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Liverpool v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 28th August 2015
By: Preview Percy

Kevin Nolan - gone. Modibo Maiga - gone. Preview Percy - still here. Damn.

Next up we visit Anfield where we will be hosted by Liverpool in a 3pm Saturday kick-off which is right and proper. Trains up there are being subject to diversion en-route, adding about an hour or so to the standard journey time should that be your chosen mode of transport. Closer to home trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield will be subject to engineering works as will be the far eastern reaches of the District Line, so have a gander on the appropriate website afore ye depart.

Liverpool then. So far this season they’ve won two and drawn one of their three games. Coutinho’s strike at Stoke livened up what was a pretty drab affair by all accounts. Then came their matches against Bournemouth and Arsenal when the four points they gained were handed to them by the officials. Again. The Bournemouth match in particular plumbed new refereeing depths and their winning goal would have been disallowed under any interpretation of the offside law that ever existed ever in the history of the universe, even before one takes into account the new guidance to referees which, if anything, just goes to reinforce the position that the goal should never have stood.

They got away with another dubious decision at the library the other night as well. Sadly that sort of thing is par for the course for them. So much so that you’d have thought that the tv & radio pundits might have picked up on it. I can’t think for a minute why, for example, the likes of Hansen, Thomson, Lawrenson, Carragher, Murphy, Owen, Fowler, Barnes, Collymore, Beglin, Redknapp & Souness haven’t mentioned it during any of their TV/radio broadcasts.

On the close season transfer front Gerrard was left counting his lucky stars that he was found not guilty in that assault case a few years ago, thus enabling him to pick up a visa to spend the last of his diving days over the pond in Los Angeles. However, he wasn’t the only one name to sling his hook for pastures new this summer.

The highest profile of these was Raheem Sterling, who the Anfield publicity machine has spent much of the last year or so portraying as some sort of ungrateful-money-grabbing brat, rather than someone who simply wanted to exchange battling with Spurs over 5th place for a spot in a side with genuine So-Called Champions League aspirations.

To be fair though there is a fair degree of truth in both sides of that particular argument – basically he’s a money-grabbing ungrateful brat who simply wanted to exchange battling with Spurs over 5th place for a spot in a side with genuine So-Called Champions League aspirations. The work experience kid with the Harr Potter spectacles informs me that QPR got 20% of the initial £44m paid by Man City for the player, the sell on clause coming as a sweetener when the player was poached from the Loftus Road academy.

On the inbound side of the transfer ledger came Christian Benteke from Aston Villa. Benteke’s £32.5m fee ate up most of the initial fee received for Sterling. Benteke opened his account in the Bournemouth win.

The other big money went out on Brazilian Roberto Firmino who arrived from Hoffenheim for £21m. Firmino spent 4 years with the German outfit with whom he won the “Breakthrough of the Season” award in 2013/14. They like a niche award in Germany, don’t they.

Brendan “David Brent” Rodgers’ obsession with signing up players from whatever they call the Dell these days was continued with the arrival of Nathaniel Clyne for £10m. Clyne started out his pro career with Crystal Palace and has progressed to full England status despite the handicap of once being described by Neil Warnock as having “a bright future in the game”. Even Colin gets a guess right once in a while I suppose.

In the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge through injury (he only seems to be fit once a season when they play us) they took a punt on another Danny in the form of Burnley striker Ings. Actually it’s not much of a punt really as, although his Premier League credentials might be open to question, he will fetch a relatively small development fee for Burnley due to his relative youth. His precise value will be decided by a tribunal, possibly consisting of the likes of Hansen, Thomson, Lawrenson, Carragher, Murphy, Owen, Fowler, Barnes, Collymore, Beglin, Redknapp & Souness. Or possibly not.

Charlton Athletic didn’t fancy trusting a tribunal over the sale of England U19 defender Joe Gomez, preferring instead to accept an “undisclosed” fee. Or £3.5m as everyone seems to know. Gomez arrived after fewer than 25 Championship games for the Addicks where he featured either at right back or in the middle of defence. He’s featured on the left hand side of defence for Liverpool, who are clearly covering their options in view of the long term knee problems suffered by Jon Flanagan, who seems to be going for one month out for each of the stitches he gave to Stewart Downing in that disgraceful assault a couple of seasons ago. I’m not one to wish injury on a plyer but poetic justice and all that…

The other two arrivals were frees. James Milner was deemed surplus to requirements at Man City whilst ‘keeper Adam Bogdan must be hoping that the Liverpool goalkeeper’s kits are slightly more tasteful than the pink effort he was made to wear at Bolton a while back. The kit was bad enough but when matched with Bogdan’s bright red hair the combination was enough to cause epileptic fits in households equipped with HD television equipment.

Us. Well I’m almost at a loss for words at last weekend’s “performance” (if only – ed). For one full back to have a disastrous day was bad enough but both? Jenkinson’s dismissal will mean that he’ll sit this one out of course whilst it is to be hoped that Cresswell has got the whole weekend out of his system.

