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Liverpool v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 23rd February 2018
By: Preview Percy

After a week off Preview Percy is back. Here is his look at this weekend's visit to Anfield. Warning - contains a charitable appeal. Of sorts.....

Wake up – we have another game on. This weekend it’s up the Ms 1, 6 and 62 to Liverpool we go. Kick-off is at the holy hour of 3:00pm on Saturday. Hussah! Trains? Well it’s the usual complete shambles between Essex and Liverpool Street. This Crossrail thing had better be worth it. Trains up to the North West are ok as far as engineering works go so anything that goes wrong will have happened on the day. And if you are travelling from Croydon, hard luck. No idea about your trains though.

Before we look at this weekend’s match please spare a thought for the poor people of Liverpool. It seems that whilst most of us have been mildly amused by the so-called “chicken crisis” affecting KFC it has really hit home up there, where the crisis got so serious last week that the Liverpool Echo actually published an emergency list of KFC outlets (I hesitate to use the word “restaurant”) that were still actually open. I kid you not. I understand that if things don’t improve soon the military will take over all broadcasting operations in the Merseyside area to prevent civil unrest at this time of crisis in the area. So if you’re travelling up this weekend I urge you all to do your bit and stop off at the nearest KFC to Euston or perhaps pop into a motorway service station or two and do your bit to help.

Ok to the football then.They currently sit in third place with 54 from the 27 played thus far. Like us they had last weekend off, though before that they had a training match out in Portugal. Well it looked like a training match against Porto but I am told it was a knockout match in the last 16 of the so-called Champions League (none of this “round of” nonsense here thank you very much). So the plucky Portuguese have it all to do in the second leg then.

Their last league match was, for lovers of comic irony, quite hilarious. You see slapstick ref Moss awarded two dodgy penalties. Now admittedly this is not much of a rarity at Anfield. However, when the dodgy penalties go to the visitors up there, well you’ll have to forgive me for not having an awful lot of sympathy, even if the visitors were Tottenham.

The rapidly becoming more irritating by the minute Klopp was apoplectic as Kane found a leg but missed his spot-kick. The fact that Mr Room Temperature IQ was able to use the standard Anfield excuse of “I thought I felt contact so I went down” merely added salt into the wound. Someone with a few more braincells might have appropriated Mike Atherton’s “When in Rome dear boy” riposte to Aussies accusing him of not walking which would have been funnier but I suppose putting the words he does know in the right order is hard enough for Kane.

In the end Lamela’s late “coming together” with Van Dyke threw in a whole bottle of TCP on top of the salt already in the wound, with the lateness of the incident adding a family-sized tube of Deep Heat into the mix for good measure. So nobody won the game that most people wanted both sides to lose.

It was an easy week for he work experience kid of as yet to be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises this week as there was just the one arrival during the January window. Virgil “Dick” Van Dyke came in from Southampton for £70m, a transfer fee inflated by the need to keep Southampton from taking their tapping up complaint any further. The deal was quietly agreed last summer when Liverpool were caught red-handed breaking pretty much every transfer rule in the book again. The FA being what they are they tend to look the other way in these matters if the offended club prefers not to press charges and the usual conversation basically consists of one side asking “how much extra is this going to cost us to make this go away?” – see also Robbie Keane and “donation to Spurs’ charity”.

The Van Dyke arrival used up a large chunk of the £105m received for Philippe Coutinho who went off to Barcelona having come close to going in the close season. Liverpool were highly annoyed by Barca’s courting of the player, prompting lots of use of a certain phrase involving pots and kettles down on the South coast.

The goalkeeping position has caused much debate on Merseyside this season. Whilst most commentators have pointed out the defensive issues they have had this term, the value of having your back three/four/five having confidence in your ‘keeper cannot be underestimated.Just look at the improvement in our own fortunes since Adrian came in for Hart. At Anfield they started off the season with Mignolet ‘twixt the sticks but the Belgian hasn’t played a league match since New Year’s Day, a state of affairs that has him “considering his future”.

The recent no.1 choice has been Loris Karius. He had a shaky start to his career at Anfield which led to his replacement by Mignolet last term. Sources suggest that his form has improved since his shaky 2016 debut but he’s still not one to inspire large amounts of confidence so perhaps look to them to be in the market for a ‘keeper in the summer. I think Hart might be available....

Top scorer this season is Mohamed Salah who, no thanks to a typing error I now know not to be a senator in the Nigerian parliament. Salah the striker has 30 in all competitions including Europe, thus satisfying the criteria to qualify for the description “a bit useful”. He’s assisted in his efforts by Brazilian Roberto Firmino who is 9 behind Salah on 21 in all competitions. Mane and the departed Coutinho both have a dozen to their name making four players this season on double figures in all competitions (even if one of them is now in Catalonia). Imagine that. You rather get the impression that if we had such an embarrassment of riches they would all get injured at the same time.

