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Chelsea v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 18th March 2016
By: Preview Percy

Did you know that the inernet had a patron saint? If you didn't, and you're actually that bothered read on and Preview Percy will enlighten you.....

Next we venture west where we will be hosted by Chelsea, the only teenage club in the top flight. Yer kick-off is 3pm on Saturday (hurrah). However there are engineering works –a-plenty all over the shop. There’ll be no District Line between Tower Hill and West Ham, no Hammersmith & City or Metropolitan Lines east of Kings Cross and no Circle line at all. Outdoors there’s the usual nothing between Ingatestone and Liverpool Street and some loose animals, probably cattle but possibly sheep or horses, will make their way past a broken fence onto the clockwise carriageway of the M25, blocking all traffic between junctions 29 and 30. Well they usually do whenever I want to get anywhere anyway.

So. Chelsea then. The web has been awash with their support claiming that this is their worst season ever. I guess it is if you define “ever” as “going back to when I first thought I’d impress people by getting into ‘soccer’”. However, there are those of us who can remember effectively relegating them back in the 1980s when Paul Hilton had the game of his life making “England’s” Kerry Dixon look a complete mug. So how bad are they really?

Well despite a terrible (and, frankly hilarious) start to the season, since dispensing with the services of the so-called “special” one they’ve improved to the extent that they are now in 10th spot with 40 points from 29 games. So that’s relegation seen off then. They’re unbeaten in the league over the last 6 games with three wins and three draws amassing them 12 out of a possible 18 over that period. Oddly enough though they’ve been better off away than they have been at home, where they have drawn 5 of the last 6. This included sharing the spoils with such luminaries as Watford, West Brom, Everton, Stoke and Moan Utd. The only home win in the last six at Stamford Bridge came courtesy of the 5-1 trouncing of Newcastle so it barely counts anyway. Their most recent match was this weekend’s reverse to Everton in the Cup, a result that may well have ended their hopes of a spot in Europe. And of course the ever-amusing “doctorgate” scandal still continues to rumble in the background.

The most significant thing to come out of their cup exit was the dismissal of Diego Costa. When you consider that this was the player’s first dismissal of a season that has seen the likes of Adrian serve totally unwarranted bans you do have to wonder what referees are actually looking at when they go to work. By all accounts the much reported “bite” turned out to be no such thing but given the player’s rather dodgy record it is amazing that it’s taken referees so long to cotton on to the fact that what we have here is a bit of a thug. In another time the prospect of Ginge v Costa would be mouth-watering but the suspension coupled with Ginge’s injury will mean that there is no chance of that now.

The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles is having an easy time of it at the moment. After last week’s fracas (the bruising on the back of his head has healed up nicely thanks) when there were no winter signings at Man Utd for him to go and look up we have something similar this week. In fact they brought in a couple of players during the window, though neither of them is much to get the blood stirring.

The one permanent arrival was US International Matt Miazga who was purchased from something called the New York Red Bulls for £3.5m. At the time of writing he hasn’t featured for the first team as yet, though he was on the bench for the first leg of the PSG So-Called Champions League match (a trophy for which Chelsea were apparently outbid by the Parisian lot). Miazga is one of those who gets all confused as to what nationality he is having picked up an age group cap for Poland before getting all “mom’s apple pie” on us and throwing his lot in with the USA. He got his first cap for the Septics in a World Cup Qualifier against 1950’s Do-Wop group St Vincent And The Grenadines so it looks like he’ll be stuck on that side of the pond internationally speaking.

They also brought in Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato on loan from Corinthians . The deal was that he would stay to the end of the season but on arrival it turned out that he would require what was euphemistically referred to as “conditioning training” which translates as “he turned out a bit Lampard”. The latest story is that he is likely to end up being air-freighted back to Sao Paulo in a crate marked “return to sender” sooner rather than later.

Miazga’s arrival was probably made with one eye on the impending departure of racist adulterer John Terry. Terry has been bleating about the fact that he hasn’t been offered a new contract and he has gone into print on the fact that he will never play for another English side. That’ll be America then you’re aiming for then John? I wonder if the Ku Klux Klan have a team? The down side though is that the Americans can be a bit fussy about who they let in. Convictions for drug dealing and shoplifting tend to count against you at visa time so the idea of getting the folks over to pick up a suntan might be a problem if he does end up signing for Lucozade Louisiana or whoever might be interested.

With Costa finally getting the ban his performances have deserved over the season (possibly with further suspensions to come) they may be looking to the Burkinabe youngster Bertrand Traore. He’s chipped in with the odd goal here and there in recent weeks with MK Dons (in the cup) Newcastle and Stoke all being on the receiving end.

Another alternative up front is Loic Remy who first appeared on the English football radar in 2013 when Marseille agreed a fee with Newcastle. Now the usual thing in those cases is that the player turns up at his prospective new employer, agrees terms, signs a few forms then poses for some cheesy photos in his new club kit while holding a cheapo scarf out of the club shop aloft. In fact what happened was that Ashley’s employees were left sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting in vain for Remy to turn up. The reason for this was QPR had somehow hijacked the deal, making him an offer at the very time he was due to be putting pen to paper. The identity of the QPR manager at the time escapes me but I’m sure everything was above board and was in no way shape or form dodgy. Perish the thought.

