West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

It's a brave man who tries to wake up Preview Percy on New Year's Day. Especially when he is angry. And after Bournemouth as you can imagine he's not exactly in the calmest of moods. But wake him we did. And here's his resulting look at the visit of West Brom.....

Next up we play host to West Bromwich Albion. The match, will kick-off at 7.45pm after the usual butchery of the fixture list left us without a game at the weekend. All of which means that if you were thinking of taking the kids out to football at the weekend or on New Year's Day rather than keeping them up at all hours of the night you're stuffed. Thanks Sky/BT.

The visitors arrive having been given a point by Mike Dean who saw a penalty when nobody else did late in their match against Arsenal. Not that anyone should be in the slightest bit surprised at that. Dean's whole career has been spent wilfully making wrong decisions. You'd think any organisation which had the improvement of refereeing standards as one of its aims would have suspended Dean the first time he deliberately made himself the centre of attention then sacked him after it became clear that he had no intention of displaying honesty. They didn't.

The point got the Baggies off the bottom where they had temporarily replaced Swansea who had picked up a rare win at Watford on Saturday. Remember when we used to play on Saturdays? That match marked the 7th game in charge for Alan Pardew about whom much is known but little may be (legally) written. That spell has seen them draw four times (home to Palace, Everton & Arsenal) and lose three (away at Stoke and Swansea and at home to Moan Utd). So no wins then, something that makes the hairs on my wooden leg starts to itch, together with the words "sequence buster".

Incidentally, as I write this the random thought occurs to me that it might just have been in the interest of the dishonest Pulis (I can legally call him that since a High Court judge said it was so) to run West Brom into the ground. After all, getting the sack would see him receive a payoff and, with damages and legal fees arising from his conning Palace out of a bonus before lagging it running at anything up to ?6m he would need every penny he could muster.

Back to the Baggies and goals have been an issue for them of late. 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 informs me that Jay Rodriguez is currently top scorer with 4 goals, 3 of which came in the league. Rodriguez's third League goal of the season was the penalty fraudulently awarded by Dean against Arsenal. Prior to that you have to go back 10 games until the end of October for his previous league goal. And before that a further 8 games for his previous one. So not a frequent contributor to the "goals for" column then.

Then you have Rondon. He's played fewer games than Rodriguez and has a pair to his name this season. (Plus one in the League Cup). He's the sort of not particularly great player that always ends up scoring against us. However, not this time - a hamstring problem will keep him out of the starting line-up.

The other principal striker in the squad is Hal Robson-Kanu. Prior to signing for the Throstles he had been released by Reading and was, in all likelihood, likely to be struggling to find a new club. A couple of half-decent performances as Wales somehow muddled their way to the semi-finals of Euro 16 still didn't get too many Premier League clubs over-interested so the player is not to be blamed for jumping at the chance to sign for the one top-flight club who got interested when a mid-table Championship squad might have been a more likely destination.

Given the paucity of riches available in advanced positions it is little wonder that Pardew has been talking about "freshening-up" the squad now that the window has opened - perhaps searching for a striker whose surname doesn't begin with the letter "R" might be a start. However, it is at the other end of the pitch and in the opposite direction that has been the subject of most speculation at the Hawthorns. Jonny Evans has 18 months left on his contract and has shown little inclination to put pen to paper on an extension. Both Moanchester clubs are said to be potential suitors for the 29 year-old who is likely to command a decent fee which, with their obvious deficiency in the striking department, might just prove too tempting for them over the next few weeks.

When you look through it it's not the most inspiring of squads. There are a lot of journeymen in there and even where there is the odd glimpse of quality it's hardly bothering the classification people who judge who is and isn't "world class". For example Former Spurs midfielder Nacer Chadli is talented, yes, and has a habit of playing well against us but hardly sets the pulse racing. Whilst he might have been a threat for them in this match a hip injury will keep him out of the squad.

Which brings us to us. Well come on all you referee defenders. Where have you all gone? Quite simply, and not for the first time, Bobby Madeley was an absolute disgrace down at Bournemouth. Why is he not under suspension while the investigate his latest deliberate flouting of the laws of the game. You can't "accidentally" overturn a decision like that so he should be forced to explain why he did so. And if the explanation isn't satisfactory he should be barred from officiating at a professional level until he can satisfy a truly independent panel of assessors that he is up to the job.

