West Ham United v Manchester City

It's transfer deadline day. Still no bids in for Preview Percy, unfortunately. Infographic-type stuff from www.kickoff.com .....

Next up we play host for the second time in a few weeks to Manchester City. Kick-off on Wednesday night is 7:45pm so rush hour will be your main source of delays in getting to the ground.

So from early season title certs they have shown mixed form to the extent that they are now down in 5th place scrabbling around with their neighbours for a spot in the Thursday Night League. Since we last met they got taken apart 4-0 by Everton and drew 2-2 with Spurs.

The latter match was hilarious for the reaction to the penalty not given for the blatant push on Sterling that was followed by Spurs' equaliser. "It's not fair" their fans bleated. "Sterling should have dived" chipped in Toure, himself no stranger to the rapid descent to the floor. All of which conveniently ignored the fact that their players have gained a deserved reputation for diving when there hasn't been any contact. Frankly if you spend all your time encouraging your players to cheat you lose all right to complain when a referee plays the percentages and decides to wave play on. Let's face it if he spots a Man City player stumble at any stage and he isn't sure, 999 times out of 1,000 he's going to be right if he decides to wave play on. And there still are a few referees who do actually want to get things right rather than make themselves the centre of attention. They're just not very good at doing so that's all.

Meanwhile there is talk that retrospective bans for diving may be brought in. That will be fine as long as it is properly enforced. Every year we get a "flavour of the month" offence where referees say they are having a crackdown. This year we had pushing in the penalty area and dissent on the list and you may remember that for a few weeks we saw a penalty or two before referees got bored with actually doing the job they are paid to do and everything went back to normal. Retrospective bans will help - clubs like City will be missing players on a regular basis - but surely it would be better if things were sorted out during the game. I'd make it a red card offence myself.

Back to City and they've had a few issues off the pitch in recent weeks. Anti-semitic chanting at and before the Spurs match is being investigated by Greater Manchester plod. They are also up before the football beak for repeated breaches of the rules on reporting players' whereabouts for the purpose of drug testing. The club has admitted the latter charge which should see them receive a fine but if they want help with any appeal the only have to have a word with their manager. Guardiola has past experience of the drug testing system having twice tested positive for the steroid Nandralone a few months into his playing days in Italy at the end of his playing career. He got a four-month ban and a seven-month suspended prison sentence both of which were quashed several years later on appeal, the unconvincing grounds for which were that he had taken contaminated food supplements. It was apparently mere coincidence that his doctor had been implicated in other drug scandals.

They've brought in just the one player this window at the time of writing. The work experience girl wearing the Barclay James Harvest t-shirt without knowing who they are (either version) tells me that ?27m was the price paid to Palmeiras for Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus in a deal that was actually finalised at the end of the last transfer window, the deal being that the player would physically make the move this January. He looked sharp in the weekend's visit to Crystal Palace and I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere about him getting on the end of crosses or not being available over the Easter period but I'll leave you to write your own punchlines on that one.

They will welcome back Fernandinho after his third ban of the season. "He's a tough aggressive guy" explained Guardiola, possibly unnecessarily. "He's an honest player" he continued. Well the law of averages says they must have one in the squad I suppose.

There may also be a start for skipper Vincent Kompany whose injury record is almost Dyer-esque. He completed his first full 90 minutes on Saturday against Palace since picking up knee and head injuries in November's league match between the two sides.

There will be a change between the sticks from our last encounter. Claudio Bravo will replace Willy Cabanero in goal, Cabanero being the preferred choice for cup matches. Bravo, of course, is currently on the end of one of the odder statistics of the year to date in that he has let in eight of the nine shots he has faced since the turn of the year.

There is a "slight doubt" over the availability of Sergio Aguero. He missed the Palace cup match with a knock that one suspects would not have been a problem had the Palace match been a league fixture. He has been outshone in the disciplinary stakes by Fernandinho, having served only the two suspensions so far. The first came after his elbow flattened Winston Reid up at their place earlier on this season.

This was apparently missed by ref Marriner, despite footage apparently showing him looking straight at the incident when it occurred. Still the reporting system allowed him to claim he'd missed it so justice was partially done when the beak proffered the relevant ban and everyone was happy. Well except us of course who had to play the rest of the game against eleven men rather than the ten the honest application of the laws would have resulted in.

