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Leicester City v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 3rd April 2015
By: Preview Percy

The one good thing about international breaks is that it means there's no Preview Percy. Which is why we actually look forward to England friendlies. Sort of. Here's his look at Leicester. Sort of.

Next up we traipse up the M1 ignoring signs for the National Space Centre (yes we have one – even if “Mission Control Leicester” sounds a bit naff) to the newish stadium which at the time of writing is called the King Power Stadium where, somewhat unsurprisingly given the location, we will be hosted by Leicester City.

3pm kick-off chaps. No engineering works on the main line up there or on the lines into Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street. The Met is pretty much out though so have another look if your route to St Pancras includes that.

There’s no nice way of dressing this up but Leicester are bottom. 20th place out of 20. They have 19 points from 29 games so far which has left them 7 points clear of Sunderland who are just clear of the trapdoor by a point. Now to be fair, they do have a game in hand. However, also to be fair, that game is against Chelsea.

There is a certain irony to the fact that it all started going wrong immediately after their 5-3 win over Man Utd in a match that the Work Experience Girl with an Inappropriate Number Of Rings Through Her Lips described, with an admirable lack of hyperbole, as “a bit odd”. Despite the headline grabbing result, that was a match in which the Salford whingers should have been well out of sight – and possibly would have been but for Leicester getting back into the match courtesy of what, even in this spectacularly poor season for refereeing, was a terrible penalty decision (more irony).

Their manager Nigel Pearson has had what you might call an “eventful” season. In looking through the notes I made for the return fixture just before Christmas I noted that he was about to serve a touchline ban after an altercation with a supporter in which the supporter was invited to go forth, multiply and die.

Since then we have had the bizarre “McArthur On The Park” incident to contend with. This involved Pearson holding/grabbing Palace’s James McArthur around the neck whilst the player was on the floor on the touchline. The 1-0 defeat to Palace was followed by a period of time where it was apparently believed, not least allegedly by Pearson himself, that he had been sacked. However, after a few hours the club finally issued a statement to the effect that Pearson had not been sacked after all. With all that going on I suspect that were you to take your traditional £2.50 along to Winstone’s The Turf Accountants to place a wager on whether Pearson would be the Foxes manager next season you would get rather long odds.

Their plight over the last few months hasn’t been helped much by the absence of Kasper “Son Of Rudolph” Schmeichel. He’s missed a large chunk of the campaign with a broken metatarsal (or “toe” as we used to call it before we all got poncey). He’s been back for a couple of weeks though taking in a 0-0 draw with Hull and the 4-3 defeat to Spurs a couple of weeks back. That result owed more to the usual performance from Mike “This Is All About Me” Dean than to the so-called hat trick from Harry Kane, one of whose goals was actually the first of what was really two own goals. In the post-match interview Pearson referred to Dean as “arrogant” match and, whilst there is an element of pot and kettle in that comment, it was still spot on.

Top scorer with 9 for the season is Leonardo Ulloa who probably isn’t known as “Len” though he ought to be. Ulloa has a spell with Arsenal on his CV, though the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips points out that this is actually Argentinian outfit Arsenal Sarandi. Seven of Len’s goals have come in the league and two of those came in the 5-3 win over the Salford lot.

They had three come in during the window – two permanent deals and a loan. Aussie ‘veteran custodian of the onion bag Mark Schwarzer arrived on a free from Chelsea and is now providing cover for the fit again Schmeichel. However they did splash out nine million of Her Majesty’s (gawd bless ‘er) pound notes on Croatian striker Andrej Kramaric in what might be considered to be a last throw of the dice in an attempt to boost the goals for column. An unusual statistic about Kramaric is the fact that he apparently has over 50 caps for the Croatian youth team. Which means that either a) The Croatian youth team plays one hellofa lot of matches, b) they give out caps every time a youth player puts on a pair of boots or c) nobody checked his birth certificate and he just kept playing while nobody noticed. Kramaric was on the bench against Spurs, suggesting that he’s still settling in – though given their current position that may be time they can ill afford.

