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Burnley v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 13th October 2017
By: Preview Percy

We are willing to bet that Preview Percy's look at this weekend's visit to Burnley is the only preview you will read that contains a mention of communist-era East German children's television. With good reason probably.....

Next after the will to live removal exercise that is watching Tottenham play in England shirts we return to football where we will be away to Burnley. Kick-off on Saturday is 3pm which is splendid. No engineering works in the vicinity of East Lancs and, of course Greater Anglia will be fine because, well, you know they like to wait until we are at home to cause maximum disruption, don’t they?

So the (rather unimaginatively-named) Clarets then at Turf Moor, perpetual winner of the Ground With The Most Northern-Sounding name. Or at least it would be if such an award existed. A decent start to the season so far with three wins, three draws and a solitary defeat to their name. It was an odd opening to the season with a 3-2 away win (including an eye-opening 3-0 half time lead) at Chelsea was followed by a 1-0 home defeat to the beacon of mediocrity that is West Brom. That’s precisely the sort of daft thing we ourselves have been have been known for in the past. They then got a point at the Bobby Moore Stadium against Spurs with a stoppage time equaliser. A surprisingly narrow 1-0 home win over Palace followed and they took a 1-0 lead in the first half at Anfield though the lead lasted all of 3 minutes against an apparently wasteful Liverpool. They played out a goalless draw at home to Huddersfield in a match principally notable for its highlighting of the inadequacies of the FA’s retrospective dive punishment system (we’ll ban the player if he gets away with it but you can still take the points) or the “Dele Alli Rule” as it ought to be known. Their last outing prior to the break was the 1-0 defeat of an oddly out of sorts Everton at Goodison. So 12 points from 7 matches and a healthy 6th place at the time of writing is the order of the day.

According to the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises, the biggest signing of the summer in those parts was that of striker Chris Wood. Wood first came to prominence as an age-group player for the New Zealand national side from where he came to the attention of West Brom who snapped him up for their academy. Although regular goals for the young Baggies gained him a pro contract his appearances in the first XI at the Hawthorns were sporadic and he spent much of his time on loan. Six different clubs had the benefit of his services in the four years he was with West Brom (ok 7 if you include West Brom themselves). The last of these was Leicester who beat Millwall to the chase for the player’s signature for a permanent deal in 2013. He spent two years on the books at whatever Filbert Street is called this week making 52 league appearances in that time which netted him 12 goals. His goals per league game improved after his transfer to Leeds in the summer of 2015 as he put away just under a goal a game as opposed to one in four which was his average at Leicester, suggesting that he might have found his level in the Championship. He finished as the Championship’s top scorer last term, gleaning him an armful of player of the season awards plus a spot in the PFA team of the season at that level. All of which persuaded Burnley to shell out a club record £15m this summer. Wood is vice-captain of the New Zealand side and will of course be facing his skipper at international level in the form of Winston Reid.

Another striker to arrive in summer was archetypal “journeyman who has an international career because Mum was Irish” Jonathan Walters. Sadly, the aforementioned Mrs Walters passed away whilst her son was a kid and so never got to see her boy play for the country of her birth. Walters arrived for £3m from Stoke where he seemed to have been forever, though it was in fact only 7 seasons. Although a regular in the side – he was an ever-present in the league in two consecutive seasons – he never broke double figures for goals scored in the top flight and his best tally for all competitions was the 12 he managed in his initial season at what was then called the Britannia Stadium. Walters’ fledgling Burnley career has been hampered by a troublesome knee injury that has required repeated surgery over the past couple of years and the latest suggestion is that he will be out until Christmas.

Another, arguably more notable, absentee will be highly-rated custodian Tom Heaton. Heaton somehow managed to dislocate a shoulder in the win over Palace (one assumes he fell off his deck chair or something) and, having had surgery he is now recovering. Heaton had worked his way up to the group of ‘keepers vying to oust Joe Hart from the no.1 berth at national level before his unfortunate fall and he will be out for some time in the months before a World Cup. Heaton has been replaced by the Pope. I’m sorry that should read Nick Pope (the kids of today have no idea about handwriting). Pope arrived from Charlton last year and looked in good form in the draw at Anfield to the extent that he signed an improved contract last week in recognition of the fact that Heaton’s unfortunate absence will see him as first choice for a while. Meanwhile they have also brought in former Salford shot-stopper Anders Lindegaard in as cover, the Dane being a free agent at the summer expiry of his contract up the road at Preston.

There has been a change in central defence since we last met in May. Michael Keane had been linked with moves to pretty much every “big” club going – including the mob at Salford with whom he had started his career. In the end he ended up at Everton for a tasty £25m – with add-ons possibly increasing that figure to up to £30m. The way Everton are playing at the moment that’ll be £25m then. Keane had built up a partnership with Ben Mee who somehow finds the time to run the Dartmoor Zoological Park and pen the bestseller “We Bought A Zoo” if Wikipedia is to be trusted. Which, of course, it isn’t.

With Keane off to Everton following the release of Tom Chaplin’s solo album, James Tarkowski has stepped into the breach. Manchester-born Tarkowski came in from Brentford in the 2016 winter window, his transfer causing a few raised eyebrows. The Bees had received a number of enquiries over the player’s availability, the situation coming to a head before a home Championship match against Burnley for which the player refused to make himself available. Brentford duly fined the player who subsequently issued a personal statement citing his mother’s terminal illness as a distracting effect that could “result in an error that would let my team mates and the fans down”. However you take that statement (and some of the Bees’ fans here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered, though sympathetic with the plight of Mrs T, were less than impressed by the player using it as an excuse) it is a fact that the player had played his last game for Brentford and within two weeks had signed for the club against whom he had refused to play. Since his return north he had to bide his time to break into the side but has earned some good reviews for his form since Keane’s departure.

