West Ham United v Newcastle United

Next we play host to Newcastle United in what will be a 3pm kick off on Saturday. Praise the good lord or something.

Of course with decent weather in the offing and a home match on a Saturday afternoon you can normally rely on Transport For London to stick a spanner in the works. No District Line between Tower Hill and West Ham, meaning that the usual meet for pre-match cocktails with Preview Alastair and my other Geordie pals will need to find another venue.

The visitors arrive in a spot of bother sitting as they are one spot above the relegation zone with 35 points from 37 games. Whilst they do have a five point cushion over Whelan's mob who currently occupy the one remaining relegation slot, Wigan do have a game in hand, a midweek fixture at home to Swansea. All in all it's time to get a bit nervy on Tyneside.

Current form has been pretty dreadful to be honest. They've won just the once in the last six, a 1-0 home win over Fulham. Their only other reward over the last half dozen matches was a 1-1 draw with the Baggies at the Hawthorns. Other than that it's been defeat all the way going down 2-1 at Wigan, 4-0 at Man City, 3-0 at home to Sunderland (ouch) and 6-0 at home to Liverpool. The latter defeat was likened to having had a "death in the family" by defender Steven Taylor proving that a sense of perspective is at a premium up there.

Manager Alan Pardew - that name rings a bell for some reason - was quick to quash rumours of a rift within the squad this week and club officials have banned a certain national paper from the club thanks to the so called "revelations" that appeared this week. Pardew did concede that there had been language difficulties though and mused that players tended to adapt to English when forced to rather than when they had an interpreter on call all day.

First chice 'keeper Tim Krull is out for this having dislocated his shoulder. Rob Elliott has been deputising in his absence with the veteran Steve Harper sitting - as he has for much of his career - on the bench.

Their defence has been missing defender Fabricio Coloccini of late. The Argentinian has been absent with a back injury. This he sustained in landing after a spectacular overhead clearance in the 4-2 win over Southampton, resul;ting in two broken bones. Part of his rehabilitation seems to have included a trip across the Atlantic to his home country to cheer on his boyhood club San Lorenzo. The Buenos Aires club, who include the current Pope amongst their supporters, made a bid for the player during the January window and Newcastle fans are worried that he might go in the summer. "I'm worried that he might go in the summer" Preview Alastair told me, only last week. Reports suggest that he might have recovered enough in time for this match and recent results would seem to indicate that he will play if there's any likelihood of his being fit.

Top scorer at the moment is Pappise Cisse. I say top scorer, a more accurate description would be "joint" top scorer as he is on 13 goals alongside Dember Ba, who legged it off to Chelsea in January. Actually the BBC website lists his 13 goals as being comprised of 8 in the league and 4 in Europe. Which makes 12 by my abacus. Cisse has a penchant for the spectacular, which probably means that he'll score off his backside or something equally daft this weekend.

I'm always amazed whenever I look at Newcastle to discover that Shola Amobi is still there. I was even more gobsmacked to discover that he is actually 32 years old. He supposedly showed a lot of promise as a kid, though I could never see it myself. Either way he's never been the most prolific of strikers over his career. A career total of 76 goals in over 370 appearances doesn't suggest the words "Goal Machine" to me and that's the sort of form that you'd expect to see getting a player transferred down the leagues. Funny old world.

Us? Disappointed that the recent unbeaten run came to an end last weekend, We had a lot of the ball in the second half but, as we've seen when teams play against us, it's all very well having the ball but if you do nothing with it... Mind you it took two splendid goals to beat us. Had to love the comedy goal at the end as well.

We have no further injury worries which gives Mr Allardyce a nice selection problem again in midfield where O'Neil and the fit again Noble will be battling for the same berth. I'm sure mssrs Carroll and Nolan will be looking forward to this one with some relish as well.

Predictions? Well they'll be needing the win. That need will come with a certain nervousness. An early goal will heighten that worry and nervous glances at the score from West Brom will no doubt be made, assuming anyone can get a bloody signal within the Boleyn Ground. For that reason I'll be sending the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's Fund to hire a private investigator to find out why they never repeat episodes of It's a Knockout any more (?2.50) on a 3-1 win for us, in the hope that Wigan don't get anything at West Brom - I'd much rather they went down to be honest.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 1-2 (October 2010). We looked good for ten minutes or so. Then we made the mistake of taking the lead through Carlton Cole. Which would have been ok had we not decided that was it and sat back like we'd won the game. Some chap called Nolan equalised, scoring from a header from some chap called Carroll. Who later got the winner. Wonder what happened to those two.

Referee:Phil Dowd. I am grateful that he's still refereeing as it means that there is someone less fit than me inside the ground.

Danger Man:Papisse Cisse. Spectacular goals a speciality. All 12 or 13 of them..

Daft Fact Of The Week: Years ago when I was enjoying a winter break with the now happily ex Mrs Percy, I happened across a copy of the local Majorcan English language newspaper. Turning as one does to the back page I noted that Newcastle had sold Andrew Cole to Manchester United. "Preview Alastair will be stunned" I told the not so good lady wife showing her the headline. I then read the rest of the article which contained the following sentence '"I'm stunned" said Newcastle supporter Preview Alastair". Even all those years ago I was right.

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