In on loan they took delievery of Robert Huth from Stoke. Huth may be remembered for his cowardly attack on Matt Upson when Upson was with us. I guess that’s one topic of conversation that doesn’t crop up in the Leicester changing rooms these days. Upson, is of course, just the sort of in your face up and at ‘em sort of skipper you need when you’re in relegation bother. Sorry, that should have read Scott Parker.

The other ex-Hammer in the squad is Paul Konchesky. That hair Paul – it’s no disguise mate – we still know it’s you.

Us? Well it seems ages since we last had a match, which, basically, is because it is ages since we last had a match. Having remembered what that match was (Sunderland at home) I wish I hadn’t bothered to try. It wasn’t one of those where, whenever two or three are gathered together they will regale each other with reminiscences about the match. Unless those reminiscences include lines such as “Sunderland at home – what a poor game that was”.

Like most Premier League matches these days. It was a game that ultimately hinged on a goal that should have been chalked off for a foul. The fact that such a decision went in our favour may make it a collector’s item but it doesn’t make it right. If it’s the start of this mythical “evening themselves out over the season” thing (which is complete balderdash as a concept anyway) then they’d better get a move on - there are only 8 matches left and we’d have to win those 4-0 every time if they really want to be serious about the whole thing.

We did have a couple of internationals to watch of course. Harry Kane would appear to be the new Steve Gerrard for those commentating on England matches – no matter what he does they’ll find no wrong. To put things into perspective, the goal he got against Lithuania was very nearly a cock-up, his header being misplaced straight back to the ‘keeper who really ought to have saved it. Then he got in the way of a promising pass meant for someone else, a blunder which was accompanied by the commentary “fine piece of control by Kane there.” He may turn out to be a decent player but the time to start hailing him is after he’s proved that this isn’t a one-season wonder.

Of course the other talking oit of the ast few weeks was the pure comedy gold provided by Steve "Role Model" Gerrard.Having been caught bang to rights he desperately looked around for something or someone to point at in mitigation before finally twigging that it was nobody’s fault but his – not a natural state of mind for the average scouser. As usual the media made his excuses for him - I cant help feeling that Ballotelli would have been crucified had he been the one dismissed.

Back on topic, it’s a spot of mixed news on the sick parade front. Winston Reid took advantage of the break to get himself fit and should be available to take his place alongside Ginge in the back four. This will, in turn, allow Kouyate to return to the middle. Whilst Wile E. has let nobody down during his sojourn at the back but round these parts we’re convinced our midfield loses a little when he’s not in it.

The other potential returnee is Enner Valencia whose tea-time-toe-trauma turned out to be more bathroom related. Although he was making positive noises about his fitness, the manager’s press conference suggested that the toe trauma is still likely to keep him out of action for a bit. Other than that Tomkins’ shoulder will keep him out of the Gibraltar squad for a bit (the editorial staff here are such wags aren’t they) but at least he’ll have Carroll alongside him in the treatment room to play chess with or whatever it is players do to keep their mind active in between matches these days.

Prediction? Well traditionally we have had a tendency to make lower-placed opposition look like Barcelona but the return to what is the nearest we’re going to get to a full squad for a bit means that I have a bullish feeling for this one. I shall therefore be placing the traditional £2.50 from The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s fund to install anti-personnel mines on the front path to deal with prospective parliamentary candidates on an away win. 2-1 to us then.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at whatever their ground was called back then: Won 2-1 (Championship April 2012) A decent game of football as we came from behind, Reid’s equaliser cancelling out Beckford’s opener and Collison’s 25 yarder giving us all three points on the hour. The win gave us a chance of automatic promotion but we turned that down for a day out at Wembley.

Danger Man: David Nugent – not top scorer but has a habit of getting the odd one at important times. Was adjudged to have fouled Rose against Spurs the other week. More irony given that he’s been known to be unsteady on his feet himself against us in the past. I guess Leicester will be wishing that that the “evening itself out” thing only applied to clubs rather than individuals.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg Does it really matter? There isn’t a single member of the so-called Select group capable of operating at an acceptable standard – and Clattenburg is one of those that does controversial stuff for the sake of it.

Daft Fact Of The Week:The Google Map street view of Leicester’s Granby Street shows a local throwing up in the street.

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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