West Ham United v Crystal Palace

Preview Percy went to Wigan at the weekend. As if he wasn't grumpy enough already. Here's his look at the midweek visit of Crystal Palace. That'll cheer him up......

And so to a midweek match that isn't a replay. Crystal Palace from the antidote to civilisation that is Croydon (no coincidence that it's the home town and birthplace of the former Mrs Percy) will be our opponents in a 7:45pm kick off on Tuesday night. The fact that this is a league game will mean that you stand a better than average chance of getting home during the same season to the one in which you left home.

Palace then. They currently sit in 13th place a point and 3 goals worse off than us, largely thanks to the 4-1 thumping they got at the library before the recent round of Cup matches distracted us from what I am legally required to refer to as "the bread and butter" of the league. You could have heard a pin drop at Not Highbury that night. From both ends.

Their support lacks any degree of self-awareness, which I guess is largely a function of coming from Croydon. For example one of their "finest" took it upon themselves to go onto that there twitter thing to have a pop at Huddersfield and Leicester fans over those muppet plastic clapper things. Which is fair enough from anyone else - but not from a supporter of a club that plays music after goals; a crime for which there would be a punishment but nobody can think up anything that's worse than the death penalty.

On the playing side they have strengthened the defence during the current window, so 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. Imagine that as a concept if you will. Actually buying a player. Said kid wrote down the details of their latest (at time of writing) transfer but to be honest, between the Polish language and the state of his or her handwriting it all looked like a list of words to bear in mind if you want a big score at Scrabble.

So enter then Jaroslaw Jach (or Jacko for short I suspect) who arrived from Zaglebie Lubin of whom I know little. A centre-half (as they used to be called) by trade he made his debut for the Polish national side last year and helped his team attain 5th place in the Polish league, though knee problems kept him out for a large chunk of the season. Sounds like the sort of player we ought to be signing then.

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Whilst Lubin came in on a permanent deal (estimated fee ?2m) they also dipped a toe into the loan market to bring in what appears to be an anagram in the form of Erdal Rakip. The Swedish midfielder has arrived from Benfica on an end of season deal. It's an unusual deal insofar as he became out of contract with Malmo in November at the end of the Swedish season whereupon he joined Benfica. Whereupon he joined Palace on loan without having played a match for the side whose "Eagles" nickname is a traditional one rather than one made up for marketing purposes in the 1970's. Neither of the two signings have troubled the appearances column yet - their defeat to Brighton in the made-up derby in the FA Cup in the third round meant that they had a day off last weekend.

On the injury front they are likely to have a couple of returnees from recent injury. ?24-?26m defender Mamadou Sakho is said to have "every chance" of returning from the calf injury that has kept him out since before Christmas. He will also be joined by Yohan Cabaye. Bizarrely, he will be the only person on the pitch to actually own a club, being part owner of American outfit San Diego 1904 who should be starting life in the American League system later this year. That's one idea David Sullivan hasn't had yet in an attempt to solve our lack of numbers, though if you see a short guy out on the wing wearing a Russian hat against the winter chill don't blame me for giving him the idea.

Cabaye had a bit of a run-in with Noble last October when he refused to shake the skipper's hand at the end of the match in the style of a petulant kid. Hopefully Noble (if fit - see later) will resist to give the player a robust reminder of how the game is played. The last thing we need is suspensions at the moment.

Their top scorer in the league is midfielder Luka Milivojevic who has 5 goals. A goalscoring midfielder? Well sort of. All 5 came from the spot which reflects the fact they have a reputation for having a number of rather unsteady players within the squad *cough Zaha*. Milivojevic may be better remembered this season though for one he missed, his stoppage time effort at home to Man City following a collapse of Carillion proportions by Zaha when Sterling looked at him in a funny way.

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Elsewhere in the wacky world of Association Football VAR was the star at Anfield. Sod's law that the one time it is used at Anfield it goes the way of the home side. Watch them return to getting dodgy decisions as soon as the tv is switched off. Still at least they lost much to everyone's amusement.

Ok I've put this off enough. Us? Well it's time to dig up and dust down that phrase I had on autocomplete earlier this season. Namely: Unacceptable, Disgraceful, spineless, useless. Again. Baroness Brady recently stated that she did not understand why she and the owners were so reviled by the support. Well guys, take a wild guess. A video of this match, a copy of the latest book of interest rates and a spot of self-awareness wouldn't go amiss.

Just about everything went wrong. It would have been interesting to see whether Power's tackle on Obiang satisfied the criteria for "excessive force". However, not for the first time this season the event was conveniently edited out of the BBC's coverage. Not the time they have done that this season - the Southampton away match springs to mind. Still what's a potentially season-ending injury when it doesn't fit in with an agenda?

