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West Ham United v Arsenal

Filed: Tuesday, 12th December 2017
By: Preview Percy

You would think that maybe last weekend's result would have cheered Preview Percy up a bit, wouldn't you? Sorry to disappoint - the best we can manage is "slightly less grumpy". Here's his look at Wednesday night's visit of Arsenal....

Next up it’s Arsenal at home. 8 pm kick-off on Wednesday. A late one then. Let’s hope it warms up a bit then.

Arsenal. Sunday’s matches have left them in 5th place with 29 points from their 16 played so far. That’s the spot that would see them qualify for next season’s Thursday Night League that their supporters have suddenly taken an interest in as if it is somehow really important. Though not so important as to see them actually turn out to watch it of course, the Bate match drawing the New Library’s lowest ever gate. No doubt all those who stayed away will be similarly disinterested in tickets should they get to the final.

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That the club itself might possibly be thinking along similar lines to its fans can be gauged by the age of the side they put out in that competition. The totally legal and in no was dodgy stream that somehow finds its way onto the screen in the Charlie Paynter Memorial TV Lounge here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered featured players so young we carried on watching to see whether the match would be ended by the final whistle or by the player who owned the ball being called in by his Mum for his dinner.

That they are playing Thursday night football is, of course a function of the fact that they failed to qualify for the so-called Champions League for the first time in 20 years. The sort of people who know about these things suggest that from a financial point of view the failure matters one hellofalot less now than it might have done, say, 18 or 19 years ago what with all the maths being done based on them finishing no lower than 4th each year.

As the season progressed last season and the prospect of finishing behind Spurs looked more and more inevitable there was much fun to be had at the expense of Arsenal supporters as they tied themselves in knots over whether or not Wenger should stay. The Wenger hokey-cokey was probably our only highlight of the trip to their place last season. The odious Piers Morgan – who makes a lot of money talking about stuff he knows nothing about – was definitely in the “out” camp, which would normally have been enough to get the majority onside with Wenger. The disappointment arising out of last season increased dissent to the extent that a sizeable number of them find themselves in agreement with Morgan, something that would keep me awake at night were I an Arsenal supporter.

One of the charges levied at Wenger by those who would have him replaced is that he seems reluctant to spend money on team improvements. 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 has had an easy week of it this week after he or she had an attack of the vapours at the prospect of having to look at Chelsea’s loan stock last week. They signed just the two players in summer. The first of these was Sead Kolasinac who came in on a free from Schalke at the expiry of his contract with ’04. Although born in Karlsruhe he is one of those players who qualifies for international duty for a country other than that of his birth. After coming through the German youth system he plumped for full honours with Bosnia & Herzegovina.

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The other signing came in the form of striker Alexandre (which is French for Alexander) Lacazette. Having saved themselves a transfer fee on Kolasinac they went the other way with Lacazette splashing out £46m+ (those pesky exchange rates again). However you calculate the fee that sort of money meant that all that stuff you heard about us being linked with the player was, shall we say, a trifle unlikely. He’s their top scorer at the moment, averaging a goal every other game from the 16 in which he’s featured so far.

They have three on the injury list at the moment. Aaron Ramsey picked up a hamstring injury against Southampton at the weekend and will miss this match. When asked about Ramsey, Wenger commented “it’s not a big one” though what he thought about the injury isn’t known. Mustafi has a thigh problem whilst anyone who saw the photos of Corzola’s leg when they were all over the papers will wonder how on earth the poor sod will be able to play again. Modern medical science is wonderful of course but if you haven’t seen those photos, trust me you probably don’t want to.

In other news we have been treated to the hilarious sound of a Liverpool manager complaining about soft penalties at Anfield. No really. Clippety was livid about the spot-kick that saw them drop two points to Everton. Tell you what Jurgen – I’ll give you a pound for every time an away side has gotten one of those at Anfield if you give me a pound for every time Liverpool have had one. If anyone has a catalogue from which one can purchase a Carribean Island please send it my way just in case Klopp is stupid enough to accept the bet. Also shenanigans a plenty at Old Trafford as Man City showed their class and dignity by lobbing milk at Mourinho and generally behaving much as one might expect of a team owned by such owners.

And so to us. Good wasn’t it? Yes there will be Chelsea supporters who will moan at the fact we allowed them 70% possession in the second half (or however much it was). However against that the question should be asked “what did you do with that possession?” The answer to which is, of course “had no shots on target, that’s what”. Most people plumped for Arthur as MOTM and he certainly caught the eye. However, this was one of those games where there ought to have been a “team award”. I struggled to think of anyone who didn’t contribute in one way or another to that win.

