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Crystal Palace v West Ham United

Filed: Thursday, 15th October 2015
By: Preview Percy

We're earlier than usual with Preview Percy's piece this week. He's gone to see his lawyer to make sure his ex-wife can't reopen their divorce settlement. Which she will probably want to do if she reads this....

Next up we make that trip over the water into the god-forsaken London Borough Of Croydon where we will be hosted by Crystal Palace. Betting on the game is easy - just make sure to pick a quality site like Bet365 or Betway, which according to GamblingSitesOnline.org are your top two options.

Kick-off is 3pm and there are engineering works a-plenty to consider. C2C trains are being diverted into Liverpool Street, the northern bit of the Circle line plus the Met and Hammersmith & City lines are all knackered. If you’re not sure look it up on the web. I know you’ve got a computer.

If you have ever read this column before you’ll know that the ex-Mrs Percy came from Croydon which, in any sane and modern world, would normally have resulted in the place being nuked, or at the very least surrounded by a 100 ft tall wall fringed with anti-personnel mines to prevent anything quite as frightful ever escaping from that benighted hole ever again. The fact that the place not only still exists but also still has transport links to the outside world is a shameful reflection on how soft this country is these days.

Until common sense prevails, therefore, we still have to play Crystal Palace twice a season. They currently sit in 4th spot, a point ahead of ourselves who happen to be tucked in behind in 6th spot. They have 15 of your English points, those coming courtesy of a record that is comprised of 5 wins and three defeats. The wins came away at Norwich (3-1), at home to Villa (2-1), away at Chelsea (2-1), away at Watford (1-0) and most recently at home to West Brom (2-0). The defeats have come at home to Arsenal (1-2), at home to Man City (0-1) and away at Spurs (0-1). It will be noted therefore that their home record (6pts out of 12) is slightly poorer than their away record (9pts out of 12). Remind you of anything?

Thanks to snipers employed by the paramilitary wing of kumb.com’s resident law firm, three of whom have their sights trained on me as I write this, I’m STILL not allowed to say anything much about their manager, other than he had a longish playing career at the club he now manages where, for much of the time he was the butt of all the boo boys, something he only partly managed to dispel with his FA Cup semi-final winning goal back in the day. Suffice to say that Preview Alastair was equally unimpressed with some of his non-footballing activities during his sojourn on Tyneside, not to mention [name of player omitted for legal reasons].

Talking of the North East, Palace’s biggest signing in the last window was Yohan Cabaye who came in from Paris St Germain whence he had pitched up having played for Pardew at SJP. It wasn’t all “vin et roses” up there. Pardew left Cabaye out of the side at the start of 2013/14 after Arsenal had tapped up the player claiming that his mind wasn’t in the right place. Nevertheless, Cabaye returned to action scoring twice against us in December 2013 in what turned out to be his last match for the Magpies. In fact, Cabaye’s second goal turned out to be his last kick in a Newcastle shirt as, as soon as the window opened, Ashley took the profit and flogged the player to PSG. He lasted there about 18 months before his former boss turned up. The fee was described as “undisclosed but a club record” but of course the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles has a way of finding out details like that and the figure of £13m is the one he came up with, though this figure is believed to include £3m in add-ons.

The other big fee was the £9m sent to Sunderland for the services of Conor Wickham. I know we were linked with him a while back but I couldn’t quite get it myself. Ok admittedly he was the Makems’ (joint) top scorer last season but that snippet of information has to be tempered with the knowledge with the detail that his total came to 5 league goals from 31 matches. Or 6 if you throw in the one he picked up in the League Cup. Either way not a great return and the fee paid is more a reflection of the premium fees payable for players qualified (by birth if not actually by ability) to play for England.

A further £3.5m went on ‘keeper Alex McCarthy, who arrived from QPR where he was understudy to Rob Green. McCarthy was part of the Reading side that went down a couple of years ago and played in the last match of the season at the Boleyn having been selected for the England squad a few days previously. He had a ‘mare against us, not that the Reading supporters noticed. Not unlike the risible Palace “ultras” (named after a washing powder I believe), they seemed to be more concerned with how they looked on the telly than with events on the pitch. Who can forget their plaintive comment: “Once you start complicating things the result is less inflatables”? McCarthy made only 3 appearances for QPR last season but injury to Julian Speroni has seen him promoted to first choice at Selhurst Park this season.

The other permanent deal saw Wolves winger Bakary Sako arrive on a free. Sako’s high point of the season so far probably came at Stamford Bridge where he scored one and made one in their 2-1 victory, a win which, in retrospect, isn’t quite as impressive as it once might have been.

Talking of Chelsea, no club these days is complete without a loan player off whatever shelf they keep them on over there and Palace are no exception. They are this year’s beneficiaries of the services of Patrick Bamford, who picked up the Championship Player of the Year award for his efforts on behalf of Middlesbrough last term.

Their wide guys are getting a bit of press at the moment. Zaha gave West Brom’s Brunt a hard time the other week, though he is one of the unsteady eddies that everyone knows about, apart from (obviously) our wonderful referees. He has that habit of going out of his way to find a stray leg to go over – the irony of Liverpool supporters complaining about him doing so last season was highly amusing. Pardew has been critical of his player on occasion this season, accusing him of a lack of concentration on occasion and he has been replaced at half time on more than one occasion.

