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West Ham United v Leicester City

Filed: Friday, 19th December 2014
By: Preview Percy

We didn't ask Preview Percy whether or not he wanted to send everyone a Christmas message because, frankly, we're not that stupid. Here's his look at this weekend's visit of Leicester City If you're looking for goodwill to all men etc it's probably best to move on....

Next up our visitors will be Leicester City. Kick-off is 3.00pm on Saturday, which is fine. Some trains on C2C are being diverted to/from Liverpool St via Stratford for those people who haven't got an all-night garage near them for their Christmas Eve shopping but TfL have sent all the people who normally dig up the tracks away for the holiday period so the tubes should be ok.

All is not well with our visitors it seems. Cast your mind back to September and you will recall them beating Moan United 5-3 at home. That win took them up to 7th place and manager Nigel Pearson's post match words were, in retrospect, rather prophetic “it's all about staying here now”. Since then, they've gone 11 matches without a win, with some pointing to the appalling penalty decision in their favour in the Moan Utd game as being the in-game precursor to a false dawn.

The run has seen relations between some fans and the management become a bit strained. Pearson's habit of spending the 90 minutes up in the stands probably makes him a target for the dissatisfied at home matches, and his response to a supporter who questioned the commitment of his players during the 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool has landed him up before the FA beak for using “abusive and or insulting words to a spectator who he allegedly suggested should “**** off and die”. The news has literally this second arrived that the FA has fined him £10,000 which means a bit of a rapid re-write of this section. You see I'd prepared a cracker of a joke about the watching the FA's disciplinary committee tie itself in knots trying to work out the implications of a touchline ban, only to find that Pearson's punishment includes, yup, a one match touchline ban. I believe the accepted phrase is you couldn't make it up”.

The work-experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips informs me that the 11 match barren run has left them bottom with 10 points from their 16 played so far. The run has garnered its first casualty this week with the departure of Director Of Football Terry Robinson. Robinson paid the price for the failure of the numerous summer signings for which he was responsible. These included one Matt Upson, whose spell as skipper here at the Boleyn was so effective every match report you read referred to “West Ham captain Scott Parker”. Upson never quite recovered from being John Terry's scapegoat in the South Africa World Cup and has yet to make a start this season, an ankle injury keeping him out until the new year.

One new signing who has appeared of late is 'keeper Ben Hamer, a free transfer in from Charlton. Even he owes his place to an injury to “son of Rudolph” Kaspar Schmeichel who has a metatarsal fracture – or broken toe in old money- which will keep him sidelined until mid-January. If there were any justice in the world Hamer would also be on a disciplinary charge for being in possession of a stupid beard.

A fan's favourite amongst the new signings has been Esteban Cambiasso. He came in as a free agent after ten years with Inter with whom he won a World Club Cup, a so-called Champions League and 5 Serie A titles. If nothing else that must have been a pretty good marketing job Robinson did to sell Leicester to the player. Capped 52 times by Argentina he apparently has the nickname “Egg In A Bun”. Those wacky Argies eh? Cambiasso is the subject of one of the season's more inventive chants with Leicester fans making full use of the happy coincidence of the player's name containing the same number of syllables as the chorus of Pilot's 1974 hit “Magic”. He's not bad on a dead ball either – witness the nice exchange between him and Joe Hart last weekend when he tried to catch the 'keeper out at his near post with a DiCanioesque effort that had the England no.1 scrambling across his goal.

The biggest fee spent in the summer was the £8m that went on Cambiasso's compatriot Leonardo Ulloa, who arrived from Brighton where he was the first player to score a hat-trick at their new ground at Falmer. whose sponsors can do one if they want a free mention off me. Ulloa has 6 goals this season, a tally that comfortably makes him top scorer. Commentators seem to have adopted the proper Spanish pronunciation of his surname which seems to throw in a random “J” in there somewhere. Kinda makes one nostalgic for the days when dear old Brian Moore would refer to a certain Dutch team as “A-Jacks”.

Apart from Upson, whose failure to appear so far means that he doesn't really count, the other ex-Hammer in the squad is Paul Konchesky. Or at least I think it's him. Watching Leicester the other week I noticed a player wearing a shirt with the name “Konchesky” on the back getting sent off for an altercation with Villa's Hutton. However, that player seemed to have what I can only describe as “hair” unlike the famously slap-headed left-back who scored in the 2006 Cup Final. The sending off was later rescinded, presumably on the grounds of mistaken identity.

Another player who seems to have been about for ages is striker David Nugent who, it appears, is only 29 and not mid 30s as I'd presumed. It seems like aeons ago when he became a quiz question answer by scoring in his only international match. I recall a particularly bad tempered match at home to Preston back in 2005 in which he seemed to have a major problem with staying on his feet, as did the rest of his team mates that evening. Still we gained ample revenge in the play-off final that year. It'll be interesting to see if his not so advanced years have improved his balance.

Such talk of “unsteadiness” brings me to our match last week. It was a useful point up north last weekend but yet again there was a nasty taste in the mouth caused by the curse of diving that pervades the modern game. It’s not as if Johnson hasn’t got previous either. It’s about time we started to see retrospective bans for such players. The short chubby one who helps mismanage this site came up with one of his more lucid and sensible ideas the other day. Although this was obviously a clear fluke, his suggestion that clubs who actively encourage their players to cheat in this manner should suffer points deductions was (for him) almost interesting. I understand that the Toxteth & District Paperboys’ League Division 1 (South) are already getting ready to include Liverpool should this idea ever come to fruition, since that’s the level the cumulative deduction would leave them at.

Squad news is that Noble’s Achilles (which sounds like a racehorse name) is still proving to be a bit bothersome but otherwise it’s a full deck to play with.. The manager has hinted that there might be a spot of rotation to happen – we certainly have options throughout which is nice.

Prediction? Well everything points to a reasonably comfortable win really doesn't it and since we seem to have ditched our reputation for sequence-busting of late I'm going to put the Ghana's Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's fund to buy Sony some antivirus software (£2.50) on a 2-0 win to us.

Enjoy the game and, I suppose, have a happy Christmas. If you must.

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 3-2 (Championship October 2011) Baldock and Faubert gave us a half time lead. King reduced the deficit on the hour before Baldock restored the two goal advantage. King made it 3-2 to make it a slightly nervy last 15 minutes.

Referee: Mrtin Atkinson There has clearly been a big change this season in the way that Mike “Jimmy Hoffa” Riley and his gang select referees for top flight games as it’s not even the end of the year and this will be the third time we’ve had this official. He did the 2-2 away draw up at Hull and the 2-1 home win over Man City so we’re unbeaten with him in charge.

Danger Man: Esteban Cambiasso  he may have seen better days but still has a certain presence around him and will need to be watched, especially from dead ball situations

Daft fact of the week: Home to the country's National Space Centre, the city of Leicester has always been ahead of its time. The remains of Richard III were found buried there recently under a car park. Since the king died in 1485, the location of his skeleton proves that the local council were robbing local motorists a good 330 years before the invention of the Internal Combustion Engine.

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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