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West Ham United v Chelsea

Filed: Tuesday, 25th October 2016
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy isn't actually on loan from Chelsea or, from anyone else for that matter. Which is a shame because, if he were on loan we could give him back. Here's his look at this week's League Cup tie against what he insists are called "The Pensioners"...

Next up it’s Chelsea at home in the League Cup. Kick off at the Olympic is 7:45pm. Usual League Cup rules apply – extra time and penalties are available in the event of a draw after 90/120 minutes. It being a weekday there will are no planned engineering works, just the usual rush hour rubbish to deal with on the tubes and trains. And buses too if that’s your bag.

So Chelsea then. An odd thing has happened this season. Amongst all the usual load of lies and falsehoods coming out of PGMOL House this season these seems to have been one important change to the laws of the game, namely, that no Chelsea player will ever be sent off. Consider the evidence. On the opening day of the season Diego Costa committed two yellow card and one outright red card offence against us and remained on the pitch to score the winner. He repeated the trick the following week, having somehow evaded a second yellow for “simulation” before going on to net the winner against Watford.

Costa – who by now should have been serving one of two suspensions – then picked up one yellow instead of the four or five he had earned against Swansea and was thus still on the pitch to get them a late equaliser that any other player would have seen chalked off for dangerous play.

Then last weekend we saw “Sideshow” David Luiz put in a shocker of a challenge against Fellaini for which he received a yellow card. From Martin Atkinson who, as we discovered to our cost the previous weekend, doesn’t usually let little things like the honest application of the laws of the game get in the way of issuing red cards when he feels like it and, in a sane and rational world, would be part the way through his own four match suspension.

So why the love for all things Chelsea amongst our bent referees this season? Maybe Abrahamovic noted how badly they did last term without refereeing assistance and renewed the direct debit to PGMOL house? I mean they are raking it in from all those loan fees they are no doubt charging for what the work experience girl wearing a “Dead Or Alive” t-shirt (with the word “Alive” crossed out) without knowing who they are tells me is the THIRTY EIGHT players they have on loan so a few bob in Riley’s back pocket needn't even come out of the dodgy Russian's back pocket. Funny how third-party ownership seems to be ok if the third party happens to be a football club isn’t it?

Of course nobody is really suggesting that referees are being paid off but the current climate of incompetence and dishonesty that pervades officialdom these days means that nobody would be able to tell the difference if they were on the take! Meanwhile, the next time someone tries to defend Premier League referees to you and you want a killer fact to end the argument once and for all you’re welcome to use this one: This season Aaron Cresswell has served a suspension. And Diego Costa hasn’t.

Chelsea’s League Cup run so far started with a 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers. The bizarre thing about that match was the draw. Now pay attention to what follows as there may be questions later: Rovers had faced Cardiff in the previous round and, had Cardiff won they would have gone to Scunthorpe rather than Chelsea, who would have played Bristol City instead of Cardiff. Something to do with the seeding. The propensity of football administrators to make a complete pig’s ear out of the most simple of tasks will never cease to amaze me (see also The 48 team World Cup, Scottish League mid-season split and various European leagues where they stop, start again and carry forward half the points won already at that point, etc, etc ).

Having drawn Leicester out of the hat in the draw for the next round they were probably as surprised as anyone when that was who they ended up playing. A 4-2 Extra time win at the Not The Filbert Street ground ensued over a home side, who are rapidly reverting to type this season, setting up this particular tie. Leicester ended up with ten men in that match after Wasilewski finally lost his rag with Costa and gave him an elbow back. NB despite the refereeing reluctance to do their job properly Costa still has 4 yellows this season giving the Pensioners an interesting problem. Should he commit a red card offence in this match and therefore get only a yellow as is the custom this season, he would finally have to serve a mandatory suspension for the tricky trip that they face to Southampton this weekend.

In their previous League Cup matches they have rung the changes to a certain extent. Begovic has started in goal ahead of Courtois and the likes of Hazard, Oscar and Costa have tended to be on the bench. This has meant starts for the likes of Loftus-Cheek whose embarrassing dive at Stamford Bridge “earned” Chelsea the most fortunate of points against us last season. I therefore suspect they will start with a similar XI to that which commenced proceedings at Not Filbert Street in the last round.