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I do have a slight gripe about the refereeing – well it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t would it?! Actually I have no problems with any of the yellows we did get. Well a slight grumble at Arnautovic’s one but that’s because the ref had no choice over that one. It’s the law that is the ass on this occasion. However, whilst I can see why the cards were issued I do have a gripe about the one-sided nature of the distribution. Had the same criteria applied to the visitors, Alonso wouldn’t have seen the second half. Already on a yellow, he scythed down Lanzini on the break. The ref made the “advantage” signal, thus indicating that the tackle was a foul. The foul was clearly the equal or worse of some for which yellows were forthcoming so it was a mystery as to why Alonso escaped similar sanction. I suppose that there was a gap between the offence and the ball going out of play. That being the case Taylor – who seems a bit bewildered at the best of times – probably forgot what had happened. Still annoying though.

There were a few comedy gold moments. The sight of Chelsea’s little dears handing a hot water bottle around the racing car seats was amusing. A pink hot water bottle as well. That would only be funnier if they had had one of those crocheted covers on it, knitted up by somebody’s nan. Then there was Mr Pearce finding a clever way to run down the clock and have an excuse to get in the warm by lumping the ball away after it had gone out for a throw. Then of course later on we had the sight of a professional footballer on £100k a week (possibly) performing a foul throw just in the dying seconds of the match when the visitors needed to get the thing forward ASAP. Priceless. Especially as Taylor had remembered what the foul throw law says after forgetting all about it earlier on.

Injuries have eased a bit. I thought Antonio had picked up a knock before trying to be substituted on Saturday. It turned out that he was just knackered. It’s a bit worrying that he seems unable to get through a full match though – something that Mr Moyes was heard to make wry comment on. So we have Kouyate, Ginge, (both hamstring), Fonte (ankle) and Byram (thigh). Carroll is also listed on some sites as being unavailable but since he was well enough for the bench on Saturday I would expect that to be the case for this one.

Prediction? Well on the one hand our fragile confidence will have been boosted by the last couple of weeks – and rightly so. Also they haven’t travelled well of late. Although they dominated the second half at Not The Dell on Sunday, there were a few occasions in which they could have come unstuck had Southampton made better choices on the ball on the break. A bit like us last week really. On the other hand it is Arsenal, who have a long history of getting wins thanks to the dubious stuff that Wenger always fails to see. After all those years you’d think he would have enough cash salted away to afford that newfangled laser eye surgery. Or, since he doesn’t like splashing the cash (as Arsenal supporters constantly moan) couldn’t someone point out to him that, at 68 years old, he probably qualifies for a free NHS prescription. History also suggests that when our confidence is up things go wrong for us.

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So I am going to remain pessimistic and place the £2.50 I was going to chip in to the “Specsavers vouchers for Wenger” crowdfunding campaign on a wager on an away win. Please Mr Winstone can you put me down for a 3-1 away win, again in the hope that I am completely wrong again.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic Stadium: Lost 1-5 (Premier League December 2016)

1-0 down from an Ozil tap-in with 14 mins left. At full time it was 1-5. Carroll pulled one back at 0-3 before the visitors picked up another couple. Sanchez completed his hat-trick with a goal that some thought was two yards offside. They were wrong. It was nearer three.

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Are you old enough to remember the “not-very-funny-but-positively-Wildean-compared-to-Mrs Brown’s Boys” tv sitcom “Some Mothers Do Have ‘Em”? It featured Frank Spencer (played by Michael Crawford) who turned everything he did into a disaster. If they had made an episode of Frank refereeing a football match they would have probably used footage of Moss ruining our 2-2 draw at Leicester the season before last for the action scenes. Moss once got given the FA Cup Final because PGMOL had run out of referees who hadn’t already had the match or had no connection to the clubs involved.

Danger Man: Alexi Sanchez

A two and a half goal hat-trick in the corresponding match last season might have been the last time he faced us in Arsenal colours as it looked like he was off in the summer. He stayed and we face in just before the window opens.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we asked you what were Chelsea the first team to do on Boxing Day 1999. First correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Ada Grollix of Felstead who informed us that they were the first Premier League team to field a side totally composed of players from outside the British Isles. Well done Ada!

For this week’s poser we ask: What was Gary Lineker’s twitter response to the odious Piers Morgan’s comment that the pundit had been “nothing but a goal-hanger” in his playing career. A copy of “The Wit And Wisdom Of Piers Morgan” goes to the winner. Don’t let that put you off entering – the pages of the book will remain blank until Morgan says something that is either witty or wise.

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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