Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United

It's fair to say that Preview Percy wasn't over-impressed with the transfer window, Michail Antonio's timekeeping and, well just about anything that's happened over the past 7 days really. Maybe the prospect of a trip to the seaside for this weekend's visit to Brighton & Hove Albion might improve his move slightly. Er.......

Next up we are back on the road, or, indeed rail if you prefer, again where we head down to West or East Sussex, I forget which where we will be hosted by Brighton and Hove Albion at the stadium named after a charge card. Kick-off is at 3pm which is just fine and dandy. Trains down to Brighton are ok. Well as ok as Southern Railway gets I suppose. Usual issues into Liverpool Street of course. 'Twas ever thus. Check afore ye leave.

So, after the latest round of midweek games cunningly arranged to keep everyone busy as the transfer window closed (football administrators do themselves no favours do they?) our hosts sit in 15th place with 24 points from the 25 played so far. Their last outing saw them draw 1-1 at Southampton in a match described as the "South Coast Derby" rather than the less snappily but infinitely more accurately titled "match between a couple of teams in the same general compass direction one of which represents a town on the English Channel while the other doesn't."

They brought in a few during the winter window which, increasingly, looks like it's becoming less of a football thing and more of a thing made up deliberately for Sky to get excited about. 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 tells me that the earliest deal done was the one that saw kid striker Viktor Gyokeres come in from Brommapojkarna (I swear he/she makes these names up) technically from 1 January. The deal was done back in September but structured to go through as the window opened to allow the player to remain in Sweden for the conclusion of their league season in November (well nobody likes playing with hypothermia).

Gyokeres came in and, at 19, is more one for the Development squad, as is Irish central defender Warren O'Hora, who came in from Bohemian. A more suitable candidate for the first XI is Dutch striker/winger Jurgen Locadia who cost them ?10m (+ another potential ?5m in add-ons) from PSV Eindhoven. He has Dutch caps (hurrah) at every level except for senior level. He has made the big boys squad on a few occasions but injury has prevented him from making his full debut to date.

In addition to the permanent signings they also dipped into the loan market to bring Leonard Ulloa in until the end of the season from Leicester. Back in August Ulloa had signed an extension to his Leicester contract which would keep him there until the end of 2018-19. However since then he has found pitch time difficult to come by at the Not Filbert Street stadium - his 4 sub appearances in the league totalled less than 20 minutes so he would have been grateful of game time pretty much anywhere. However, having made over 50 appearances for the Seagulls back in 2013-14 his decision to go back to Falmer probably wasn't one of the lengthier deliberations he has ever had to make.

For those of you who like a stat, Ulloa was the first player to score a hat-trick at the Charge Card Stadium. His name also cropped up in the heady world of tax avoidance. In the damp squib that was "The Panama Papers" the company that owned Ulloa's economic and image rights was given a mention, it being alleged that the director of that company had been dipping his fingers into the till at Ulloa's expense. Whatever happened to the ?20 maximum wage that players used to give to their Mums to look after?

Talking of tax fraud brings us to the current top scorer Glenn Murray. Murray netted from the spot in their 1-1 draw at Not The Dell against Southampton the other night. However, he is currently under investigation by the good people of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs for both Income Tax and VAT fraud as well as cheating the public revenue. The fact that Mrs Murray is also part of the investigation (except for the stuff about VAT) suggests that the issue may be related to the Murray 's personal affairs rather than being part of the current digging into football matters by HMRC. The sum of ?1.1m in lost tax has been floated out there which suggests that whatever income it was that he was not declaring he was obviously making a mint.

And so to us. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I have it on good authority that one of our number recently informed the good Baroness to her face that the club had a habit of lurching from one PR disaster to another, a claim that apparently mystified her Baroness-ship. Well if ever she wanted an example of what the short chubby one was talking about there was Director of Recruitment or whatever his title is spouting out unacceptable stuff on the subject of African footballers. Rather worryingly his comments were worded in such a manner as to suggest some sort of official policy on the matter of employing players from that part of the world .