Us? Well there's been a bit of movement on the transfer front since they last woke me up to write one of these. Welcome Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass. Eyebrows were raised at the arrival of Fonte given the fee and the player's age. However, all became clear with the news that Ogbonna has been struggling with a knee problem that will keep him out for the rest of term. The fact that he had been playing in such a state all season speaks volumes for the player as a person. One for a certain other player to consider perhaps. Fonte is likely to come straight into the squad.

Also we say "bienvenue" to Robert Snodgrass. Bit good with a dead ball as I remember, which will come in handy. One caveat though: From memory when Mr Snodgrass has played against us he has been known to, shall we say, go to ground rather too easily for my liking and he did achieve five minutes of infamy earlier on this season when "earning" a penalty from a dive against Crystal Palace, an effort for which he later apologised. Firstly I would say that, should he play against Man City, the temptation to fall over at the slightest invitation will be overwhelming, given that it appears to be the opposition's stock in trade. I would ask that the temptation be resisted - it's not something we like to see from our players and, unlike Man City fans who bent over backwards to try and prove Zabaletta didn't cheat his way to a penalty the other week (making themselves look muggy in the process), we won't be backward in telling you about it.

Secondly, re Crystal Palace, never, ever apologise to them. You were not to know this at the time but they come from Croydon as did the former Mrs Percy and so they deserve all that they get. Though fair play to them for doubling their FA Cup attendance on the previous round by getting nearly 14,000 through the doors last weekend. I only wish we were as dedicated as those "ultras".

And it's goodbye (rather than au revoir) Payet. Thanks for those few moments of genius, mostly from last season. How much of your indifferent form this time around wa down to a general "can't be arsed-ness and how much was down to a lack of form I guess OM are about to find out. I do suspect that we may have seen your "season mirabilis" last term so ?25m probably represents a good bit of business.

The injury list is comprised of the usual suspects plus Nordveit who has an ankle problem. It will also be a bit early after his return from African Cuppasoup duty for Kouyate to join in I would guess. Noble should have recovered from the clattering he got up at Boro' whilst Carroll's tight groin that led to his precautionary removal from the fray should cause no problems.

Prediction then. Well unlike the last time we met we will not be "resting" players. Nor will we be bringing on players whose presence actually subtracts from the side. I've said it before and I'll say it again that the best thing to come out of the whole sorry Payet affair has been an obvious bolstering of team spirit. It looks like we're angry and if any more geeing up were needed a quick clip of Zabaletta pushing the ball in a completely different direction to that in which he ran before kicking Ogbonna and falling over should at least stir the blood a bit.

I'm not saying that we will necessarily win but I would expect a performance displaying slightly more in the way of vertebra this time around. So the ?2.50 I was going to put towards a US visa (Sir Mo - all you have to do on arrival is run. Trust me they'll never catch you) will therefore be proffered at Winstone's The Turf Accountants towards a wager on a 2-2 draw, all bets being cancelled in the event of referee gullibility.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Olympic - Lost 5-0 FA Cup January 2017. What? You needed reminding? Recipe for a perfect storm. Take a weakened team. Throw in a team whose spirit has been bouncing along the bottom for a while. Throw in an opposition of divers and a gullible referee. That's what you get.

Referee: Kevin FriendWhilst we went through that spell of getting Atkinson every few weeks we haven't had this official for about 18 months. That time he took charge of the 3-0 win up at Anfield. The amazingly awful red card he issued to Mark Noble was, as usual, rescinded. Sadly the ?50,000 fine we got for complaining about it wasn't. And they moan about respect...

Danger Man: Gabriel Jesus So many to choose from but I'll pick the new boy, if only so we can have some fun with his name if he rolls around a bit and comes back from the dead after a light challenge.

Percy's Poser: Last time out we asked you what time Chris Rea would need to leave to ensure arriving on time for Christmas when driving home. Well we did the calculations and, assuming he spends most of his time with his showbiz chums in London, we reckon that it's 258.7 miles up the A1 to Middlesbrough which we reckon is do-able in about 4 hours 29 minutes. Which means, radio producers, that you can start playing that sodding record on at about 7:31pm on Christmas Eve every year and not (as it bloody seems at the moment) somewhere in the middle of August ok? The first correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Zena Creighton-Ward of Brightlingsea who added "perhaps if there weren't so many rail replacement buses Mr Rea might go by train and spare us his annual torment".

For this week's poser we ask: How many separate injury absences has Vincent Kompany had since arriving at Manchester City in 2008? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win Zabaletta's training snorkel.

Good luck everyone!

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