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West Ham United v Norwich City

Filed: Monday, 10th February 2014
By: Preview Percy

Two wins on the trot have cheered the notoriously grumpy Preview Percy up a little bit. Frankly, we preferred him when he was miserable...

It's back home next as we entertain Norwich City on Tuesday night. Kick-off is at 7.45pm. Good luck with getting home – some fat Millwall supporter has called a tube strike which (if still on) will affect the District Line from about 9.30 – shortly before the final whistle goes.

The Canaries have picked up a point a game thus far from their 25 games played, leaving them in 16th place. Points-wise that's level pegging with us though we have the advantage over them in terms of places, thanks to our superior, or, if you will, less inferior, goal difference (us -7 them -18).

Their last 6 go DLWDLD, the solitary three-pointer coming courtesy of a 1-0 home win over Hull. The three draws came at Palace (1-1) and at home to Newcastle and Man City (both 0-0) whilst the defeats came at Everton (0-2) and at Cardiff (1-2).

The recent transfer window saw Chris Hughton dip into the loan market, bringing in Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo. Yobo, who will be familiar to most from his 10 year spell at Everton, has come in on an “until end of season” deal from Fenerbahce where he's found opportunities limited by restrictions on the fielding of non-Turkish players, not something a player really wants in World Cup year. Yobo made his debut in Saturday's 0-0 draw against Man City.

I was going to say that it was an otherwise quiet transfer window for them but Wes Hoolahan made more than enough noise to make up for the lack of incoming activity elsewhere. Hoolahan put in a transfer request with a view to joining old boss Paul Lambert over at Villa. Villa put in a couple of £1m bids for the midfielder last month, both bids being rejected. So far so mundane. However, tv people hanging around the training ground spotted the player leaving and enquired as to whether he'd be clearing out his locker. His response was a bit of a giveaway: “I ****ing hope so. This is a ****house of a club”. This statement confused us here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for The Bewildered, where such terms are reserved for the likes of Liverpool and Spurs, rather than for Norwich, who are so inoffensive to anyone outside Ipswich that it is believed that they were the template for the description of planet Earth in Douglas Adams' Hitch-hikers Guide To The Galaxy: “Harmless”. Boss Hughton claims that it's all water under the bridge now anyway, and the player was an unused sub against Man City.

Their top scorer is Gary Hooper who came in during the summer from Celtic. You'll remember Hooper as the diver who “earned” the penalty that turned the match against us at Carrow Road back in November, a dive aided by Robert Snodgrass's foul on Jaaskalainen. Perhaps the updatded version of the Hitch-hikers Guide (“MOSTLY Harmless”) is more appropriate then. Hooper is expected to have recovered from a real injury to his ankle for this one.

Another injury doubt is Robert Snodgrass who faces a late test on a groin problem. Like Hoolahan, Snodgrass hasn't exactly endeared himself to the Norwich support of late. During the goalless draw with the Geordies, an easily-cleared Snodgrass corner met with derision the Canary support. Snodgrass's reaction consisted of two words, the second of which was “off”. The player did go over and applaud the same section of the crowd at the final whistle and the gesture appeared to be reciprocated so maybe he won't be off Celtic (his boyhood club) just yet.

Close-season signing Ricky Van Wolfswinkel was at the centre of an interesting incident during the Man City match at the weekend. He was the recipient of a kick from City's Yaya Toure, the likes of which saw Kevin Nolan (rightly) suspended. Twice. The FA's disciplinary bods haven't exactly covered themselves in glory over the past week or so have they. A three-man panel today decided that Toure had no case to answer whilst Craig Bellamy now faces a three- match lay-off. Clearly, the FA has abandoned all pretence of having anyone about the place who has the slightest idea as to what they're doing in favour of employing the time-honoured “heads or tales” decision-making process. Van Wolfswinkel, for his part, has been less than a total success since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon, having netted just the once in the league since his arrival for a reported £8.5m.

I suppose it's about time I talked about us. Excellent result that on Saturday, though I would add a word of caution. Although we scored two goals in the second half, there is still a chance that Howard Webb could disallow them. The fact that he was looking away from the Carroll incident was no bar to him ruling on it the other week, so the fact that he was about 100 miles away from our match this time round shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem for him. Funnily enough the spotty work experience kid showed me footage the other night of a similar incident to Webb's Carroll cock-up that occurred in Spain. The authorities elected to suspend the referee for a month and ban him from taking charge of matches involving the clubs in question for the rest of the season. One looks forward to the day when we have authorities with enough backbone to do similar in this country. That should be just after those personalised jetpacks that the old programme “Tomorrow’s World” kept promising go on sale in Argos.

Assuming that Webb doesn’t get his hands on the match, Nolan’s goal total was increased by two as his rehabilitation continues apace. The return of Carroll gave him a boost and the injustice of Carroll’s ban seemed to galvanise him in the right way. I still feel that the skipper’s armband rightfully lies elsewhere – it was the nature of Nolan’s dismissals that annoyed rather than the dismissals themselves that I have a problem with. However, nobody should be in any doubt that he’s got through a lot of hard work in recent weeks. Typified by his second goal which came about as a result of his chasing down of Delph.

Injury news is that the skipper may be a doubt with a groin problem. Diame and Cole (J) should be available for selection if required though there are conflicting reports re Vaz Te who is either fit or has a knee problem depending on who you believe. Joey O’B is the one long-termer out of contention; his dislocated shoulder expected to keep him away until April.

Saturday's result represented another boost to the momentum which has been increasing since the draw at Chelsea. Technically speaking it wasn't actually the first time we'd won two on the trot since promotion (beating Reading at the end of last season and Cardiff at the start of this fills that particular gap) but it feels like it and the Villa win will at least stop the tv pundits trotting out that particular stat ad nauseam.

I believe tradition dictates that I make a prediction now. Confidence is high and the players will still be drawing large supplies of energy from the Carroll fraud scandal. I feel a third win in a row coming on. After a heavy session at the Swan And Superinjunction, a few of us from The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For the Bewildered broke into the FA's offices at Wembley the other night and stole the jar of coins that they use in coming to their disciplinary decisions, and we're going to bang the whole £2.50 on a home win. Let's go for a 2-0 to us scoreline shall we? And why not!

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn Won 2-1 A Noble penalty and a rare O'Brien strike saw us go 2-0 up. The second half saw the unedifying sight of the visitors throwing themselves to the floor at every opportunity in a vain attempt to win a spot kick.

Referee: Michael Oliver continued the long tradition of referees having their spines removed on arrival at Anfield by refusing to issue a card of any colour to Flanagan (who, on this weekend’s evidence, is a bit of a thug) following a challenge that left Downing in hospital collecting 20 stitches. Seemed quite happy to dismiss Nolan for his retaliation later on in the game though. Let’s hope the intervening weeks have seen him grow some.

Danger Man: Gary Hooper. Top scorer and, as we saw at Carrow Road, not averse to going to deck a bit too easily.

Daft fact of the week: The last beheading in England took place in Norwich in 1885. It wasn't supposed to be a beheading as such but the hangman charged with dispatching one Robert Goodale for the murder of his wife made a slight miscalculation and the noose severed poor Mr Goodale's head, though I don't suppose Goodale was too fussed one way or another.

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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