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West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United

Filed: Monday, 1st December 2014
By: Preview Percy

Bob Geldof, Grandmaster Flash and even (indirectly) Aztec Camera get referenced in today's effort from Preview Percy. You don't get that in the BBC's match previews. With good reason.....

What? Another game? So soon? Next we go up to the Midlands where our host swill be West Bromwich Albion. Kick-off on Tuesday 1s 19:45 hours so good luck with the rush-hour trains and traffic. No weekend engineering works to look up of course.

Our hosts currently sit in that “in a spot of bother but still outside the bottom three so psychologically hanging on to that thought whilst looking over our shoulders” zone, sitting as they do in 15th place with a goal a game from their 13 matches played so far. They’ve lost their last three and you have to go back to 1 November for their last win, a 1-0 win away at Leicester. That goal was also their only goal in the last four and, just to add to the concern, that was an own goal to boot.

Their home form is a bit of worry for them. According to the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips, they have only won 3 of their last 21 games at home. If you’re going to win only 3 home games a season, your away form had better be rather special if you want to stay up.

Of course it almost goes without saying that we were on the receiving end of one of those three defeats last season. At that point they were managed by Pepe Mel who has since left to re-join Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. I expect. Mel was replaced by Alan Irvine who has, himself been getting a fair bit of stick from the home support, the traditional “you don’t know what you’re doing” chant accompanying Irvine’s substitutions at the weekend.

They struggled last season, the win against us going some way to ensuring ultimate safety so they’ll have been glad to have seen the end of the season. The support might have been hoping to see new blood with a few bob spent in the summer to freshen things up. What they got was slightly different. The one player for whom a fee was spent was Ideye Brown, a £10m capture from Dinamo Kiev. Although he’s a Nigerian international, the fact that he didn’t make their World Cup squad for last year’s shebang in Brazil ought, perhaps, to have rang an alarm bell or two; especially if you were thinking of spending what turned out to be a club record fee. He’s only featured in a handful of games so far and his fitness as well as his form have apparently been an issue and it's rumoured that the Baggies may try to cut their losses come January.

The remaining signings were free transfers. Joleon Lescott arrived from Man City on a free but he seems to be a shadow of the player that once cost £22m. Craig Gardner came in from Sunderland as his contract expired. His career includes spells with Villa and Birmingham City, both of whom he has at various times claimed to have supported as a kid. He spent his few years at Sunderland reportedly claiming that he was homesick for the Birmingham area, which will give you some sort of idea what Sunderland is like. Although a midfielder by trade he can also put a stint in at right back where required.

A strange one was the arrival of Chris Baird. He pitched up at Burnley last season on a short-term deal, presumably as some sort of cover as the Clarets went for promotion. He made a small handful of appearances before his contract expired at the end of the season whereupon a player deemed only suitable as a reserve for a second tier club suddenly became good enough for Premier League West Brom. Or not. He has one start and one sub appearance this season and he's another that they are rumoured to be wanting off the wage bill as soon as the Jools Holland Hootenanny thing is over.

You'll note that there's a bit of a theme developing with the summer signings. They picked up Portuguese international Silvestre Varela on a season long loan from Porto. However, he arrived short of match fitness having been left out of Porto's pre-season stuff on the grounds that since he was buggering-off anyway they didn't want to waste time building around a player that wouldn't be playing for them anyway. He's managed but one appearance – that in the last 15 minutes of a League Cup match v Hull whereupon he injured his groin and hasn't been seen since.

They might have expected bigger things out of Georgios Samaras who arrived on a free from Celtic for whom he scored on average one in about three. However, that was in Scotland and the fact that they failed to offer him a new deal up there might have given some a clue that this might not be a Premier League class striker who was on his way. If they wanted further proof they could have done worse than look at his last spell in England when none other than Stuart Pearce pronounced him to be not strong enough” for English football. Predictably he's made only three appearances this season, one of which came in the League Cup and all of which have come from the bench.

They've had a bit more mileage out of Belgian left back Sebastien Pocognoli. He came in from Hanover and had pretty much made the left-back slot his own, which probably makes the dead leg he picked up at the weekend against Arsenal a bit galling – all those signings failing to make an impression and the one new guy you pick up who seems to have been worth the effort goes and gets injured. He faces a late fitness test for this match.

So with most of the new signings failing to make much of an impression has there been any light amongst the general air of gloom and despondency? Well yes – but even that has strings attached. Top scorer has been Saido Berahino, 7 of whose 8 goals this season have come in the league and his form has gotten him into the England squad. However, he seems to have a few attitude issues – which early selection for a full international squad possibly won't have helped any. He was pictured last year inhaling nitrous oxide (which they pipe through the aircon here at the Ghana's Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered – so I know the sort of effect that that can have) , something that got him a telling off and a slapped wrist. Now he's been arrested on suspicion of drink driving, which is always a depressing thing to hear of a professional footballer whose wages are probably big enough to afford the cab fare home after a night on the sauce. West Brom have put his contract talks on hold until the brush with the law is sorted out. A wayward talent then. Remind you of anyone?

And so to us. Given that three of the six injuries from the previous week were still out, it was a good win to get on Saturday. Preview Alastair was all whiney on Saturday night over the subject of Sissokho's dismissal – apparently the shove on the back he gave Tomkins before his first yellow should actually have been a penalty. Maybe they do things differently up there. Personally I'd have been more annoyed at the indiscipline that saw my skipper stupidly get himself sent off, and the defensive sleepiness that had earlier seen Cresswell be the only one within a mile of the ground alert enough to convert Kouyate's scuff shot into a through ball. Still, overall we were the better side and just about worth the points on the day.

Injury news is better as well – Sakho and Valencia are both said to be close to a return, which may see Andy Carroll – still regaining match fitness remember – given a rest after his first full 90 minutes of the season. Song will probably be given another few days or so but there is a doubt about Mark Noble whose calf/achilles was touch and go for last weekend.

Prediction? Well we're back on the winning run and we're up against opponents who aren't at their best at the moment. So I'm going to back us to increase their despondency as we walk out to winter and the Ghana's Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's collection to stop Bob Geldof from ever recording another bloody Band Aid single (£2.50) will be going on an away win. 2-0 I reckon.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Hawthorns Lost 1-0 April 2014 Berahino converted a cross from Amalfitano (yes THAT Amalfitano) in the 10th minute and that was it. Fans protested and banners were unfurled expressing anti-Allardyce sentiments as another away game took on a depressingly familiar air.

Referee: Mike Jones I was once told by a top level linesman who had worked with him that Jones is not well liked even amongst the so called select group. The same lino also referred to Jones as an “arrogant *****”. The weekend’s booking of Aguero over what was clearly a penalty rather than a dive says it all really.

Danger Man: Saido Berahino. Top scorer and if you’re driving you’ll probably want to give the area a wide berth until he’s driven home.

Daft fact of the week:West Bromwich is the largest town in the UK that doesn't have its own postcode.

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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