West Ham United v Chelsea

After last week's result we saw Preview Percy actually break into a smile. Which was every bit as disconcerting as you might think. However, the smile from his face soon disappeared when he found out who they had appointed as referee for this weekend's visit of Chelsea.....

Right then. Back to home stuff where we will play host to Chelsea on a match which was always going to be a Sunday game irrespective of what the telly people wanted to do thanks to the visitors' involvement in this season's Thursday Night League. Kick-off (which is Sky's fault is 12:30pm, at time at which most sane people are contemplating getting out of bed following a decent night out.

Greater Anglia have the usual shenanigans out by Shenfield and the Chelmsford area where replacement buses might be the order of the day. Similarly if you happen to live in Shoeburyness you may want to check the train operating company's plans for you which may include one of those hand trolley things that you often see in old movies but rarely encounter in real life. Check before you depart which, given the silly kick-off time will probably be about 2am.

They come into this match with a 100% record at present. Having dispatched of Huddersfield (a 3-0) Arsenal (h 3-2) Newcastle (a 2-1) Bournemouth (h 2-0) and Cardiff (h 4-1) they sit at the top of the table by virtue of having a goal difference superior to the red Scousers to the tune of one. They also made a winning start to their Thursday night league campaign with a 1-0 defeat of PAOK in Salonika. The one blot on their landscape thus far has been the 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in the "traditional curtain raiser that I refuse to call 'Community'" Charity Shield, which, I am sure has left thousands of Chelsea supporters traumatised. Not.

As usual there were wholesale changes at the club during the close season and, if persistent rumour is to be believed, these may not finish with the changes made to the playing and management staff. Owner Roman Abramovic has had a few problems with the UK arm of his empire of late. Not least of these was the non-renewal of his UK "Investor Visa" (i.e. if you're minted come in and leave your credit card details with the guys at immigration). It was suggested in some quarters that Abramovic might have to explain the source of his wealth to get the visa renewed. This might finally have raised a few somewhat uncomfortable questions along the lines of "how come so many of your rivals for control of the Russian aluminium industry ended up dead?"

Whether such potential questions had a bearing on Abramovic's decision to seek Israeli citizenship is not known but he has been chucking money at property and charities over there, which suggests that his UK interests are now of a lower priority than they once were. Certainly the proposed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge was "temporarily" shelved due to "unfavourable financial conditions" and the appointment of an investment bank on a consultancy basis added further fuel to the (admittedly denied) rumours that the club might be sold.

Whilst the generally received wisdom suggests that the oligarch is not actively seeking a sale, the same wisdom reckons that anyone making a suitably large bid wouldn't necessarily be given shrift of the less lengthy kind. None of which has anything remotely to do with money laundering at all, it says here on this piece of paper handed to me by the kumb lawyers.

Of course Abramovic's visa problem only goes to reinforce the conspiracy theory that our owners have been kidnapped by aliens from the planet Keppler 442b and replaced by some form of shape shifting entity. If the uncharacteristic (but welcome) silence while they learn our strange Earth language coupled with an equally uncharacteristic (but equally welcome) summer spending spree wasn't enough, the fact that the aliens are having to act in stealth can be explained by their having discovered that even people from the same planet have trouble getting through immigration at Heathrow - so what chance would they have?

Under Abramovic's ownership the club can usually expect a new boss every other season or so. This season's change bordered on the farcial. With the multi-billionaire stuck in a queue at Heathrow being asked whether he had packed all 200 suitcases himself it took them until mid-July to sack the previous boss. Conte had therefore to keep turning up for a few weeks even though he knew he was off. Once the head honcho had repacked his bags and discovered that he wasn't going to be allowed in to the UK he returned to one of his "yachts" (think cross-channel ferry on steroids. The ferry on steroids not you, that is) and promptly got around to the recurring entry in his smartphone diary that says "sack manager" and in came Maurizio Sarri who had actually left Napoli about two months before.

Chelsea are the 19th club managed by Sarri in the last 28 years according to Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile. However many of those don't count as they seem to be the sort of names one would make up if you were writing Roy Of The Rovers and had to come up with the name of a fictional Italian village in the middle of nowhere to have Melchester play in a difficult away first leg of the (much-missed) Cup Winners Cup. And in the case of Valdema he seems to have been managing a team that makes spot cream.