Masuaku? I agree with everyone else. Never mind the book, I would sling the complete leather bound Encyclopaedia Britannica at him. Including indexes, appendices and the corpses of every door to door salesman that ever trudged round an estate flogging the damn things before they all went online (ask your gran). The only thing of any credit that came out of the whole shambles was the reaction of Moyes to the event. It was refreshing to see a manager refusing to defend the indefensible - Liverpool please note. Just a bloody shame that there was something indefensible not to defend.

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Then there was the "penalty". Any official who thought that was a penalty should receive an instant suspension pending a review of whether he actually knows the laws of the game. If the answer is no he should be sacked. It's not hard - if you are incapable of doing the job you are being handsomely paid to do you should find another job. Mr Kavanagh and assistants, the toilets here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered need a good cleanout. Of course I wouldn't trust you to do it - wouldn't want to overstretch you and all that - but if you know anyone let me know.

A thoroughly unsatisfactory day came to an end with the dulcet North American-accented tones of Jeannie our "train manager" who informed football supporters boarding the (delayed - obviously) 8:15 out of Wigan that "for those who have attended sporting events I expect my passengers to behave themselves". Well Jeannie I expect my "train managers" to not make patronising announcements aimed at football supporters when non-football supporters are being a royal pain in the backside. Plus I also expect my train to run vaguely on time if it's all the same to you.

The injury list continues to take up the space that would have been occupied by several volumes of the aforementioned Encyclopaedia Britannica of course - Saturday opened up a new volume which leaves us as follows:

1) Andy Carroll - Broken Foot- Estimated return end April. For a bit.

2) Marko Arnautovic - Hamstring - Estimated return Liverpool away

3) Michail Antonio - Groin - Estimated return - 50-50 for Palace

4) Jose Fonte - Ankle - Estimated return - Watford at home

5) Manuel Lanzini - Another sodding hamstring. Estimated return - God knows.

6) Winston Reid - Groin - Estimated return - Late fitness test for Palace but still doubtful

7) Edmilson Fernandes - Ankle. Estimated return - Sometime after Preview Alastair buys a round

8) Michail Antonio - Groin - Estimated return - Late fitness test for Palace but doubtful

9) Cheikh Kouyate - Ankle - Estimated return - Late fitness test for Palace but 75% likely to be available

10) Mark Noble - Foot bruise - Estimated return - Late fitness test for Palace but 75% likely to be available

11) Pedro Obiang - Knee - Estimated return - sometime after the BBC finally admits that it was a horrible tackle.

12) Andre Ayew - yet another sodding hamstring - Estimated return - Late fitness test for Palace but 50% likely to be available

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On the bright side injury-wise Diafra Sakho seems to have miraculously recovered from the cyst on his knee. In totally unconnected news Diafra Sakho has signed for Rennes for tuppence ha'penny, which will be worth even less once the girl at Thomas Cook has taken off her commission.

Prediction? No players, no new signings, no chance. After that shambles at the weekend you'd have to be the sort of person who looks at an empty glass and hopes someone will half fill it with beer for them out of the kindness of their hearts. Me? At present I look at a half full glass and wonder which of the morons in the rest of the bar is going to nick it.

I cant see this getting better for a few weeks so I will have to take the ?2.50 that I wouldn't have sent to the Help For Croydon fund in a million years anyway to Winstone's the Turf Accountant and place it on the slots or a thoroughly dispiriting 2-0 away win.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic: Won 3-0 (Premier League January 2017)

Andy Carroll's spectacular mid-air howitzer was the highlight of a game that ended up more comfortable than it looked.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Another week another brain donor

Danger Man: Wilfried Zaha

Dangerous when he has the beating of a player. His rightly-deserved reputation as a diver comes into play when he hasn't

Percy's Poser:

Last week we enquired what major rule change to the world of competitive pie-eating took place in Wigan in 2006. Congratulations to Dymphna O'Goldberg of Thaxted who knew that in 2006 the World Championships moved from an "Eat as many pies as you can in 30 minutes" format to an "eat one pie in the shortest time" format (Current record 38 seconds), though looking at the Wigan supporters (one of whom I noted removing his Wigan shirt to reveal a Liverpool one underneath in the pub as kick-off took place at Anfield for the late kick-off) I suspect that many of them are training under the old rules.

For this week's poser we ask you: What will be the principal advantage to the rest of London when the good people of Westfield build their third London shopping centre in bloody Croydon?
First correct answer out of the digital had will not win a trip to Croydon.

Good luck everyone!

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