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West Ham United v Chelsea

Filed: Thursday, 25th December 2014
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy wishes to bestow his best wishes to you all this festive season. He's been really unwell with the flu you see so he's not his usual self......

Next we visit the money laundry where our hosts will be Chelsea. Kick-off is 12:45 for space telly purposes. Travel? Well the best I can say is “good luck”. Whilst there are tubes running, much of the District Line is shut for engineering works, particularly in the Earls Court area. Plus most of the National Rail network will be shut anyway. You may have to join the lines of 4X4s in the queues for a pre-march latte then.

So our hosts have dived their way to the top of the table this season, which (linguistically at least anyway) is a pretty neat trick. At the time of writing they have 42 points from their 17 games so far. They've lost just the once so far, a 2-1 defeat on Tyneside to the Geordies. The only other points dropped have come in draws with the two Manchesters and with Sunderland. Other than that it's been wins all the way.

The 2-0 win against Hull in their last home match was described by Steve Bruce as “Swan Lake”. One can only presume that the notoriously intellectually-challenged Hull manager's choice of a Russian ballet as his example was a bit of a fluke. However, the point was a valid one. The home side had two players cautioned for diving – and only some of the most generous refereeing ever seen outside of Anfield kept Gary Cahill on the pitch given a catalogue of persistent infringements. I suppose that, given the cynical- murderous even -way in which the club's owner came about his fortune, the “win at all costs” attitude that pervades the club at the expense of anything that is good about the game should come as no surprise.

One of those sanctioned for his misdemeanours in the Hull match was Diego Costa. You might think that he's a bit of a thug of a striker who has a habit of diving and leaving his foot in on opposition defenders. It seems you'd be wrong. You see, according to the Special Needs One, apparently Mike Riley and his bunch of merry idiots have a personal vendetta against Costa. Sorry, Mourinho but you're wrong. They're simply not intelligent enough to cope with personal vendettas these days what with having to cover their own backsides all the time. No, the fact is that he's a bit of a thug of a striker who has a habit of diving and leaving his foot in on opposition defenders.

The £32m paid for Costa was the biggest fee they paid in the summer, when there were five arrivals. Next on the fee table was the £27m paid for Cesc Fabregas who came in from Barcelona. The transfer took place despite Arsenal having an option to resign the player thanks to a clause inserted into the deal that too him from the library to the Nou Camp. As it was, the various bits of small print in the deal meant that Arsenal found themselves some £5.6m richer as a result of him ending up at Stamford Bridge. Spent that well didn't they? Apparently, when Fabregas was a kid the coach at his first club used to drop him whenever they were due to play Barcelona in case the Catalan giants decided to poach the player. It's a tactic Spurs are looking at trying in reverse – the thinking being that if they hide Soldado someone might be intrigued enough to take him off their hands as some sort of mystery lucky dip.

They also spent £15.8m on what is, in Felipe Luis, effectively a reserve full back. Luis came in from Atletico Madrid and immediately professed himself to act as back-up to Azpilicueta if the team was playing well. Winston Bogarde anyone? For the record I'd be happy to take £100k a week of Abrahamovic's dirty money if they need a further back-up, but, since I have principles, I'll do it for one season only.

The remaining two arrivals were both strikers. Loic Remy arrived from QPR for £10.5m. I say QPR, he'd spent the previous season on loan at Newcastle, who he'd joined on loan when QPR had been relegated the previous season. When QPR got the streakiest of promotions through the play-offs it had been thought that Remy might rejoin his parent club. However a number of clubs seemed mysteriously aware of the precise size of the “secret release clause” in his contract and, let's face it, the prospect of another relegation fight with QPR was never going to appeal much was it? Liverpool beckoned but they pulled out of the deal “for medical reasons” - presumably his balance was too steady for them and Chelsea stepped in to complete the deal.

