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West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

Filed: Thursday, 4th May 2017
By: Preview Percy

Nobody knows quite how old Preview Percy actually is. However, unlike the Duke of Edinburgh, he is showing no signs of retiring. Despite our hints. Here's his look at Friday's visit of Spurs...

Next up we face Tottenham Hotspur at the Olympic. For some reason this season Sky failed to take the opportunity of using all of its Friday evening slots - presumably messing everyone about on a Sunday provides them with higher viewing figures. So why they decided this one would be ideal Friday night fodder you’ll have to ask them. I’m sure the Met are pleased with the 8pm kick-off time which will mean that it will be past everyone’s bedtime by full time and anyone who might have been thinking of misbehaving will simply be too tired to cause trouble. Good luck with that one guys.

They are of course sitting in second place four points behind Chelsea. Some of their supporters still actually think they have a chance of the title but, realistically, it would take a major spot of self-destruction on the part of the money launderers to see them throw the title away. For the rest of the league seeing how close they think they are getting is a source of amusement and seasoned observers have pointed out that their forthcoming move to Wembley – a venue where their record is more Klitchko than Joshua – may mean that its now or never for the title for them.

Not that they will mind for the moment. Their legendarily dim support who, we discovered last year in a genuine Facebook explanation from one of their supporters, still wear shell suits “because there was a cheap deal on them at the club shop when Adidas stopped making the kit” are busy basking in the “glory” of finishing above their nearest neighbours for the first time in 22 years, thus enabling them to go and buy professionally made banners to wave about on the telly. Of course next season they won't have any problems in that direction. A quick check of the map suggests that Barnet are probably the nearest club to Wembley so no doubt the celebrations are in place already for that one. In the meantime, should you want a laugh go and look at one of their discussion forums and marvel at the deficiencies of an education system that can produce intelligence of such a low grade that even Millwall laugh at them.

Their match on Sunday highlighted something that most people in football have known for years, that being that Arsenal’s own Harry Kane is not averse to a dive. Yes there was a bit of initial contact from the defender but, realising that he wouldn’t be able to go down from that, he adapted the old trick of waving his own leg out to make sure of a tumble to earth.

Those that like to defend diving (notably Man City supporters who insist that instigating the contact yourself is ok unless you are one of their opponents) have had a bad few days really. Last week’s Manchester derby looked for all the world as if it had taken place on a skating rink so often did players go to ground. Then we had Rashford ‘s antics against Swansea and Sane’s theatricals against Boro’ as well as Kane’s con artistry all in quick order. So maybe at last the issue will be highlighted and referees will start to do the job they are paid to do. Either way one would hope that having seen Kane’s tumble over the weekend whoever is in charge for this one might take a somewhat jaundiced eye the next time he goes flying to the ground.

It wasn’t the first time this season Spurs have had help from the middle – Wanyama was inexplicably spared the second yellow his actions merited at Palace and they were able to smuggle him off at half-time. And of course there’s always Mike Dean.

The work experience girl wearing the Dave Clarke Five t-shirt without knowing who they were informs me that they were a bit parsimonious during the last transfer window with the splendidly-named Maximus Tainio coming in from HJK Helsinki. To say he is one for the future is probably a bit of an understatement as he was just 15 years old at the time of signing. To put it another way, he wasn’t born the last time they finished above Arsenal. If the surname seems familiar it is because his Dad was a former Spur and was part of the team that missed out on finishing above Arsenal in 2006 when they lost at the Boleyn. In a style that befits their reputation as the “Liverpool of the South” they put the blame on everyone else for the sickness that ran through the team before that match, getting half a squad of the Met’s finest in to investigate whether they had been deliberately poisoned by the Marriot Hotel’s Lasagne, before eventually sheepishly admitting that the illness was caused by a virus after all rather than the poor hygiene for which their supporters are noted.

In the summer window they did shell out £30m on Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko. It’s probably fair to say that the player has failed to “live up to expectations”. In fact that’s exactly what Pochettino did say shortly after the player picked up a three match ban for elbowing Bournemouth’s Harry Arter. Since then his appearances in the league have been largely limited to substitutions. His transfer from Newcastle is rumoured to be one of those in which HMRC are interested, which lends further credence to the theory that the Geordies are at the centre of the taxman’s latest attempt to make a pig’s ear out of their investigations.

They are quite proud of the fact that they have Dele Alli on their books, though not so proud as to go and make up their own song about him. Alli was one of the five Spurs players in the England team that they were they were oh so boastful about prior to last season’s Euro 16 match against Iceland. Funnily enough they were strangely taciturn on the matter whenever the subject of “letting your country down” was subsequently raised. Alli is talented player who will move on to better things sooner or later. He does have a bit of a nasty streak in him on occasion though, but the penny may be dropping that he loses nothing from reining that side of his game in. something that will stand him in good stead when he ends up getting kicked all over the place in La Ligua.

