Watford v West Ham United

Preview Percy would like to point out that, although his column carries no sponsorship he'd prefer to be contacted by brewers of decent ales rather than get involved in anything involving the eating of pies. Here's his look at this weekend's visit to Watford. If you find any useful information in there it's likely to have been supplied by our friends at www.kickoff.com...

Next up we go up North to Watford. Look out for the Aurora Borealis as we have a 5:30pm kick off for the benefit of the telly. Travel between Central London and Watford should be ok as both National Rail and TfL services seem to be clear of engineering works. However you may want to check whether Doris has damaged anything. As ever though, it's the usual nightmare of a story in and out of Liverpool Street if that's your preferred mode of access to this fine city. Check before you leave.

Since we last met we have seen them mourning the loss of former manager Graham Taylor. Just about everyone commented on what a genuinely nice bloke Taylor was and, amongst my circle, every single person who had had the honour of meeting the man confirmed that. However, one obituary decided to virtually ignore Taylor's qualities as a man, choosing instead to bemoan at length about the style of football he espoused and focusing almost entirely on Taylor's shortcomings at international level. Any compliments about Taylor the man were begrudging in the extreme, summarily dismissed as if they were unimportant. Shame on you Brian Glanville.

Back to the current day and they sit in 13th place on 31 points from the 25 games played to date, that's three places and two points behind ourselves. Last time out they lost 2-0 up at the Theatre Of Tacky Marketing Slogans, a day that ended up with skipper Troy Deeney landing in some ever so slightly higher than room temperature water. Post-match Deeney elected to return to his home town of Birmingham for a night out with the missus whereupon it all got a bit messy. Perhaps unwisely electing for a night out in a nightclub rather than treating her indoors to a slap up at a Harvester (well it was Valentines weekend), it seems a lippy Brummie made enough of a nuisance of himself to earn himself a slap. The West Midlands plod got involved and, as is their standard practice as soon as they hear the word "football" out came the pepper spray though Deeney calmed down enough for the constable not to take the cap off the can (not that that usually stops them). Deeney was probably wise to listen to the "he's not worth it" shouts - a previous spell inside an HMP for affray might not have read too well come sentencing time had a further conviction been forthcoming, provocation or not.

The work experience girl wearing the Wham! T-shirt without knowing who they were tells me that during the recently-closed window they paid ?2.3m for Mauro Zarate. That's the same Zarate who we flogged to Fiorentina last year after he and Mr Bilic had s difference of opinion. As others have found out to their cost you have differences of opinion with Mr Bilic at your own risk. During his spell with us when he could be bothered he could be brilliant. On other days the halfway flag looked more involved in proceedings. One presumes that he will be up for this match thinking he has a point to prove.

You may recall us outplaying them for about 40 minutes at the Olympic earlier this season before handing them four goals as a welcome to our new gaff present. They will be without the first of their scorers that day as Odion Igalho has joined the ever-increasing number of players who have decided to go to China purely because of the standard of football out there. "Oh is there pay as well?" I'm sure they all said as a contract fatter than a Sutton goalkeeping coach was placed in front of them to sign.

Deeney's striking burden has been shared with M'Baye Niang who is on loan from Milan and, not to put too fine a point on it, seems to be a bit of a nutter. I mean what is it with professional footballers and cars? A few years back Niang was stopped by Plod Italia (as I believe they are called) and was subsequently found to have been driving without a licence. Now I've been to Milan and, frankly, I'd be surprised if any of that lot know what a licence is let alone actually possess such a thing. Nonetheless, pulled over he was, though the player denies giving a team-mate's name when questioned.

It doesn't stop there you know. Oh no. A year or so later, having failed to bother to complete the "I think I should have a driving licence because...." bit of the Italian Corn Flake packet competition, he proceeded to park his Ferrari halfway up a tree, injuring 11 people in the process. Result: 18 months suspended.

Oh come on you don't think it stops there do you? Oh no. Two years later he suffered another accident that injured ankle ligaments seriously enough to end his season. When fit again he elected to recreate the scene in the marvellous "Almost Famous" by jumping into his swimming pool from the roof of his house. I can think of better scenes from that film I'd rather recreate.

An alternative up front would be the Nigerian striker Isaac Success. However, he has featured only sporadically this season suggesting that his surname might be somewhat optimistic, though to be fair he has had three separate spells of absence through injury this season.