Even without last Saturday’s nightmare it’s been a bad week for the club. Juventus changed their mind about a loan deal for striker Zaza which, with Sakho departing early with a slight groin strain last week, stood to leave us very short handed up front. Which is what makes Maiga’s apparently unauthorised jaunt over to Saudi Arabia all the more galling. He was believed to have been in the Manager’s plans for the trip north prior to his cashing in of his air miles earlier this week.

Meanwhile Valencia’s injury problems are going to keep him out for a good while yet, prompting him to bemoan the lack of information from our medical team on Ecuadorian radio. This was followed up by a completely spontaneous and in no way scripted out for him statement from the player in which praised the medical team to the heights crediting them with discovering cures for everything from the common cold to Simon Cowell.

Sakho, of course, has had his own problems this week quite apart from the groin strain. Another chat with the Met was the order of the day and, whilst one is reluctant to comment on the specifics of an ongoing police investigation, clearly there are what I believe are referred to these days as “issues” with the player that can’t be helping preparations any.

On the bright side Caroll has returned to training with a view to being involved at some stage against the Geordies, though with Maiga seemingly off to grab a few petrodollars from a club with more money than sense we are still just a Flanagan-style challenge away from somebody getting on the blower to Carlton Cole again (bless him).

The Work Experience Kid with the Harry Potter spectacles informs me that talks are ongoing with a view to bringing in Milan striker Alessandro Matri on a loan deal. Interviews with his former room-mate Andrea Pirlo suggest that the player is a bit of a hypochondriac. I suppose it will make a change to have a player with an imaginary injury instead of all those with real ones . Pirlo, in the meantime, dealt with his erstwhile roomie in less than subtle tones, commenting: “I told him there was nothing wrong with him except that he was a w*nker”.

Another possible is Adebayor who Spurs are actually going to pay us to take away. Well they'll be paying his wages anyway. Well some of them. The good news is that if he arrives he tends to ht the grund running for a new manager. The ad news is that he won't be about for Saturday.

With Jenkinson twiddling his thumbs this weekend there is an interesting selection decision to be made at the back. The likeliest line-up would see Tomkins return to the right-back role to reprise the back four that started the Arsenal game. The likelihood of this occurring is increased with the news that young Reece Oxford (to give him his full name) appears to have shaken off the minor knock that precluded his involvement in the Bournemouth debacle. However, Joey O’Brien is also set to be available and there may be a temptation to stick him at right back, especially if Bilic has doubts over partnering Ogbonna with Reid as appeared to be the case last weekend.

With Zarate still on the treatment table my view was that I’d have started Lanzini in front of Nolan last week. That is not an error that will be possible of course this week with the departure of Nolan to pastures new. With Allardyce’s departure his trusted lieutenant’s days were always going to be numbered and paying off his contract makes sense given the relatively high wage he was reputed to be on. A decent servant in his day he deserves thanks for his role in getting us out of the Champion-ship, though his sell by date probably expired about two seasons ago to be honest.

Meanwhile last weekend Allardyce, through some sort of administrative oversight on the part of the tv companies, became the only tv pundit never to have played for Liverpool, proving in the process that, despite all appearances to the contrary, an Anfield career isn’t always necessary if you want to talk complete rubbish about the game on tv. Though it helps, obviously.

Over the years here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we’ve learnt that there are certain things you can always depend on from a trip to Anfield. As Bournemouth found out to their cost, the will always get the benefit of dubious decisions from our already not-fit-for-purpose referees and, despite the departure of their Cousteau-in-chief for the States, when things aren’t quite working out for them they will always have the option of a spot of “simulation” whenever they get within free-kick distance. This is a tactic that, over the years, has become so common up there one might almost think that they practice it in training. This makes prediction fairly easy since, no matter how well we play, there will always be something dodgy going on to prevent a long overdue win. I was going to put the Rest Home’s fund to buy a sympathy card for Justin Gatland (£2.50) on there being a dive in the first half but the odds of 2,000/1 on would have made the wager a non-starter.

So instead the money will be going on a 2-0 home win this time around, wit the referee having more of an influence on things than anyone outside PGMOL would like.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Anfield: Lost 2-0. Sturridge came back from injury to score against us late on to add to an earlier Sterling effort as the team carried out instructions not to attack at any cost because, like, we were away.

Danger Man:Philipe Coutinho. In an average side he has the potential to do something different.

Referee:Kevin Friend Voted “Worst Referee Of 2014/15” a title for which there was strong competition as you can imagine. And we have him. At Anfield. What could possibly go wrong?

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The week: Well after scrabbling about last week to find any celebrity who actually supported Bournemouth (let alone an irritating one), we’re spoilt for choice this week aren’t we?! Honourable mentions go to the whole of the BBC, to Ricky Tomlinson (what a wide and varied acting range he has – and isn’t it funny when he says “my arse”) and to the bloke who plays Ian Beale on EastEnders (what a wide and varied acting range he has etc…). However there is one celebrity supporter whose crimes against humanity in general (and one crime in particular) are so heinous he walks straight into the no.1 slot for this particular award. Ladies & Gentlemen I give to you none other than Chris “Lady In Bloody Red” De Burgh. The Argentinian-born Irishman was once described by the Irish Independent newspaper as “a bit prickly when it comes to criticism” so he makes an ideal Liverpool supporter in every regard.

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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