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Swansea City v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 23rd December 2016
By: Preview Percy

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Because as sure as hell Preview Percy isn't going to do so. Here's the grumpy one's look at at Boxing Day's trip to Swansea.Additional info from www.kickoff.co.uk later...

Next up it’s an international trip as we pop over the border to Swansea. Kick-off at the Liberty Stadium is at 3pm. Thinking of travelling by train down there? Think again. It’s Boxing Day which means train drivers will be at home, much in the same way as they seem to be during normal days of the week. Still the view from the Severn Bridges is nice, whichever one you choose to use.

So Swansea then. On the bright side for them they are currently the top placed side in Wales. The down side of which is that they have achieved this honour by virtue of being second from bottom of the league with 12 points from their 17 games played so far, goal difference keeping them off the bottom slot occupied by last week’s opponents Hull. That leaves them a point behind Sunderland and three points shy of Crystal Palace who occupy the nearest safety spot.

It’s not been a great season for victories for them. After an opening day 1-0 win up at Turf Moor it took them a further 12 matches for them to notch up a second win, which came in the frankly bonkers 5-4 defeat of Palace at the end of November. They reverted to type going down 5-0 at Spurs the following week before turning over Sunderland 3-0 at home. That was their last win, with defeats at West Brom and Boro’ constituting their last two results. A cursory glance at the results suggests that defence may be the issue with them – they have let in at least three in nine of their last 12 matches.

They started the season with Francesco Guidolin at the helm but he lasted only until the beginning of October being sacked shortly after they lost 2-1 at home to the Scousers. They then went a little left field with their next appointment, bringing in Bob Bradley in as Head Coach. Bradley became the first American to manage in the Premier league after his move from Le Havre though he’s more famous for having managed the US and Egyptian national sides. He started his managerial career with an outfit called the Ohio Bobcats, which is a name which I would have made up for comedy value were it not actually a genuine team name. Having observed him on tv recently I have noted that Bradley has a rather annoying habit. Were I in charge, Swansea would be deducted points each time Bradley refers to “Nil” as “Zero”. Harsh but fair.

With Bradley’s arrival not taking place until October he will have had no say in their summer recruitment when they brought in no fewer than nine players. The work experience girl wearing the Badfinger t-shirt without knowing who they were tells me that the £15.5m paid for Borja Gonzalez (aka “Baston”) to Atletico Madrid was a club record. Although nominally an Atletico player, Baston had spent most of his time on their books elsewhere on loan, latterly with La Liga minnows Eibar for whom he managed a creditable goal every other game. It’s probably fair to say that he hasn’t pulled up any trees to date though he did pick up his first goal away at the Emirates thus proving he knows his Arsenal from his Eibar.

The equivalent of £5m in Euros went to Sevilla to secure the services of Fernando Llorente. He picked up a brace in the 5-4 win over Palace and another brace in the 3-0 defeat of Sunderland. At 31 his greatest days may well be behind him though. He netted 4 in 23 in the league for Sevilla last season and it’s been three years since his last cap for Spain. He also has caps for the Basque National side. These appearances are slightly unofficial since, unlike Scotland, the Basque Country is not a member of UEFA even though, like Scotland, it’s not a proper country. Llorente is credited with having picked up a hat-trick of consecutive Seria A titles with Juve who he left for Sevilla in 2015. On closer inspection it appears that the Italians might be a bit more generous with their medals as he only made the one appearance for Juve in the last of those three seasons. He also owns a Gold Medal of the Royal Order Of Sporting Merit which, as far as I can work out, is a sort of OBE for sportspeople. In Spain. Or something.

The transfer of Dutchman Leroy Fer in from QPR was for one of those fees described as “undisclosed” but is believed to be £4.75m once add-ons are taken into account. Fer did in fact arrive last season on loan, having found it difficult to get a look-in at Loftus Road. The deal was made permanent in the summer, something the player celebrated by notching the winner in the 1-0 win at Burnley on the opening day. Although Netherlands born Fer also qualified for what used to be called Netherlands Antilles or Curacao. In the end head ruled the heart and Fer opted for the Netherlands, enabling me to tell you that he now has 11 Dutch Caps (hurrah!) though it’s been two years or so since his last one. Incidentally, Fer was born in Zoetermeer in South Holland. This is home to a splendid music venue called the Boerderij Cultuurpodium which is run by a really nice chap called Arie. Not strictly relevant I grant you but I bet the BBC aren’t giving you his sort of fine information. (with good reason – ed)

One of their key men is Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdson is in his second spell with the club having spent a while on loan from Hoffenheim. A proposed deal to make the loan permanent collapsed when Brendan “David Brent” Rodgers left for Liverpool. He ended up at Tottenham instead where he was stuck for two years before finally signing for the Swans. It all got a bit complicated on the M4 that day as Ben Davies and Michel Vorm went in the other direction. It seemed an odd transfer and Pochettino, in what was in no way an attempt to tap up another club’s player, let me make that quite clear (is that ok lawyers?), recently admitted that Spurs could still use a player like Sigurdsson. An Icelandic international he was part of the team that beat Spurs 2-1 in the Euro 16 finals and is a bit useful with a dead ball.

