Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion

Filed: Thursday, 19th October 2017
By: Preview Percy

When the sky went a funny colour the other day Preview Percy refused to accept the "Saharan Dust" explanation, preferring instead to stand there muttering something about "tampering with nature by allowing centre forwards to wear no.2 shirts". Nevertheless, on the off-chance that the full apocalypse holds off until the weekend he still found time to prepare this look at Friday's match. On the whole the Apocalypse may have been more preferable....

So Brighton then. 8pm kick off on a Friday. Yuk. Enjoy the rush hour getting over there.

The visitors will be paying their first visit to the new gaff having been promoted last term. They looked odds on to go up as champions but a failure to win any of their last three matches saw the Geordies sneak in to take the silverware, with the Seagulls having to be content with promotion as a consolation prize.

I was a bit surprised when I saw the league table for this one. I had it in my head that they had made a fairly decent start to the season not unlike that of Burnley. However, I was surprised to note that prior to last weekend’s draw against Everton they were actually behind us, though the point mustered against the Toffeemen moved them to a place above us on goal difference.

They opened their season with a 2-0 home defeat to Man City (which looks quite good in retrospect) which was followed by a similar reverse away at Leicester. They picked up a 0-0 draw at Watford before picking up their first win of the season with a 3-1 home win against West Brom. A 2-1 setback away at Bournemouth was followed up with a 1-0 win over the Geordies at the Stadium in Falmer that is sponsored by a well-known charge card company who haven’t paid me to mention their name. They then went down 2-0 at Arsenal before Sunday’s stalemate which saw Everton salvage a late point after Bruno’s assault on an opponent in the box led to a match-saving Rooney spot kick. 8 points, 8 games and a minus 4 GD gives them 14th place at the moment.

They are managed by Chris Hughton who many will remember playing for us after the nightmare of having to play nearly 400 games for Spurs. He always seems to be an affable chap who shows no ill-effects from having spent so long at White Hart Lane. One recalls the dignity with which he handled himself whilst having to deal with the circus that is Newcastle United under Mike Ashley. When Hughton was sacked The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s resident Geordie, Preview Alastair, was so disgusted that he went on hunger strike for a while. It is a mark of how good the rest home food is that he actually gained 10lbs before succumbing to the temptation of the lasagne that is cook’s speciality whenever there has been an equine fatality at Kempton Park.

As one often finds from promoted clubs they were a bit busy in the summer window. 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, they brought in no fewer than thirteen players on permanent deals this summer. On closer inspection that figure turns out to be actually more like twelve and a half with kid striker Viktor Gyokeres not actually arriving from somewhere unpronounceable in Sweden until New Year’s Day. Some of the other signings are also in the category of U23 signings “for the future”.

Arguably the most influential of the new boys so far this season has been Pascal Gross (whose name is actually spelt with one of those odd German letters that actually looks like a letter “B”. I am sure there is probably a way of finding that particular character on a computer keyboard but frankly I can’ be bothered. Gross scored the clubs first goal in the top flight since whenever it was they were last up here having arrived for an undisclosed fee from German second division outfit FC Ingolstadt 04, a club of whom even Germans are heard to say “who?” (only in German, obviously). Gross has also weighed in what the stattos like to refer to as “assists” (translation into English: “he’s also made a few goals”). Although the fee was undisclosed figures of £3-4m have been bandied about which would make the player something of a bargain, assuming he progresses well in the league.

Well you go through all your life having never heard of FC Ingolstadt 04 then all of a sudden you get a club who signs two players from them at once. Left-back Markus Suttner had spent the vast majority of his career with Austria Wien, making over 250 appearances for them in the process. He was lured to Ingolstadt by the promise of top flight Bundesliga football, Ingolstadt having somehow managed to get themselves promoted for the 2015-16 season. In the event they managed to stay afloat at the top level for two seasons before returning to life in division “zwei”. After a bit of haggling it is believed that Brighton forked out something like £2m for the 30 year-old who was capped on 20 occasions for the Austrian national side before announcing his retirement from international football last summer. Clearly he didn’t fancy hanging on on the small off-chance that they might qualify for Russia then.