Further back there is another ex-Hammer in the squad in the form of Valon "Pep" Behrami. He's been at Vicarage Road since 2015 representing an unusual period of stability for the player who, in the first four years after leaving the Boleyn, got through four clubs, spending a year each at Fiorentina, Napoli and Hamburg before pitching up in darkest Herts. A decent enough player but not quite forgiven here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered for the way in which he picked up a mystery injury which equally mysteriously disappeared the instant that particular transfer window closed.

Working our way back further still they will be relying on Heurelho Gomes between the posts. They will be hoping to keep the Brazilian custodian fit as his natural deputy Costel Pantilimon is a long-term injury candidate who is not expected back from an ankle problem for another week or so. On the bench up at Old Trafford was Lithuanian 'keeper Giedrius Arlauskis (didn't she present that bloody baking programme on the box?) Arlauskis hasn't had an awful lot of first XI football over the last few years so may be a bit rusty if called on to deputise.

So what's been happening elsewhere over the past couple of weeks? Well there was "Piegate" of course where Sutton Utd's goalkeeping coach lost his job for eating a pie. Elsewhere, a relieved Frank Lampard (Jr) was heard to utter a sigh of relief that they didn't test for Steak and Kidney when he was a player. Meanwhile, Joey Barton who is facing charges over the placing of over 1,200 bets on matches is still in a job.

Talking of Barton, a brief examination of his twitter account suggests that he was quite vocal recently when it came to the matter of players rolling around in agony to get fellow professionals sent off. One can only presume his antics against Lincoln were in some way designed to illustrate the point then.

Matron has just come in and informed me that Leicester have outed Ranieri. Odd really. He leaves them in roughly the same place as they were when he joined them having picked up a league title along the way while the usual suspects took a year off. Quite what they were expecting from him over in Thailand lord knows. I mean even the most ardent of Foxes wouldn't have expected a repeat performance. I wonder if Allardyce might jump ship in order to preserve his "never relegated status".

Mark Clattenburg has decided to go to Saudi Arabia. One hopes there is room in his luggage to take a few of his soon to be former colleagues with him including Michael Oliver who did so much to spoil our last outing against West Brom.

That match was, of course, missed by Andy Carroll who, despite having had some nice warm weather training in Dubai (no "Doris" there) is still a major doubt for this match. There are contradictory noises coming out of the club. At one stage he was definitely out. Then it was all going to depend on whether he was able to train or not. Unlikely I'd say. Ayew is back from wherever he's been since the Cuppasoup ended to add to the attacking options though.

Cresswell's dead leg is unlikely to be an issue but Masuaku has finally recovered from his knee ligament problem and will be available for the first time since whenever it was he first became unavailable. There's been some spectacularly ill-informed speculation on the future of our Arthur in the interweb of late. A number of sources wrote articles pointing out that Masuaku hadn't even made the squad for months and was therefore regarded as a "flop" who would be shipped out at the earliest opportunity. Not one of those articles seemed to realise that his absence had been medical in nature, somewhat undermining the whole premise of the piece.

Prediction? Well with Carroll I'd fancy us to win. Without him I'd still say we were slight favourites, particularly as we seem to be looking quite good on the road of late. However I think on this occasion I shall be slightly more circumspect with the ?2.50 that I was going to contribute to the Sutton United Pie Fund and it will instead be placed on a 2-2 draw down at Winstone's The Turf Accountants, assuming it hasn't been blown away by Doris, like so many of us have been in the past.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Vicarage Lost 2-0 (League October 2015) A rare bad day at the office last season as we pressed the self-destruct button. Andy Carroll discovered why Cruyff turns are not recommended deep in your own box as an Igalho brace sealed the points for the home side. Ginge saw red, or should that be even redder, for a late hack on the goalscorer. As I say bad day at the office.

Referee: Craig Pawson Clattenburg's going to Saudi. Rumours that Pawson put an ad in "World Referee" with similar aim but only received an offer From the Falkland Islands of ?5 plus all the penguins he could eat are untrue. I would expect.

Danger Man: Mauro Zarate The law of the disgruntled ex gives him the accolade over Deeney on this occasion.

Percy's Poser: Last time out we asked: "West Bromwich is the largest town in the UK without its own.........what". Hats off to Mrs Dorothea Bursitis of Fambridge for knowing that West Bromwich does not have its own postcode, having to make do as it does with hand me downs from Birmingham. Dorothea wins whatever prize it was I was offering a couple of weeks ago. Well done Dorothea!

For this week's poser we look at the world of trainspotting. (Come on, the law of averages suggests that they can't all be Spurs supporters). According to official statistics, in 2005 ten people bought tickets to travel to Watford West station. Why was this odd? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win a genuine vintage four-year-old railway sandwich.

Good luck everyone!

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