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West Ham United v Liverpool

Filed: Friday, 12th May 2017
By: Preview Percy

For obvious reasons, Preview Percy has been in a rather good mood this week. Frankly we preferred it when he was grumpy. Here's his look at this weekend's visit of Liverpool. He still finds stuff to moan about, you'll be pleased to hear....

Ok, ok settle down. If you’ve all stopped laughing we have this week’s match to attend to. Having dispatched the Liverpool of the south (aka Spurs) last week it’s now time to play host to the Tottenham of the north in the form of Liverpool. It’s a 2:15pm kick off on Sunday. Which is odd. There are engineering works on Sunday, which isn’t odd. There are replacement buses on the London Overground (Ginger) line between Camden Road and Stratford, which knocks Hackney Wick out of the travel equation. Check before leaving as usual.

So Liverpool then. With us having handed the league to Chelsea (hardly the lesser of two evils but by far and away the funnier option) the focus is now on who will get into this top four thing that allows you to waste a few months of Wednesdays sticking a few past the likes of Dynamo Former Chemical Works from some former Soviet Republic that even its own nationals would find difficult to locate on a map, before coming up against someone rather more useful from Spain or Germany in the knockout rounds. They are in good position in third place, though not as good as it might have been had they beaten Southampton at the weekend. The 0-0 draw against Southampton, a team they seem to have some problem with scoring against, left them a point clear of Man City in fourth, 4 clear of the librarians in 5th, and five clear of the Salford lot in 6th place. So not looking too bad then? Except that both Manchester clubs and Arsenal have a game in hand on them which makes things, well interesting is probably stretching a point but certainly they’ll be a bit nervy and the extra two points they might have picked up against Southampton world not have gone amiss.

Much has been made of the delaying tactics employed by Southampton over the penalty saved by Forster at the weekend. There were delays, scraping around the penalty spot mind games etc that all culminated with Milner’s failure to convert. Klopp refused to discuss the matter. In fact he refused to discuss the matter at great length, explaining each grievance in detail before telling us he wouldn’t be discussing the matter for fear of being thought of as a sore loser. Of course given that the tactics were precisely the sort of thing that his club has been known to indulge in over the years, perhaps Klopp might have been thinking of claiming royalties. After all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I’m not convinced by Jurgen Klopp you know. There, I’ve said it. The tv companies love him of course as he always has some sort of handy one-liner that will fit into the scrolly thing at the bottom of the screen on Sky Sports News. But at the end of the day, with all his buzzwords and management-speak and gimmickry (eg let’s celebrate a last minute draw with West Brom as if we’ve won the World Cup) he puts me in mind of one of his predecessors Brendan Rodgers, who has at least found that anyone can win a one horse race.

The work–experience girl wearing a “Crucial Three” t-shirt without knowing who they were tells me that the only business they did in the January window was through the out door with, to use her phrase “a couple of players even their supporters won’t have heard of disappearing to Reading and Fleetwood”. At that point she left with a silly grin on her face which she later informed me was “50% Spurs result and 50% the realisation that there’s only one more of these to do”. Odd girl.

They have two major injuries affecting the squad this weekend. Henderson has picked up a big girls’ injury. No really he has. He is suffering from “plantar fasciitis”, a painful condition that, according to Matron here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered who looked it up in her Book Of Stuff, is more common in women than in men. In fact the only person here at the Rest Home who has ever suffered from that particular ailment is Matron herself, and trust me at our age there is barely an ailment known to man that hasn’t turned up here at one stage or another.

The other absentee from the squad will be Sadio Mane. Like nearly everyone on their books Mane is a former Southampton player having arrived for £34m this summer in a deal that made him the most expensive African player ever at that point. He started out his youth career back in Senegal with an outfit going under the superb name of Generation Foot. Which sounds as if it ought to be one of those ailments in Matrons Book Of Stuff. In fact he will be missing with a cartilage problem. When I was a lad cartilage operations seemed to be all the rage amongst those who played football. You don’t seem to hear about them so much these days do you? It’s a bit like when people stopped breaking their toes and started to damage their metatarsals. Despite injury and his absence in the African Cuppasoup (during which he missed a penalty that contributed to Senegal’s shoot-out knockout at the hands (feet?) of Cameroon he still picked up the Scousers’ player of the year award.