Between the sticks they have another new boy in the form of Aussie no.1 Matt Ryan. Another “undisclosed” fee (or £5m if you believe most sources) was enough to bring him in from Valencia. Valencia had signed him from Club Brugge back in 2015 and had been considered first choice for Valencia until injury in 2016 saw him lose that status. With him struggling for first XI football he spent the end of last season on loan back in Belgium at Racing Genk but the player himself ruled out a permanent return to Belgium, signing instead a 5 year deal beside the sea, the deal being made so much easier by the fact that Ryan possesses a UK passport (a process known in bygone days as “returning to the scene of the crime”). He is first choice ‘keeper for “The Soceroos” (one of those ugly nicknames our colonial chums insist on giving their national sports teams) so he will be building up the airmiles. Having played in the dramatic two leg win over Syria he will now face a trip involving Honduras and Australia in November as the Aussies go for World Cup qualification via the playoff system.

One of the illustrators of the difference in financial clout between the top two tiers of English football can be observed in the statistic that the £5m allegedly paid for Ryan represented a club record for Brighton at the time. This was soon eclipsed by the £6m believed to have been the outlay on Dutch midfielder Davy Propper (or “pwopah” if you happen to be Oscar Winning actor Danny Dyer). Propper arrived in the summer from PSV with whom he won the title last season and has previously gained So-Called Champions League experience. He also gives this column the opportunity to resurrect, for the first time this season, the opportunity to indulge in some schoolboy humour as we note (to the sound of suitable sniggers) that the player is a full Netherlands international with seven Dutch caps to his name (chortle). Pwopah featured in the last couple of competitive internationals as their ill-fated attempt to qualify for Russia collapsed,

Pwopah is a doubt for this one and may well end up watching from the stands alongside Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, who will be serving the final match of a three match retrospective ban for an off the ball stamp in the Newcastle match. Despite Hemed’s absence over the past couple of games there has been no place in the side for Sam Baldock this season. The former Hammer has been struggling with a calf problem for some time though he did turn out for the U23 side in midweek which suggests that he might have a small chance of making the bench on Friday. Balcdock made a blistering start to his Hammers career scoring five in his first six starts. However, injury messed up his season and by the time he was fit again Ricardo Vaz Te had arrived. Baldock left for Bristol City after we had been promoted.

And so to us. Well I think we can all agree that Andy Carroll was a bit daft last weekend and his contribution to the game did us no favours. However I do have a slight – and it is very slight – teensy weensy bit of sympathy for him. Week after week he gets clobbered with challenges as bad or worse than the two that got him his two yellows last weekend. More often than not he is the one who gets punished. Tarkowski did exactly the same thing to Carroll earlier in the game but escaped punishment. I think we are entitled to ask why referees are targeting our player don’t you? I mean there was one challenge in the Swansea match which saw a defender go right through his back and when Carroll got up he saw the referee penalise him and indicate that Carroll had “made a back” which was, quite simply, a lie on the part of the official. I have seen Carroll hauled down by the neck with no free-kick given so, deserved as the red was, it would be nice if we were given a reason why the laws of the game only seem to apply one way.

Not that the Burnley match has been unique in this. Had the same criteria applied to Southampton and Spurs as seem to apply against us both opponents would have been down to 9 men, in the Southampton case well before Arnautovic took the law into his own hands (no matter how much the BBC tried to pretend things didn’t happen.) And the melee that happened at the end of the Spurs match was caused by Oliver looking at and ignoring a deliberate challenge much worse than anything perpetrated by Carroll.

