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Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

Filed: Thursday, 17th November 2016
By: Preview Percy

Can't say we have ever lost any sleep over the identity of the 30th best team in Europe here at kumb towers. However, if you're interested Preview Percy thinks he may have found out. Here's his look at this weekend's visit to Tottenham Hotspur. Real information and graphics courtesy of the good people at www.kickoff.co.uk....

Next up we go to the land of body odour and dandruff where we will be hosted by Tottenham Hotspur. Kick-off for the benefit of space tv is 5.30 pm.

Travel? Well the good news is that they seem to have finished whatever they were doing on the Great Eastern mainline between Liverpool Street, Shenfield and points east. The bad news is that they have shifted all their diggers over to the line through Tottenham Hale, meaning that should your journey to that benighted part of the world usually involve your alighting at Northumberland Park station rather than White Hart Lane you will have to think again. Also bear in mind that the services are run by the nincompoops at Abelio Greater Anglia which means anything could happen anyway.

The Gospel Oak to Barking line, on the one day of the year it would actually be of any use to anyone, is closed – until next February. And, if your journey involves use of the District Line west of Dagenham forget it – replacement buses are the order of the day. C2C services that go into and out of Liverpool Street will be running – but only to 8:30pm, which makes relying on those to get home a bit iffy. Of course you could get the Circle Line round to Tower Hill for Fenchurch Street but, guess what……Check before you leave – and then at frequent intervals during the journey.

Spurs currently sit in 5th spot in the league with 21 points from the 11 played thus far. This places them 3 points behind Arsenal which must be a bit irritating. They are unbeaten this season, though for anyone who does the pools, assuming that they still exist, their recent form has made them something of a banker on the treble chance, assuming that, if the pools still exist, so does the treble chance.

Their last four matches have ended in draws, 1-1 away at West Brom and Arsenal and at home to Leicester and 0-0 down at Bournemouth. Overall they have drawn 6 and won 5 this season and the failure to convert some of those draws into wins is something they may look back on at the end of the season as they finish a few behind Arsenal as usual.

Their quest for Europa League qualification is going well though, a win, two defeats and a draw seeing them sitting in the coveted third place in their so-called Champions League group behind Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, both of whom remain unbeaten. They exited the League Cup to their northern counterparts (I’m never sure if Liverpool are the “Spurs of the North” or if Spurs are the “Scousers of the South”), going down 2-1 at Anfield a few weeks back.

Before we look at the squad in any detail (THAT’d be a first – ed) a quick word about their supporters. Yes they are renowned within the world of football for being, well, a bit dim shall we say. Bless ‘em. However, that doesn’t explain one of life’s greatest mysteries, namely: why do so many Spurs supporters wear shell suits? Let’s face it; even in that thankfully brief period in the ‘90s when they were in vogue, it was only really bottom echelons of the lower orders that adopted them as acceptable wear. Even the scousers, for whom the clothing/fire hazard combo became a uniform, seem to have twigged how wrong that theory is. However, thanks to some in depth research by your correspondent it’s a mystery no longer.

I was monitoring an online conversation on that there facebook thing the other day when the very subject of shell suit wearing Spurs supporters came up. I am therefore indebted to one of their own supporters for the following revelation:

“There was a brief period when Adidas provided some Spurs kit, and we had some great kit. However, Adidas bailed leaving THFC with a ridiculous amount of kit to offload. I still have my Adidas Shell Suit which I think I paid a tenner for reduced from £60 and it still looks great. That is what you see at White Hart Lane. The infamous bargain Adidas shell suit.”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth as it were. They all wear shell suits “because they were cheap”. Which opens up all sorts of obvious stereotype jokes that, not being in possession of a bargepole, I shall leave well alone. Other than to say that, whatever they eventually spend some of the £50 savings on I’d like to put in a plea for at least some of it to go on deodorant and dandruff shampoo – they have instructions on the side of the can or bottle these days guys so get someone to read them to you.

Possibly inspired by his players’ poor summer showing in Euro 2016, manager Pochettino felt compelled to spend a few bob during the window. The work experience girl wearing the Beach Boys T-Shirt without knowing who they are tells me that the top fee paid during the summer window was the £30m that went to Newcastle in return for Moussa Sissoko. Now say what you like about Mike Ashley (and Preview Alastair usually does) but one can’t deny that he knows how to wring a few bob out of a transfer. It is said that Ashley was prepared to accept something like the £17m originally offered by Liverpool for Andy Carroll and just kept turning down offers out of curiosity as to how far they would go. For Sissoko, £30m is not a bad return on a player for whom they paid £1.5m to Toulouse a few years back.

