West Ham United v Everton

Hello and welcome to the only match preview you will read this weekend than mentions squirrels. Preview Percy hasn't actually lost the plot. It's just that he never had it in the first place...

Next up we play host to Everton. Kick-off is 3pm on Saturday. Don't get used to it though. Travel news is that the Gospel Oak to Barking line will be shut with replacement buses the order of the day. Other than that the trains and tubes all seem to be free of burly gentlemen digging holes in things in the East London/Essex area. Well on the railways anyway.

So Everton then. They're currently 9th in the league with 16 points from 11 matches. Which is 4 behind us in terms of points and 3 in terms of places. They have a goal difference of plus 4 which arises from their last match, a 6-2 win against hapless Sunderland. The Mackems, despite the heavy nature of the defeat at Goodison last weekend, still gave the home side a few things to think about to the extent that the opening goal for the Toffees was said to have come "much against the run of play". They even managed to level things at 2-2 before Sunderland remembered that they were, in fact, Sunderland and therefore not actually any good. At this point Everton also realised that their opponents were, in fact, Sunderland and therefore not actually any good and went about their business scoring a further four without response. Apart from that it's been something of a curate's egg of a season with, including last weekend, them having won 4, drawn 4 and lost 3 this season.

One of those wins came against Chelsea where their 3-0 victory was assisted in no small part by the fact that they are the only club in the known universe who haven't signed anyone on loan from Chelsea and therefore can chose from a full squad when they play them. In fact, if the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles is to be believed - and why wouldn't you - they haven't got a single player in on loan at all at the moment. A number have gone out, yes but all their summer arrivals seem to have been permanent deals.

Out of the ?16m or so that left the club bank account during the last window, the biggest single amount was the ?9.5m paid to River Plate for Argentine international defender Ramiro Funes Mori. RFM, as nobody calls him, is looking at an extended run in the side following an injury to Phil Jagielka, whose knee ligaments will keep him out for a good couple of months.

Although they haven't taken advantage of the loan system this time around, a couple of the permanent new boys have a past in that respect. Winger Gerard Deulofeu was previously on loan from Barcelona during the 2013-14 season. He returned to Barcelona at the end of that season having been assured that there was a role for him at the Nou Camp. That role turned out to be that of "player we're going to send out on loan to Sevilla". A season there wasn't the greatest - he turned up in one Spanish paper's "worst team of the year" listing - so he was probably one of the few people ever to be pleased to return to Merseyside whe the Toffees came in for him this summer.

Then there was Aaron Lennon who arived having fallen out of favour at White Hart Lane - which is something of a badge of honour when you think about it.He originally pitched up at Goodison Park on loan last term. At the completion of the loan he returned to Spurs where, if he hadn't already got the message as to how much he was loved there, he was left in no doubt when they were told to go and train with all the other kids and reserves with no squad number. An undisclosed fee believed (to be something like ?4m) changed hands and his Tottenham nightmare was over.

With all the ins and outs that took place over the summer, the big headlines went to a player who, in the end, went nowhere. Chelsea tried every trick in the book to unsettle John Stones, making ever increasing bids culminating in a ?30m offer which, like the others, was rejected out of hand. Head duly turned, Stones handed in a transfer request which was treated in the same manner as Chelsea's bids had been. Stones has been capped 6 times at full level by England, which, in these days of "home-grown player" regulations, is the reason a reasonable but unremarkable defender is apparently worth ?30m.

On the injury front it will be a week too soon for Leighton Baines who has returned to first team training having been missing all season so far. A midweek behind-closed-doors job has been arranged for him during the forthcoming (and rather pointless) international break. He's been another boil on the bum for us in the past, especially with dead balls from free-kicks awarded just outside the box. His accomplice in this regard is often Ross Barkley who is as fond of a dive as Steve Gerrard was over the other side of Stanley Park. Must be a scouse thing.

In the absence of Baines, England U19 cap Brendan Galloway has had an earlier run in the side than he might have anticipated, especially as Baines' went lame just after they sent Luke Garbutt on loan to Fulham. Galloway arrived in the UK from his native Zimbabwe as a six year-old in 2006 and became the youngest player in the history of Milton Keynes Dons when making his debut in an FA Cup tie at the age of 15, at which point he was still probably older than the club he played for. He made the switch to Goodison Park in August 2014 and can either play for England or, should he feel the need to play for a country run by the sort of murderous dictator who would be getting bombed by all and sundry if his country actually had any oil, he also qualifies for Zimbabwe.

Of course no talk of the visitors would be complete without mentioning Romelu Lukaku who, no matter how bad he or his team are playing, always seems to score against us. Git.

So what's been happening in the wide world of football of late? Well Mourinho has finally got himself a stadium ban, and it is believed that 30,000 Chelsea season ticket holders have asked if they can be banned too.

