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West Ham United v Chelsea

Filed: Friday, 8th December 2017
By: Preview Percy

Now we have finally got the details of the New Year fixture list one question remains: Who is going to tell Preview Percy that we need three of these in six days come the turn of the year? While we work out how we are going to break the news to him here's his look at this weekend's visit of Chelsea....

Next up we face Chelsea at the all new mayoral Olympic stadium. The match is increasingly being described as Saturday’s “Lunchtime kick-off” though at 12:30 on a Saturday most sane people are just emerging from the shadow of the previous night’s hangover. Trains? Buses more like – Chadwell Heath to Shenfield seems to be this weekend’s whipping boy of the railway world. Check afore ye travel as ever.

So Chelsea. Oligarch time then and try not to mention all those people who died in the Aluminium Wars. Currently sitting in third placed with 32 points from their 15 played so far. That’s 3 behind Moan Utd and 11 behind Moan City. And three above the scousers if you’re that interested. Their most recent outing saw them draw 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in the so-called Champions League the other night. This was a match that saw them qualify for the knockout stages in second place from their group. The competition rules mean that they’ll avoid Moans City & United along with Spurs and the Scousers because you can only draw your compatriots from the quarters onwards. They will also avoid Roma with whom they shared a group. This leaves them with PSG, Barcelona or Besiktas. So they will be hoping for more Turkey at this time of year than you might expect when the draw is made next week. Incidentally , when on earth did we start to refer to the round before the quarter finals of any given knockout competition as “the round of 16”? I mean I know UEFA, with its ludicrous anthems and its insistence of conducting cup draws with all the solemnity of a two hour long high mass conducted in Latin, generally considers accusations of pretentiousness to be a compliment but really? It’s the “last sixteen” if you must. Or “Xth round” depending on competition. Let’s have none of this “round of” nonsense.

At this point in the proceedings I usually engage the services of 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 to take a look at the ins and outs that took place over the preceding transfer window. Now for the last few days he or she has been looking petrified in case I decide to demand a rundown of all the players they have out on loan at present. Unfortunately the sort of computers required to keep tabs on them all are all currently in use trying to solve some of the greater mysteries of the universe such as where is all the dark matter, why the rate of universal expansion is increasing and why Piers Morgan is such a twat. So we let him or her off that particular bit of research. Suffice it to say they have no fewer than 33 players scattered around the world at clubs as varied as Tampico Madero in Mexico and Woking in, er, Surrey. When clubs have players out on loan they usually send someone out from the coaching staff once in a while to go watch them play to see how they are getting on. I suspect that Chelsea have a chap who is so cheesed off with being permanently in the air he takes his holidays at Bognor each year just for the break.

On the permanent side of things they brought in a more modest six players, much to the relief of 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. One of those was actually a free in the form of ‘keeper Willy Caballero who was released by Moan City at the back end of last season. Caballero has come in as cover for Courtois between the sticks and his two appearances for the club have, predictably, both come in the League Cup. Caballero replaced Begovic as the number two number 1 (if you see what I mean) as the latter departed for Bournemouth for £10m.

In front of Courtois (or Caballero depending on competition) they brought in German international Antonio Rudiger whose transfer set them back £29m. Whilst we were researching this we came across an odd little story that had nothing to do with the player himself, or even Chelsea but is one of those quirky little tales the we like here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. Amongst the list of former clubs that 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 obtained for me was the bizarrely-named SV Tasmania club which is based in Berlin. Rudiger spent some of his youth career there.

Now I dunno about you but if I see that there’s a club in Berlin called “Tasmania” I’m gonna wanna know why. So it seems that SV Tasmania is the successor club to the now defunct SC Tasmania 1900 club which, was set up by some people who wanted to emigrate to Australia from Berlin but, as far as I can tell, never quite got round to it. The club name apparently would have been the founders’ destination of choice had they ever managed to make it as far as the local Qantas office. By any standards this was not a big club and they pottered around quite happily in the regional leagues for years until 1965. Then the rather better known Hertha Berlin got caught breaking the Bundesliga salary cap rules and were relegated as a punishment. This being at the height of the Cold War the powers that be both inside and outside football thought it politically “a good thing” to have a club from what was then known as West Berlin in what was generally known as West Germany’s league. The top choice was the equally wonderfully-named Tennis Borussia who had won the regional league but, because they had been knocked out of the promotion play-offs they were ignored. Spandauer SV turned down the promotion offer which led to third place SC Tasmania being promoted to the top flight.

