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West Ham United v Manchester City

Filed: Thursday, 5th January 2017
By: Preview Percy

You thought you were angry with Mike Dean on Monday? You should have seen Preview Percy. And he KNEW that was going to happen. As he keeps reminding everyone. Constantly. Here's his look at Friday's visit of Manchester City in the cup. Extra graphics courtesy of www.kickoff.com....

Next up it’s FA Cup 3rd round time where we play host to the blue half of Manchester in a 7:55pm kick-off thanks to the telly. Usual weekday rush-hour travel problems will apply. Also there are no TfL trains between Shenfield & Brentwood until (checks watch) May. Greater Anglia services are unaffected (ie still bloody awful) so you may need to think about your journey to and from that area if that’s where you live.

So City then. Odd season for them so far. They set off like a train at the start of the season. A proper one too not a Southern one or one on that route out to Shenfield. However, since then they have stuttered a bit and they have on occasion resembled one of those knackered old diesel trains based on a bus chassis that they seem so fond of up north.

Their defeat to Liverpool, for example, was a carbon copy of our defeat to Leicester – home side takes early lead and shuts up shop in the second half. They are in third place at present with 42 points from their 20 played so far, two points behind the Scousers and 7 points behind Chelsea.

All of which seems to be having an effect on Pep Guardiola. His post-match interview the other day was almost pure Mourinho. “You’re the journalist” seemed to be his comment-some say insult – of choice in an interview that was rather cringeworthy. He did seem a bit more relaxed at the pre-match conference for this one I suppose. But there again that wouldn’t have been difficult.

One of their problems may be that there has been an apparent lack of discipline at times. Particularly in the case of Aguero who followed up his (belatedly disciplined) elbow into Winston Reid’s face with a shocker of a lunge against Chelsea as the red mist descended in the face of another significant defeat. They have had a few disciplinary problems this season. Not least Fernandinho whose appeal against his two-footer against Burnley last week was slung out earlier this week. It will be a double whammy for Fernandinho who will also miss the league match next month thanks to a four-match ban including extra punishment for that being his third red card of the season.

Although it is not unusual for them to rotate the squad for cup ties Guardiola did suggest that this wouldn’t be the case for this encounter. Hmmm. We’ll see. One area where there might be a change is between the sticks. The hero of last season’s League Cup final Willy Cabanero may take over from Bravo, a move that Guardiola admitted was under consideration during his pre-match conference.

With a squad as big as theirs it’s tempting to think that they can absorb injuries much in the same way that I absorb beer. However some injuries in any team are always going to be more influential than others. The work-experience girl wearing a 10cc t-shirt without knowing who they are or how they (allegedly) got their name tells me that the knee injury sustained by Ilkay (moor bah t’at) Gundogan will keep him out for the rest of the season. When this became public his team-mates took to the field in their next game wearing shirts emblazoned with Gundogan’s name plastered all over them in a gesture of support, much as I suspect you lot do on those occasions when I am absent due to catching a cold from them not paying the heating bills here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered.

The other big absentee will be Vincent Kompany. He has been regularly touted as being one of the world’s best defenders but against this must be measured that his injury record arguably eclipses even that of Andy Carroll. Kompany returned to the team in October after a six-month lay-off. He managed to get through to November before simultaneously managing to pick up both concussion and a knee injury against Crystal Palace. I have no idea whether he managed to knee himself in the head but if he did that would be an impressive trick on a par with that boy band twit who managed to run himself over with his own Merc. Either way this is the player’s 35th injury absence since his arrival in 2008. He’s close to a return but this week is likely to be a week or two too soon for him. So if he does somehow knock himself out with his own corner kick we’ll have to wait unti February to witness it.

John Stones has been the central defender of choice of late, despite him earning a not entirely undeserved reputation for having not nearly as much time as he thinks when under pressure. From what I have seen of the player an early lapse of concentration has occasionally haunted him for the rest of the match, though some observers have noted that he has an ability to put his cock-ups behind him. I guess much depends on what day you catch him. Either way it might be profitable to put him under pressure as early as possible.