Us? Well it was a bit of a mix last weekend. We started off like a train – and I mean one from the good old days when they used to run trains rather than rail replacement buses. We could easily have won the match by a cricket score – and I mean one from the good old days before the mid-innings collapse became a standard England thing – had we scored in that opening period. Then we had a lull either side of the interval before having all the pressure for the last 20 minutes, our inability to put in a decent cross or break down a nine-man defence almost proving costly. However, patience is a virtue as well as a card game played by Spurs fans and others with no friends, and Reid’s goal came as great relief – and was celebrated with nearly as much gusto by the Avram Grant Rest Home for The Bewildered’s resident Geordie, Preview Alastair, who instantly bestowed honorary Geordie citizenship on Reid to add to his existing Danish-Kiwi nationalities.

One thing became abundantly clear in that match though – whatever directive referees gave about clamping down on fouls in the box seems to have expired. I counted fouls on Antonio, Reid, Kouyate and – most blatantly - Reid again all in the space of a couple of minutes. I do realise that most of our referees are about as intelligent as they are honest and therefore remembering ALL of the laws of the game at the same time is tough for them. This is why they announce a different one each year, that they will be concentrating on one or two things and, by implication, ignoring the rest. However, wouldn’t it be nice if they could announce which laws are in force before the match starts so we all know where we are. A bit like Poker variations – “one-eyed jacks and deuces are wild and I won’t be punishing holding in the box this evening”. That sort of thing.

Injury news and the main doubt is Randolph, who would have been expected to start a League Cup tie under normal circumstances. He wasn’t on the bench on Saturday and I presume that this might have been a precaution to ensure fitness for this one. Should he be unavailable I expect that Adrian, rather than Spiegel would take his place between the sticks. Of the other injuries, it appears that Ayew is likely to be the first of the long termers available for selection with Sakho and Carroll both down as “possibles” for the 5 November visit of Stoke. Tore is listed as being back two weeks after that whilst Byram and Masuaku will be back the next time Preview Alastair buys a round – in other words nobody knows.

Other than that, I would hope that we would ring as few changes as possible. It would be good to see Cresswell back to gain more match fitness for example. His presence made such a difference the other week. Maybe another start for Fernandez, who had a decent game at the weekend, would not go amiss. And perhaps young Fletcher might be worth a start up front – especially if we are having to keep a close eye on the number of games Zaza is playing. But other than that, I’d pick as strong a team as possible from those available in the rest of the side.

Prediction? Well cup game, squads rotated etc means that predictions are even more tricky than usual. This will be the first derby under the lights at the new gaff and I think that the place will start to buzz at last. I reckon that, despite the difference in the start to the season that both clubs have had, I have a gut feeling that we will pinch this one so I will go for a 2-1 win for us probably, though I’d rather it wasn’t, AET so don’t plan anything for Thursday that requires an early start!

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at The Boleyn: Won 2-1 (Premier League October 2015) Zarate’s fine volley and Carroll’s towering header gave us the points. Cahill scrambled one from a corner in between. Matic was dismissed for a second yellow back in the days when referees were allowed to give Chelsea yellows. They moaned that one that had been cleared off the line had gone in. When it was pointed out there was a machine for that sort of thing they claimed it had been fixed. Mourinho and one of his coaches were banished to the stands for not making sure that the ref’s cheque cleared in time. You’ll gather it was eventful.

Danger Man: Diego CostaAlways difficult to work out who will be playing but assuming he plays, the disgraceful blind eye turned by match officials to Chelsea will mean that he will probably be on the pitch to score if selected/required.

Referee: Craig Pawson Dismissed Bournemouth’s Arter on his last visit to the Olympic. The chances of him having grown enough backbone for him to repeat the exercise against these opponents are probably Shetland Island in their remoteness.

Percy’s Poser: Last time out we asked how Sunderland AFC featured in the film “The English Patient”. First correct answer out of the digital hat was that supplied to us by Mrs Elizabeth Wombat-Botherer who told us: “There was a Sunderland scarf contained in a box of personal effects belonging to a soldier. It was an old fashioned knitted woollen scarf onto which had been clumsily-sewn a club badge of a design dating from the 1970’s, despite the film being set In WWII. This completely ruined the film for me”. Us too Elizabeth, us too! Elizabeth wins Martin Atkinson’s braincell, as soon as they have discovered one.

For this week’s poser, all you have to do is name one sporting trophy celebration that John Terry has not turned up to be photographed in. The winner will get to be Terry’s personal guest at this year’s MOBO awards, where he expected to pick up the award for Best Female Act. 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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