We ought to mention striker Ashley Barnes. Barnes hasn’t made a start this season in the league though he has appeared from the bench in six of the seven played so far. However it’s not the player’s domestic appearances that warrants mention, it’s his rather odd international career that catches the eye. Nine years ago the Somerset-born striker was away with first club Plymouth on a pre-season tour of Austria when someone let slip that his granddad hailed from those parts. A month later he found himself on the bench for the Austrian U20 side coming on in the 73rd minute against the Swiss kids. And that was it. Since then nothing. Earlier on this year the player was quoted as saying that he had ambitions to play for the full Austrian side. 17 minutes for the U20s nine years ago then nothing? I tell you what mate I wouldn’t waste too much time waiting for the call.

So to us. I have decided to spare you the trauma of having to relive the Swansea match. If you were there you had to endure it. If you weren’t there you were lucky. So why dwell on it. Since then we have had the life-sapping spectacle of players trying to play themselves out of contention for the World Cup – Henderson seems to be on a one-man mission to discover how poor one has to be before you get dropped from the England side. The answer to that question seems to be that if you play for Liverpool you can’t play badly enough.

Talking of the scousers it seems that there have been amendments to the proposal to play two matches on Christmas Eve so that there will probably be only one, which will kick-off at lunchtime. Rumour has it that in a nod to common sense Sky may not make the Geordies do all the travelling and instead will commit the cardinal television sin of upsetting the scousers instead., making them travel on the last nicking day before Christmas. Maybe the tv companies are finally catching up with the fact that a bent club who haven’t won the league since the back-pass law was introduced aren’t that relevant any more.

On the injury front Ginge’s ankle will keep him out of contention but it’s pretty much a full deck to play with but for that. Me? I’d like to see a Sakho/Chicharito combination tried out up front. It’s becoming a bit of a cliché that when Carrol plays we aim it to him in the air too much. This is doubly annoying as it ignores the fact that Carroll is much better on the ground than he is ever given credit for but we don’t seem to acknowledge this in our tactics.

While we are at it, why not consider a start for Arthur wide on the left. The fact that he likes to get down to the by-line and can get a cross in surely hasn’t gone un-noticed? Carroll ought to have scored from one such cross against Swansea (sorry for mentioning that match) whilst in the same game Sakho actually did score. Add to that Kouyate’s header against Spurs and one might almost see a pattern developing.

Prediction? Well Bilic’s comments that this will be the first time he will be able to select his preferred starting XI indicates a mood of “the season starts here” and we do have a decent recent record at “t’ moor” so I’m almost optimistic enough to go for an away win. Almost, but not quite. Though a win shouldn’t be beyond a proper first XI our hosts are playing together well as a team, something that has served them well despite (opening day apart) it being a bit quiet on the goal front. We are still a bit of a work in progress on that front. So with that in mind I will be placing the £2.50 that I was going to bet on that Asteroid hitting White Hart Lane the other day (causing £1m worth of improvements) on a 1-1 draw when I pop in to Winstone The Turf Accountant.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at Turf Moor: Won 2-1 (Premier League May 2017)

Last game of the season and boy did it show. Vokes put us behind but a splendidly-worked equaliser from Feghouli restored parity shortly after. Ayew followed up a rebound off the bar in the second half to give us all three points and bring the season to a close. The match ended up with a pitch invasion comprised of
loads of spotty teenagers all of whom resembled the banjo-playing kid in the film "Deliverance".

Danger Man: Chris Woods

He’s done the rounds a bit without hitherto making much of an impression on the top flight, with most of his time at his previous Premier League clubs being spent on loan elsewhere. However 41 goals in 83 league matches for Leeds persuaded Burnley to take a punt and he has two in four since arriving in August.

Referee: Stuart Atwell

PGMOL keep banging on about how good our referees are really all things being considered. The rest of the world begs to differ which is why no English referees will be in action during next year’s World Cup. If you are looking for a reason for this perhaps the fact that PGMOL considers Atwell to be worthy of a place in the select group despite a career which appears in the dictionary next to the words “accident prone”.

Percy’s Poser:

Last time out we asked you “whither Kevin Cullis, erstwhile manager of Swansea?” or something like that. Congratulations to Ms Octavia Brown of Somewhere Near Pisa in Italy who told us: “Swansea were in the process of being sold. The new chairman brought in a new manager. From West Midlands League side Cradley Town. Not the first team mind. No Cullis was plucked from Cradley’s youth team. The Swansea squad were about as impressed as you might expect and, at half time in Cullis’s second match in charge, Cullis was told in no uncertain terms to shut it as the senior players did their own team talk. Cullis was sacked pretty much there and then. Later Cullis did 18 months for various frauds, a sentence that may or may not have included a spell for impersonating a football manager. And the bloke who installed him as manager failed to complete his purchase of the club losing a £100,000 deposit in the process!”

Thanks Octavia!

For this week’s poser we ask: What connects the town of Burnley with 1950’s communist East German Children’s TV programming. Trust me there is a connection!

Good luck everyone!

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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