Chelsea v West Ham United

In honour of our new signings Preview Percy has gone all Italian. To be honest it's not a pretty sight.....

Next up we hop onto the District Line to the Stamford Bridge Laundromat for a Wednesday night trip to Chelsea. Kick-off is at 7:45pm and, this being midweek, only the rush-hour fun that is the tube will delay your journey.

We are forever told that the league is a "marathon not a sprint" in which case we currently have a group of three just beginning to (to paraphrase the late Ron Pickering) open their legs to show their class. Arsenal are top of course, looking nervously over their shoulders at the rather good Manchester City who (at the time of writing with Arsenal being 1-0 down at Southampton) are tucked in nicely one point behind them on 50 points.

Then, in the manner of a runner who wants the two guys in front of him to at least consider the possibility that he might have something of a sprint finish left in the locker, come Chelsea with 49 points from their 22 matches played so far.

Current form looks good - they've won five and drawn one of their last six in the league. The wins came at home to Swansea (1-0), at home to Liverpool (2-1), away at Southampton and Hull (3-0 and 2-0 respectively) and a 3-1 home stroll against Man Utd. The one draw came away at the library on a filthy Monday night just before Christmas that you wouldn't have sent the spotty work experience kid out on.

Of course their unlimited source of funds (to them "Financial Fair Play" simply means pulling up the drawbridge behind them) means that that transfer windows are just a bit of a laugh. The best thing about the current one has been their fans making themselves look a bit daft at the hands of some Man Utd supporters armed with a video camera and a microphone. "Yeah - great passer of the ball from what I've seen on YouTube" was the general reaction as a couple of eejits with Cork accents dangled a few unsubtly made-up names in front of the sort of people who all went "who?" when Bobby Tambling was paraded in front of them at half-time in a match against us a few years ago. To be fair the eejits did eventually encounter a group of blokes who were prepared to admit that they had never heard of the putative "targets". There again they seemed so "refreshed" that you could probably have mentioned Lionel Messi to them without getting a reaction.

One real player they did bring in was Nemanja "Professor Matt" Matic who really old readers of similar vintage to myself might remember used to be the engineer on Fireball XL5 (back when kids' tv was slightly better than the extended advert for tat that it is today). Matic is now in his second spell at the club and has been rehired to fill a perceived need in the defensive midfield department. Received wisdom has it that this area hasn't been the same since Makalele left, what with Essien's knee having been a bit on the fragile side in recent years. Talking of Essien's knee, it has now departed, loosely connected to the rest of him, in the general direction of Milan. That would have been an interesting medical.

Also gone is Juan "Whassa" Mata who has gone to Old Trafford to help with their relegation battle. Given the Salford mob's current plight one could argue that the dropping of such a player like crumbs from the Chelsea table will act as a psychological downer for Moyes lot. Certainly if Chelsea wanted to send a message along the lines of "we consider you to be that small a threat that we'll sell you a half decent player" it was a pretty unsubtle way of doing so.

There's little to like about the Russian's plaything. There's the lionising of a racist thug and the love-in for an obnoxious little git who actually did sell his kids' grandma down the river. Then there's all the diving.

When the paper boy brought round my copy of the Standard the other night I was somewhat bemused to discover an article from Patrick Barclay extolling the virtues of goals from free-kicks. The argument went that, since free-kicks are awarded as punishment for foul play, the true football supporter should rejoice when a goal is scored from one. Which is all well and good until you start praising the likes of Oscar, whose effort against Stoke at the weekend was the difference between the two teams in the Cup. Mr Barclay's rather naive argument sort of ignores one vital thing, that being the simple fact that Oscar is a cheat who often dives to win those free-kicks in the first place.

Take the reverse fixture earlier this season. Latching on to an admittedly rotten back pass Oscar's dive was so far in advance of any contact from Jaaskalainen he still had his street clothes on. The only thing more embarrassing than Oscar's dive was the failure of the referee to spot what was one of the worst dives ever seen outside Anfield. I'll start applauding free-kick goals Mr Barclay when the likes of Chelsea stop diving to get them - though I suspect we'll all be getting about on jet packs by then.

It might help if there was a bit of honesty in the media about it. Niall Quinn commented to the effect that Oscar "saw Jaaskalainen coming" - so here's a novel idea for commentators and journalists: stop mincing your words. If you see Oscar throw himself to the floor in an obvious dive don't say "he made the most of what contact there was". Tell it like it is and say that he cheated. Maybe then referees might just stop using the get out of jail free card given to them by the media and actually start doing their jobs.

According to their manager, Chelsea "have no divers", a "fact" that will come as news to West Brom who came within a gnat's of winning until a last minute spot of "simulation" gave Chelsea a point-saving spot kick.

Rant over and so to us. There are some new faces about the place what with this being the window and all. So it's a warm welcome from La Casa Riposo Olimpico Del Avram Grant per lo Sconcertato (blame the spotty work experience kid and something called "Google Translate" for that one) to midfielder Antonio Nocerino and striker Marco Borriello.

Nocerino has, over his career, apparently played both as a defensive midfielder and in more of an attacking role - he has a Serie A hat-trick to his name for Milan. Nocerino's surname apparently translates as "little walnut" which, by strange coincidence, is an affliction quite common amongst the more elderly of us here at the Rest Home.

Borriello's name doesn't translate into anything much in English. He survived a childhood in Naples that included his father being killed by the Camorra when he was only 10. He seems an "interesting" character - in 2006-07 he seems to have served a ban for doping having tested positive for a number of steroid-type compounds, something his then girlfriend attributed to creams she was using to counter an infection in an "intimate" area. I would ask Matron for clarification but I've just had my tea.

Injury news continues to improve, though this match would appear to be a few days too soon for Winston Reid. Tomkins will be available for selection after his suspension and will probably partner James Collins in the middle.

Diame's knee is an odd one. It looked like one of those "painful for a bit but not serious" knocks at first so it was some surprise to see the player stretchered off. The initial comments from the manager suggested that the knock was "quite serious" though later reports suggested that this was not the case.

So a prediction then. We'll lose of course - as we've seen time and time again referees are far too scared of Abrahamovic to give visiting teams a fair crack of the whip. However, this will be more about the performance and getting something to carry over into future matches. We're vulnerable at free-kicks and our opponents are past masters at conning them out of the officials. I'll be putting the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's Pickled Walnut Budget (?2.50) on a 3-1 home win as we look to bed in the new faces.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Stamford Bridge - Lost 0-2 (March 2013) Andy Carroll had a perfectly good goal disallowed as a fat obnoxious pensioner-hating midfielder and Hazard were on the scoresheet for the home side.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick Last seen trying to liven up our otherwise dull 2-0 home win over Wigan last season by dishing out yellow cards on a whim.

Danger Man:Dember Ba - him and the fat gerontophobe will be looking to prove that the "law of the ex" actually exisits.

Daft fact of the week: If "by a man's friends shall ye know him", it's worth pointing out that Roman Abrahamovic is said to be close mates with oafish Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Putin's bid to make the forthcoming Winter Olympics a paradise for homophobes hasn't quite got as far as renaming the skiing plus shooting event as "The Athlon" but it's probably only a matter of time.

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