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West Ham United v Crystal Palace

Filed: Friday, 27th February 2015
By: Preview Percy

We asked Preview Percy to look at this weekend's visit of Crystal Palace. This is what was left after the lawyers had looked at it.......

Next up we play host to Crystal Palace. Yet again it’ll be a night of disturbed sleep as they expect us to be in the ground for a 12:45 pm kick-off for tv purposes. I’ll be there in my dressing gown then. No tube engineering works in the immediate vicinity but some bits of the London Overground that run to Stratford may be misbehaving so check if your usual route involves going that way. Otherwise enjoy your trip on the overnight sleeper you’ll no doubt need to catch in order to make kick-off time.

The visitors currently sit in 13th place having picked up 27 points from 26 matches so far, leaving them six points and five places above the drop zone. Better than they were then, but still looking over their shoulders. Of those 27 points no fewer than 12 have arrived since the turn of the year when they shelled out a reported £3.5m in compensation to Newcastle for the services of manager Alan Pardew who had something of a mixed relationship with the Geordie faithful. My old chum Preview Alastair for one didn’t know whether to hate him or detest him so the fact that the Magpies actually received money for a boss for whom many supporters would have chipped in to buy him a one-way train ticket.

Although the results have improved since Pardew’s arrival it’s difficult to tell how much of that is due to a honeymoon period (whoever coined that phrase as a positive thing never met my ex-wife) and how much is down to the man himself. Certainly they came close to picking up a late point against Arsenal last week with a late header coming back off the post, but equally they got away with a Tottenham-style smash and grab up at Leicester who could have been out of sight at the interval had they taken some of the chances they created. Ultimately their survival will probably depend on how they get on in April, a month that sees them at home to Man City, West Brom and Hull with an eminently winnable trip to Sunderland popping up in the middle of that lot. So if there’s still a healthy gap between them and the trapdoor after that little run they’ll probably stay up.

Pardew wasn’t the only purchase to arrive in January. They spent what was said to be £4.75m on bringing Jordon Mutch in from QPR where he’d achieved the square root of not very mu(t)ch under Henry Redknapp. Redknapp had spent £6m on the midfielder at the start of this season so another fine transfer deal for dodgy knees then. Mutch first came to prominence when selected at the age of 15 by Birmingham City for a League Cup match at Blackburn. The Football League ok’d the appearance on the grounds that their rules allowed players of that age to play. However, they were forced to change their minds when the FA pointed out that their child protection rules meant that he’d have to be 16 before he could play. Nice to see the authorities acting in perfect harmony as usual then. He has an interesting record at international level having gained but a solitary England cap at each of U19, U20 and U21 levels. Although that record is slightly spoilt by the 6 U17 caps he managed to pick up I’d say there were longish odds against him adding a solitary full cap to that collection.

Up front Pardew went back to familiar territory in signing former Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi. Ameobi left Newcastle at the end of last season having rarely troubled the scorers in a spell that inexplicably spanned 14 years. He made over 350 appearances for the Magpies, though many of those came from the bench. The work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips informs me that Ameobi holds the Premier League record for the most appearances from the bench. Out of interest, I did ask her how many full games his minutes would add up to but her response indicated a certain unwillingness to assist with my query, and I’m not sure I could even do that with my ear trumpet anyway without removing a couple of ribs in preparation. Ameobi’s one appearance for the Glaziers to date came, yup, from the bench.

One of the new winter window signings has actually been there all season. Financially Palace have done ok out of the deal that saw Wilfried Zaha depart for Man Utd in January 2013 for a fee in the region of £10m – rising to £15m with add-ons, though it’s fair to say that there’s been no need to pay those add-ons. Man Utd immediately lent the player back to Palace to assist with their promotion bid. Zaha went north to Manchester at the start of 2013-14 but failed to make an impression under David Moyes and was shipped out on loan to Cardiff to assist with their relegation bid. With Moyes having left Salford towards the end of last season, new boss Louis Van Gaal appeared not to know what to do with the player (perhaps he didn’t suit Van Gaal’s long ball game!) so a season long loan back down in Croydon was agreed. When the January sales opened the loan was converted into a permanent deal. Palace are said to have shelled out some £3m for his services representing a £7m profit on a player who barely left in the first place.

Another £2m or so went on Korean Lee Chung-Yong who pitched up on deadline day from Bolton. He had been at Bolton for something like 6 years so it is to be hoped that he’s seen something else of the country in that period – I’d hate to think that anyone would gain an impression of these glorious isles purely from stays in Bolton and Croydon. Still at least nobody can accuse the lad of being distracted by the bright lights.

They also picked up one for the future in the form of Keshi Anderson. They sort of pinched him really. The 19 year old striker scored a hat-trick for a Brentford XI against a Palace side in a trial match. Whereupon they nipped in and signed the player from Barton Rovers for an undisclosed fee. Rovers are apparently in the 8th tier of the league pyramid system playing in one of the divisions of the Southern League, which is a league you don’t hear about much these days. Apart from anything else Barton Rovers is the sort of team name that you used to get forming the opposition for Melchester Rovers in Roy Of The Rovers so I was doubly surprised at the source for this player. After further impressing in the development squad he was called up by Pardew to the squad for the Leicester match, though he didn’t quite get as far as the bench.