The next highest fee paid was the £17m that went to AZ “Where’s the 67 Gone” Alkmaar for the services of Dutch striker Vincent Jannssen, who, regular readers will be pleased to know, has double figures in terms of Dutch Caps. (No, you’re too kind). Janssen has yet to set the world on fire since arriving in the Premier League having scored just the once in the league thus far this season, despite having been de facto first choice up front. This state of affairs arose in the absence of Harry Kane, who has missed much of the season with an ankle injury – minor for anyone else but worryingly close to brain surgery for Kane. Janssen is a “slight doubt” at the time of writing having picked up concussion whilst on international duty at the weekend, an injury that typically leaves people disorientated and unable to think or speak straight. (Insert your own Harry Kane joke here).

A further £11m went on what is now becoming an annual plundering of Southampton’s resources, with Spurs usually picking up the remnants of whatever Liverpool can’t be bothered with. This season saw the arrival of Victor Wanayama to bolster the defensive options in midfield. Wanayama arrived after3 years with Southampton which followed a spell with Celtic. Wanayama comes from what might be regarded as the Kenyan branch of the Neville family. Not only is brother MacDonald a fellow Kenyan international, currently plying his trade in Italy’s Serie B, two younger brothers are playing in the Kenyan PL whilst sister Mercy is a pro basketball player in the US. So if the parallels are maintained you can expect Victor to become a rubbish manager but a reasonably competent pundit whilst McDonald will end up performing the Phil Neville role. Whatever that is.

Whilst £11m seems like the going rate for a midfielder with Premier League and full international experience, it does seem a lot to spend on a 21 year-old winger all of whose international experience at the time of writing has been at U21 level for France. However, that’s how much they paid for Georges-Kevin N’Koudou. Or maybe that's two players? G-K N’K’s signing seems to have been more an exercise in squad-building and development at the moment. His one start came in the League Cup defeat to Liverpool. Otherwise it’s largely been late sub appearances for the player, only three of which have come in the League. Intriguingly the player was listed as the 30th best player in Europe during the 2015/16 season according to UEFA’s official stats. (Payet was 13th in case you were wondering). This bizarre ranking means that, officially at least, G-K N’K is just as good as Kevin De Bruyne but not quite as good as, er, wait for it, Will Grigg who is, officially, the 25th best player in Europe. At which point you might think that the rankings are a complete load of twaddle. And you’d be right.

N’Koudou shares his coveted 30th best player in Europe spot with Toby Alderweireld. Alderweireld arrived at the start of last season under slightly suspicious circumstances having been on loan at Southampton from Atletico Madrid. Southampton believed that they had an option to buy the player for £6.8m. Atletico believed that they had an option to buy out that option (please keep up) for £1.5m. Southampton claimed that the Spaniards didn’t exercise that option in time, none of which stopped Atletico trousering £11.8m from Spurs for the player, which was still more than they’d have gotten from Southampton, even when you factor in the £1.5m buy out. Whatever happened, Southampton’s threatened legal action never materialised – lawyers being what they are it would probably have cost them £50m to argue the toss – and the player ended up at Spurs. Their failure to convert draws to wins has coincided with Alderweireld’s absence from duty with a knee problem and, given that he was on target in the corresponding fixture last season, it’s bloody typical that he should be likely to make a return this week.

Incidentally Spurs ‘keeper Hugo Lloris is ALSO listed as 30th best player in Europe for 2015-16, so look out for moves for the likes of Oblak, Kruchowiak, Aubameyang, Matuidi and Gameiro as they move to corner the market in 30th best players. Or possibly not.

Other possible returnees from the sick list are Christian Eriksen (knee), Moussa Dembele – whose absence with “muscle fatigue” sounds like the sort of thing that a packet of Radox would sort out , Harry “Arsenal’s Own” Kane who was excused from playing crap for England to allow his ankle to recover and Eric Lamela whose injury has been unspecified but is trendy enough to be described as “hip” is also slated for a return. This leaves Dele Ali as the main probable absentee due to a knee injury that will keep him out for some time. So that’s one less nasty niggling diver to contend with then, though Kane can more than cover for the diving part of Ali’s game.

That’s enough about them. So what’s been happening happened over the last ten years (or so it feels). Well, apparently they held an election over the water. Yeah I know, you’d have thought that they would have mentioned it on the telly or in the papers or something. Anyway the result was a surprise win for the male candidate. This prompted Nicola Sturgeon to make a statement outlining her concerns over the election of someone whose polices contained much that was based on a hatred for the inhabitants of the country immediately to the south. I didn’t read her statement in full but I expect she has copyright issues.

