oversee their return to the Championship. A slump in form before Christmas saw Laws “asked to step down” as chairman Barry Kilby put it. Or “sacked” as everyone else called it.

Laws’ replacement was Eddie Howe. Howe is noted for working an absolute miracle down at Bournemouth. Taking over after the sacking of ex-Hammer Jimmy Quinn, the Cherries looked set to depart the League, something that, given their parlous financial state, could well have seen the club fold. Howe, at that point the league’s youngest manager, managed to fight through administration, points deductions and unpaid wages, not only to keep Bournemouth in the 92, but also to get them promoted the following season. Furthermore, they are currently well placed to get promoted to the Championship. Given that track record it was no surprise that once the decorations came down no fewer than three clubs were being seriously linked with Howe. Crystal Palace apparently made an offer but Howe wisely dodged that bullet. Charlton were also said to be interested but it was Burnley who finally made the offer Howe couldn’t refuse.

When we last played them their ‘keeper was the rather portly figure of Brian Jensen – affectionately known as “beast” by the fans. However, Laws brought in former Derby and Sheffield Wednesday net-minder Lee Grant during the last summer window and he is currently the no.1 choice – including for FA Cup matches where he featured in bot the third round win against Port Vale (4-2) and the fourth round 3-1 against Burton Albion. Jensen handed in a transfer request around the same time as Laws was clearing out his desk before Christmas but he remains at the club and is likely to be the bench warmer on Monday.

The defence contains ex-Hammer Tyrone Mears of whom I have written in the past. One might call his career “interesting”. He managed to get a spell at Olympique Marseille, annoying the hell out of Derby County who were his employers at the time. He also has an international cap for Jamaica, despite being about as qualified to play for them as I am. Apparently he believed that his father was Jamaican rather than the Sierra Leonean nationality he actually turned out to be. This means that Mears’ international career could be over after one game, what with the Republic of Ireland not having made a move yet.

Key man in midfield is often Chris Eagles. Eagles one of those players from the Man Utd youth system that spent a lot of time on loan before leaving permanently without making much impression at Old Trafford. In Eagles’ case he spent time at Watford (where a 50 yard Beckham-esque effort v Brighton got him the Hornets’ Goal of the Season award) Sheffield Wednesday and Dutch outfit NEC. Eagles signed a permanent deal with the Clarets at the start of 2008/09. Eagles could well have been on the move last summer – Rangers submitting a bid that Burnley accepted. However, the player failed to agree personal terms with the sweaties that just goes to prove the fact that, no matter how much of a dump parts of the North of England may be, at least it’s not Glasgow.

Neither of their two window signings (Charlie Austin from Swindon and Marvin Bartley from Bournemouth ) will be eligible for this one (unless we did their paperwork for them). Bartley is worthy of mention though, if only for the sheer number of urban-myth type rumours that have grown up about him over the years. If one were to believe one tenth of what has been written one would believe that the player is a world-class athlete who has beaten Linford Christie over 100 metres and has a World Indoor Athletics Championship medal. He is also supposed to be a cousin of Lennox Lewis, who he allegedly once knocked out during a sparring session. One of the funniest stories doing the rounds involved a certain H Redknapp esq. Wikipedia puts it thus:

Prior to signing with Bournemouth, he was working as a window fitter in Caversham. It was here where he famously fitted a new bay window on one of Harry Redknapp's holiday homes, and discovered Harry on the settee wearing only a thong watching Sky Sports News' Georgie Thompson shouting "Triffic" at the top of his voice. Harry offered him a way back into professional football at his former club if he promised to keep schtum. Unbeknown to Harry, Marvin sold his story to the Economist for the price of a yearly subscription.

Funny though that is it is also rather annoying as it means I’ll have to use something else for my “Fact Of The Week”.

And so to us. Team news is rather encouraging in certain quarters and, less so in others. In defence Tomkins and the apparently offski Upson are both doubts. DaCosta is likely to continue his return, probably alongside Reid who has looked far from top class in recent weeks. In midfield we should see a long-awaited debut for Thomas Hitzlesperger. I saw “Der Hammer” play whilst my Nurse and I were taking the waters in Austria last summer – he hit the winner in the 1-0 win over Panathanaikos as I recall. By all accounts he looked the part during pre-season and it is to be hoped that his long lay-off hasn’t dulled his edge any.

Up front we won’t be seeing Robbie Keane for a few weeks, the traditional new-signing curse having transported itself to include loan signings. Carlton Cole should be available for the match having recovered from the facial injury sustained at the Hawthorns that left him looking like that Brazilian tribesman that Sting used to hang about with when rainforests were trendy. Bizarrely, Benni McCarthy could also be in contention. The FA Cup represents the only opportunity for first team football for both McCarthy and Ilunga, both of whom are outside the 25 player league squad. Both will therefore be eligible should Grant wish to rest more important players for more important matches to come.

Prediction? Well it’s a cup match and I can see Burnley playing much in the same manner as Forest did in the previous round – which should make for an entertaining night. Much will depend on the side we put out. Full strength or as close as we can get it and I see us winning. Rest too many players and we’ll be up against it. On the optimistic hope that we take the competition seriously enough not to leave too many players out I’ll go for a 3-2 win, which will see us through to face Stoke in the quarter finals.

Enjoy the game!

Last season (League): Won 5-3 A bizarre game that saw us race to a 5-0 lead before letting them back into the game with three late goals and giving thanks that the game didn’t last another 20 minutes.

Danger Man: Chris Eagles: Was the architect of the near comeback in the aforementioned 5-3 match.

Referee: Martin Atkinson: Second visit to the Boleyn – we beat Spurs 1-0 in his previous match. In between he officiated in the 1-0 defeat at Sunderland.

Daft Fact of the Week: In 2008 Burnley’s Marvin Bartley spent six weeks in an airtight capsule in Leicester as part of the training process to become one of the UK’s first astronauts. Although he passed the rigorous selection process, he had to pull out of his proposed trip on the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station as it clashed with Bournemouth’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy match with Bristol Rovers. Bournemouth won 3-0.

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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