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West Ham Utd v Watford

Filed: Wednesday, 7th March 2012
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy is in the doghouse with the staff of the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered. You see when he offered to run this month’s coach trip and announced that it would be to Wales, they were hoping for a little more than a four hour stop at Cardiff West Services whilst he and the coach driver disappeared to watch Sunday’s match. Still not all the residents were unhappy – the soggy pasties meant that for once not all the food had to be put through a liquidiser. Meanwhile the old sod has recovered from the twin shocks of winning abroad and the cost of Werthers Originals at Motorway Service Areas in time to string a few words together re the forthcoming visit of Watford. John Northcutt is, as ever, our stat man...

The games just keep on coming as we next entertain Watford in a 7.45pm kick-off this Wednesday. The weather forecast is for it to be chucking it down during the day but my bunions reckon that the worst of the precipitation will have passed by kick-off leaving clear skies. It’ll be a bit nippy so wrap up warm etc etc.

Unless anything really, really spectacular occurs our visitors are pretty much playing out the season as it stands. They currently sit in 17th spot, the bottom of four clubs on 43 points from their 34 matches. This is 12 points away from the play-off spots and 15 away from the relegation zone. As I say, they’re pretty safe from anything interesting happening to them for the foreseeable. Current form isn’t too bad – they’ve won 3 (2-1 at home to Barnsley, 3-2 at home to Leicester and 3-2 at home to Burnley) drawn just the once (1-1 at Forest) and lost 2 (4-0 at Palace and 3-0 at home to Southampton). On the road, other than the draw at Forest the only other points that have come their way away from Vicarage Road since the turn of the year came in January’s 2-0 win at Millwall. Which is funny.

Their last outing saw them overturn a 2-0 deficit to beat Burnley with goals from Nosworthy (cancelling out his own goal that had given the visitors a 2-0 lead), Kacaniklic and Deeney. Deeney’s winner was his 6th of the season, something that makes him the top scorer still at the club. The actual top scorer is Marvin Sordell but he is unlikely to be of any concern to us for the time being, having left for Bolton during the January transfer window.

They recently moved into the loan market to pick up ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak from Manchester United on a deal that will keep him at Watford until the end of the season – at which point he is tipped to become a free agent as his contract with the mob from Salford expires. Kuszczak marked his debut with a howler that gifted Southampton their first in the 3-0 defeat. The third goal should be compulsory viewing for any Saints supporter who maintains that their darlings are not partial to the odd dive – the effort from Lee that gave them their penalty was so bad that even Suarez (a player with no concept of shame) would have blushed.

Despite Kuszczak’s less than auspicious debut he was retained between the posts for last Saturday’s fixture against Burnley with manager Dyche commenting “There’s no finger pointing here”. Apart from the practical question raised by that statement over how anyone in Watford gives directions, it remains to be seen how much England U21 (and sometime full squad member) Scott Loach agrees with that sentiment, him being the one who lost his place following the move.

The loan market was also the source for striker Marcello Trotta (yes really) who arrived on a short-term deal from Fulham. The 19 year-old had youth spells at Napoli and Manchester City before alighting at Craven Cottage, signing pro terms in 2011. Since then he has enjoyed a loan spell out at Wycombe Wanderers where his 8 goals in as many games saw boss Gary Waddock label the player as a “goalscoring machine”. Fulham decided that it was time for the player to move up a level, hence his arrival in Herts. He made his Hornets debut in the aforementioned defeat to Southampton and was an unused sub in Saturday’s victory over Burnley.

Trotta is the second player from Craven Cottage to be spending time on loan at the moment with Swedish midfielder Alexander Kacaniklic also arriving at the end of the last transfer window. Kacaniklic arrived at Fulham from Liverpool as part of the deal that took Paul Konchesky on his ill-fated sojourn to the land of the permanent jobseeker.

The loan deals were the only incomings during/after the main transfer window, though they will have been pleased to have held on to defender Adrian Mariappa. The 25 year old has been with Watford from school and has Premier League experience from the Hornets’ last visit to the top. Newcastle & Wigan were both highly interested in the player with Newcastle allegedly having three separate bids rejected. Wigan’s bit was accepted by the club but for some strange reason the prospect of becoming an employee of Dishonest Dave Whelan failed to appeal to the player. If he stays with the club much after the summer he’ll be able to show them what they’re missing in person.