Us? Well I don’t like to say I told you so but, no, actually I do like to say that. I did tell you that Monday’s result would depend on Mike Dean didn’t I. Yes referees make mistakes but when it gets to the point that you can accurately predict the fact that a match will hinge on the whim of a particular referee purely because he is on live tv that should tell you something.

Unbelievably, following all the totally deserved stick Dean has been getting some people have been trying to defend him as if he were somehow the victim in all this. They might have had a point had this been a one-off, a temporary aberration in an otherwise distinguished career. It wasn’t. It wasn’t even his first major cock-up of the week. Dean has a very very long history of making incorrect decisions in controversial circumstances. He clearly thinks that he is the most important thing on the pitch every week and sadly he is, for all the wrong reasons.

Interestingly it seems that the media are now picking up on this. The papers – and by that I mean the ones that use long words like what I do rather than the red tops – have been noticing Dean’s love of the limelight. Actually, that’s not quite true. Knowing a few journalists as I do (what can I say? I associate with the more unfortunate members of society) they have known about this sort of thing for years but for reasons best known to themselves have elected to let things go unmentioned. Still at least Dean will be suspended for a while. What? They’ve given him Spurs & Villa in the cup? Oh well at least Spurs will be happy with the appointment.

Team news is that Feghouli will be available to start having had his ban thrown out on appeal – and we know how bad things have to be for them to do that. We have six on the sick list. Interestingly Arbeola has just turned up on the list with a “no return date” having simply not existed up to now. His malady of choice is a rather non-specific “leg injury”. Also out for the foreseeable are Tore and Masuaku. Sakho is still shown as March, Collins 14 January and Oxford is shown as a possibility for this match with “slight doubt” appended to his return date. With Randolph seemingly ensconced as first choice custodian we may see Adrian for a rare start, with Slav being in the habit of rotating his ‘keepers for cup matches.

Personally I would field as strong a team as possible for this match to try and keep a bit of momentum going. Although results were not favourable in our last two matches the performances involved were arguably two of our better runouts and with a bit more competence and honesty in the refereeing department in both games (Leicester could have been down to nine remember) we might have had a better return points-wise. There again I’m just an old person who lives in a rest home for the bewildered so why should anyone pay attention to what I think. (The thought did cross our minds – Ed).

Which brings us on to the prediction. I’m going to base this on us having a strong starting XI and them rotating a bit. Clearly, from Guardiola’s meltdown, all is not 100% well with them and, even with a full-strength side on display they are not the same prospect that they were at the start of the season, as evidenced by their pre- Christmas thrashing at what is a decidedly average Leicester.

With that in mind I will be placing the £2.50 I was going to give to hire a hit man for Mike Dean on a home win down at Winstones’ the Turf Accountants. 2-1 to us then.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Drew 2-2 (Premier League January 20150 – Entertaining match in which we twice took the lead through Valencia only to be pegged back by an Aguero penalty and an Iheanacho effort shortly after the latter had come on as sub.

Referee: Michael Oliver. After our last match just about anyone would be an improvement. However, the first of Percy’s Three Laws of Refereeing applies, namely referees called Mike are rubbish. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Percy’s second law states that bald referees are also rubbish and Percy’s third law states that if you have a bald referee called Mike you may as well go home).

Danger Man: Raheem Sterling. Difficult to say given their cup side might bear as much resemblance to their normal starting line-up as Mike Dean does to an honest man. However, Sterling seems to have recovered from a Euro 16 campaign that was so bad everyone thought he was one of the Spurs players in the team so I’ll go for him if selected.

Percy’s Poser: Last time out we asked you when was the last time Manchester United had not had an FA Cup match shown live on the box. As far as we can work out this was 30 January 1926. Four days previously John Logie Baird had demonstrated what is regarded as the first practical demonstration of tv but damaged the apparatus’ Nipkow Disc in the process, meaning the cameras weren’t available in time for Man Utd’s 4th round FA Cup tie hat week. Congratulations to Mrs Sylvie Theraputic-Useexemption whose name was first out of the digital hat with the correct answer.

For this week’s poser we ask you: Why Is Mike Dean still in a job? The first prize winner will win the admiration of the whole planet for solving one of life’s great mysteries.

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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