Swansea City v West Ham United

When we started hearing mention of "The Beast From The East" our thoughts turned to one person. And here is Preview Percy's look at our visit across the frozen wastes to Swansea. Safe journey everyone....

Next it's a trip abroad to Wales where we will be hosted by Swansea City, nee Town, in a Saturday 3pm kick-off. Lots of travel stuff to get through for this weekend so pay attention. Firstly, if you travel into Liverpool Street, as many do, there will be the usual weekend chaos involving replacement buses and the like. You know the score better than I do on that one.

So, let's just suppose you arrive, somehow, at Liverpool Street. You're going to Wales so Paddington would be your next port of call. "Aha, the Met, Circle or Hammersmith & City will serve me well" I hear you say. Not this weekend matey. Nothing between King's Cross and Barking around that part of the network. Ok so you make your way by a combination of Central and Bakerloo lines and you surface, blinking into the light at Paddington.

At Last" you say "I can board a train and relax safe in the knowledge that I will be alighting at Swansea in a few hours". Er, no. What you will be doing is boarding a train from which you will be alighting at Bridgend in a few hours whereupon you will be boarding a replacement bus service to take you the final 24 miles past the picturesque sights of Port Talbot and Briton Ferry, across the River Neath and into Swansea. And the same again to get home only in reverse. Good luck with all that.Of course you may be driving, in which case stay safe out there in that weather.

So Swansea then. Since we met them at the Olympic last year it's been all change down there. Paul Clement got the tin-tack just before Christmas. After a few days in the caretakership of former Hammer kid Leon Britton they appointed Carlos Carvalhal who had been dismissed (or officially "left by mutual consent") by Sheffield Wednesday a couple of days after Clement left. At that point they were mincemeat basically. Light-years away from safety and not looking like they had a prayer. Carvalhal's start was useful but a 2-1 away win at Watford, though welcome was, well it was Watford wasn't it? However, consecutive home wins against Liverpool (1-0) and Arsenal (3-1) were unexpected even given both opponents' variable form. Oh, and of course in one of those nice coincidences the football gods like throwing into the mix they drew Sheffield Wednesday in the Cup, beating them 2-0 in a replay earlier this week after a 2-2 draw.

Last time out in the league they got beaten 4-1 at Brighton all of which leaves them third from bottom with 27 points from 28 games played. Minus 20 goal difference. So though we are 5 places better off that gap is a mere 3 points wide, though we are 5 goals to the good on goal difference (-15 as opposed to -20).

It was another quiet week for 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. They made two signings during the winter window. The first was a rookie centre back by the name of Jack Withers who they signed from Boston United. Filed in the "one for the future" cabinet, they immediately lent him back to Boston for the rest of the season.

The second signing was some chap called Andre Ayew for a fee starting at ?18m rising to ?20m with add-ons. Ayew was last season's victim of the new signing injury curse, his debut lasting 36 minutes before his thigh went. Undoubtedly talented to a certain degree, he chipped in here and there with the odd, often rather important goal rather than being prolific during his time with us, his main problem being that nobody quite knew what he was for.

William Bony will be absent until the end of the season which may mean that Ayew A may line up alongside Ayew J, though Ayae A has been used mainly from the bench in the league in his short spell back in the land of song, too many letter "L"s and not enough vowels.

Ayew J. is their top scorer in all competitions this season and 5 of his 8 goals have been in the league. Ayew J. has been shouldering the striker burden of late thanks to Bony's absence and also that of Leroy Fer. Bony's got an ACL injury (and is not serving a suspension for being a centre forward wearing the no.2 shirt, though he ought to be) whilst Fer's achilles is similarly serious.

Also on the sick list are the splendidly-named Angel Rangel (groin) and the on-loan Renato Sanches. Sanches, I think it's fair to say, is a contender for the most disappointing loan of the season award having signed for the season from Bayern. His debut put one in mind of Southampton's Ali Dia as pass after pass went astray and things have barely improved since, with the player allegedly being hooked in one match for passing to a shirt on an advertising hoarding. Rumours that David Sullivan has put in a bid for the hoarding are probably false, although sadly all too believable.

Another who has found the transition to Premier League a bit tricky is OCL (Obligatory Chelsea Loan) signing Tammy Abraham who went through an 825 minute spell without a goal earlier this year. He did bring that spell to an end with a brace but that was in the 8-1 Cup win over Notts County. Make of that what you will.

