West Ham United v Chelsea

During this cold snap, picture if you will the sight of a miserable old figure shivering in the dark huddling over a laptop for warmth. Don't feel sorry for Preview Percy though. There's plenty of heating at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. The old so and so is just too mean to pay for it. Here's his look at this weekend's visit of some other Pensioners....

Next up we play host to Chelsea. Kick off is at 5:30pm for the benefit of those who like to view these things through signals bounced into space and back into televisual apparatus. The late kick-off will come in handy as, having had an away match and an international break to play with, TfL have decided to bring back the District Line engineering works, just in case you were missing them. Nothing on the green or pink lines between Whitechapel and West Ham is the order of the day so you may find yourself using the nice shiny new Jubilee line for part of your trip. Coming from the other direction? No C2C between Upminster and Barking. Check before you leave - I'd start off now actually.

Our visitors currently sit in 4th place with 21 points from their 11 matches, four points behind Arsenal. Their form's a bit mixed in the league of late. Their last six have seen them win three (3-1 at Norwich, 4-1 at home to Cardiff and 2-1 at home to Man City) draw two (1-1 at Spurs and 2-2 at home to West Brom) and lose just the once (2-0 at Newcastle). The bare results don't tell the whole story however. They've had more than their share of good fortune in that time, notably in the win over Man City when Hart's late clanger handed them the points on a plate. Then there was their last match where only the intervention of Andre Marriner gave them a point. Marriner's decision to award the Pensioners a late penalty was so bad that even Mike Riley took time out from his hectic schedule of counting his unwarranted salary to apologise to West Brom. He's currently preparing apologies to us. He's up to chapter 30 as we speak.

As usual there has been managerial change at the Abrahamovic Money Laundrette. When we played them last it was Roberto Di Matteo who had just been given the chop.. In came Rafael Benitez as interim manager, much to the annoyance of the support, some of whom had been following the club for several weeks. It was quite hilarious to hear the visiting support last season expending what little vocal energy they could be bothered to muster in moaning about Benitez. Benitez carried them through to a win in the Thursday Night League.
To nobody's surprise Benitez was replaced in a Back To The Future style manoeuvre by the return of the man in the Matalan coat. I suppose it's pleasing to some that Mourinho hasn't changed an awful lot - witness his absurd defence of Ramires' dive the other week.

The return of the special needs one seems to have had a bizarre nostalgic re-writing of history amongst those who ought to know better. Here in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we've been hardly able to move for newspaper articles suggesting that John Terry should be considered for a return to England duty. The fact that even one of the commissioners recently appointed to look at the future of the game (yes you Mr Mills) has been joining in the clamour is worrying in the extreme and doesn't bode well for that body's future conclusions. I mean if anyone has any doubts just dig out a dvd of the 2010 World Cup and watch him moaning at his fellow defenders for failing to do his job for him. Meanwhile we can but remain nostalgic fr the days when the choice of England Captain wasn't between a thug from a family of drug dealers and thieves and a racist thug from a family of drug dealers and thieves.

Lousy striker and lousier diver Fernando Torres has missed the past couple of games through injury. Why he's still at Chelsea while Lukaku is continually shipped out on loan is right up there with the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, the almost 24 hour presence of elevator musician Andre Rieu on Sky Arts and the bizarre shape of Michael Carberry's batting helmet as one of those great mysteries of modern life. Torres's injury makes him a bit of a doubt for this one which is good given our record of letting unremarkable players score against us.

Another odd transfer was that of Samuel Eto'o. You're Chelsea. You have dodgy money coming out of your ears. You can pretty much buy anyone you want. And you buy a lightly past his peak Eto'o??? Lukaku must be scratching a quizzical head up on Merseyside at the moment. Eto'o (32, apparently) is a bit of an odd cove. By virtue of having lived in the place since he was 16, he has a Spanish passport which comes in handy at work permit time. He's not one to shy away from a ruck - he notoriously once stuck the nut on a journalist who had upset him and issued death threats to another. He was also accused with five mates of beating up his former agent, leaving him barefoot which, apparently, is another way of issuing a death threat in Cameroon. Given Eto'o's (that simply doesn't look right with those apostrophes) well-known stand on racism it ought to make for an interesting time whenever Terry opens his stupid gob.

Eto'o arrived from Russian outfit Anzi Makhachkala where he was pulling in a reported EUR20m a season - after tax. The wages were funded by the club's Russian billionaire owner who ended up getting bored with running a football club and pulling the plug on all the finance. Something to think about Chelsea fans.

