West Ham United v Blackburn Rovers: Match Preview

He's been away with the Derby & Joan club - whic came as a surprise to them since they kicked him out years ago. He is Preview Percy and here's his take on this weekend's match....

Next we entertain Blackburn Rovers in a 3pm Saturday kick-off at the Boleyn. TfL have helpfully shut the District line once more - their excuse earlier this season was that the works are planned 6 months in advance. They've remained rather silent on the past 4 months though.

Blackburn come into this match on the back of a 1-0 defeat of Bolton last week, a victory that, whilst not totally easing their relegation worries, at least pointed them in the general direction of safety. The win was, however, the only one of their last six games, the other five results comprising three draws (2-2 at home to Blackpool, 1-1 at the library and 1-1 at home to Birmingham) and two defeats (2-0 away to Everton and 1-0 at home to Man City) giving them a return of 6 points from their last 18 and leaving them six points and four places above us which, irrespective of our own problems, is still close enough to the drop zone for them to have genuine concerns - especially if the result of this match goes the right way from our point of view. Their remaining fixtures include the visit of Moan Utd - where if the players don't beat you the ref will - and a last day away trip to Molineux where fellow strugglers Wolves will also be in "fighting for life" mode.

When we last met these opponents they'd just dispensed with the services of Allardyce - funny how his surname contains the word "lard" isn't it. The current incumbent in the hotseat is Steve Kean who, at the time of our visit to Ewood, had just been appointed d caretaker manager by Venkey's, the Indian based poultry farming business. Kean now has the job on a permanent basis (though the definition of that word in football terms is, of course, flexible in the extreme). There have been mutterings about the various connections between Kean, his agent and the sports management group Kentaro with more than one eyebrow being raised at the potential for conflicts of interest to arise within a club where agents appear to have a major say in the running of the club. Makes you wonder what the late Jack Walker would have made of it all.

They have two definite antipodean absentees for this match in the form of Ryan Nelsen and Vince Grella. Kiwi captain Nelsen's season ended prematurely following knee surgery in April, whilst Aussie Grella is in a similar boat, his injury-hit season coming to a spluttering halt with an Achilles problem.

There are three further players listed on the "subject to fitness-test" list: Dave "Junior" Hoilett is a striker/winger who hails from Canada, thus adding to those players from around the Empire amongst the Rovers squad. Oh ok then "Commonwealth" if you must. Hoilett's career in Europe began in Germany with loan spells at Paderborn and St Pauli. On his return to Ewood in 2009 he impressed with a brace in a pre-season friendly against Leigh Genesis, though his contribution in later pre-season matches against Westhoughton Pink Floyd, Horwich Emerson Lake & Palmer and Ince-In Makerfield Van Der Graaf Generator don't seem to have been recorded for posterity.

Another doubt is midfielder David Dunn. Dunn seemed to have enormous potential as part of a decent England U21 in the period either side of the turn of the millennium. Indeed, he even gained full international recognition, replacing somebody called Kieron Dyer in a 2002 international v Portugal. However, all the early promise seemed to disappear and a difference of opinion with Rovers boss Graeme Souness led to his transfer to Birmingham City where he spent 3 1/2 seasons between 2003-2007. During the January 2007 window it looked for all the world as if he would be signing for Allardyce who, at that time, was espousing his version of "the beautiful game" at Bolton Wanderers. Dunn even took and passed a medical but, alerted to the player's apparent fondness of clubs beginning with the letter "B", Mark Hughes laid out ?2.2m to bring the player back to the club where his career had started. The deal annoyed the hell out of Allardyce - which was nice - and saddened the then Birmingham manager Steve Bruce who might have stood more of a chance of hanging onto the player had he not constantly referred to him as "Dunny" - a name that will no doubt raise a schoolboy giggle amongst those who hail from the Australian part of the Empire, sorry, Commonwealth.

The third fitness test will be taken by 35 year old Spaniard Michel Salgado, who was once described by then Real Madrid team-mate Steve McManaman as "a genuine psychopath" . Salgado apparently rejoices in the nickname "Il Due" which apparently is Italian for the number two. Aussies, feel free to make up your own punch-line involving Dunny at this point. The last of the right-sided defender's 53 Spanish caps came in 2006 and no doubt he was more than relieved to finally escape Real Madrid in 2009, fulfilling a no doubt long standing ambition to play at Ewood Park rather than the Bernabau. Of the three fitness test players, Kean reckons "at least two" will be fit for the match - though rather unsportingly the Rovers boss wouldn't say which two.

Up front against Bolton the line was led by veteran journeyman Jason Roberts. Roberts is a nephew of former West Brom (amongst others) striker Cyrille Regis. Roberts arrived at Ewood from Wigan in 2006 and is yet another of those apparently ordinary forwards who seems to be able to wreak havoc with our defence. Other options up front include Senegalese international Mame Biram Diouf who is on loan from Salford, and Roque Santa Cruz, who is on loan from Manchester City. Santa Cruz has yet to score since his return from Eastlands whilst Diouf has netted three times in his 25 league outings this term.

Their top scorer is Nikolai Kalinic, the Croatian international who has five league goals this season, though he was one who started from the bench last weekend, getting 25 minutes in the win over Bolton.

Us? Well if the owners can't be bothered to put in an appearance it does beg the question as to why I should bother. It's only the editors' insistence that they will hide my walking frame just before opening time if I don't write something now that is keeping me putting pen to paper as we speak.

Team news isn't great. There are major doubts about the fitness of Footballer Of The Year (Bale? Pah!) Scott Parker and, even if he is fit to start it's a bit of a dilemma as to whether he should play. On the one hand, starting him might just kick start the team into better things in a match from which three points are a must. On the other hand, if (as reports suggest) his Achilles is still not right, risking him could well rule him out for the equally as vital last two matches. It's an unenviable position for the manager. Whichever option Grant goes for he'll be damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Mark Noble's season appears to be over - he's suffering from something that has the brilliant name of Gilmore's Groin, which, coincidentally, is probably the name of one of those Australian places in the middle of nowhere which has one pub and one Dunny. There are also doubts over Upson (dead leg) and Tomkins (knee, though arguably DaCosta if fit might be the better option to deal with Roberts.

I suppose that there were some crumbs of comfort to be taken from the performances at Chelsea and Man City. Predictable though the result at Stamford Bridge was (not least Torres breaking his duck, the result flattered them. But, as the old saying goes if you don't take your chances... The true merit of the performance at Eastlands was less easy to judge. Sure we had our moments but how much they were down to City taking their collective feet off the pedal is open to question.

So it's down to this. Win and we get to prolong the agony for another week lose and we may as well all join the owners wherever it is they chose to go when they can't be bothered to watch us play. I'll go for a nervy 2-1 win which will have us all looking nervously at the other results.

Enjoy the game!

Last Season: Drew 0-0 - a match devoid of interest

Referee: Peter Walton Poor official who famously sent off Freddie Piquionne for climbing into the crowd at Everton, despite the fact that he, er, didn't.

Danger Man: Jason Roberts He's just that sort of player.

Daft Fact Of The WeekStrange talent show winner Susan Boyle, was actually born in Blackburn. Although it is a completely different Blackburn, it's still the most interesting thing to have happened within 300 miles of Ewood Park.

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