Meanwhile, elsewhere back in the wild and wacky world of football we had VAR issues again. In truth all that needs be done is for the discussion between PGMOL's bent brain donors to be relayed to the fans as they do in other sports. That way we would know what is going on in the minds of PGMOL's finest. Unfortunately, there's the problem. PGMOL were quite happily toddling along picking up their pay cheques safe in the knowledge that they were never going to be held to account. A proper VAR system will blow that little gig out of the water. Take Spurs' disallowed goal. Whoever was in their bunker should have had to explain exactly why that goal was disallowed. "It's Tottenham" would be an acceptable reason to most. But seriously, if everyone could have seen that replay and heard the discussion we would have known how bad the decision was. And that's precisely what they don't want. All we have is one of an already discredited bunch of idiots sitting in a bunker near Heathrow (for quick escape purposes?) making the same sort of cock-up without even having the old excuse of "I only saw it once" to rely on.

I see Samir Nasri's been suspended for doping offences relating to use of a drip. This occurred in 2016 when he was on the books of Man City on loan to Sevilla. His ban was finalised this week whilst, conveniently, he is on a break being without a club. He is suspended for 6 months. Rumours that David Sullivan etc, etc.....

And so to us. Last week was annoying for a number of reasons. The chanting of Luis Suarez's name by those who booed Evra showed the total lack of class amongst their support that everyone knows about but nobody has the balls to mention out loud. The response from the likes of Kick It Out - always quick to have a pop at us in the past - has been rather underwhelming wouldn't you say? Mustn't upset the scousers - even those heard singing crude anti Bobby Moore songs outside the ground post-match.

Still at least they were singing - the Kop in particular were in their usual Emirates mode until 3-0 up. They went back to Trappist mode at 3-1 only remembering that they were the "best supporters in the world" at 4-1.

The match itself was annoying - apparently the offside law got repealed and nobody mentioned it as Can headed home with Adrian was shielded by Milner in a rare moment of Milner staying on his feet. But the most annoying thing was the manner of the defeat. Antonio - who I would have had on the pitch from the start if fit - slotting home should have been the sign for us to give it a go. But instead of making a substitution designed to try and carry the game to them by giving Arnie a sparring partner we seemed happy to try and keep it down to 3-1. Another goal would have had them on edge but we didn't want to try and get it. Baffling and annoying. Moral of the story: if you go somewhere hoping to avoid a defeat you might get a draw or a defeat. If you go there trying for a win you might also get a draw or a defeat. But you might also get a win.

Injury news is as follows:

1)Andy Carroll - Broken Foot- Estimated return mid-April - Arsenal away?

2) Edmilson Fernandes - Ankle. Estimated return - as Elton John once sang during that tantalising period in the early 70's when he was actually any bloody good "I think it's gonna be a long long time..."

3) Pedro Obiang - Knee - Estimated return - next season.

4) Patrice Evra - shin - the knock he picked up at Anfield wasn't serious and he should be available.

Arthur will of course be out for this one serving his ban, somewhere warm and out of the snow I expect.

Prediction? Well the mindset has got to be that we can win this and not, as appeared at Anfield, one of hopeful resignation. The defeat at Brighton will have given them a bit of a reality check but they will be going into the match with a similar attitude.

So with that in mind I shall be plumping for the draw. If the snow lets me escape from the Swan & Superinjunction for long enough I will pop over to Winstone's The Turf Accountants and place the ?2.50 I was going to put towards an "I survived the Swansea Earthquake T-shirt" on a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met abroad: Won 4-1 (Premier League December 2016)

Ayew, Reid and Antonio put us 3-0 up. Llorente pulled back one in the 89th minute only for us to pick up a 4th through Carroll about a minute later. More of the same please.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Again and again and again. 5th time this season. Last seen doing the 1-1 draw at home to Bournemouth.

Danger Man: Ayew

Either one will do. Jordan's their top scorer whilst the law of the ex will apply to Andre.

Percy's Poser:

Last week we asked you how many days a week does Liverpool City Council's Chief Executive work for his ?200,000 a year salary. Congratulations to Mrs Juliette O'Snowplough who was first out of the digital hat with the information that he is currently not working at all for that salary, being as he is suspended on full pay pending a fraud investigation. Well done Juliette!

For this week's poser we take a trip down Swansea's notorious Wind Street and ask you why, during WWII, was an Australian sergeant particularly ill-advised to start taking the mickey out of a US serviceman for not drinking during a night out on that particular thoroughfare?

First correct answer out of the digital hat wins some snow if I can find any.

Good luck everyone!

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