With Costa otherwise engaged the top scorer available to them will be Willian who has triumphed over his parents’ inability to spell his first name to become something of a whizz at free-kicks. When you have the likes of Oscar and Hazard in your side who are ready to go to ground at the drop of a hat you will get a few free kicks I suppose.

Over the course of this season they have had no fewer than 37 players out on loan. That number includes Victor Moses, who, it’s fair to say, hasn’t quite had the impact he was probably trying for when he pitched up at the Boleyn at the start of the season. The loan rules mean that he won’t be eligible to play this weekend and, with the likes of Antonio coming ever more to prominence, his opportunities have been nearly as limited with us as they probably would have been with them.

On the injury front Edin Hazard will be missing for them with a hip problem. I’ve no idea how he sustained it but it would be lovely to think he’d messed up the landing from one of his dives wouldn’t it?! The other two on their sicklist are Zouma and the hapless Falcao neither of whom will be back this season by the looks of things.

What’s been happening in the world over the last week. Well some players you never heard of went out on the lash at Cheltenham and their antics turned up on the web giving a new meaning to the phrase “internet stream”. And the England manager proved that, no matter how bad a player is playing,if you stick a Spurs or Liverpool shirt on his back he can go out and be even worse for his country. Still at least Noble, Cresswell and (possibly) Antonio will have their feet up over the international break. Pleased though for Payet, though I’ll be more pleased when he gets back home from his sojourn with the French international side safe and unscathed.

As for us last week my prediction was pretty spot on wasn’t it. A 1-1 draw with the opposition assisted by some dodgy refereeing. Ok it was Old Trafford so the dodgy refereeing is pretty much a given I suppose but come on, the challenge on Randolph was a Nat Lofthouse. Still we get one last FA Cup tie to stir the blood, assuming that we can actually sort out a date on which to play the blessed thing. I set the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles the task of coming up with likely dates for the replay. He started feeding in all the criteria into his laptop, taking into account Europa League, international breaks, solar eclipses (both partial and total) and the need to avoid the feast day of St Isodore of Seville, whereupon his laptop started to emit a noxious chemical smoke and the hard drive melted. Which was quite ironic when you think about it given that St Isodore (feast day 4 April) is actually the patron saint of the internet.

A quick word about Payet and the penalty. In my view the incident was pretty much identical to the Benteke one a week or two earlier. And that was a bit disappointing to me. Over the years Liverpool apologists have come up with this thing about “being entitled to go down” if there is contact. I didn’t agree with that before and I still don’t. I don’t want to see us becoming the sort of club where that sort of thing is coached into players. We’re better than that. Having said that, for all the hand-wringing from a club that has, over the years, turned cheating into a tactical ploy, had the ref sent Payet off it would have been a complete travesty, given the ludicrous nature of his original yellow card. To summarise, Dimitri don’t do it again – you get fouled genuinely enough as it is. Keep the free-kicks gong though.

Team news: Winston Reid came off after an hour on Saturday but that was just a precaution after he had been feeling a bit of cramp so he should be fine. This would just leave Ginge & Tomkins on the sick list (if you make the assumption that Jenkinson has probably played his last game for us anyway) and they will be ready after the international break. Young Byram will also be available for selection at right back after missing a couple of games through suspension and being cup-tied for the trip to Salford. His availability could mean Antonio could be released from his defensive duties to get forward a bit more.

Prediction then. Well in the league they’ve been on a little run of late. However they will have to contend with the psychological blow of being dumped out of two cups in the space of a week or so, coupled with the absence of their principle goal threat.

I think we’ll be the better side but we may have to settle for a point this weekend. So the £2.50 that I was going to send to the Chancellor to help out with the budget will instead be heading off in the general direction of Winstones the Turf Accountants where it will be exchanged for a betting slip containing the words “1-1 draw”.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Money Laundry: Lost 2-0 (December 2014) It had been a promising first half to the season where we had played some decent stuff. However, the manager reverted to type admitting before the game that the plan was to “stop the opposition” rather than to actually try to win the game ourselves. Goals from racist adulterer Terry and Costa were enough for the home side. Sadly the lesson wasn’t learnt and we spent the second half of the season hoping not to lose rather than trying to win.

Referee: Robert Madley. Presumably due to an administrative error we seem to not have Martin Atkinson this week. Madley has taken charge of us on two occasions in the league since his elevation to the upper echelons of the refereeing world. He was in charge for this season’s wins away at Man City and at home to Liverpool so we’re on a league hat-trick for him (4 in a row in all games if you count the 2-0 League Cup win up at Turf Moor a few years ago).

Danger Man: Willian. Second after the suspended Costa in the goalscoring ranks he’s nearly as good as our chap in the free-kick stakes though he does have the advantage of playing in a side that’s quite good at, ahem, “winning” them in dangerous positions.

Irritating celebrity supporter of the week: Robert Mugabe A few weeks ago I jokingly suggested that genocidal maniac Pol Pot had been a Southampton supporter. Well this week I don’t have to make it up – we’ve got the real thing. Mugabe has genuinely expressed his love for Chelsea in the past. He is irritating for any number of reasons not least his transformation of a country that once fed much of southern Africa into a bankrupt wasteland that can barely feed itself. Also irritating because recently, after 30 years of the Mugabe dictatorship people have just worked out that his name spelled backwards equals a well-known Yorkshire saying and if anyone else sends me that text I’ll arrange to have them shipped out there. In a crate.

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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