They have been giving youth its head of late. That’s good I hear you cry. Well yes, up to a point. Their youth system has been a bit dodgy you see. They were recently fined £100,000 for tapping up a schoolboy on Stoke’s books, a fine that came with a 12 month ban from signing any academy players. Having tapped the player up they agreed to take over playing the kid’s school fees, a bill that Stoke had been meeting up to that point. However, they then discovered that a change in rules would mean them having to pay the bills of all academy kids on their books with school fees to pay so they pulled out of that part of the deal. This left the kid’s parents a) somewhat out of pocket and b) severely fed up.

So a formal complaint was registered with the Premier League. This didn’t stop them digging though. At one point they offered to pay the fees quietly if the complaint were dropped. When this was put to them they denied it until, in true Piranha Brothers style it was pointed out that the conversation had been recorded. That may not be the end of the matter – the family are considering further legal action against the club. Those of us of a certain age will smile ruefully at the sight of a club getting a slap on the wrist for youth transfer irregularities given the ludicrous number of dubious transfers they have gotten away with over the years. Meanwhile, the main casualty in all this is a 13 year-old kid who is effectively without a club given anyone wanting to sign him would face a £49,000 fee. You might think that the whole thing stinks a bit. I would not argue with that assessment.

One of the youngsters who has been seeing first XI time of late has been Trent Alexander-Arnold. His first album Introducing The Hardline According To Trent Alexander-Arnold was well-regarded by critics, though the follow-up suffered from “that difficult second album” syndrome. Entitled Neither Fish Nor Flesh, the best review simply read “….nor any bloody good". (Look the work experience girl knocked-off early again ok?). He’s broken through to the first XI this season and won their young player of the year award.

That’s enough about them. Us then. And so to Friday. Stopped laughing yet? No, me neither. I’m still trying to wonder which was funnier, the fact that the result holed their title bid under the water, or their supporters reaction to the result which varied from the sad: (“We weren’t going for the title actually”) to the downright stupid (“them beating us was anti-semetectic (sic)”).

Then, for pure comedy value, there were the video blogs. The one from the Vicki Pollard soundalike was frankly worrying and was a sad indictment of the low standards of mental healthcare in this country today. Of less concern was the one by the two posh boys who clearly “got into” football a while back. The pre-match stuff where they upgraded their cautiously optimistic trouncing predictions to “utter thrashing” status once they had read the team news was marvellous and reminded us why, even if they somehow managed to win the Champions League ten times on the spin, Spurs supporters will always be a laughing stock.

There were hats off all over the pitch last week. Adrian – one excellent and deliberate save, one excellent and lucky one - seems to instilled a new confidence in the three immediately ahead of him. Fonte looks much better with help. Ginge is, well, Ginge. Reid is one of the most underrated players in the league in my opinion. I guess if he were from a country more traditionally associated with the round ball game people would be raving about him much more. I’m just grateful that he appears to be under the radar as far as the rest of the league is concerned. How much was it Man City paid for Stones?

There were performances all over the place – Calleri ran his legs off and STILL got stick from some of the more ignorant sections of our support. It got so bad at one stage with some of the people around me that I was beginning to wonder if I was wrong. My faith in our support was restored when Calleri left to a deserved standing ovation.