It wasn’t a fairytale season though. Their record ended played 34, won 2, drawn 2 lost 30 for 15 against 108 points 6 (two for a win back then). They made the playoffs twice more in 1969 and 1973 but after the second failure they ran out of Deutschmarks and slipped into oblivion to be replaced by SC. Odd little tale. Totally irrelevant to the task in hand but when has that ever bothered anyone.

Back on topic they coughed up £40m for Tiemoue Bakayoko, the former wife of John Lennon. Thankfully for the sanity of all around me Bakayoko’s previous clubs aren’t all that interesting, his professional career taking in Rennes and Monaco before his move to the Money Laundry in the summer. He had a few run-ins with management at Monaco in his three years there. However he credits the appointment of Claud Makelele as director of football at Monaco last year as giving him a kick up le backside. He improved his diet, did work on his strength and took up boxing. He also decided to move from the luxury villa he was billeted in (Villas are never just “villas” are they? They are always “luxury” villas. See also “yacht”) opting to take up residence in a more modest “apartment” which, despite the lack of adjective, I suspect was a little more comfortable than your bog standard bedsit. Oh and he swapped his pink car for a black one. Seriously. So if you walk past wherever it is at the Olympic Stadium that the players park whatever the current flashy set of wheels is in vogue amongst players this season have a quick gander at the colours on show. If there’s a lot of pink that would explain why we’ve been so lousy so far this term.

For £58m you would hope to get a lot of striker and it looks like that, in Alvaro Morata they probably have one. He’s got 9 in 14 league matches to date. He’s been a bit less forthcoming in Europe thus far, netting just the one in five. Morata came from Real Madrid who exercised a buy-back clause to bring him back from Juventus where he spent a couple of seasons. Anyone else getting wistful for the days when transfers were a bit simpler. You know, when you signed a player and he was yours and that was it?

Morata came in as a replacement for Diego Costa, the thuggish striker who went all Payet on them in advance of a move to Atletico Madrid. It took until the end of September to sort that one out and Costa can’t be registered for non-Real Madrid until 1 January due to a transfer ban.

Italian international right-back David “Frank” Zappacosta came in for £23m from Torino. Zappacosta got his first international cap in 2016, getting his call-up from his current boss Conte. Which was nice. Frank was £12m cheaper than Danny Drinkwater whose season has been punctuated by injury.. He has had England call-ups in the past but come next summer when we are taking on the might of Tunisia, Panama and Belgium he might well be ruing his decision to decline an invitation to join the England squad for the recent friendlies.

Us? Well that was a bit better last week I suppose. It looked as if not only was there a plan of sorts but that, for once, the players had some idea of what it actually was for a change. We were of course “Mike Deaned” for their equaliser – you wouldn’t expect a City side to go through a whole match without diving and you wouldn’t expect Mike Deane to go through a whole match without giving a deliberately incorrect decision would you. Oh by the way Arthur – just because our opponents dive doesn’t mean you have to. Stop it.

One of the more amusing spectacles of last week’s preview was the sight of a City fan turning up on the comments page and trying to justify the forced kidnappings, imprisonment and torture of the political opponents of Man City’s owner on the grounds that cultural differences mean that they do things differently over there. Now even allowing for the fact that I’m not the greatest fan of our current owners in the first place I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t try and justify any appalling human rights abuses they might want to get up to just because they happen to own my club. (The kumb lawyers would like me to point out that this is not to be taken that messrs Gold or Sullivan have ever kidnapped or wired the more sensitive parts of anyone’s anatomy to the national grid which I believe is a not uncommon feature of the UAE “justice” system. I merely mean to suggest that it’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t defend them for doing.) Unlike, it seems, some Man City supporters. Mind you if they were selective about their victims so that the shortlist of possible candidates included Mike Dean and Piers Morgan I think most of us would turn a blind eye. Or, in the case of Morgan, pay a tenner to watch).