And so we move on to the wacky world of football in general. Be(a)st headline of the week (though perhaps not for the poor lad himself) was “Runaway Cow Causes Queen Of The South Keeper Crisis”. Had the team been Crystal Palace I might have suspected the involvement of the thankfully former Mrs Percy but I’m not sure she has ever been that far north.

Then we had another PR mess-up as we picked up a fine for not filling out the anti-doping forms out properly. Another thing to note the next time one of the ruling triumvirate shrugs their collective shoulders and wonder out loud why the supporters are less than impressed with their stewardship of the club. In the meantime, if they are well enough to travel to Anfield maybe they might like to ask the home club’s administrators for some tips on how to handle the drug test paperwork – they are, I understand, not without some experience in such matters.

Then Sunderland were put up for sale. Well sort of. Ellis Short has said he will give the club away for free to a suitable new owner, the one catch being the fact that the club’s debt of nearly £140m needs to be factored in. Still it’s a nice idea. Shame it won’t catch on.

And in this week’s episode of “Footballers are a bit dim aren’t they” we look at West Brom’s trip to Barcelons (not often those two places are mentioned together) where a few players took the phrase “let’s take a cab” just that little bit too literally. Expect “Taxi For Pardew” headlines if they go down then.

And so to us then. Well our last runout against Watford if you can remember that far back wasn’t too bad. The first half should have seen us three goals to the good as a very dubious offside and a sitter miss from Arnie kept the score down. We spent much of the second half defending. Comfortably yes as Watford proved inept enough but it wasn’t good for the blood pressure from my vantage point, even if decisive chances were at a premium for the visitors. When you are 1-0 up and a Hammer you tend to have a “glass half empty and someone is going to nick it” point of view anyway, such pessimism being based on years of experience. However this year’s entrant for the “Carlton Cole Comedy Goal” award eventually stabbed away by Arnie settled the nerves and knocked the stuffing out of the visitors to the extent that even the normally gobby Deeney didn’t have much to say.

The injury/suspension list looks as follows:

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

2) Manuel Lanzini – Should be available to take some part in this one after his hamstring problem.

3) Winston Reid – The Strepsils have worked and his sore throat is all better. Available for selection.

4) Edmilson Fernandes – Ankle. Estimated return – Still sometime after Preview Alastair buys a round.

5) Pedro Obiang – next season after the sort of tackle that was a red card for Fabian Delph in midweek but was deemed perfectly fair by the usual brain donors who ref our matches.

6) Arthur Masuaku – suspended. And rightly so.

So to the thorny subject of a prediction. Well as clubs up and down the country have proven over the years you need the rub of the green at Anfield and given that Spurs got their rub of the green delivered in industrial sized tankers during their last league match I can’t see that sort of thing happening again.

On the other hand the opposition’s defensive and, to a certain extent, goalkeeping frailties have been discussed ad nauseam in the papers and the good news is that the probable return of Lanzini might be a lot of help in taking advantage of that if he can hit the ground running both literally and metaphorically.

However, (and this may just be my imagination) I get the feeling that it takes the little Argentinian chappy a few games to get his mojo back after a spell on the sidelines.
The hairs on my wooden leg are itching enough to tell me that it probably won’t be our day (again) and whilst if we play to our strengths it shouldn’t be beyond the bounds of possibility to get something out of the match I fear we are to return down the Ms 62, 6 and 1 empty-handed this time round. So the £2.50 I was going to donate to Chicken Aid (hit single “Do They Know It’s Bargain Bucket Time” to be released any day now I expect) will instead go on a home win. Bung it on a 3-1 win to them if you will Mr Winstone.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Anfield: Drew 2-2 (Premier League December 2016)

Lallana opened the scoring within 5 minutes but goals from Payet and Antonio gave us a half-time lead. Randolph had a mare to allow Origi to equalise but redeemed himself to save from Henderson’s effort from distance at the end.

Referee: Stuart Atwell

The “Frank Spencer” of referees whose select group place originally owed more to patronage from Keith Hackett (spit) than to any actual ability to apply the laws of the game properly. Managed to get demoted temporarily but was quietly welcomed back to the top flight despite there being no discernible improvement in his performances at the lower level. Just what you want at Anfield then.

Danger Man: Mohamed Salah

Will be attracting attention from more decent sides sur le continent. Look out for a telephone number sized bid in summer.

Percy’s Poser:

Last time out we mentioned police in Watford releasing CCTV footage of a theft from a petrol station and asked you what was stolen. Congratulations to Mrs Hortensia Goatbotherer who informed us that the CCTV footage displayed the theft of £50-worth of….steak! Unfortunately, Mrs Goatbotherer couldn’t tell us what sort of person buys their steak from a petrol station in the first place.

For this week’s poser we ask you this: The current Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council is currently on a salary of £200,000. How many days a week does he currently work for that princely sum? First correct answer out of the digital hat will win a bargain bucket from a well-known chicken emporium*.

Good luck everyone.

*Chicken not included.

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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