By truly independent I mean nothing to do with PGMOL whose corrupt handling of referees is why we are here in the first place. If only the good people of FIFA would take five minutes off from counting the contents of their brown envelopes to enforce their own rules we could sort out the scandal that is English refereeing in a second. You see at the moment it is the Premier League clubs who effectively finance PGMOL rather than the FA itself. Believe it or not this is specifically prohibited in FIFA statutes which state quite clearly that referees should be under the direct control of the relevant FA and not the clubs. With the FA in charge it would be for them to assess referees and we would then get a proper picture of how good they are. PGMOL maintains our referees are great but with matches being decided by errors and, often, the deliberate action of some officials the evidence to the contrary is there for all to see. Taking assessment away from the one organisation in the known universe who thinks Mike Dean is honest can only be a good thing.

We didn't play well at Bournemouth but the laws of the game say that matches will be decided by the scoring of goals not at the whim of officials whose actions are now so commonplace that, unless PGMOL is shut down soon, we will find ourselves with a match-fixing scandal on our hands. Far fetched? Well think about it. Madley is a relatively recent arrival on the scene but in the short time he has been around he has proven himself capable of manipulating matches - Chelsea away the other year stank the room out. All he has to do is keep making such decisions until his reputation matches that of Dean. Then, when you get to the point when, like Dean the other day, you can make it up as you go along, you then get in touch with one of these dodgy syndicates who like to know the result of a match before they bet on it. Job done. Let's face it who is surprised when dean sends someone off incorrectly or awards insane penalties these days? Nobody. And because nothing is done there is a blank canvas available for anyone who wants to rig matches.

I don't believe it has happened in this country to date but it would be so very easy to get away with it One worries that it's a matter of time.

Back to this game and on the injury front the usual three of Byram, Fernandes and Fonte are all definitely out. Antonio is a major doubt, not having trained thanks to a problem groin. Noble is also a doubt with the hamstring problem he picked up a few weeks back. Late fitness test is the word on the skipper. There may be a place for Reece Oxford somewhere in the squad as he has come back from Borussia Monchengladbach, his lack of first XI activity out there allowing the activation of a recall clause. It remains to be seen how much of the lad Moyes will have seen though. Maybe one for the weekend's cup match perhaps?

So prediction then. Well we have another of those Dean-style referees whose decisions go beyond the scope of error and into the realms of deliberate manipulation so maybe you should ask Mr Jones. But since I don't get my Werthers without a prediction I suppose I had better go to the effort.

They haven't won since August and their manager also has yet to win. All good sequence-busting stuff where West Ham are concerned. However, I have a feeling that we might prevail, as paper suggests we ought to. If Moyes can channel the injustice those who played at Bournemouth must be feeling into something constructive we could take all three points from this one.

So going against the habit of a lifetime I will back us to win. We might have to put the ball in the back of the net twice to get past Jones but let's go and place the ?2.50 from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for The Bewildered referee bribery fund on a 1-0 home win as we pass Winstone's the Turf Accountants on the way to the Swan And Superinjunction en route to the match.

Enjoy the game and have a slightly less miserable new year than you were possibly anticipating

When last we met at The Olympic: Drew 2-2 (Premier league March 2017)

A Pulis special. Everyone stopped for Brunt's foul on Feghouli. Including Brunt. Michael Oliver, as usual, decided arbitrarily that the laws of the game could take a day off and Chadli went on to score.Some semblance of order was restored on the hour when Feghouli put in a rebound after Lanzini's shot was pushed on to the bar by Foster. Lanzini himself gave us the lead with 4 mins to play and if it had stayed that way justice would have been served. Unfortunately, Oliver had different ideas, giving a throw the wrong way from which Evans eventually scored, Randolph being hauled to the ground in the process. Another two points astray thanks to the officials whose defenders seem pretty quiet at the moment.

"Referee": Mike Jones

Described by a former assistant referee as an "arrogant p*ick" he is not above manipulating matches when he feels they are not going the way he feels. In other words a fraud - a prison sentence after the FA Cup QF up at Stoke might have been appropriate - in Italy he'd have been suspended pending investigation. Here we just get the pathetic "oh they are only human" defence.

Danger Man: Jay Rodriguez

Not a great player but can make a nuisance of himself. Though frankly I'm more petrified of the officials than opponents these days.

Percy's poser:

Last time out we asked what "actress" (it says here) Amanda Holden once do in Bournemouth for a ?20 bet. Congratulations to Mrs Hortensia Belafonte of Southchurch who remembered the aforementioned Ms Holden (you remember her. She was in that programme with whatsisname) once rode a motorbike around Bournemouth for a ?20 bet. Still the pinnacle of her career.

For this week's poser we ask why 14 July is celebrated as "Black Country Day" in that part of the Midlands. Winner will win some Turkey.
Good luck all!

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