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Crystal Palace v West Ham United

Filed: Thursday, 13th October 2016
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy takes a look at this weekend's visit to Crystal Palace. As usual we would advise readers with any connection to the London Borough Of Croydon to take a stiff drink before proceeding any further.....

Next up we have to visit the London Borough Of Croydon, where we will be hosted by Crystal Palace. Kick-off is 5:30pm for televisual purposes and, for those of you coming in to Liverpool Street, that’s probably just as well. Yup those pesky engineering works that have blighted our home matches in recent weeks are set to continue so if you are coming in from anywhere between Liverpool Street and, well, Russia, look forward to rail replacement buses etc. Thankfully south of the water there’s no digging up of the tracks but check before you leave to be on the safe side.

The London Borough Of Croydon is, as I’m sure you will remember, the dreadful place that spawned the first Mrs Percy, something that even the locals there are embarrassed about. Unfortunately, my proposal that a huge wall be erected around the place lest anyone quite so dreadful escape from there again still hasn’t been granted planning permission so it looks like we will have to continue our annual outing from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered for another year until they get relegated. Which is a shame because once that odd Mr Trump fails to get elected there will be millions of workers hanging around over there with no wall to build.

The local side are having a not bad run at the moment sitting in 8th spot with 11 points from their 7 games. This followed a particularly poor run in the league last season after last yuletide which saw them barely scrape a win in the league until the end of term, their early season form being enough to keep them afloat. All that was sort of disguised by their progress to the FA Cup Final where they lost to the team that would have been out at the quarter final stage but from some remarkably dishonest refereeing at Old Trafford last March. Did I say “remarkably” I meant “typically”.

Their main problem last season was the fact that nobody employed as a forward at the club seemed capable of scoring goals. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much a failing if you happen to be a forward employed to do just that. The failure in this department was hardly surprising when you think that the striking options at various stages included Emmanuel Adebayor and Marouane Chamakh, neither of whom would qualify as “prolific”. Clearly changes were required if improvements were to be made.

Out went Dwight Gayle to Newcastle for what the work experience girl wearing the Van Der Graaf Generator T-Shirt without knowing who they are assures me was £10m of Her Majesty’s Pounds. That seemed a lot to me – maybe the notoriously tight-fisted Mike Ashley was off sick that day.

The money didn’t rest in that account for too long though. In fact they returned it to SJP with a further £3m in return for Andros Townsend. Townsend it appears had a clause in his contract allowing him to leg it out of toon the second they got relegated. It was a case of “yes guys it’s all very nice up here and all and the Northumberland countryside is very nice but, if it’s all the same to you I’d rather go to someone still in the Premier League, because, like, I won’t get picked for England if I stay here”. Having said that he was initially omitted from the latest England squad, only being drafted in when Raheem Sterling got hooked due to injury (I bet HIS calf muscle strain will have cleared up by this weekend).

A reported £27m went to Liverpool in return for Christian Benteke as the scousers cut their losses on the player after an unimpressive spell up there. Now he’s picked up a goal or two in recent weeks prompting some to bemoan the fact that we didn’t sign him ourselves. However, I’ve not been over-impressed with him over the years and he wouldn’t have been my first choice of striker when we were in the market for one.

Slightly less known is the fact that Benteke came in a “buy-one-get-one –free” type deal whereby Palace nipped over to Belgium to pick up Benteke’s kid brother Jonathan. I’m sure that the deal was completed on merit and was in no way a sweetener made in return for Benteke senior’s signature. The pair of them had 6 minutes of shared pitch time towards the end of their trip to Boro’ but Benteke minor suffered a knee injury and is now out of contention for 4 months, an injury described by the manager (of whom less later) as “disappointing”.

They also brought in Chelsea striker Loic Remy on loan from that bit of the Chelsea organisation that seems to have been specifically set up to buy and subsequently loan out players – football’s equivalent of Moss Bros if you will. He promptly got injured and went back to the Stamford Bridge treatment room where he is likely to stay for another month or so.

The worst injury of all happened to full-back Pape Souare. It’s not often one could describe a player with a broken leg as “lucky” but given that the break was the worst of the injuries the lad received during a car crash on the M4 things could have been a whole lot worse for the Senegalese full-back. Happily the prognosis is that the player should be able to make a full – if lengthy – physical recovery.

Back on the transfer front they also went abroad to pick up a new ‘keeper in the form of Steve Mandanda who came in for either an undisclosed fee or on a free transfer – sources differ – from Marseille. Mandanda was born in Zaire and qualifies internationally for the Democratic Republic Of Congo on the grounds that it is the same country following a “rebranding” (as we must call it) that took place in 1997.

However, he opted to play for France which led to his goalkeeper siblings to nickname him “Frenchie”. Which is a pretty damned horrible insult in my book, ranking right up there with “Croydonian”. Mind you “Steve” did rather get the short straw when it comes to forenames when you consider the fact that his younger brothers are named Parfait, Riffi and Ever. Steve has been capped over 20 times at senior level by France though these days he is seen pretty much as Lloris’s deputy over the channel. Which meant that he got to watch Payet play against Bulgaria last weekend like the rest of us.