The final striker brought in was Duane Dibley lookalike Didier Drogba. He's a favourite there due to his being the winning penalty in the So-Called Champions League final a few years back in that match where they started time-wasting and playing for penalties ten minutes in. Of course that game was still only the second biggest to take place that day so few people noticed or cared. He left at the end of that season for the Chinese league, attracted no doubt by the prospect of a fine cuisine with lots of monosodium glutimate and in no way swayed by the large amounts of money available in Shanghai. He lasted about 6 months over there before getting fed up with the quality of the dim sum and in January 2013 he announced that he'd gone off Chinese grub and that kebabs were were it was at which was why he'd be going to Galatasaray, his choice of destination being in no way swayed by a reported €4m signing on fee and €4m a season salary. Plus €15,000 a match. At this point the Chinese cried foul – pointing out that he was under contract. Drogba responded by pointing ot that whilst it was all about the football for him and not about the money, it was usual for cubs to actually pay him something, rather than the nothing he'd received to date. After a season in Turkey he returned to Chelsea prompted by thought of performing in front of the intelligent and knowledgeable supporters he would encounter. At away matches.

They have one injury worry – Eden Hazard is actually injured having been on the end of a couple of shocking challenges up at Stoke. It did make a change to see him actually fouled for once. We've suffered the results of his diving in the past so there is a certain karma to his potential absence from this one.

And so to us. Comfortable though last weekend was I felt that once we'd gone 2-0 up we put our feet up a bit and, but for Adrian's alertness 'twixt the sticks the last few minutes might have been a bit nervy. We'll have to up our game a bit this time. Still the finishes for the goals were a bit good. Downing's effort in particularhad me shouting goal from the moment it left his foot.

We have had a welcome boost with the news that Cameroon is so blessed with world class players the can afford to leave Alex Song behind for the African Cup Of Soup next month. Now if someone can similarly persuade the Senegalese manager that Kouyate and Sakho have been having a terrible season we'll be laughing.

The injury list is a bit longer than of late. Noble's Achilles (fresh from running at Kempton Park) is close to repair and he faces a late fitness test. Also facing a late spot of running up and down the touchline is the skipper, who seems to have stopped using the “getting sent off” method of avoiding playing on Boxing Day in favour of the “picking up an unspecified knock” method.

The final member of the triumvirate looking at a late spot of work by the physio is James Tomkins, who retired early last week with a tweaked hamstring.

Prediction? Well it'll certainly be a bit of a test, especially with Mourinho getting in the referee's ear every time so much as a breath of a breeze blow over one of his primadonnas. I think the unbeaten run is probably due to come to an end so I'll be putting the Ghana's Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered's fund to buy them some proper supporters who now what to do at a football match without having someone paid to wave a flag in front of them (£2.50) on a 2-1 home win with the winner coming from another dubious penalty.

Enjoy the game – and the turkey omelettes!

When last we met at Stamford Bridge: Drew 0-0. Mourinho's post-match comments about “19th Century Football”, whist widely interpreted as a self-pitying whinge, was in fact a wistful envious comment, given that the football was 200 years in advance of anything Mourinho himself could come up with, especially when coming up against anyone stronger than them in Europe.

Referee: Michael Oliver They seem to have given the bag a bit of a shake. We haven't had Oliver since Liverpool away last season when Flanagan's horror challenge hospitalised Downing but wasn't apparently worth a yellow, He took charge of Liverpool v Arsenal at the weekend when he waited nearly 90 seconds before awarding the first free-kick for a scouse dive. Should be busy at Swan Lake this weekend then.

Danger Man: Diego Costa. He'll spend half the match kicking lumps out of his marker and the other half rolling around in agony as soon as somebody looks at him a bit funny.

Daft fact of the week: In establishing his new club in 2003 Abrahamovic alighted on the name Chelsea in the hope that by using one of Bobby Moore's middle names some class might be bestowed on what was obviously a bent two-bob operation. The plan failed, obviously.

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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