The other flavour of the month is French-born, Congolese but raised in Lewisham Yannick Bolasie. Capped over 20 times by the Democratic (yeah right) Republic of Congo he was recently nominated for the African Player Of The Year Award. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me that according to the settings of his latest computer game, Bolasie is rated as a more skilled player than Lionel Messi, something that caused more laughter here in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered than that time the aircon accidentally got laced with nitrous oxide. You’d have to be the sort of muppet that calls himself an “ultra” to genuinely believe that one. Or a spotty computer programmer with a warped sense of humour.

At least injury will spare us the embarrassment of seeing us concede a goal to the useless Marouane Chamakh. Here is a player so poor that even when we were going through an almost complete lack of strikers couldn’t actually get in our team. Typically he has scored against us on a couple of occasions now. There is an amusing video of the player looking terrified at one of those droid things at the tea photo shoot a few weeks ago, presumably scared by the prospect of losing his place to the thing which appeared a lot more mobile than he did and, if nothing else, its hamstring won’t go at the drop of a hat.

Us? Bear with me while I try and remember our last game which took place so long ago people were still giving a monkey’s about the Rugby World Cup. Oh yeah. Sunderland away. Well that match was the living embodiment of the need to get off to a good start. Gifting Sunderland a couple of goals got their tails up – if we could now all stop playing those hospital square passes I’m sure everyone would be jolly grateful. Having said that – and we rode the luck given to us as a result of Sunderland’s insistence of on relying on journeymen strikers – we kept at it and once we’d got the first before half time there was an inevitability about the equaliser, even if there was an assist from the ‘keeper. After that their heads went down and only one team was ever going to win, which made the dodgy start all the more galling. If we’d gone one up we’d have won easily.

That draw was followed by the international break of course. Dele Alli of Spurs professed himself to be “surprised” at his call-up to the England squad. You and us both Dele. Elsewhere, much as happened when called upon in these parts, Darren Randolph let nobody down when called upon by the Irish Republic and, just to confirm that some things will always be funny no matter how often they happen, Scotland appear to have become the only country in Europe not to qualify for next summer’s tournament. As if that wasn’t mirth-inducing enough, the fact that when they turn on their tellies next summer they’ll be watching the likes of Albania v (possibly) Bosnia & Herzegovina is enough to start us off giggling all over again. Expect a mass exodus of sorrows-drowning sweaties to turn up in Amsterdam then.

Elsewhere our former manager has apparently decided to abandon all pretence at dignity by deciding to slag off the supporters who endured his tenure at the Boleyn. Now he got us up, yes, though with the squad we had compared with the others in that league we arguably made hard work of it. However, the last season was a painful experience as we lurched from one week to another. So being called “deluded” by someone who in the same breath claims he’s worth the England job is surely one of the most amazing examples of pot and kettle nomenclature ever recorded.

Back on planet earth, the team news is reasonably good for once. The international break will have done Winston Reid no harm in his recovery from the minor knock that threatened his participation against Sunderland. The ankle problem that Carroll picked up against Norwich is almost better, as is the hamstring belonging to Ogbonna. Best of all we are said to be pretty close to seeing Enner Valencia back in contention. With Alex Song targeting Chelsea for a return there’s some genuinely exciting selection problems for Mr Bilic coming up.

Prediction? A difficult one this. On the one hand they’ve traditionally been a bit tough to beat. Not actually any good as such but one of those irritating teams that you get annoyed at losing to. On the other hand, their form at home has been a bit mixed and ours away from home (the first half on Wearside notwithstanding) hasn’t been bad at all. I’m edging towards another away win but the fact that rotten things have happened to me in Croydon in the past is tempering my optimism to a certain extent, so I’ll go for parity on this occasion. So the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s collection (£2.50) to buy Scotland a Euro sympathy card (we’ll get Wales and Northern Ireland to sign it as well) will be placed on a 2-2 draw and we’ll be off to Winstones the Turf Accountants just as soon as the Swan And Superinjunction closes.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met Over There: Won 3-1 (August 2014) A fine volley from out of the skies by Zarate and Downing’s cut in and low drive gave us a good start. Chamakh, despite being not very good, invoked the law of the ex to reduce the deficit before Carlton Cole (bless him) made the points safe.

Danger Man: Wilfried Zaha Gave Brunt a hard time in the West Brom match, even before factoring in his somewhat dubious form around the box.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg Rode a groundswell of sympathetic goodwill a couple of years ago when bad-mouthed by Chelsea, all of which sort of covered up his shortcomings as an official – and they are manifold. He’s pulled off the difficult, possibly unique, trick of being disliked in equal measures by both supporters and the PGMOL mafia, who have had to stoop to ludicrous punishments for such offences as “driving home in his own car” to keep him in his place.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: The bloke who plays Jay in the Inbetweeners is a Palace fan though it’s a bit unfair to put him into the irritating camp on the strength of the well-written character he plays (which is clearly based on the wannabee “ultras”). Neil Morrissey is irritating (I can vouch from that from first hand experience of when I was unfortunate enough to drink in that part of the world) but top of the irritating celebrity tree has to be Nigel Farage who must find it oh so difficult to reconcile his stance on immigration with the fact that their best players probably wouldn’t be allowed to play if he had his way.

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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