Another player in attendance in Euro 16 was former Arsenal onion-bag attendant Lukas Fabianski. Nicknamed “Floppyhandski” after a few errors in an Arsenal shirt, you may recall him getting red carded for a foul on Sakho at the Boleyn a few years ago. Still it’s nice to see a player getting over the trauma of having turned out in an Arsenal shirt I suppose.

So what’s been happening in the world this week? Well FIFA have decided to fine the Home Nations for the display of poppies in the November internationals. Yup, the organisation which has become a byword for corruption and greed has decided to use the home nations to pay for one of its junior office staff for a year. The response requires a united front. I don’t suppose for a minute the relevant Football Associations will do so but the response should be a letter or email containing just two words. Just for added comedy value the Welsh & Irish emails could be in their respective languages. And to make it even funnier the Scots could try theirs in English. It seems odd that an organisation that claims it has the development of football in the third world as an objective should want to fine Scotland though. After all that £16,000 will do untold damage to the Sweaty economy. Perhaps they are hoping that England will pick up the tab. Like we do for everything else up there.

Elsewhere the arrival at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered of a couple of men in suits carrying identical briefcases could only mean that the kumb legal team were in town. Which in turn could only mean that Alan Pardew had been sacked and that they wanted to make sure I didn't write anything that would see the management end up in prison trying hard not to drop the soap. the next 1,000 words seem to have been deleted, accidentally - Ed. Apparently Sam Allardyce is in the frame as a replacement. So there you go Slav. Improve or you may end up in Croydon. And that's not something I'd wish on Anyone. Except Premier League referees.

Talking of which, great as it was to be on the right side of a terrible refereeing decision for once I’d feel a lot happier if referees would at least try to get things right, you know, as if it sort of mattered one way or the other. I know it doesn’t matter to them – you stand more chance of Piers Morgan saying something sensible than you have of seeing a referee demoted for poor performance – but it would be just fine and dandy if they could focus on the fact that it matters to the rest of us.

Otherwise the three points last weekend were almost totally down to the fact that Hull were doing a passable impersonation of someone who had been given a cow’s backside and a banjo and hadn’t worked out what to do with either. Moral: If you don’t score the best you deserve is a 0-0 draw. It’s not a match I will spend much time ruminating over though. 3 points, cheers, hard luck Hull, move on.

Injuries next. When I started writing this it was largely a matter of the usual suspects and dates. However, since then we have had an update on Sakho which says that you can add another 8 weeks to his exile. Which would see him missing out on the African Cuppa Soup. I wonder if he will recover shortly after Senegal get knocked out? Byram may be fit for this one but on past form it appears that he’s not one of the manager’s preferred options at right back where we are being linked with moves to bring in Jenkinson back on loan.

Oddly enough, Swansea are being linked with him as well. Perhaps we should make his loan dependent on who wins the match? Everyone else (Collins, Tore and Oxford) is showing up as “no return date”. Zaza’s agent seems to have confirmed that he’ll be off as soon as they start celebrating the new year on that Jools Holland programme. Bit of a shame really. It would have saved us a bit of time and grief if we’d been able to send him back at the stroke of midnight whenever it was that they actually filmed the Jools Holland show rather than when they are actually broadcasting it. Arbeola? A naughty step, far , far away. I expect.

Prediction? Tough one this. On the one hand they haven’t had much going for them of late. On the other they do seem to be slightly better at home than on the road – they have won their last two in the land of song (Wales not Cameroon). On the other hand our three best recent performances have been Liverpool, Spurs and Man Utd (league) all away from home so there may be something in the “Olympic Stadium Leveller Factor” as scientists in the research wing of the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered like to call it. So I think on the whole this may well end up in a stalemate. So the £2.50 that I was going to contribute to the FA’s “Poppygate” fine fund will be “invested” at Winstones The Turf Accountant in a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game and have a slightly less depressing Christmas time in comparison to the rest of your miserable worthless lives. If you like.

When Last we met at the Liberty Stadium: Drew 0-0 (Premier League December 2015.) A bit of a rear guard performance as an injury-hit side provided one of the season’s gutsier performances.

Referee: Andre Marriner. One of the ones who is just inherently incompetent rather than deliberately controversial for controversy’s sake. Earlier this season he managed to watch Aguero’s elbow on Winston Reid without actually seeing it. Somehow.

Danger Man: Fernando Llorente. Has chipped in with two in each of their last two home matches. A bit like 1975 vintage Alan Taylor then. In the Cup. Obviously.

Percy’s Poser: Last time out we asked you what colour telephone boxes were in Hull and why were they a different colour from those in the rest of the country. The correct answer is that the boxes were a sort of cream colour. The reason for this was that, unlike the rest of the country where the pre-privatisation phone system was owned by the Post Office (hence the pillar-box red colour), Hull’s phone system was – and continues to be – owned by the local council. The first correct answer out of the digital hat was provided by Mrs Mavis Zippp who wins a herring, Well done Mavis – your herring is in the post!

For this week’s poser we ask: Why did an otherwise unremarkable house in Fabian Way, Port Tenant, Swansea make the headlines a couple of years ago? The first correct answer out of the digital hat this week will win a whole live Swan! Makes an ideal family pet for families who don’t mind the occasional visit to the fracture clinic. Or a decent meal (vegetables not provided). It’s entirely up to you! 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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