West Ham United v Leicester City

Preview Percy came back from Bournemouth with a cold. Monaco v Man City cheered him up a bit though. As did the excuse to indulge in a medicinal brandy or three. Here's his typically warped look at this weekend's visit of Leicester City...

Next up we play host to Leicester City. Saturday? 3pm? Yes please. In fact get used to it - the tv companies seem to have lost interest faster than a Co-Op bank account. Travel? The usual. Nothing east of Liverpool Street which will mean the usual replacement buses dumping you in the middle of nowhere, or Newbury Park to give it its full name. The tubes look ok for the time being. Small mercies and all that. Check before you leave.

Leicester then. They currently lie in 15th spot with 27 points from as many games. That's four places and six points behind us though they do have a game in hand. Their most recent outing saw them turn over Seville 2-0 at whatever their ground is called at the moment in the so-called Champions League. The game was controversial for the part talismanic striker Jamie "Rat Boy" Vardy played in getting Nasri sent off. It used to be the accepted thing that if you made any sort of motion with your head a red card would be issued. Vardy clearly made a move that was distinct from the usual coming together of foreheads ("head to head contact" in the instructions given to referees) and that would normally be good enough for a straight red. Nasri responded in kind which should also have seen a red card. One got the impression that the ref bottled it a bit there. Nasri in particular fell for the trap set for him, as did Seville in general. It was backs to the wall for the latter stages of that game for Leicester and things might have been different had the visitors been able to convert the penalty they were (correctly) given.

So Leicester rode their luck - and boy have they had their share of that over the past two seasons or so. Firstly, they embarked on a decent run in the one season when all six of the top six had a year off. Then, in that run they got away with murder, if the two games against us were anything to go by. We ended up with just the one point from the two league matches against them purely as a result of some dreadful refereeing in their favour. It sort of left us wondering what might have been if we had been quite as lucky with the officials last season.

Of course the big change since last season for them has been at the helm where Claudio Ranieri's reward for giving them the one thing that oughtn't to have been possible was the good old tin tack. Rumours and counter rumours of player unrest before and after the dismissal abounded but, their improvement in results since the dismissal notwithstanding, the whole dismissal thing left a slightly nasty taste in the mouth.

Whatever the full story (and no doubt Rat Boy's ghost-writers are working on it as we speak) one thing is for sure: in the unlikely event that Ranirei ever finds himself back in Leicester again (and why would you go there if you didn't have to) you can bet that he will never have to stick his hand in his pocket. In the meantime, they have Craig Shakespeare in charge. Just how funny are all those "all's well that ends well" headlines in the tabloids? Not very, as it turns out.

The work experience girl wearing the Showaddywaddy t-shirt without knowing who they are tells me that the winter window saw just the one arrival in the form of Wilfrid Ndidi who arrived from Genk for a reported ?11m. A full Nigerian international he is listed as being 20 years old, although, as has happened before in that part of the world, there has been some doubt cast over his true age. Ndidi was excluded from an U17 tournament a few years back after an MRI scan suggested that the was slightly older than the paperwork suggested. In the meantime I bet his advisors are regretting not going straight to the copyright office and slapping a "hands off" order on people using the phrase "Yes Ndidi" without paying royalties. He would have been able to retire on the sums due from the tabloids alone after his extra time goal against Derby in the cup last month.

Last season the PFA voted Algerian Riyad Mahrez as player of the year. It is said that when Leicester's interest in the player became known to him he was sceptical, believing Leicester to be a rugby club. He wasn't far off the mark if Schmeichel's assault on Sakho last season is anything to go by. Mahrez hasn't quite hit the heights he managed in last season's campaign - I guess he's not alone in that. Meanwhile whilst Mahrez and Vardy took the player of the year plaudits from, respectively, players and writers, in retrospect the influence of Ngolo Kante last season might have been more significant, given the effect hi s move to Chelsea has had on both clubs.

Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki is an odd one. He always looks a handful whenever I see him on the pile of junk that passes for a tv set here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For the Bewildered.(it's so small it's about the size of Bournemouth's big screen). So I was rather surprised to discover that he only has a couple of league goals to his name this season. He did pick up a brace in his one League Cup appearance so maybe that clouded my perception a bit. They came out with the odd stat that he has only finished a handful of the matches he has started for the Filberts being substituted after an hour being his usual fate. They did say exactly how many games he has finished but I can't remember exactly how many and, in retrospect, it's not all that interesting a stat.

