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West Ham United v Burnley

Filed: Tuesday, 13th December 2016
By: Preview Percy

Although Sunday’s result at Anfield has improved Preview Percy’s mood slightly we would still recommend that any carol singers thinking of visiting the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered think again. And quickly….Proper information supplied as ever by www.kickoff.co.uk

Next we play host to Burnley for a Wednesday night 7:45pm kick-off. Good luck with the rush hour, which will replace the usual engineering works as the source of all your woes. Unless of course your journey involves Southern Railway in which case if you are reading this from home you are probably already too late. For Hull.

Our fellow-wearers of the claret and blue currently sit in 13th place with 17 points from 15, which is four points and places up above us. Their most recent outing was Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Bournemouth, the Cherries leaving it a bit too late to repeat the heroics of the previous week against Liverpool. Perhaps more significantly is the statistic that of those 17 points all but one have come at Turf Moor. Apart from a 0-0 draw at Moan United they have come up empty handed on the road. So quite what they will make of the Olympic is anyone’s guess. They exited the League Cup at the hands of Accrington Stanley, which went down slightly better just up the road in Accrington than it did in Burnley I suspect.

This season marks their return to the top flight after a season down in the Championship, whence they were promoted as champions. Their last visit to the top tier was characterised by a policy of not spending large amounts of cash they didn’t have in an ultimately fruitless attempt to stay up. Given the quality and quantity of signings made last summer it would appear that that is a policy they have maintained for this season. However, they did break the club record fee in bringing in Irishman Jeff Hendrick from Derby County. Although officially “undisclosed”, the work experience girl wearing the Chumbawumba t-shirt without knowing who they are tells me that it cost £10.5m to attract Hendrick to East Lancs. Unusually for an Republic of Ireland international, he was born in Dublin and, having come through all the age-groups, he now has 29 full caps and featured in the Euro 16 squad. He came up through the youth ranks at Derby having travelled across the water at the tender age of 16 having battled with Osgood-Schlatter disease (something to do with knees, I think) as a kid. He actually started the season with Derby, though a hamstring injury curtailed his appearances in the Championship before heading north.

They went to slightly more exotic climes, ok Belgium, to pick up midfielder Steven Defour. Until Hendrick’s arrival a few weeks later the “undisclosed” fee of £8m paid to Anderlecht was at the time Burnley’s club record fee. Insofar as anyone from somewhere as bland as Belgium can be said to be so, Defour has been a bit of a controversial figure in his time. Whilst at Genk he was tapped up by Ajax and looked set to move across the border. However Genk were, understandably, cheesed off with the illegal approach and refused to let the player go. Defour threatened to not play and cited an obscure Belgian law that allows Belgian players to change clubs in advance of the expiry of their contracts. As the furore got more intense, Ajax said “tell you what, I think we’ll leave it” Whereupon Standard Liege stepped in and took the player on the cheap taking advantage of the same obscure Belgian law. Which, in itself wouldn’t have been a problem except for an unofficial agreement that Belgian clubs wouldn’t take advantage of that particular law. Liege found themselves on the wrong end of his antics as Manchester United were next to come-a-tapping, even sending him a get well soon note as he recovered from long-term injury. However, nothing came of the blatantly illegal approach.

A few years out of the spotlight in Portugal were followed by a return to Belgium with Anderlecht. On his return to Standard as an opponent, Liege supporters with long memories unfurled a banner showing Defour’s severed head to which he reacted by deliberately kicking the ball at the the offending supporters. This earned him a red card and the Standard supporters a ticking –off for being beastly or something. The rotters. Defour has over 50 caps for Belgium and featured in the last World Cup, picking up a red in his only game of the tournament for kicking lumps out of a South Korean chap in what was pretty much a meaningless game, the Belgians having qualified already. Which sounds a bit daft.

They also had a rummage around the basket case that is Charlton, picking up Nick Pope and Johann Berg Gudmunsson on the cheap. Pope is rated as a promising ‘keeper who will take a while to dislodge the rated Tom Heaton from the starting XI. JBG on the other hand has a lot more experience and was part of the Iceland squad that cruelly exposed the folly of picking 5 Spurs players for England back in Euro 2016. In all he has nearly 60 caps for Iceland, though some of those may have been for Bejam before the name change.

They do have a couple of loan players on the books, including the statutory incoming from Chelsea in the form of Patrick Bamford. Bamford is perennially out on loan from Stamford Bridge but, sporadic spells at Championship level apart, never seems to have made the impact one might have expected. In fact Burnley are his 6th loan club in the last four years which should tell you something. The other loanee is Liverpool full back Jon Flanagan. Both Flanagan and Bamford have been utilised sparingly to date so are probably more regarded as squad players.