Another option up front is former Hammer Dember Ba. He's been splinter gathering for most of the season and has made only two starts and a sub appearance in the League thus far. Clearly out of favour he's a potential target for a loan move back to the Boleyn, an earlier bid in the summer having fallen through.

Talking of ex-Hammers El Gordo is still there having been given an extension to his contract after he broke the club's goalscoring record last season - though when deflections are taken out of the equation we reckon he's still about 150 short of Tambling's mark.

Us? Well there were two disturbing features about our last match (Norwich - remember that?). The continuing plummet of refereeing standards into unprecedented levels of awfulness is something that is out of our immediate control. The fact that Moss has now refereed six Premier League matches this season, made match affecting major errors in four of them and for the last two seasons has awarded twice a many penalties as the average top flight ref is something that ought to be raising eyebrows in the corridors of power but isn't, mainly because such low standards are now par for the course. It's got to the stage now that I'm surprised when I see a Premier League match that is actually decided on the relative merits of the teams involved, rather than on whether or not the officials are actually up to the job. Perhaps Riley should be doing more than issuing insincere apologies that are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The paying public deserves better.

However, notwithstanding the inadequacies of Moss (and a worryingly large number of his colleagues) our alarming collapse in the face of having to play against 12 men again was, well alarming. As well as we played in the first half we simply went to pieces once Moss had decided to give Norwich a couple of goals as a consolation for being played off the park in the first 45.

The international break came as a double-edged sword. Some players will have had a much needed rest - including Mark Noble (anyone notice Tom Cleverley for England the other night? No me neither). However, for some, one would have thought it might have been more beneficial to have gotten straight back on the horse so to speak. Especially as the manager would have had the opportunity to work on one or two issues whilst they were still fresh in the minds.

Talking of internationals, am I the only one getting a bit fed up with the FA's constant distribution of videos of young Ravel doing extraordinary stuff with a football. It's almost as if they want everyone to know that he's a talented player. Couldn't they just circulate the video to West Ham Fans for our entertainment, leaving the scouts of the vulture squadron to earn their pay for once?

There are selection issues. In midfield one is wondering how long Mo Diame's penance is to last. Having apparently cheesed off Mr Allardyce with a lack-lustre effort in the League Cup at Burnley he's been on the bench for recent matches with Collison being given a start after a few weeks recuperating on the south coast at Bournemouth. It surely can't have escaped Mr Allardyce's memory that this time last year Diame had also been dropped to the bench only to be recalled for the second half of the Chelsea match to devastating effect (see below).

On the injury front, Winston Reid is out of contention for the foreseeable having had an operation on his bothersome ankle, the one bright spot being that he'll at least be under the radar of the vulture squadron for a bit. James Collins is fit to join Tomkins in the middle and it looks like Joey O'B's hamstring should be ok. This is just as well as Roland picked up a similar injury in Romania's ill-fated World Cup play-off against the Bubbles. Of course we are again bereft of strikers other than Carlton (still a bit unfit), Petric (still a bit injured) and Maiga (still a bit bereft of confidence).

Prediction? Well we've had no luck whatsoever of late. We've not had much joy at home this season and any chance of a positive result will depend on us displaying a degree of clinicality (is that a word?) in front of goal that has been notable by its absence in recent weeks (*cough* yes Mr Nolan I mean you). I suppose that the typical West Ham way would be to get a much-needed win this week - much as we did on the back of the defeat to Jon Moss's Stoke but I can't quite see it this week. Best I can go for is parity then. The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's collection (?2.50) to help save Methodist Vicars (The Crystal Methodist Fund)is therefore going on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn - Won 3-1 (December 2012) One-nil down at the interval, Diame was introduced and took the game by the scruff of the neck. A Carlton Comedy, a Diame Drive and Maiga follow-up gave us a deserved three points.

Referee: Chris Foy Famously confused by Spurs fans for the similarly-named knighted Olympian. Easily done when you're stupid. Last seen taking control of our 3-1 defeat at Craven Cottage last season.

Danger Man: Frank Lampard Junior Usually takes time out from bad mouthing his former club and turning grannies out on to the streets to score against us.

Daft fact of the week: Chelsea were "elected" into the Football League before they'd even played a game. The club was formed to fill a stadium that had already been built and somehow blagged their way into the ranks without all that tedious mucking about with promotion etc. Nothing dubious there then.

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