And of course there was Anthony Taylor. Anthony Bloody Taylor. Here’s a bit of information for Spurs fans, pundits and, yes, Anthony Bloody Taylor. The fact that somehow Lloris managed to get the slightest touch on the ball does not render a tackle legal. Yes I know this is basic stuff but any referee or organisation that supplies referees who cannot get stuff as simple as that right deserves all the scorn and contempt it gets. Worse still are those who try to apologise for or, in the case of PGMOL, cover up such behaviour. The foul by Lloris was designed to take the player out and it was pure good luck that Lanzini managed to avoid serious injury. The fact that it wasn’t a free-kick and that Lanzini ended up with a yellow card for celebrating his goal whilst Lloris went completely unpunished speaks volumes about what PGMOL like to think are the high standards of refereeing in this country.

I also hear that the commentary equivalent of Taylor, Alan Bloody Green was telling everyone who would listen that Spurs were far and away the better side and that this was something that “not even West Ham’s most ardent fan” would disagree with. Having overheard the fat obnoxious fool earlier this season espousing some very un-PC views on women in football, I was surprised that he was still given airtime on the oh-so-careful BBC. Well never mind that, anyone who thought we weren’t the better side on Friday has no business earning a living out of the licence fee (which Matron assures me she is just off to the GPO to pay) from commenting on professional football full stop.

Rant over and moving on, the achievement of safety means that Kouyate (who was immense on Friday) can have a breather and get his wrist operated on (or metacarpal as I suppose it is now). Carroll won’t be risking his groin and I now hear that the skipper has picked up a hernia, an ailment for which they don’t seem to have come up with a poncey name as yet. It was a shrewd – and courageous – move on the part of the manager to bring back the skipper given the good form Nortdveit was in. However, the boss rightly hypothesised that the identity of the opponents would ring something extra to the skippers game. In the meantime expect Nortdveit to return in Noble’s stead.

Good old Arthur is available again which brings up an interesting dilemma on the left what with Cresswell looking a lot like his old self last week.

So prediction time then. Given the fine performance and good feeling about the place you might expect me to go all in for a win this week, but no. Let me explain. We will be missing two of the key players from a team that already has more than its fair share of injury problems at the moment (that’s 9 out now). On top of that there’s the usual potential “typical West Ham” thing waiting to happen. You know, outplay (yes Alan Bloody Green, outplay) the team pushing for the title (not that they wanted it really, apparently) then go on to get turned over by the team limping hopefully in the direction of 4th place.

My original thought as I scrabbled around for the betting slip was to go for a 1-2 away win in an “after the Lord Mayor’s Show” type mood. However, in the end I mellowed slightly and elected to place the £2.50 that I was going to send to pay towards the charity that repairs lobotomies for anyone who thought that Bread was funny on a draw. So if anyone is passing Winstone The Turf Accountant pop in for me and tell them I’m going for 1-1 there’s a good chap.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 2-1 (FA Cup 4th Round Replay February 2016)

One of those nights we used to love at the Boleyn. Antonio put us ahead in the first half. A Coutinho free kick shortly after the interval levelled the scores. We hit the woodwork twice, them once, 1-1 at full time and Ogbonna rose to dispatch a header in the last minute of extra-time. Sweet.

Danger Man: The aforementioned Coutinho – dangerous from distance in open and set play. Free-kicks often won by the traditional unsteadiness on feet around the box for which the club has become famous over the years.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick Gillible, which is a worry against this lot. Last seen taking charge of the Palace match. Hopefully an omen.

Percy’s Poser: Last time we asked you what was the problem with Tottenham’s floodlights when they last upgraded them. Congratulations to Mrs Hortensia Milksopp of Little Thurrock who told us: “After they had upgraded their floodlights it was discovered that they were too bright for European football. This was the first time anything not connected to a visiting side had ever been described as “bright” at White Hart Lane.” Thanks & well done Hortensia!

For this week’s poser we ask you: Why did an amendment to section 2 of Law 12 of the Laws Of The Game in 1992 cause so much damage to Liverpool? The first correct answer out of the digital had will win the best selling (in Liverpool) DVD “Ken Dodd’s Most Hilarious Moments” which contains almost seconds of rib-tickling fun for the sort of person who thinks Bread was funny.

Good luck everybody!

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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