Arsenal v West Ham United

Preview Percy takes his usual slightly odd look at Wednesday's trip to Arsenal. Probably best avoided if your name is Piers Morgan....

Next up we travel across town to the borough of Islington where we will be hosted by Arsenal. 7:45pm kick off and no engineering works to worry about. Just the usual train and tube crap to deal with then.

Arsenal. Well their supporters have gotten themselves tied up in knots over the future of Arsene Wenger haven't they? Now this really ought to be a simple decision for a supporter. Either you want Wenger to stay or you don't. However, I do have some sympathy with their support. No really. Let me explain: If you are a semi-intelligent person (and let's assume for the purpose of this argument that, unlike Spurs, there are a few "Gooners" capable of tying up their own shoelaces) you have probably gone through life using certain guidelines to distinguish between right and wrong in life. Anything Sepp Blatter says is likely to be a lie and never trust anyone who thinks "Mrs Brown's Boys" is actually funny are two obvious rules by which most right-thinking people would abide. So there you are, supporting Arsenal and thinking "maybe it's about time Wenger went". Then Piers Morgan opens his bent gob and says exactly the same thing. I mean what do you do. You can't find yourself agreeing with the loathsome Morgan but on the other hand.... It's enough to make you want to tell Morgan exactly where to go. (Top tip - the easiest way to do this is by leaving a vocemail message for him on your own mobile).

In the past Wenger's supporters have always been able to point out his continued success in getting them through to the So-Called Champions League every year, even if they don't actually win much in the process of qualifying. On the other hand his detractors point out the pointlessness of getting through the group stages only to let in five goals every time you get drawn against Bayern Munich. They feel strongly enough to hire planes towing banners behind them with both pro and anti Wenger messages, an action that hardly makes their support look muggy at all.

The problem is that this season they are in some danger of missing out on the So-called Champions League and either falling into the Thursday Night League or worse not making Europe at all. They currently sit in 6th spot with 51 points from their 28 played so far which is 7 points behind Man City who are 4th at the time of writing, though Arsenal do have a game in hand over City, with whom they drew a surprisingly tepid affair 2-2 at the weekend. They are a point adrift of the Thursday night League spot currently occupied by Moan Utd though as usual the FA Cup might alter the qualification criteria.

As mentioned their last outing wasn't one that got the pulses racing and the point did nobody any favours. Maybe it was the sunshine but nobody seemed overly bothered about anything during the game. Take Arsenal's equaliser. Walcott couldn't have been less overjoyed had you told him he'd just stepped in something that had previously been lunch for somebody's pet labrador. Even City's protests at Monreal's late handball smacked of going through the motions (as opposed to treading in them). Still in an ever changing world it is good to see that some traditions remain constant - Wenger "didn't see" the incident. Monreal allegedly admitted the offence claiming that he knew he would get away with it because "English Referees don't give those". Which tells you more in one sentence about English refereeing than that whole hour of that self-justifying rubbish that Sky put out in their pro-PGMOL Mafia documentary last weekend.

Of course Wenger isn't the only one whose future at the Library is unclear. Alexis Sanchez appears to have had some sort of falling out with the boss over the past few months and at one stage is said to have walked out of training. This led to the player being benched for the trip to Anfield. Tell us how that worked out for you Arsene. Sanchez was recently quoted as saying he'd love to stay in London though he'd prefer to be with a team that wins things. Yes I'm aware of the dangers of taking too literally comments made by foreign players to the foreign press in a foreign language then taken out of context. Quite funny though.

Apart from Cech in goal (whose return is probably one more game away), the other notable absentee will be Koscielny. What with the work experience girl wearing the Dido t-shirt without knowing who she is not having much to record on the incoming transfer front for this January (Cohen Bramall was plucked from the non-league obscurity of Hednesford Town to go to the obscurity of their development squad via a few minutes of fame on Sky Sports, and that was it apparently) I was going to ask her how many games Koscielny had limped off in in recent times. However, she had gone home before I could ask her, so you'll have to look it up yourself if your that bothered. It certainly seems to have been a lot - I think it was this year's Bayern Munich match in which they went to pieces after he departed. But it could have been last year's match. Or both of this years. Or all three - they all tend to merge into one don't they? This time he has an Achilles injury which will either end his season or be ok for the Palace match next Monday. Nice and specific then.