At the time of writing Henry has been suspended pending a thorough investigation. Whoever is doing the investigation could do worse than throw Henry's record as director of whatever into the discussion. Yet again we were found wanting during a transfer window. At one point there was comment to the effect that Anderlecht's Dedoncker quite fancied a move but the club didn't think they could get him over in time to conclude the deal. From Brussels which I can probably get to quicker from Stratford than I can get home after a night match.

Meanwhile players all over the country were getting in planes, trains, automobiles, Eurostars and even those push-pull hand trolleys they used to have in the Great St Trinians' Train Robbery. In other words while we were saying we didn't think we could get a player across the channel others were at least trying. Hell they have things such as video conferencing and fax machines these days. Medical? Hell I believe they even have doctors over there. Qualified ones even. Heck I suspect some of them even speak English they are that educated. I will comment further on the signing we did actually make a little bit later on.

On the pitch Palace was a good point under the circumstances I would say. Kouyate and Noble gave a sense of purpose and drive that were sadly lacking up at Wigan. Not a classic but when the next available space on the bench was likely to be filled by a PA announcement to the crowd asking for a male with size 9 feet and own shirt with name printed on the back you have to grind them out sometimes. And nobody who was at Wigan would have turned that down before kick-off.

All of which leaves us unbeaten in the league in the calendar year that Spurs are so keen on pretending is an important thing in football. There were plaudits too for the manager's stance on the failure of Michail Antonio to turn up on time for a team meeting earlier in the day.

Time for the injury update then:

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

2) Marko Arnautovic - Hamstring - Much improved estimated return Watford home

3) Michail Antonio - Groin - Mended. Suspension served.- Available

4) Jose Fonte - Ankle - May make the bench again in advance of an U23 game on Monday Estimated full return - Watford at home

5) Manuel Lanzini - Another sodding hamstring. Estimated return - Swansea away.

6) Winston Reid - Groin - Estimated return - 25% chance of playing this weekend

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

8) Pedro Obiang - Knee - Estimated return - Could make the end of the season but it will be so close that common sense suggests that next term would be more likely.

With the departure of Ayew, Sakho and others on loan we will be welcoming Jordan Hugill to the fold. Now there's been a lot of adverse comment in the twittersphere on the subject of this signing. Underwhelming though the idea of staging a raid on Preston might be that's hardly the player's fault and, although I will admit to not having seen the lad in action I understand that he can hold a ball up - something that Chicarita, for all his poaching qualities, isn't the best at. And with the injuries and suspension we need a spot of variety up front. Funnily enough before the Palace game I bumped into a chap we signed for peanuts back in the day from Rochdale. Alan Taylor didn't work out too badly for us did he? So the lad will get my full support (when I'm not wearing it) for whatever that's worth. He's a Hammer now.

Prediction: Well as noted above there are still some serious absences in the squad, though there will be a boost with the reappearance of Antonio, alarm clock permitting. I suspect that we won't have enough resources to do a Huddersfield job on them but with the resilience and drive shown by Noble and Kouyate on Tuesday night and a repeat of the grittiness shown in general against Palace I reckon that this one will end up honours even.

So I will be placing the ?2.50 I would have spent on a copy of the Eurostar timetable and a copy of the Brussels Yellow Pages (left open at the page containing Doctors) to give to the club on a betting slip at Winstone's the Turf Accountants on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Charge Card Stadium: Won 1-0 (Premier League 2017)

Kevin Nolan's 17th minute effort was enough to seal victory. We sat back and let them pass it amongst themselves at the back for the remainder of the match, it not having occurred to them that you have to go forward to score.

Referee: Roger East

The midweek performance from Swarbrick bordered on the competent. Let's hope East can make it two in a row, though his recent record (the Watford handball goal for example) suggests otherwise.

Danger Man: Glenn Murray

Top scorer and won't have been spending too much of the last week of January filling out his tax returns like the rest of us.

Percy's Poser:

Last week we enquired 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? Congratulations to Mrs Norma-Jean Bursitis for correctly pointing out that once Croydon has its own Westfield the chances of the inmates of that borough bothering the rest of us in the more civilised parts of London will be severely reduced.

For this week's poser we ask you: The Brighton Royal Pavillion. What the hell were they thinking? First correct answer out of the digital hat will win a stick of rock or something.

Good luck everyone!

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