As if to underline the fact that everything had been pre-arranged but nobody had gotten around to telling Conte, the first of the club's new season big deals was concluded within 24 hours of Sarri's arrival. About ?50m (rising to ?57m with add-ons) went to, er, Napoli, in return for Jorginho. You might think that with a name like that Jorginho is Brazilian. And you would be right. Sort of. Although Brazilian-born he has Italian citizenship by virtue of his granddad having Italian citizenship. His granddad qualified because his dad was actually Italian. In other words Jorginho, who scored for the Italian side in the UEFA What's This League Called Again?" League the other week, gets to be Italian because his great granddad was. Which I guess is a big improvement on the days when Terry Mancini was turning out for Ireland and moaning about the length of the opponents' National Anthem only to be told "shut up that's ours".

The next arrival was a bit cheaper. About ?50-57m cheaper in fact. However, Rob Green will need no further introduction to the home supporters on Saturday. He arrived on a free from Huddersfield during the break. Green's last game for the club was the 2012 playoff final. After that match, understandably peeved at the pay offers he was receiving from the club which, allegedly, were a lot lower than some whose contribution to the team was demonstrably lesser than his own, he moved to QPR. He's not had an awful lot of football in recent years. After a full Championship season with Leeds in 2016-17 he made a solitary League Cup appearance for them in 2017-18 before joining Huddersfield as cover in their inaugural Premier League season. He failed to make a single first XI appearance for The Terriers and has yet to make it as far as the bench for Chelsea, though with the demands of the Thursday Night League and the League Cup to factor in Green may turn up in the racing car seats sooner rather than later.

The understudy keeper slot has, thus far, been in the hands of Wally Caballero with the first choice custodian role going to Kepa Arrizabalaga who arrived during the summer for ?72m from Athletic Bilbao to replace the Madrid-bound Courtois. There's a thing. A keeper called Kepa. That's handy for the harder of thinking amongst the Chelsea support.

Key man, as ever, at present appears to be Eden Hazard. He has been eased back into league action after the travails of the World Cup but has hit the ground running, last weekend's hat-trick against Cardiff being a case in point. Sarri has been keeping close tabs on the Belgian's fitness to the extent that after Cardiff Hazard was told to put his feet up for a few days rather than dig out his passport for the Greek trip. Hazard seems to be compensating for the misfiring Morata who has found the net just the once in five appearances this term. Morata got the nod over Giroud on Thursday but it would be little surprise were the roles to be reversed on Sunday.

Ok about time I mentioned us then. Well it makes a thoroughly pleasant change to be here on the back of a victory, doesn't it? It wasn't perfect by any means - had Everton had a striker on the pitch rather than the hapless Tosun things might have been different,. However, this is not a time for churlishness however much I might normally specialise in, er, churl.

There were good performances all over the pitch. Arnie gave the home defence a tough time, Yarmalenko's goals caught the eye and there was the maturity beyond his years of young Rice to consider as well. Having produced a performance that good it would be nice to see that starting line-up given a chance to bed down and continue to gel as a team. It has seemed at times this season that MP has not yet alighted on his preferred starting XI and, indeed, it may be the case that the eleven that took to the field up at Goodison is still not quite what MP would pick all things being equal. However, if nothing else I would say that they have earned the right to have another go.

Of course, as ever with our beloved team, the selection may be affected by circumstances beyond our control. The twinge that Arnie felt behind the knee on Sunday just after he stretched to seal the victory led to his immediate withdrawal and the player faces a "late fitness test" over his involvement. There are all sorts of stats about his involvement in the goals we have scored since the turn of the year and the simple fact is that his hard work causes things to happen. My dear old mum bless her is one of those people who has a patron saint for everything. Apparently St Jude is the chap that covers lost causes and clearly Arnautovic has some sort of franchise deal with the martyred apostle's head office, so often does he chase down nothing balls and turn them into promising positions deep in opposition territory. The usual injury listing sites rate the player as 50-50 for this one and it is to be hoped that the twinge isn't that serious, such is his impact on the team's fortunes.

