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West Ham United v Swansea City

Filed: Friday, 31st January 2014
By: Preview Percy

When Jose Mourinho came out with his petty and hypocritical outburst about "19th Century Football" the other night we immediately thought of Preview Percy. Actually we're not sure Percy's actually that young.....

Next up it's International Week at the Boleyn as we entertain Swansea City in a Saturday 12.45pm (pah) kick-off. If I'm reading this properly the game is to be screened by the GPO in its phone-boxes or something.

The tubes seem to be in working order, though if you're coming in from the Principality (shorthand for “Nation Lite”), engineering works on the Met means you'll have to endure that lengthy walk to Paddington's Hammersmith & City Line platforms, which seem to be in a different postcode to the rest of the station.

Every time you read something about the visitors you’ll probably come across stuff about how well they play the passing game and what an enlightened manager Michael Laudrup is. Certainly 11th spot in the league looks nice and healthy on the face of it. However, if one takes a closer look at things one might reasonably come to the conclusion that things aren’t quite as rosy as they might appear at first sight. That 11th place has been reached by virtue of gaining 24 points from their 23 games thus far. The compressed nature of the lower half of the table means that that’s a mere 5 points more than we have, a gap that would be reduced to two were we to prevail in this match – suddenly that 11th spot doesn’t seem quite as healthy now does it?

Then there’s their current form. They’ve won just the one of their last six in the league, that being a 2-0 home victory against the notoriously travel-sick Fulham. They did pick up a 1-1 draw at Villa Park but other than that it’s been defeats at Chelsea (1-0), at home to Man City (2-3), away at Man Utd (2-0) and at home to Spurs (1-3).

Their involvement in the Thursday Night League – which saw them start their competitive season about two weeks earlier than the rest of us – may have had an effect. Including the cup games their next few matches certainly have a tough air about them. After us they have the visit of their best mates from along the coast at Cardiff followed by trips to Stoke, Everton (FA Cup) and Liverpool plus home and away legs against Napoli in the TNL. All of those have to be shoe-horned in before the end of February which makes our four game schedule over the same period look positively lazy in comparison.

It’s probably no coincidence that their recent league form coincides with the absence of striker Michu, who has been out with a crocked ankle since December. They’ve had other injuries in recent weeks though, where the likes of De Guzman, Dyer and the bloke out of the Harry Potter films have all had time off. In Shelvey’s case his recovery was helped by a poultice, the ingredients of which included eye of newt, bat spleens and a bottle of “White Horse” embrocation. Probably.

At one point Laudrup claimed to have been down to 13 fit players, though unlike us, that squad didn’t appear to consist of ten full-backs, two ‘keepers and Herbie The Hammer. Whilst De Guzman, Dyer and Shelvey are all available for selection, Michu and Jose Canas are likely to miss this one, with the former being pencilled in to make a return in the Leek & Rarebit derby next weekend.

It’s been a relatively quiet window for them so far. At one point they were linked with Tom “you can’t blame him for his Dad” Ince, having agreed a loan deal with Blackpool. However “following international discussions” Swansea decided to withdraw from the deal. The mention of “international discussions” seemed to indicate that they might have had someone else in mind for Ince, though of course “international” technically means anything to the right of either of the two Severn Brigdes on the map. They did bring in Bolton forward David Ngog for an undisclosed fee and since I started this sentence the spotty work experience kid tells me they've shelled out £200,000 on 19 year-old Falkirk midfielder Jay Fulton. On the other side of the equation, we are said to have made an enquiry as to the availability of full back Neil Taylor, though with Mrs Taylor about to give birth at any moment the player's priorities may understandably be elsewhere at the moment.

And what of us? Well Wednesday night was highly amusing wasn’t it. It’s hard to know what was funnier, watching the Chelsea midfield continually giving Row Z catching practice from 35 yards, or listening to their slimy boss tie himself in logical knots afterwards whining about the result.
Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For the Bewildered know a bit about the 19th century - for a start it was the last time they did any repairs about the place. As for Chelsea, well I guess a club that continues to not only employ John Terry but also gives him the armband and sticks up tacky plastic banners claiming that the racist thug is actually a “Legend” should know all about 19th century attitudes. Actually, watching Terry and Ivanovic continually placing their palms in the faces of opponents took me back a bit further than the 19th  century. The word “Neanderthal” leapt to mind. Next time a Chelsea fan brings up this match up you would do to remind them of how the one so-called Champions League title they bought owed much to the fact that they spent the 120 minutes of ordinary and stoppage time in the final begging the ref to blow the final whistle and cut to the penalties. And you might also enquire of them as to which manager defended his team’s boring style at Arsenal by countering with the comment “I think it’s boring when a team doesn’t score at home”.

From us there were good performances all over the pitch. Adrian  had another fine game and was not found wanting on the few occasions they actually got into our box. Collins reduced Ivanovic to a third rate Mick McManus (one for the old 'uns there) tribute act and Taylor had one of his best games in the claret & blue. There was also an interesting little cameo at the end from Nocerino as well. Walnut made a number of telling interceptions and clearances towards the end that found Carlton Cole to feet. Now Carlton, bless him, doesn’t always hold the ball up that well but the fact that he was receiving the ball on the deck at least delayed its return for longer than might normally have been the case had the Colester been trying to latch on to an aerial despatch.

For this one we have two new additions to the squad. Former Man City youngster Abdul Razak has come in from Anzi Makhachkala, a club that appeared from nowhere having had zillions of Russian petrodollars pumped into them, only to now be seemingly heading straight back to oblivion as the club’s owner loses interest in his plaything. A cautionary tale that might worry a club or two (well one in particular anyway) in this country.

We've also picked up Colombian international left back Pablo Armero on loan, a move that is likely to bring our interest to the aforementioned Taylor to a conclusion. Razak is unlikely to be in contention for this match though the spotty work experience kid had gone home before I could make him find out if Armaro signed in time for this one.

If the paperwork was done in time, Armaro could come into a squad that could contain Winston Reid for the first time in ages, as well as Mo Diame who seems to have shaken off the after effects of having taken the home end single handed the other night. Sadly Joey O’Brien will be missing for quite some time following the shoulder injury suffered at the hands (literally) of Gary Cahill, whose push was one of the more obvious examples of 19th century football on display at Stamford Bridge.

Prediction? Well this match was always going to be a key one so the boost of having gained a point in midweek could be vital. The victory over Fulham notwithstanding, they’ll have been casting a furtive glance or two over their shoulders at other results in recent weeks so there’ll still be a bit of nerves involved. I therefore fancy us to win this one. It’ll probably be close so I’ll be putting the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s 19th Century upgrade fund (£2.50) on a 2-1 win, which will put a few cats among pigeons amongst the eleven teams in the bottom half of the table.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn – Won 1-0 (February 2013) Andy Carroll's 2nd half header gave us a deserved victory that ought to have been a bit more comfortable than it ended up being.

Referee: Howard Webb Surely it must be his retirement age by now?

Danger Man: Wilfried Bony – was linked with us in the last transer window and is just beginning to pick up the odd goal or two.

Daft fact of the week: Apparently the Worm's Head peninsula near Swansea is the 7th most photographed sunset in the world. Which begs three questions: Firstly, what is a sunset? None of us can remember one. Secondly, what do they win if it gets photographed a few more times to take it to the top of the charts and, finally, who on earth is sad enough to spend their lives counting these things?

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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