They bolstered the central defensive area by paying us a reported £10m for James “He Hits Who He Wants” Tomkins. Now that was a transfer that didn’t overly please us at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered, though, having reportedly been told that his first XI chances would be limited at the Olympic Stadium one can see the logic of his departure to ensure first team football, even if it does mean his having to visit Croydon every other week. The uncertain start we’ve made would have meant him having the chance to build up a run in the first team. Strength in depth against keeping players happy - the perennial struggle.

Tomkins may be partnered by skipper Scott Dann who is due to return from a hamstring injury. Palace supporters have been clamouring for him to be included in England squads for a while, which just goes to show that once you start picking players as limited as Henderson everyone starts to think they can get in.

They are of course managed by Alan Pardew about whom the KUMB lawyers have insisted I write precisely nothing. For some reason. So I’ll move swiftly on to other matters. England then. Liverpool fans were hailing their latest “world-class” player (titter) as Jordan Henderson was the least worst player on the pitch against, er, Malta, resulting in him being awarded the captaincy against Slovakia. Whereupon he gave the ball away so often he reminded the rest of us that he’s bloody lucky to be anywhere near an international squad in the first place. Still, as awful as it is watching England these days (Sturridge here’s a cow’s backside, here’s a banjo. Come back when you’ve mastered that) at least we’re not Scottish. (Note to Scottish readers: hahahahahaha!)

Meanwhile we are all avoiding looking at the photos of the Boleyn being demolished – we were tearful enough on that last night without seeing the place getting pulled apart. Taking our minds off things we have injury news, and as usual, there is another one to add to the list. This time it’s Gokan Tore who has a thigh injury that will keep him out for about five to six weeks. Poor bloke must have walked under half a dozen ladders on his way over from Turkey.

It had been thought that Carroll and Sakho might be close to recalls but that now looks more likely to happen at the end of the month – maybe the extra hour in bed when the clocks change just before Everton away will make all the difference. Ayew & Masuaku are still a fair way off and Byram’s hamstring was bad enough to require an operation last week. On the plus side Cresswell, Nordveidt and Calleri have all returned to full training. Cresswell has been sorely (pun intended) missed after that two-bob nutter from Karlsruhe did him in pre-season so let’s just hope he really IS fully fit this time around – we can’t afford for him to miss any more games.

Prediction? Well my original optimism for this match has been tempered by the injury news – I’d originally been working on the lines that one or more of Carroll and Sakho might be about. Their absence leaves us looking at Zaza and Calleri as the main options, with perhaps Antonio taking on some sort of striking role as he did against Boro’. Zaza is struggling for form at the moment and if he wants to stay he’ll need to start pulling his finger out. Calleri has been injured but even before that he wasn’t exactly in the Samsung league in terms of setting the world alight.

I do have a rather bad feeling about this one given they are in a run of luck at the moment. So I think that the £2.50 I was going to pay to watch the next UKIP boxing match (well there’s bound to be one isn’t there?) will go on a pessimistic 2-1 home victory as soon as I can get myself down to Winstones The Turf Accountants, the one bright spot being that if any idiot dressed as a clown gets in my way as I get near the ground on Saturday I can happily deck them safe in the knowledge that, since they come from the London Borough Of Croydon, I will be doing the world a double favour.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Selhurst Park: Won 3-1 (Premier League October 2015) An eventful match that took place almost a year ago to the day. Jenkinson put us 1-0 up before a very dodgy twice-taken spot kick from Cabaye levelled the scores. Gayle then got himself dismissed rather stupidly, kicking lumps out of Payet and Kouyate with a petulant shove on Adrian coming in between to suggest that he had an early date that evening – (this being back in the days when referees actually bothered to issue second yellow cards when they were due).

It seemed that the self-styled greatest supporters in the world all had similar plans to Gayle as even the twit with the “official drum” legged it once Lanzini had put us 2-1 up. So they would have missed the delightful finish from Payet that sealed the points. Talking of whom, it was in this match that “The Payet Song” really started to take hold, something that occurred with a spontaneity light years beyond the comprehension of the risible home “ultras”.

Danger Man: Christian Benteke I don’t particularly rate him but that makes him precisely the sort of player in form that will play well enough to bite us on the bum. Honourable mention for James Tomkins who will be a danger at corners with the added influence of the law of the ex to come into play.

Referee: Martin Atkinson Of course it is. We get him every three bloody games whatever happens.

Percy’s Poser: Last time out we asked you why the BBC had to issue a disclaimer at the end of series 3 of Auf Wiedersehen Pet, which had partly been set in Middlesbrough. The first correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Winifred Cornplaster of Pitsea who told us: “The BBC told us that they had had received complaints that the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge had been dismantled for the programme. The last episode of the programme therefore contained a disclaimer aimed at Spurs supporters and other hard of thinking groups pointing out that the bridge was still actually intact and fully functional and the apparent absence of the structure on the tv was the result of not very convincing special effects..” The prize of a can of genuine Middlesbrough Smog is on its way to you Mrs Cornplaster even as we speak. Well done Winifred!

For this week’s poser we will be asking the question: The London Borough Of Croydon’s employees have a warped sense of humour – how else do you explain their granting of a safety certificate to Selhurst Park every year? But what did the burghers of that lousy borough do in 1954, 2000, 2002 and 2012 that caused the rest of the country to collapse uncontrollably with laughter. First correct answer out of the digital hat will win either the London Borough Of Croydon or a used J-cloth. Good luck everyone!

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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