There were some – mainly the sort of people who lives their lives on twitter – who slated young Rice for his part in the goals last week. Flipping heck you’ve got a kid there. Preview Alastair has banknotes in his wallet that are older than Rice. I thought he had a fine game (Rice not Preview Alastair whose last fine game came away to Old Actonians at Gunnersbury Park circa 1984) given that he was up against a billion quid’s worth of talent or whatever it is their squad cost. Bloody hell if you can’t give a kid a break under those circumstances we may as well all pack up and go home.

Of course we couldn’t go 90 minutes without injuries raising their ugly head. Kouyate seemed a bit off the pace anyway even before he caught the hamstring epidemic. We now have Kouyate, Reid, Hernandez and Collins all at varying stages of hamstring. All are listed as “major doubt” for the weekend. However more recent information suggests that Chiqarito may be available and there may even be a slim chance that Reid might make the squad – something that makes me nervous given our historic propensity for rushing players back too soon.

As are Carroll (knee) and Byram (thigh). Fonte is not about until the new year – and even that will be towards the end of January rather than the start of it. The only person listed amongst the 8 that currently sees us joint top of the injury table (with Watford and Palace if you care that much) is Antonio who had a spot of cramp last weekend. Now if a player gets cramp in a match and doesn’t have to play for another week I’m not sure I’d include him on the injury list for the next week, even if there is as the usual listings say a “slight doubt” over his availability. One might almost think he’d been included in the list so that we at least have a chance of topping some table or other before the year’s out.

Apart from the injuries Mr Moyes has an interesting decision vis a vis the goalkeeping slot. Adrian had a fine game and Mr Hart has looked less than convincing of late. It is rumoured that there may be some sort of deal going on over Hart’s selection. Those rumours always start flying around over loan deals. I may be wrong but I would imagine that such a clause in a contract (with the exception of the “parent club” rule which is a specific Premier League rule) might well fall foul of third party rules, and that clubs generally don’t enter into such deals. Such is the clamour for Adrian to be given a start this weekend though that should Hart be selected ahead of him watch out for the conspiracy theorists coming out of the woodwork once more.

Prediction then. Well depressing as this sounds I can’t see us getting anything out of this one. Had we had a full squad then I could see us building on the boost to confidence that last week’s exploits gave us. However, with what we have available (and even notwithstanding that Chelsea are nowhere near as good as Moan City) I’m afraid that I can only see another plucky defeat for the side. So Mr Winstone, please wager the £2.50 I was going to put on an England Ashes win on a 2-1 win for the visitors in the hope that I am completely wrong.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic Stadium: Lost 1-2 (Premier League March 2017)

Daft errors either side of the interval were (again) our undoing as Snodgrass & Noble combined to mess up and allow Hazard to open the scoring. The second saw Obiang make a mess of a header to tee up Costa. A stoppage time effort from Lanzini reduced the deficit but as ever it was too little too late.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Surprisingly we haven’t had this room-temperatured IQ fool since he allowed Lloris to re-enact the infamous Schumacher v Battiston incident from the 1982 World Cup in last season’s defeat of Spurs. And it’s still too soon.

Danger Man: Edin Hazard.

Tricky blighter whose failure to pick up one of these new bans for simulation so far this season kinda exposes the new rule for the load of twaddle it really is.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we asked you whatever happened to Ahmed Mansoor? Congratulations go to Mrs Philippa Arthritis of Mucking who was first out of the digital hat with the following response: “Poor old Ahmed made the mistake of criticising the UAE’s record on human rights on that there internet thing. Next thing he knew he was having his house turned over by the Abu Dhabi Met before being carted off in the direction of whatever their version of the Scrubs is called out there. That was back in March. He is still inside – the last time he was seen he was thin, bruised and confused. Despite calls from all over the world for his release he remains under lock and key. Presumably Manchester City’s owner, whose position within the UAE government makes him ultimately responsible for Mansoor’s fate, simply hasn’t gotten round to signing the release papers.” Quite.

For this week’s poser we ask: What were Chelsea the first team to do on Boxing Day 1999. First correct answer out of the digital hat will win a copy of “The History Of Chelsea pre-2003” as long as Abrahamovic hasn’t had all copies disposed of.

Good luck!

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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