The final permanent arrival in the window was Senegalese left-back Pape Souare, who arrived for an “undisclosed fee” (ie somewhere between£2-3m) from Lille. Although the deal has all the hallmarks of a Pardew special (ie he’s come in from the French league) the wheels were in fact set in motion prior to his move down south and the player was in fact a target for Neil “Colin” Warnock shortly before Palace became the latest club to disprove his assertion that “I’m a Premier League manager”. He marked his league debut by giving away a penalty against Arsenal last week. For those of you who don’t know what a penalty is, basically it’s a free-kick from 12 yards awarded as a reward for the best impersonation of a sniper victim. We need to work on our acting skills since we haven’t had one since the opening day of the season.

Thankfully, we won’t be seeing “useless so he’ll score against us” Marouane Chamakh for this one. The striker who spent a loan spell with us keeping one of the racing car seats warm has a hamstring injury as has Yaya Sanogo who arrived on loan from Arsenal during the window.

Us? Well after the gloom and despondency of the previous week, last weekend’s performance came as a pleasant surprise and the fact that we’re all gutted at the ultimate result speaks volumes as the special needs group that forms their support went loopy at getting a point from a mishit shot and a penalty that might even have embarrassed Liverpool. It seems that Tom Daley was not the only one to reveal a new dive last week.

There’s still a bit to concern us of course. Whilst the substitution of Noble to protect him from the foibles of referee Moss was probably wise, I’m not entirely sure that Carlton Cole would have been my preferred choice as replacement. As it happened poor old Carlton didn’t last the distance hobbling off with what looked like a hamstring problem, something that was not helped by play continuing round him like he was sat in the middle of a roundabout whilst traffic passed by. It was almost as if the manager had been stung by criticism of Nolan’s ineffectiveness at West Brom and was leaving the skipper on the bench as proof that he wasn’t somehow guaranteed an appearance bonus. Nobody is saying that there isn’t a time and a place for Nolan, well nobody sensible anyway. What should be said is that that place is generally not in the starting line-up when all are fit.

On the injury side of things we now have two strikers “hors de combat”. Carlton Cole joined Andy Carroll on the “note from matron” list after succumbing to what looked like a hamstring problem after coming on for Noble last weekend, an injury that led to the sad but strangely amusing sight of the came carrying on around him as if he were a traffic island or something.

This means we’re likely to see something of Brazilian striker Nene, who, if he makes an appearance,, will be the first player to be named after the tenth longest river in the UK to play for us. Probably. Amalfitano is still on the naughty step – no Chelsea-style let-off for him – but otherwise it’s pretty much a full house available for this one.

Prediction? Well we need a bright start which, at 12:45 on a Saturday, can sometimes be difficult to get. If I were to be in charge of geeing up people I’d be pointing to the huge sense of injustice from last week’s result and telling the players that Palace ought to be the ones to suffer. Perhaps someone should tell them of my dislike for all things Croydon – did I mention that the ex-wife is from there? – and like they do in every damned awful American sports film someone could then stand up and say “hey guys what say we win this one for Preview Percy”. This would be followed by lots of high fiving and whooping and…

Sorry I seem to have wandered off on a tangent there. Realistically it’ll be a tight one – the formation is likely to be adapted once more to combat the threat from the wings – so I’ll be putting the £2.50 we’ve saved here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered to help Madonna hire someone to come up with slightly better ideas for publicity stunts (you don’t really think that the fall that distracted everyone from how rotten and flat her un-electronically assisted voice is was n accident do you?) on a win for us. Let’s say 2-1 to us to see us officially over the 40 point mark.

There! A whole preview without once mentioning (at this point our legal team cut the rest of the preview, partly on legal grounds but mostly on the grounds of taste - ed)

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Lost 1-0. Armero stuck out a leg and Jerome took a 3 mile detour to fall over it. Penalty. Carroll got absolutely wiped out in the box by a heavy shove that would have been given without question outside the box. No Penalty. The match is best remembered for being the day that we said our farewells to Dylan Tombides.

Danger Man: Yannick Bolasie – Tricky and unpredictable. For some reason he was left on the bench for the first hour or so of last week’s match against Arsenal but his introduction nearly saw his team nick a point.

Referee: Mike Dean – the “referee’s referee” – which is just about the worst insult possible in my book. Much will depend on what sort of mood he is in but the match being live on the box is never a good thing when he’s in charge.

Daft Fact Of The Week: As mentioned last week Palace, never a club to actually stick with a tradition for too long (witness their constant change of colours and nicknames over the years in an attempt to “modernise their image”) adopted “Glad All Over” by the Dave Clark Five as “their” song a few years ago, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the ditty represented a defining moment in pop history as part of “The Tottenham Sound”. They’ll probably change their song in a few years’ time to something more appropriate – say “Ferry Cross the Mersey” or “Blaydon Races” perhaps.

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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