One player not actually on the books is Joey Barton who is clubless, having added Rangers to the long list of clubs and people he has naused-off over the years. Following his failed attempt to get into Scottish football Barton has been training with Burnley who are said to be ready to offer him a short-term deal, Burnley being one of the few places where he can walk around without having annoyed anyone. Yet.

They seem entered into a pact with some sort of supernatural devil-force-type-thing in return for avoiding injuries. The down side of that deal is that Sean Dyche will be condemned to speak with that voice forever. Probably. The upside of the deal is that the They have pretty much a full squad to pick from, with the exception of the aforementioned Berg Gudmunsson who has succumbed to the hamstring virus that has assumed epidemic proportions in the Premier League these days.

This means a start for top scorer Sam Vokes is likely. Vokes was part of the Welsh squad in Euro 16 and scored the clincher against Belgium that saw the Taffs get through to the semi-finals. Their subsequent failure to score against Portugal meant that Vokes is currently the last Englishman to have scored in a major tournament, the previous two being Robson-Kanu and Williams. The four goals that Vokes has netted this season have all come in the league.

Us? Well after the gutless capitulations of recent weeks it was a most pleasant surprise to see so many players finally test positive for backbone up at Anfield. I mean come on 1-0 down after five minutes? Who’d have thought that by the final whistle we would have been one slip away from getting all three up there twice on the trot? A quick word for Randolph: Chin up son. But for that great world, nay interplanetary, class save we’d have lost! Mind you I’d have held it myself. So don’t fret too much about the one that got away.

Good performances all over the place was the order of the day. Antonio did well wherever he was asked to play. Apart from going awol for their first, Winston Reid was immense and even the much-debated Payet put in a hard-working shift of the type one least expects from him. It was also good to see him actually smile for once as he shared a joke with a team-mate. Incidentally, if any of those rumours about Man Utd trying to speak with the player directly without permission are true, if I were anything to do with the club I would put in a formal complaint as soon as possible. It’s about time bent clubs like Man Utd and Liverpool were forced to obey the same rules that the rest of us.

Talking of Liverpool, isn’t it funny that the club who have had the media turning blind eyes to all their crimes and misdemeanours for so long are now suddenly getting all tetchy over comments made by the Neville brothers about their ‘keeper? Hilariously, Carragher seems to have evaded the wrath of Klopp despite his criticism of Karius being just as scathing. It seems that old Klippety has fallen into the scouse “chips on both shoulders” way of life quite nicely thank you.

Injuries? Well it seems things are easing slightly. Kouyate looks on course to be fit which will bring some much needed shape to the back line, should we opt to play with the three at the back system. The others? Sakho will be January, Tore, “a few day’s time” but there’s “no return date” for Collins, Oxford or Byram. Interestingly, Arbeola was quoted as being unfit to take any part at Anfield at the weekend but doesn’t show up on any of the usual injury lists. The odds on our seeing a statement in January containing the words “by mutual consent” just got a bit shorter.

Prediction? Well there may at last be light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully the tunnel will belong to Southern Railway which will mean that the light won’t be attached to the front of a train any time soon. This has all the makings of a match where we will all leave for home shaking our heads muttering “typical West Ham” where we mess up just after a good result but I’m going with that not to be the case. There was enough in there on Sunday to suggest that there might be the green shoots of a mixed-metaphor turned corner. I will therefore be popping down to Winstones The Turf Accountants placing the traditional £2.50 that I was going to send to Jurgen Klopp in compensation for those feelings that were hurt by all those nasty tv pundits on a 2-1 home win.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 1-0 (Premier League May 2015) Duff upended Kouyate for a penalty converted by Noble. The penalty decision was fine. The decision by ref Moss to dismiss Duff was, however, ludicrous. The reduction to ten men meant Burnley were largely involved in keeping the score down as they edged towards the trapdoor.

Referee: Bobby Madley – Had a bloody good go at ruining Bournemouth’s comeback v Liverpool the other week as time after time he failed to apply the law on advantage when things looked promising for Bournemouth. As we saw at Chelsea last season he referees by guesswork and his guesses are more often than not wrong. Incompetent.

Danger Man: Sam Vokes – qualifies for this section by way of his being top scorer.

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you to name a Liverpudlian comedian who is actually funny. Well done to Mrs Daisy Wilberforce of South Fambridge who was the only entrant in the digital hat to spot that it was in fact a trick question - Liverpool has yet to produce a comedian who is actually funny. Unfortunately Mrs Wilberforce will not be able to take up the prize of an all-expenses paid trip to the International Space Station in December 2026 as the launch date coincides with her weekly meet-up with her sister Cissy over tea and cakes. Never mind Daisy!

For this week’s poser we ask What is the principle claim to fame of the River Brun that flows through Burnley. The first name out of the digital hat will win a bottle of Brun Water with the label signed by the bloke who plays Norris in Coronation Street, or possibly someone even more famous! 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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