Wilshere has been added to the list of medium to long term absentees. Apparently he has a screw loose, not in the Sullivan sense but more to do with the bits and pieces that hold one of his ankles together. The medics are off to Screwfix to get a Phillips and it will be November before he's ready to go again.

Hernandez has been struggling with a disconcertingly vague "virus" which puts us in mind of that old ailment "Devonshire Flu" which seemed to have an 18 month recovery period all those years ago. He therefore qualifies for inclusion in the "Major Doubt" column. Other than that it's pretty much as you were for messrs. Carroll, Lanzini and Reid, who are looking at December, January and who knows for their respective return dates.

And so to the prediction. Not as easy to judge as the respective starts to the season would imply actually. It's always good to be the team to play someone returning from Europe, though the fact that they were able to leave Hazard behind with a mug of Ovaltine and a couple of digestives may make this less the advantage that it might otherwise have been. There is also the fact that they face Liverpool twice next week, the League Cup trip to Anfield being sandwiched between this weekend and the scousers' trip to Stamford Bridge in the league. You'd expect the League Cup match to be a bit fringey in terms of team selection but given the strength of the team that they sent to Salonika it would not be a major surprise to see more squad rotation this weekend.

Against this we have to factor in the totally unsurprising decision to foist the loathsome Mike Dean on us for the first time this season. It's stupidity in the extreme to give him a game of any importance let alone one that is going to be live on tv, something that always ramps up the self-centered nature of his performances.

So, despite the feel good factor coming out of last weekend and the game-raising factor that applies to both players and supporters whenever you encounter a club that is up itself to the degree that Chelsea is, I think the Dean factor will prove decisive. I will, therefore somewhat reluctantly be placing the ?2.50 I was going to spend on a guide to Salisbury Cathedral from the Chelsea Club Shop (it has a spire that is 123 metres tall apparently) on a 1-2 home defeat using the Winstone Turf Accountancy App (when the fun stops it's probably down to Mike Dean).

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic: Won 1-0 (Premier League December 2017)

The first win of the Moyes era as Arnautovic's well-worked goal on 6 minutes proved to be the difference between the sides. An interesting stat was that Arnie's goal made him the 43rd player to sore both for and against us in the Premier League era. Ok maybe not that interesting.

Referee: Mike Dean

It is a continued mystery as to why any organisation that claims to have the "improvement of refereeing standards" as one of its principal aims should continue to employ the one referee who epitomises everything that is wrong with officials in the English game. It has got to the worrying stage that you notice it more when this disaster zone doesn't do something controversial, which is worrying as, if you actually wanted to fix a match he refereed the chances of anyone spotting it are close to zero. In the notorious Man Utd match the other year when Feghouli's outrageous red card was followed up by allowing a ten yard offside goal to stand Dean then threatened to caution Obiang for looking at him! It's not often one feels sorry for Arsene Wenger but a ?40,000 fine for questioning Dean's honesty was a bit harsh, though I suppose he may have breached some part of the Official Secrets Act in doing so. Dean must be getting close to retirement - at which point they will probably give him some high ranking role within PGMOL. Like they did with his fellow muppet Mike Jones who, despite a career that even his fellow officials found hard to justify, has been put in charge of VAR. The lunatics are not only running the asylum they are branching out into other forms of healthcare.

Danger Men: Mike Dean & Eden Hazard

The latter is on fire at the moment. The former has probably already decided who will win this match if he has anything to do with it.

Percy's Poser

Last week we went to the Liverpool Echo for our in no way nicked from "Have I Got News For You" missing words headline which read

Meet the Liverpool Mum who says she is changing the face of XXX-XXXXXXX in our city
Congratulations to Mrs Hortensia Wildebeest of Thorpe-Le-Soken for explaining that the missing words were in fact "lap dancing".

Local papers are a bit thin on the ground in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea where, presumably, butlers read out stuff from gold-plated internets. So it is to the "Get West London" website to whom we are indebted for the following headline quoted from a recent Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea licencing committee meeting:

"People keep XXXXXX and XXXXXXXX-XX in our street"

Good luck everyone!

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