Enough of them. What of us? Well given that I trekked all the way up to the backside (in every sense of the word) of Yorkshire with little in the way of expectation I suppose I shouldn't have been too disappointed with the defeat. But I was. There was a match which we should have had by the throat. Yes a bit of luck would have seen us go in 2 or 3 up at the interval. And, yes, a bit of luck would have seen that awful piece of control fall the right side of Fonte rather than turn into a killer pass for the equaliser. But we really only had ourselves to blame for not coming back from there with at least a point.

To me it looked like we thought we had got the match won at half time and too many didn't do their job in the second half. You can probably exempt Lanzini and Carroll from that criticism - Lanzini stood out like a sore thumb in terms of class in that match whilst Carroll was as good in defence as he was in attack - but overall the performance wasn't good enough.

The journey home was, however, livened up by the Chelsea muppet on 606 who was going apoplectic over the "disgraceful" scenes at the Palace end that - and I quote - "could have killed someone." I have never heard the veins bulge in somebody's head before on live radio but the bloke was adamant that "fire bombs" were being thrown by the (equally muppet like) Palace support. So imagine my surprise when the "fire bombs" turned out to only be flares, similar to that which got chucked onto the pitch in our match on Saturday. Wrong? Yes. I am firmly of the opinion that the correct procedure for extinguishing such items at matches should involve insertion of the offending pyrotechnic into an appropriate orifice belonging to the thrower. Or of Piers Morgan. However, to bleat on calling the things "fire bombs" was such an overreaction that one might almost think the complainant was trying to distract one from the fact that his team had just lost. To Palace. It reminded me of that bloke who had his kid hold out some coins as "evidence" that someone had thrown them at them at the OS earlier this season. That complaint disappeared pretty quickly didn't it? Roughly at about the same time as someone said - "hang on a mo let's look at the cctv footage". Just coincidence I expect.

Back to the match and Cresswell has added his name to the injury list, the unspecified "knock" he picked up in the second half will keep him out of this one. On the brighter side Antonio's hamstring has cleared up and, whisper it, someone called Sakho is being considered for a return to the bench. If that's the case that will be a welcome addition to the playing strength where we have all too often looked a bit one dimensional up front. I don't suppose for a moment we will see the player this Wednesday but the idea of having striker options (plural) available is one that does appeal. Or at least it might do if I could remember what it was like.

Well I wasn't optimistic for Hull and, despite this being a potential "typical West Ham" moment (you know, like losing to Hull then beating Arsenal would be "typical West Ham") I can't raise any enthusiasm for a positive result this time around. I know they fall apart when Koscielny is absent quicker than some of the furniture here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. However, having seen us labour against a very ordinary Hull defence last weekend, I can't see us giving their back line that hard a time. And when you look at our defence the sight of Ginge getting a ten yard start from an opponent and still losing the race last weekend was not one to instil an awful lot of confidence in the team.

So, before I drag my aching arthritic limbs up to the Library on Wednesday I'll take a slight detour via Winstone The Turf Accountant to place the ?2.50 I was going to contribute to the David Moyes defence fund and slap it on the counter in consideration of a wager on a 3-0 home win, which I will watch through my fingers while chanting "there's no 1980 on your wall".

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Library: Won 2-0 (Premier League August 2015) Kouyate opened the Bilic era with a first half header as Cech took his Biggles gear slightly too literally in flying out of his goal. Zarate added a second in the second half. A shock debut was handed to (then) 16 year-old Reece Oxford who had a fine match adding Mezut Ozil to "loose change" and "mobile phone" as possible answers to the question "what does a 16 year-old keep in his pocket.

Referee: Martin Atkinson Oh. He's back. Can we have video referrals soon please.

Danger Man: Alexis Sanchez - a hat-trick (albeit assisted by a 4 yard offside effort) at the OS tells its own story. Likes a dive.

Percy's poser: Last Weekend we asked you what role Turners Furniture store in Hull played in music history. The first correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Norah Watt-Thorne (no relation) of Kelvedon Hatch who tells us that it was from an advert in the shop window from which the band "Everything But The Girl" took their name. A signed photo of the Humber Bridget is on its way to you Norah.

For this week's poser we have a good old fashioned "What Happened Next" question. Back in 2003 in between dodgy share deals and phone hacking Piers Morgan found the time to poke fun at George W Bush for falling off a Segway claiming: "You'd have to be an idiot to fall off a Segway". What happened next? The first correct answer out of the wins a copy of the best selling book "The Wit & Wisdom Of Piers Morgan" (foreword by Ian Hislop).

Good luck everybody!

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

More Opinion