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West Ham United v Manchester United

Filed: Wednesday, 9th May 2018
By: Preview Percy

We are willing to bet that Preview Percy's look at the visit of Manchester United is the only preview this year that features Ant & Dec, The Wedding Feast at Cana and Gordon Banks' save against Pele in the 1970 World Cup. We will leave it to you to decide whether or not that's a good thing......

Next up we return to the Olympic where we will play host to Manchester United in a game that has been kicked around the schedules more than the sort of highbrow unpopular arts programme that the BBC has to make to tick some boxes but nobody wants to watch. After the dust has settled on FA Cup and other fixtures they have finally alighted on 7.45pm this Thursday to get this game out of the way.

Firstly, one ought to say a quick word about Alex Ferguson. Now regular readers will be well aware that I have no time for him and I’m not going to be hypocritical and pretend that I do now. However, I certainly wish no ill health on the man and have no hesitation in adding this column’s best wishes for a speedy recovery from his current illness. Yet again that horrible comment about life and death that is attributed to Shankly is exposed for the nonsense it was. Get well soon.

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So the visitors then. They currently sit in second place, a country mile behind Man City who have more points than Ant out of Ant and Dec’s driving licence. The Salford lot’s 77 points leaves them 5 points clear of the Scousers who, with only the one match left to play, are unable to catch them. In theory at the time of writing Spurs could catch them on goal difference with two reasonably friendly final matches to play at home to both the Geordies & Leicester, whilst the Salford mob play host to Watford on the final day. Look I’m trying to drum up some form of excitement for the match here. Give me a break.

They have been a bit off colour of late. They looked very lack-lustre in the 1-0 defeat against Brighton whilst their outing prior to that saw them going down 1-0 at home to West Brom, who admittedly have started to string a few results together – most hilariously at home to Spurs last weekend.

In the past they might have been nervously looking over their shoulders lest dropping a place or two in the league result in them having an early start in the so-called Champions league to knock out some team from Albania or somewhere. However, all four teams in the top four will go straight through to the group stages which are designed to bore the pants off everyone until the competition starts properly once all the minor teams have been knocked out. So you can’t even get worked up about that.

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 only arrival in the winter window was that of Alexis Sanchez who, seemingly having the choice of red or blue in the Greater Manchester area, elected to go red. That decision worked out well then.

In actual fact it appears more likely that despite having bottomless pockets the blue half of the divide elected to avoid a bidding war once the price had gone above a certain level and, presumably, they were less than enamoured of the idea of a player exchange forming part of the deal.

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Arsenal, on the other hand wanted some sort of replacement – their failure to locate one bin the summer being the reason the deadline day deal for the player to go to Man City fell through back in August. Having scored a hat-trick last season for Arsenal (third goal eight yards offside) when I started writing this it seemed that he wouldn’t be around for this one but the latest update says that he will return to the squad. Unfortunately.

Another perennial thorn in the side for us over the years has been Romelu Lukaku. He will definitely be absent through some sort of problem with his ankle/foot which has had multiple scans. He will be pushing it to make it to the Cup Final apparently. After the defeat at Brighton Mourinho was rather scathing about his front line, suggesting that they were always moaning about a lack of opportunity. “Why always Lukaku? Now you know” was his rather barbed comment at the likes of Rashford and Martial.

The absence of Lukaku is particularly significant. Whilst he fit he was relatively prolific and remains the top scorer with 27 goals across all competitions. That’s 14 more than Lingarde, though the latter does have to play with the handicap of having Jesse for a first name. In the league Lukaku is on 16 whilst Lingarde is on 8. Why always Lukaku? Yup now you know.

Rashford in particular seems to have gone off the boil a bit since he exploded onto the scene like Mr Creosote a year or two back. Watching him against Brighton he seemed to have lost a little bit of the confidence of youth. Watching him against Brighton there were a few occasions where he was clearly thinking about things that were once instinctive. That’s all well and good but that micro-second of thought is often enough to destroy the moment as a defender has that vital bit of time to get a foot in. All of which points to him discovering his mojo when they play us of course.

The often unpleasant Marouane Fellaini has been a bit more in favour of late but his recent run of games looks like coming to an end as a muscular problem takes its toll. As a former player under Moyes at Everton he seems to be linked with wherever Moyes has gone ever since his departure from Salford. However the move never materialised and he remains becalmed on Salford.

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Between the sticks DeGea has had a decent season. However, whilst he is undoubtedly one of the best ‘keepers in the world at present I can’t help feeling that our TV commentators have a tendency towards hyperbole when commenting on his work.

It’s got to the stage where when he collects an over-hit pass it’s compared with Banks v Pele in 1970 (fantastic save that one – I’d have held it mind). Ok maybe that’s a slight exaggeration [Maybe???? – ed] but stuff that ought to be routine for a keeper of his status is routinely accorded the status normally reserved for events such as the Wedding Feast of Cana or the one where Lazarus rose from the grave after a quick squirt of spray from the physio.

Bored with them? Yeah me too. So what’s been happening in the wild and wacky world of Association Football since last we gathered together? Well the Baroness indulged herself in another one of those PR disasters that she swears we never have, again. Apart from the embarrassment of being herded out of the seats usually reserved for visiting directors at Leicester to something slightly less plush – a result of an earlier one of those PR disasters that we never have upsetting the Leicester ownership – her latest column saw her criticising the FA over the decision to sell Wembley. Where is that irony-meter when you need it.