And so to us. Firstly a few words about Sunday. Flipping cold wasn’t it? No wonder they burn cottages down there now the coal has run out. I thought we were good value for the win though there were moments when we appeared to be failing vis-a-vis the standard cow’s backside/banjo interface test. This was a bit of a worry when 1-0 up and, Whittingham’s free-kick that found the woodwork was a reminder that we can’t afford to be so wasteful in front of goal. Still the overall team performance was good and in amongst that there were some individual displays that fair well warmed the cockles (take a bow Mr Faye).

Team news is that Winston Reid is still dazed and confused following his international exploits. Carew’s knee is still sore. Faubert went down feeling all poorly in Wales – probably some local bug to which the natives are immune but to which visitors from the more developed world find themselves rather susceptible. He too is therefore a doubt. Demel (Waterer-Pascoe Syndrome) will again be missing, though anyone to whom that comes as a surprise ought to seek medical help themselves. On the returning side of the balance sheet, Taylor will be available from his enforced three match rest for breathing too close to Billy Sharp in the Southampton match.

Talking of the divers, Jason Scotland’s late equaliser for Ipswich sets up this match nicely. A win against Watford would see us return to the top without having to make use of the game in hand. A look at the Hornets’ results in recent weeks suggests that when they win they do so by the narrowest of margins – 3-2 being a favourite result. When they lose they lose heavily with both a 4-0 and 3-0 showing up on the monitor. They’ve also netted only 12 times away from Vicarage Road (only Coventry have been more travel sick in front of goal).

Despite this they have the capacity to be one of those annoying teams that come to the Boleyn with an exercise in bus parking on their minds. Should that be the case we might need to be a bit patient. However, an early first goal could do us the power of good. So as long as we can remember which bit of the banjo is supposed to connect which bit of the cow – and remember early enough during the match I can see us taking the points comfortably. 3-1 would be my bet if I were daft enough to put money on the result of any of these ramblings. Which I’m not.

Enjoy the game.

When last we met: Won 4-0 – Goals from Tomkins, O’Brien, Cole and some bloke called Parker sealed back to back away wins for the first time in four years. We’ve won a further 8 on our travels since then. Funny old world innit.

Referee: Keith Stroud. Diminuitive (i.e. shortarse) official who seems to be following us around this season. This will be his fourth time in charge of us this term having been in the middle for the home defeat to Ipswich, the away win at Coventry and the cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

Danger Man: Marcello Trotta. I’ll admit Danger Man was a struggle this week. One usually takes a discreet peek at opposition forums and the like for a guide but such is the general air of ennui about the place nobody seems to have much to say good or bad. It’s early days for the loanee and he was left out of the Burnley match. He does have a decent record with Wycombe this year and is well thought of by Fulham boss Martin Jol by all accounts so perhaps he’ll be one to watch, even if it is from the bench.

Daft Fact Of The Week: The legendary folk/rock/prog/you name it singer Roy Harper stuck a track on his marvellous album “Bullinamingvase” called “Watford Gap”. The track contained a scathing but accurate critique of the standards of cuisine to be found at the M1 service area of the same name (“plate of grease and a load of crap”). The owners of the service area (a director of which was also on the board at Harper’s record company) took exception to the song, leading to it being removed from later pressings of the album for legal reasons (though if you buy the CD now the track is back on there).

All of which is completely irrelevant as:

a) One Of These Days In England (parts 2-10) is by far and away the standout track on that album; and

b) Watford Gap is nowhere near Watford, it being a village located in Northants, about 50 miles north of the Hertfordshire town. This doesn’t stop people with cheapo satnavs turning up there looking for Vicarage Road from time to time though. Probably Tottenham fans looking for Sir Chris Hoy.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 37; West Ham Utd 24, Watford 8, Draws 5.

First Meeting
1st January 1978: West Ham Utd 1-0 Watford (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)

Last Five Meetings
16th August 2011: 4-0 (Vicarage Road, Championship)
23rd September 2008: 0-1 (Vicarage Road, Carling Cup)
10th February 2007: 0-1 (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)
27th January 2007: 0-1 (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
22nd August 2006: 1-1 (Vicarage Road, Premiership)

Friendly Meetings
Just the one: West Ham Utd 2-3 Watford, back in November 1967; Johnny Sissons and Martin Peters on target for the Hammers.

They Played For Both
Stuart Slater; Colin Foster; Alan Devonshire; David James; Ted Hufton; Roger Hugo; Jimmy Lindsay; James Rutherford; Joe Webster.

Former Hammer Len Goulden was the Watford manager between 1952-55 whereas Malky Mackay was Hornets' boss from 2009-11. Glenn Roeder has also managed both clubs.

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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