In fact it would also be nice to know why, despite continually marking substandard to the extent that he was given a break from the select group, Atwell is now considered good enough to have re-joined the select group (so called because you get selected if you are mates with Riley). Championship spies suggest that there had been a marked decline in his performances even from the low standard that saw him temporarily demoted from the select group after a meteoric rise from non-league to Premier league in a couple of seasons at the insistence of Keith Hackett – a family friend I believe. Incidentally, according to one observer, the fourth official and all-round embarrassment to the beautiful game that is Mike Dean was seen swanning about giving out autographs before the Burnley match. Says it all really.

Carroll’s suspension could well have meant a start for the Sakho-Hernandez combination up front that any – myself included – were looking for before Burnley. However, the law of sod being what it is, we are hearing that Hernandez has a dodgy hamstring. Great.

There have also been calls for a call up to the squad for young Martinez following his hat-trick (the first at the Olympic) against Man Utd’s kids last week. I’ve only seen a little of him so judgement is reserved in these parts – though spending time in and around the first XI squad surely won’t do him any harm.

Otherwise the only other player on the injury list at present is dear old Ginge whose ankle is a couple of weeks away from healing. That’s the ankle that West Brom fans accused him of faking by the way.

Prediction? Well I reckon we would have won last weekend had we kept 11 on the pitch. As it was we were a bit unfortunate to only take a point away and that’s the attitude to take into this one. Carroll’s absence may lend a bit more balance to the side who, as was displayed on a couple of rather spectacular occasions last weekend, can actually pass the ball well when it wants to.

I think this will be close but on the whole my optimism won’t, for once, be misplaced. It will be tight but I think that this week’s £2.50, which I had previously earmarked towards paying someone to give Ed Sheerhan laryngitis (thereby completing the job started by the music lover who knocked him off his bike) will be going on a home win. That will be 2-1 if anyone from Winstone The Turf Accountant is reading this and wants to have my betting slip ready for when I pop in om my way to the Swan & Superinjunction.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 6-0 (Championship – April 2012)

A hat-trick from Vaz Te with goals from Nolan, Cole (C not J) and a Dicker og did the job. Vaz Te’s third was a beaut -one of those mid-air scissor kicks. It was as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Oh for pity’s sake….

Danger Man: Pascal Gross

Has been handy as both goalscorer and provider this season.

Percy’s Poser:

Last week we asked you what connects the town of Burnley with 1950’s communist children’s television. Congratulations to Mrs Rebecca Craggs of Watford who wrote thusly:

“The answer is “The Singing Ringing Tree” which is both the name of a sculpture plonked on a hill somewhere just outside the town of Burnley and of a really odd kid’s tv programme that somehow made it past the planning stage at the East German Peoples' Entertainment Committee meetings in 1957. The thing started life as a feature film and over a third of the entire East German population is said to have seen it at the cinema. The BBC bought it for a few old copies of the Radio Times with Arthur Askey on the cover and, in keeping with the whole low-budget feel of the thing, decided to split the film into three separate parts to make a mini-series out of it.

The cheapskated-ness of the whole project didn’t stop there. The film having been made in German (obviously) the BBC had to do something to present the thing to the children of 1960’s Britain who, much as now, weren’t noted for their ability to speak German (although at least back then most could make a decent fist of English). Instead of overdubbing the thing with actors (expensive), or providing subtitles (which would have ruled out an entire audience of about 23,000 Spurs fans who would have had to learn to read) they simply turned down the volume a bit on the soundtrack and had a solitary voice-over artist describe the goings on over the top of it. Which simply added to the whole weirdness of the experience.” Thanks Rebecca – you win a night out at your local curry house paid for by your husband - including the most expensive drinks on the menu.

For this week’s poser we ask you: when we beat Brighton 6-0 at the Boleyn back in 2012 what was unusual about the three substitutions we made that day? First prize is probably an old copy of the Radio Times with a photo of Arthur Askey on the cover assuming that I can get it out of my doctor’s waiting room without being spotted.

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.

Your Comments

comments powered by Disqus