From the lower orders Cardiff somehow got promoted despite having Neil “Colin” Warnock as a manager. Oh joy. Meanwhile over the river at the New Den Home For Victims Of Cruel Medical Experiments Aston Villa fans were heard singing “Bubbles” to the home support as a wind-up. Villa made their way into the play-offs alongside Derby, Fulham & Boro’ which means we face the possibility of one of Bruce and Pulis arriving alongside Colin.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, just as it looked like we might get rid of Mark Hughes as compensation for the arrival of Colin, Bruce or Pulis Southampton go and get a win at Swansea for whom at the time of writing things are now looking a bit grim. Still Heddlu de Cymru will probably be slightly relieved should there not be a South Wales Derby next season.

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Stoke became the first team to be relegated from the top flight this season and Charlie Adam was quoted as saying that some Stoke players had been “getting away with murder” this season. Adam was possibly referring to their internal disciplinary issues with some players. However, that particular metaphor could equally have applied to their performance at the Olympic when they seemed to have carte blanche to kick lumps out of players at will – the first yellow card coming for their over-zealous goal celebrations rather than the frequent instances of GBH that seemed to be the tactic du jour the other week. Meanwhile, Shaquiri anyone?

Finally there was the nausea-creating farewell to Wenger whereby thousands of Arsenal supporters suddenly remembered that they had season tickets and flocked en masse to sing the name of a bloke that they hated only a few weeks ago. For his part Wenger fulfilled all expectations, obligingly telling everyone that he would miss them, which was only to be expected really. Well he missed everything else that happened on the pitch when his team were playing.

And so to us then. Well I plumped for a 2-2 draw last week, a prediction that failed to factor in the fact that a) we played jolly well and b) they played bally awful. The second goal summed up the match in a nutshell. Splendid from Noble. Less so from the defender who shied away from the ball as if it were toxic waste or an invitation to lunch from Piers Morgan.

For once we had the rub of the green as ref Kavanagh decided that Cresswell’s handling of the ball as he went down under pressure from Vardy was only a yellow card offence than the red it would have merited had you ignored Vardy’s snidey little shove, which ref Kavanagh clearly did. Hilarious to see Vardy blowing a gasket at that one given the immunity from red cards he seems to have been granted every time they play us.

After the dust had settled the mathematics of it all meant that, prior to the Swansea-Southampton match the other night, either - but crucially not both – of them could overtake us. All of which meant that one could watch Tuesday’s match safe in the knowledge that wanting Hughes to relegate two clubs in a season wouldn’t affect our own position in any way. Just a shame it didn’t quite work out.

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On the injury front the injury list got a little bit longer. Apparently Joe Hart’s absence at the weekend was down to illness with young Trott taking up a spot in the racing car seats. Hart should be well enough to be available so his appearance or non-appearance will be the result of a decision made by the manager rather than of one taken for him. Chicharito has a poorly knee apparently, which will be enough to keep him out. I bet that’s better before the World Cup starts though. More worryingly there is a doubt over the participation of HOTY Marco Arnautovic. Arnie took a knock up at Leicester which is under assessment as we speak. 75% likely to play is the rating at time of writing.

Thankfully, the only recent injury received by Andy Carroll was the nasty bruise sustained by his wallet as a result of the fine given to him by Moyes last week following the fallout from his early disappearance up the tunnel during the Man City game. All is sweetness and light though now so he will be available to deputise should Arnie not be about.

There is apparently a small chance of Ginge and Obiang being somewhere about the squad by the weekend, whilst Reid, Byram, and Antonio still won’t be back until next season.

So to the subject of the prediction. We owe this lot for last season’s latest refereeing debacle in their favour. They will have one eye on the cup final I suppose. 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 handed me an interesting Stat a few moments ago. Well a stat anyway. That is that our opponents have yet to draw a match this year.

So, whilst a win ought not to be beyond the bounds of possibility, the usual thing of referees helping them out will apply should we be winning. I will therefore plump for the draw that they haven’t had this year. The £2.50 I was going to put towards an additional trip across the Severn Bridge next season will therefore be placed on a 2-2 draw if you will Mr Winstone!

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at the Olympic: Lost 0-2 (Premier League Jan 2017)

A game won and lost totally at the whim of Mike Dean. Again. Feghouli’s sending off when he, arguably, was the one fouled was widely condemned by every pundit and newspaper. The red card was rightly rescinded but no punishment was handed out to Dean, who was so poor he couldn’t decide which of three of the visitors to give offside when Ibrahimovic (who was one of them) scored their second. In an ideal world Dean would be eligible for parole in about three years. Matic got their first – though frankly Dean would have put in the rebound had he missed.

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Poor official. I have no sympathy for Mark Hughes but I did have to laugh when he was asked whether he had spoken with Moss on Saturday evening after the Everton v Southampton match: “No – he is still getting his breath back”.

Danger Man: Alexis Sanchez

With Lukaku out he will assume the mantle of “player who always scores against us” for this one

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you what schoolboy error did the Daily Express make when desperately trying to find a 10th “interesting” fact in their “10 things you didn’t know about Leicester” feature a few years back.

First correct answer out of the digital hat was that supplied by Mrs Philomena McShoelace of Hutton who pointed out that “whilst the paper correctly (if rather tediously) pointed out that Leicester Square had been named after the 2nd Earl of Leicester, using a picture of Trafalgar Square, fountains, lions and all rather spoilt the effect”

Well done Philomena and hard luck to our correspondent Paul R who supplied his equally correct answer through the comments section at the bottom of this page rather than through the digital hat, thereby disqualifying himself for a) failing to follow the instructions and b) for failing to notice that the prize each week is always won by a woman of a certain age residing in Essex. Shame The prize fund was up to £1m this week!

For this week’s poser we ask you: What did the Rev William Cowherd form at the Beefsteak Chapel in Salford over 200 years ago? First correct answer this week wins something or other. I expect.

Good luck!

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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