And so to us. Two goalless draws in a row then. I have to say that this week’s one was more entertaining than last week’s though. A quick “hats off to Stoke fans is due by the way. In a week when, as mentioned, diving has been in the spotlight, fair play to the Stoke support for condemning Shaquiri for his “simulation” habit. A refreshing change from the hypocrisy encountered from Man City et al. The match ended up with the right result if not the right score – the excellence of the ‘keepers at both ends keeping things blank when a score draw of sorts might have been a better reflection of the play.

Of course like everyone else in the world I ought to have a word about the substitutions made. The departure of the impressive Arthur I could understand. Clearly he had to have had a knock of some sorts as nobody would have taken off somebody playing so well. The other two changes I found slightly more perplexing though. Ayew had been buzzing around like a bluebottle and had been unlucky to find Butland in good form earlier on so it seemed a bit odd to replace him with Noble whose first instincts these days are of a defensive nature. Indeed the skipper’s first two touches of the ball were backwards and the self-inflicted pressure led to one of the home side’s better chances of the day.

Then there was the Calleri conundrum. He really ought to have scored rather than playing about with that Ribena – you don’t get extra for scoring blackcurrant-flavoured goals and I can understand why one might have wanted to withdraw him from play. However – and again there is nothing personal in this – Snodgrass didn’t appear to be a natural replacement up front. Especially with Fletcher on the bench who is a striker, or so we have been told. This saw us spend the last few minutes with Snodgrass going down the wing only to have nobody in the middle to cross to. Very rum.

Injury news is a bit confusing to be honest. Arthur’s “knock” didn’t seem to be too worrying from his twitter reaction yet the last time I looked he was listed as “major doubt – no return date” putting him on a par with Antonio whose season we know is already over. The manager’s comment at the pre-match press conference was “wait and see” which doesn’t sound too promising. Cresswell will be on standby for the left hand side of the defence/wing back role depending on formation.

Bilic commented that he would be disappointed if Carroll were not fit to play some part in proceedings – to which one might add the unspoken but nonetheless understood words “but not surprised”. Again the message was “wait and see”, which, given the player involved, sounds even less promising. Sakho was listed as a “slight doubt” with his back injury. However, after the press conference we can now confirm that there is no doubt at all. It’s wait (until next season) and see, bringing a miserable season to a close for the player. The smart money is probably on Calleri to start once more.

So to the tricky subject of the prediction then. They have been irritatingly cocky in the press, treating the fact that they play on Friday before Chelsea as the most important fact about this fixture – the win which would take them to a point away is almost being taken for granted. All of which ignores the fact that we were the better side up at their place in a match where they had to rely on a fully-fit Mike Dean to gain the points. Although the choice of official doesn’t inspire an awful lot of confidence (see below) their luck with officials has to run out some time and, I can see us getting something out of this despite their confidence. So I will pop down to Winstones the Turf Accountant and proffer the £2.50 which I believe would pay a policeman’s salary for a month if that Ms Abbott is to be believed in consideration of a wager on a 1-1 draw which would edge Chelsea slightly closer to the title. Well you can’t have everything I suppose.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 1-0 Premier League March 2016 Antonio’s early effort proved to be the difference between the sides in a match that would have seen the visitors go top had they won. Everyone laughed at them. So no change there then.

Danger Man: Harry “Arsenal” Kane – partly because he’s a decent player and partly because he is a cheat and referees are too stupid to notice. Thick enough to be one of their own.

Referee: Anthony Taylor – there was a touching moment in that PGMOL propaganda “documentary” the other week when he tearfully apologised to Carragher and Neville (G) for some error or another. What they didn’t tell you was that they had enough material to fill a 13 week mini-series for that particular slot. Not a very good referee as he showed in our opening game when, having cautioned Diego Costa early on he proceeded to allow the player to commit one red card and three further yellow card offences before going on to net the winner in the 89th minute. We still await the apology from this idiot who once managed to have two sendings off in the same match (v Everton) rescinded a couple of years back. Which takes some doing.

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you what caused Stoke’s Keele University to sack Spike Milligan as “Ambassador” back in the day. Congratulations to Mrs Marjorie Marjorie-Banks of Muckingford who was first out of the hat with the answer that Spike had failed to supply any material for use in the University Rag Magazine. Mrs Marjorie-Banks added “I’m sure Spike didn’t lose any sleep over the loss of the annual salary of 1p that went with the role, though knowing rag magazines, even a single full-stop from the pen of the genius that was Milligan would have been infinitely funnier than anything the students might have produced.” Well said Marjorie!

For this week’s poser we ask you: What was unusually wrong about the current floodlights at White Hart Lane when they were installed a few years back? First correct answer out of the digital hat will win a copy of Harry Kane’s GCSE certificate.

Good luck everyone!

* Thanks to our friends at www.kickoff.co.uk for providing the creatives!

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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