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West Ham United v Watford

Filed: Tuesday, 19th April 2016
By: Preview Percy

Due to circumstances beyond our control Preview Percy has been away. And due to circumstances beyond our control, he's back.....

Where were we before I was interrupted. Right. Watford next. Home. 7:45pm on a Wednesday. Just the usual rush hour rubbish to contend with on the tubes then.

Our opponents come into the match limping along in the league in 12th place with 41 points from the 33 games played thus far. They’re not going to trouble the European scorers through their league position and they are far enough away from the relegation places for them not to be looking up results from St James Park, Carrow Road or The Stadium of Light every Saturday evening.

League form has not been that inspiring. Until their 1-0 win at the Hawthorns last weekend you had to go back to February 13 for their last win, a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park over Crystal Palace, who they meet in the Cup semi-final this weekend, their progress having not been decided by the increasingly unfit for purpose PGMOL. Since that win they have gained five points from the seven matches played, the three points at West Brom being accompanied by singletons from home draws with Bournemouth (0-0) and Everton (1-1). Other than that it’s been defeats all the way: 1-0 away at Man Utd and at home to Leicester, 2-1 at home to Stoke and 4-0 away at Arsenal.

There was an element of high farce about their win over the Baggies at the weekend where a woeful West Brom contrived to lose despite being awarded penalties in the plural, something that came as quite a shock to us watching the highlights on Match Of The Day who had been under the misapprehension that once awarded a penalty no team that isn’t Liverpool or Man Utd is allowed another one until Halley’s Comet has reappeared. Apparently that’s not the case but, just in case it was Berahino elected to tap both of them gently back to Heurelho Gomes to give the ‘keeper some practice lest the weekend’s Cup Semi-Final go the distance.

Gomes is the one confirmed starter for this one as Flores shuffles the pack ahead of the Cup semi-final. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me that Pantilimon is the preferred custodian for the cup games. He came in during the January window for an undisclosed fee in the region of £5m, the move ending a spell at Sunderland that was less than happy as he swapped places time and time again with the equally hapless Vito “8-0” Mannone.

I suppose some of the more gullible amongst the Watford support might have been taken in by the “Suarez Signs For Watford” headlines but not that many. The headlines did, of course, refer to the Spanish defensive midfielder Mario of that ilk tarther than the racist diving biting cheat currently with Barcelona. The Spanish lad came in from Fiorentina for around £4m having had an unsuccessful spell in Florence (no that’s not a “Magic Roundabout” joke) who he had joined in the Summer window from Atletico Madrid, where he did spend some time being managed by Hornets’ boss Quique Flores. He does have full representative honours for Spain but three caps in as many years, with the last coming over a year ago, suggests that he’ll be on a beach somewhere when his compatriots open their campaign in Toulouse against whatever the Czech Republic will be called by then.

Another winter arrival was the Dutch-born Moroccan Nordin Amrabat who pitched up at Vicarage Road from Malaga who received a reported £6m for their trouble, The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles highlighted the following comment from the player’s Wikipedia page: His father recommended that Amrabat play at the amateur level while studying for a different profession. He washed dishes, made desserts and vacuum cleaned his school while playing for SV Huizen in Almere. Now that’s a trick I’d pay good money to see. Amrabat was once sent off for making a gesture that suggested that a referee required glasses. I’m not quite sure how he would have reacted to Jon Moss last weekend – if there is a gesture that signifies that a brain transplant is required I have yet to encounter it, useful though it might be here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered.

Top scorer is Odion Igalho who may have been one of the last people to have been named after the cinema in which they were conceived. Let’s face it even the chavviest single parent (and there is one around here who called her pair Talullah and Leonardo) is probably going to baulk at saddling her youngest with the name “Multiplex”. Meanwhile (back on planet earth – ed) Igalho has a haul of 16 goals in all competitions this season, 14 of those coming in the league. Having said that, he’s not notched in the league since the home win in the league against Newcastle back in January, though he did score in the Cup matches against Forest and the quarter-final against Arsenal at the library.

The ex-Hammer in their midst is Valon Behrami. The Swiss international’s tenure at the Bo;eyn was punctuated by injury, though the one that he had that mysteriously disappeared the second a transfer window closed did somewhat call his commitment to the cause into question, especially as he was gone as soon as the next window opened.

So what has happened over the past few weeks while I’ve been tending to the needs of my even more aged parent, the malingering invalid? Not much. Every game we have had has been decided one way or another by the failure of referees to apply the laws of the game in a correct and proper manner. So much the same as ever. The fact that the penalty given to us up at Leicester was the first away penalty in the league since October 2010 (according to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles) tells you everything you need to know really. Especially as we now know that Halley’s Comet isn’t due to make an appearance until 2061.

There are two sorts of referee in PGMOL. The arrogant and the incompetent. The arrogant like to be the centre of attention at all times and are not above making the odd controversial decision to ensure that that continues to be the case. The incompetent have much the same effect on matches only they do it by accident. There are those of you who like to defend the indefensible, usually opening the argument with the phrase “it’s a really difficult job….” I agree. Which is why we should ensure those employed to do the job are up to it. How would you like a clearly substandard airline pilot to be taking charge of your flight to whichever Costa you great unwashed go to these days purely because BALPA decided to scrap regular pilot assessments to protect the ones that aren’t very good? (I have dismissed Matron’s comment that you would probably want the plane to crash if you were stuck in the seat next to that occupied by Kerry Katona on the grounds that I haven’t the foggiest idea who or what she is talking about). Well that’s where we have got to today – much as I predicted many years ago when first Hackett and then Riley were given the job of illustrating the concept of lunatics taking over the asylum.

The fact is that, due to substandard refereeing we are out of the cup and a good load of points behind where we should be in the league. In fact, the fact that we are so far up the table in spite of PGMOL is little short of a miracle really.

Team news is that Sakho’s mystery “minor right knee knock and in no way a falling out with the boss” (hmmmm) seems to have got all better so he might be in contention. Young Byram is available and I’d like to see him start if fit if only to give Antonio more of a run further forward. Tone has done ok at right back for someone for whom right back is not a natural position. Sakho’s possible return means that only Jenkinson of the registered squad will be unavailable. That’s unprecedented in the million or so years I’ve been doing this (no, it just seems that long – ed.

Prediction? Well I did contact PGMOL to ask them what the score is going to be since they clearly have it all arranged in advance these days. However, they told me if I called them one more time they would call the police. Strangely, when I offered to give them the number of the Fraud Squad they sounded very worried and pretended to be a Chinese takeaway. So my prediction is based on the result being decided by the relative merits and strengths of the two teams involved. I realise that this is a radical concept that will never catch on amongst the refereeing classes but hey I think they ought to give it a go.

I’ve therefore stuck the £2.50 that would have gone on a get well soon card for Knowledge Norman on a 2-1 home win down at Winstone’s The Turf Accountants. If that’s alright with the officials.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Drew 1-1 (Championship March 2012). A “park the bus” performance from the visitors who had taken the lead with a cruelly deflected goal against the run of play early in the second half. A late Vaz Te equaliser saw us share the points as we blew the chance to go top. Still it all ended up ok in the end I suppose.

Referee: Mike Dean. like it matters. Falls into the arrogant pompous idiot camp so he will do whatever he wants.

Danger Man: Mike Dean Let’s face it the men in the middle have done us more damage than any opponent this season and this particular clown has previous.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: XXXXX XXXX The name has been removed due to an injunction. Apparently we’re not allowed to tell you that his XXXXXXX has a habit of indulging in XXXXXXXXX with XXXXXXX. Or that he supports Watford. Well you would keep that quiet wouldn’t you.

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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