Talking of the ungrateful lot north of the border it was nice of them to send some dustbins down to Wembley the other night for a match in which as awful as England were, Scotland were infinitely worse. And we tried to even things up by picking Henderson. Again. Poor old Malta – must be galling to see the sweaties a place above you in the table.

Talking of someone whose dubious talents have seen him rise to a job that he should never have been in the running for. It’s long been a mystery as to how Jordan Henderson actually gets into England squads in the first place let alone captain the thing.

Us? Well the only bit of our last game that sticks in the memory was Adrian’s nightmare walkabout that led to their equaliser. I’ve tried hypnotherapy to erase the incident from my mind but I think picking a cheap stage hypnotist more noted for making people think that they are chickens may not have been the wisest move. Not that it worked anyway. Cluck.

There has been much call for Adrian to step down in favour of Randolph and, whilst I would have no problem with that (nice to have two decent ‘keepers to call on isn’t it) my guess is that Adrian will get the nod.

Injury news is that there are three players for whom November 19 is listed as a red letter day for returns. Ginge, who missed out on the latest instalment of the “Wales slowly realising that they aren’t quite as good as they thought they were” saga through a calf strain should be available for this one. Which is good as Winston Reid is still a doubt at the time of writing. Arthur Masuaku – remember him? – is also down as being available.

Then there’s Diafra Sakho. He’s had issues in the past beyond the back problems that have kept him out the side (and West Brom’s) this season. However, if he is available for selection I for one will be happy – Sakho’s mobility is something that we’ve sorely missed this season. Carroll? Well for all the talk a few weeks back about “after the international break” the latest tale is one of “being able to train with the first team in a couple of weeks” – something that has been presented as “good news” by the club. Technically speaking, I’d say that falls into the category of “bad news” rather than good, given that all the talk of the original injury was of “6 weeks to two months”. December 11 is the date listed on the usual sites for him.

Finally the skipper will be a bit gutted at missing out on this one. He will be absent through suspension having forgotten to change his name to Diego Costa by deed poll at the start of the season, that being the approved method of avoiding the yellow and red cards that anyone else would normally get these days.

Prediction? Well much depends on the injury front. Much has been made elsewhere of the “8” players on the treatment table that they have. That’s a bit of a red herring though. Of that 8, as we have seen 6 are merely “slight doubts” with Saturday being slated for their return for action. Only the aforementioned Ali of the genuine first XI is definitely out so I’m expecting them to put out a pretty strong starting XI. Factor in the fact that they like to raise their game against their betters in their cup finals and I think we may be in for a tough time given the fact that we are out of sorts enough to give them a sniff at the moment. Loath though I am to do so, I must therefore let my wallet rule my brain by placing the £2.50 that I had absolutely no intention whatsoever of sending to Children In Bloody Need on a wager at Winstones The Turf Accountants on a 2-1 home win, partly in the hope that I’m as wrong as I usually am with these things.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at White Hart Lane: Lost 4-1 (Premier League October 2016) Off-days all round on a miserable visit to hand them the three points in their Cup Final. Lanzini’s late effort was a superb but superfluous finish.

Referee: Mike Dean And the world’s most predictable refereeing appointment of the year is Mike Dean for Spurs v West Ham on Saturday. Again. You disbelieve me? Well let me put it this way, I had the bulk of this paragraph written 48 hours before the official announcement. And it’s on the box. My money is on him remembering to punish a minor spot of holding in the box with a penalty early on. Then forgetting about that sort of thing completely for the rest of the match when infinitely worse infringements occur. I also predict that neither of those decisions will go in our favour.

Danger Man: Harry Kane One of their own insofar as he is definitely on the “two short planks” level of intelligence. Not averse to attacks of “scouse gravity syndrome” when in the box and, dreadful as he was in the Euros, he was given a few days off by the England squad only so he could prepare for this one.

Percy’s Poser: For the Stoke match we asked you “Whatever Happened To Nick Hancock”. The first correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Hortensia Wildebeest of Kelvedon Hatch whose response was both simple and explicit: “I neither know nor care”. Mrs Wildebeest wins a six-month old oatcake. Well done Hortensia!

For this week’s poser we go back to one of those forgotten moments in football history. The phrase “as sick as a parrot” is a standard stock phrase in football folklore (especially if you follow the Scottish national team). However how does Tottenham Hotspur FC claim that the phrase came into being? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win a packet of Trill which, as those of a certain age will remember “makes budgies bounce with health”. Good luck!

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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