Poor old Johan Cruyff is recovering in hospital from major heart surgery - the world of football wishes him a speedy one of course. And of course the FIFA-gate scandal rumbles on with the major surprise being that anyone is surprised when each new revelation appears, it being common knowledge that the whole thing has been bent from the moment Havelange took over from Rous in the 70's. Ker-chingggg.

And then there's us. I've put it off for long enough and now I have to revisit the horrors of last week. Well I suppose if we have to lose to a small club that raises its game against its betters I'd rather it be Watford than Spurs.

The fact is that far too many had off days last weekend. Worst 'mare of the week was that suffered by Andy Carroll whose attempted Cruyff turn in his own box is not something he'll be putting on the compilation DVD for the grandkids. Much more of that and we'll be looking at a somewhat different definition of the word "unplayable".

Carroll's selection caused problems in itself. Actually, to be fair to him, the problems were caused more by the absence of Sakho than his own presence in the ranks. Sakho is a willing runner from the middle to the outside meaning that Cresswell and Jenkinson have an "out" ball down the wings. Even if Sakho doesn't actually get on the end of the ball, more often than not he'll force the defender into a throw-in or better. Contrast this with Carroll, who is someone you look to play the ball to with back to goal, to hold it up and to bring others into play. Nothing wrong with that but if you concentrate on playing through your target man in that manner you run the risk of losing width. As we saw on Saturday.

On the injury front it is to be hoped that Winston Reid's hip or thigh has recovered from celebrating his country's egg chasing win last week. I wasn't that fussed to be honest - though as ever we at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered invoked the clause in our rental agreements that means the management have to provide free beers for us to celebrate the defeat of the Aussies in any sport. Reid's return will be even more necessary in view of Ginge's enforced absence which followed his sending off at Watford. I'm sure the FA have actually fined Watford for surrounding the ref last weekend and have just forgotten to publicise it.

Elsewhere, Sakho is out, his thigh muscle injury no doubt being exacerbated by his leap for joy on hearing the news that he will face no charges over the arrests he suffered back in August over a "domestic".

That leaves Song as the only long term absentee. Whenever I check on his likely availability he seems to be perennially two weeks away but, like Baines he has a behind-closed-doors job coming up to look forward to during the week.

Well the one good thing about last weekend's result is that, when I make a prediction from now on, I don't have to worry about jinxing a possible win by predicting one. That particular superstition got a good kicking up at Watford so I'm now free to predict whatever I like.

However, having said that this weekend's opponents have a habit of reverting to scouse stereotype and stealing the points even when we've controlled the game. Of course the FA Cup last season was the exception that proves the rule but even then we went behind in a match we were looking comfortable in. The match provided one of the old ground's memorable moments when Adrian ditched his gloves in his run-up to take the deciding penalty in the shootout which, had he missed, would probably still be going on.

I know "bogey team" runs come to an end eventually - and maybe after last week it'll turn out that Everton is Allardyce's nemesis rather than ours per se. However I still have this nagging feeling that they'll get something out of this match even if it depends on a goal deflected in off a squirrel or something. So with that in mind, I'll be off to Winstones The Turf Accountants and placing the ?2.50 that we at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered had collected to buy a bag of hazelnuts on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 1-2 May 2015. Last home game of the season. 1-0 up? Of course we didn't win. Osman and Lukaku with the statutory late late goal saw them nick all three once again. It was the sort of desultory afternoon where the biggest cheers of the day went to opponents being given yellow cards, with the fair play league also being on Everton's mind at the time. It turned out to be Allardyce's last home game in charge, much to nobody's surprise.

Danger Man: Romelu Lukaku He's been a thorn in the side for a few years now. No matter how much we look on top he'll get some rub of the green and score against us

Referee: Paul Tierney For the second week running we have a non-"select" group referee. Unlike last weekend at least this one hasn't already been demoted from the mafia once already. Hopefully Tierney is being looked at because of impressive performances at lower levels rather than, as is normally the case, because they have mates in low places. He managed to annoy Neil Lennon earlier this season but, there again Mother Theresa would probably have been able to annoy Lennon had they ever met. He once interrupted a QPR v Leicester match due to a squirrel on the pitch. Most observers questioned his judgement in dealing with the situation and said that he should have sent the players off because the squirrel was more entertaining than anything else out there that day. Spurs later had a ?10m bid for the squirrel turned down and, with Chris Ramsey just sacked, the bookies have "Tufty" down at 3/1 to take over as manager at Loftus Road.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Freddie Starr. Although the hamster eating thing turned out to be yet another Max Clifford invention (great headline though), and all investigations into some very unsavoury allegations of a sexual nature were dropped by the CPS due to lack of evidence, Starr is still guilty of one of the greatest crimes of all: like just about every scouse comedian ever born he's not funny. Remember laughing at his "Hitler wearing welly boots" impression? No. Of course you don't. Nobody does. In fact, he is so unfunny that he even beat Tom O'Connor into second place in this category.

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