Whilst we are on the subject of strikers I see that Nasri has come out after the midweek game to brand Rat Boy a "cheat". "If he were a foreigner doing that in England you wouldn't hesitate to call him a cheat" said Nasri and, though he ultimately only had his own stupidity to blame for his dismissal, he does rather have a point. I mean the Premier League's worst diver of all time was probably Steve Gerrard but there was always an unwritten rule amongst press corps that this should never, ever be admitted. Meanwhile boss Shakespeare might have wanted to consider his defence of his player slightly more carefully next time Claiming that Vardy "doesn't cheat, never has and never will" is rather unwise given the plethora of footage showing him go to ground that is available. Indeed, was the player not given a second yellow for diving in the reverse fixture only last season?

And what of us? Last week? Another disappointing run-out. It was also depressing for the cynicism that Bournemouth displayed throughout as well. I lost count of the number of times that they got in the referee's face throughout the match. It worked too. Madley couldn't wait to give the penalties and the only surprise was that he actually waited until the match kicked-off before doing so. Neither penalty was particularly convincing - for the first it was only when entering the box that the player remembered how wobbly is legs were. For the second Pugh took a 90 degree turn and still failed to get anywhere near the leg that Fonte had stuck out in a completely different postcode area.

However the fact remains that we did not play well. A.Carroll summed it up nicely. "We were all over the place" quoth he and it was hard to argue with that as a summing up.

Team news is that the available squad is pretty much as for last week with one notable exception. The skipper is listed as having a "knock". He's taken some horrendous stick of late and whilst on his own admission his form hasn't hit the heights we know he is capable of (and which at any other club might have seen him gain international honours) some of the comments aimed in his general direction from the more ignorant members of our support have clearly hurt the one player in the squad who would probably be sitting next to you if he weren't out on the pitch. As has the thought that his response to those comments might have annoyed his fellow fans. With an international break in the offing he's been given the week off to rest up.

Both Antonio and Snodgrass picked up injuries at Dean Court but these shouldn't affect their availability for this weekend. Sakho, by the way, seems to be pushed back another two weeks for every week he is out. April 15 is the latest listed date (with the caveat that he is a "major doubt" even for then).

So a prediction then. This is one where I've second guessed myself so many times I haven't a clue if I'm coming or going. On the one hand their improved form and our current lack of same would have me looking at an away win. But then their efforts in Europe will have taken something out of them in midweek and it is also a fact that it would be typical West Ham to lose to relegation strugglers one week and beat the reigning champions the next. But then if I think that might happen will that jinx it? Honestly you have no idea of the responsibility.

On reflection, they are due a comedown but we've not been over convincing. I'll therefore place the traditional ?2.50 (which this week would have gone on not paying Class 4 National Insurance) down at Winstone The Turf Accountants on a draw. Let's call it 2-2 then shall we? But don't be surprised if we win. Or lose.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 1-2 (Premier League August 2015)
The Anthony Taylor show. Vardy and Schmeichel should have seen red. Vardy for a horrible challenge on Adrian, Schmeichel for clotheslining Sakho in the box. Instead Taylor lived down to all expectations by dismissing Adrian late on for missing the ball and catching Vardy chest high when going up for a late corner. That's the Vardy who shouldn't have been on the pitch in the first place. Payet hit an early drive in the second half after a nightmare spell saw us go 2-0 down in the first period. We were left wondering how far we could have gone had we had the refereeing advantage that Leicester had had last season.

Referee: Roger East - used sparingly in the top flight for some reason. Last seen in the middle in our 2-1 cup win over Liverpool last season.

Danger Man: Jamie Vardy. Seems that he has got the same immunity from prosecution that was made available to Costa earlier this season.

Percy's Poser: Last week we asked you why the arrests in Bournemouth of Roger Cordrey and William Boal on 13 August 1963 were so significant? Congratulations to Mrs Gertrude Biggs (no relation apparently) of Foulness who was the first out of the digital hat with the information that the pair were the first two arrested for their involvement in the Great Train Robbery. Mrs Biggs (no, really no relation, honest) supplied the following further details. "Cordrey aroused suspicion by renting a lock-up paying cash in advance. Not usually a problem but when the lady renting you the lock-up happens to be a policeman's widow...... Boal on the other hand was arrested with about ?141k on him from the robbery which he claimed had been given to him by Cordrey to repay a debt. Everyone involved in the case - including the police in the form of the notorious "Slipper of the Yard" - was convinced that Boal hadn't been involved but he got 24 years anyway, sadly dying in prison in 1970." Thanks for that Mrs B. Sorry I forgot your rock.

For this week's poser we ask you: for what rather unedifying reason did Leicester City Council take out a series of full page adverts in the Uganda Daily Times in 1972? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win the editorship of the Evening Standard. Well it seems to be a competition prize at the moment...

Good luck everyone!

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

More Opinion