West Ham United v Manchester City

Preview Percy delivered his look at this weekend's visit of Manchester City twenty-four hours earlier than usual, telling us that he had "somewhere else to be" at the usual time. In hiding from the Abu Dhabi royal family we reckon....

Next we play host to Manchester City at the Olympic. Kick off is at the proper time of 3pm on Saturday which means that the balance of the universe will be in synchronicity for once or something. As we are at home they will be digging up the tracks between Liverpool Street and Shenfield - and just in case you thought you would be ok after Shenfield there's more on the line out to Southend Victoria. And just to add to the crap there will be nothing between Hackney Wick and Stratford. Still, good job we have world-class transport links isn't it? Check before you leave I'd say.

So Manchester City then. I shan't depress you by running through the stats and stuff of their season to date. Suffice to say that they are doing ok and scoring shedloads of goals against teams with less cash than they have, which is pretty much everyone, basically.

The fun stuff in recent weeks has been the revelations from "Football Leaks" which is a bit like Wiki Leaks only nobody has to hole up in an embassy for years on end. (Except possibly me after this). When I say "revelations" it's all been a bit "general knowledge" really.

Given a limit to the amount they can shove in directly, the Abu Dhabi royal family have been forced to go scrabbling about for sponsorship. Happily, Etihad Airlines (prop: the Abu Dhabi royal family) chipped in with stadium and shirt naming deals. Other "Global Partners" include satellite tv company Eitelsalat (majority owners: the Abu Dhabi royal family), The Abu Dhabi Department Of Culture & Tourism (have a guess) and an outfit called Aabar Investments (I know, you're way ahead of me). The control exercised over these companies is so complete they paid the club a handsome bonus for winning the 2013 FA Cup Final. - you know, the one they lost 1-0 to Wigan. It's clear that these companies have been used as a conduit to channel funds from the owners to the club but it's hardly major news.

UEFA's reaction to the leaks has been akin to that of Capt. Louis Renault in the greatest movie of all time: Casablanca. On being ordered to find an excuse to close Rick's down, Renault announces that he is "shocked to discover that gambling is going on in here" at which point a croupier hands him a wad of notes with the words "your winnings sir".

The leaks suggest that the FFP settlement agreed with UEFA a few years ago was something of a slap on the wrist which had more to do with threat from the the Citizens' legal advisor Simon Cliff's to hire the best 10 lawyers in the world to spend the next ten years suing UEFA than any genuine desire for justice. Faced with an opponent with bottomless pockets in the form of Abu Dhabi, UEFA blinked and the 2014 fine of ?49m sounds a lot but with ?32m of it suspended and then written off I'm sure the Abu Dhabi royal family weren't scrabbling about to pay the bills.

Incidentally, one of the emails leaked by Football Leaks contained a comment by Cliff regarding the death of one of the seven UEFA investigators looking into the club's finances: "One down, six to go". Classy.

Looking at matters more football-related, on the injury front Kevin De Bruyne will miss out. Last season's REAL footballer of the year (Salah? Really?) will need a couple more weeks recovery from a knee injury. Bernado Silva has returned from international duty with the Portuguese with a muscular injury and at the time of writing is given a no more than 25% chance of featuring. Otamendi is 50-50 with a spot of tendonitis whilst Bravo, Mengala and Mendy are all ruled out. So that's them down to the bare bones leaving them having to rely on players with a total rough cost of ?600m and a current value of possibly double that.

That's a squad that they spent a "mere" ?63m or so on augmenting during the summer. According to Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, ?60m of that went on Riyad Mahrez. To put that into context a quick play with the figures suggests that equates to about 8 hours of output from the oil wells of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (prop the Abu Dhabi Royal Family). It's a lot less if you count their natural gas output but I couldn't be bothered.

Mahrez was part of the Leicester squad that nicked the league title a few years back when the usual suspects took the year off. I am highly amused by the fact that he started his professional career in France with a team called Quimper in the 4th division of the French system. I'm sure that the word Quimper has a definition contained within the Viz "Profanisaurus" - let me know if you find it. On second thoughts don't.

For what it's worth Mahrez was the Etihad (prop the Abu Dhabi Royal Family) Player of the Month for October.

The second player to arrive (not counting academy inputs) was Dutch youngster Philipe Sandler. Sandler's fee (as an U24 these fees are compensatory in nature rather than value-based) was something like ?2.6m according to the guy at Thomas Cook, who used to sponsor our opponents back in the day. That's probably the amount the aforementioned oil company spills and can't be bothered to mop up when they swap barrels over. Although signed on first team papers he hasn't played at the top level yet and is probably earmarked as "one for the future".

Incidentally, whilst doing her research, Daisy informed me that they have no fewer than 29 players out on loan. Not quite up to Chelsea standards (41 at the time of writing) but they are giving it a go.

Finally, before we move on one should spare a thought for Matthew Hedges who has just started a life gaol sentence, his research into the effects of the so-called Arab Spring on the UAE (part prop the Abu Dhabi royal family) being deemed as "spying". Hedges apparently went through a trial without legal representation. Odd then that a country would be willing to spend tens of millions hiring the best lawyers in the world to defend the reputation it has carefully been laundering through its ownership of a football club couldn't spare a few bob to provide some sort of public defender. One wonders what the club's founder the Rector Arthur Connell would make of it all.

Football club ownership is depressing enough these days - we should know I suppose. So we'll move on lest (as has happened in the past) some nutter tries to tell me that producing mucky books is far worse than torture.

Well it's been an interesting break for the UEFA "What's This In Aid Of" League. Scotland managed to stick a few wins together to get promoted from Auxiliary Group Z 94 B and give themselves two routes of getting humiliated during qualification for the next Euros. And, whilst I'm still not convinced over the merits of the whole thing, anything that results in getting Germany relegated can't be all bad I suppose.

As for England, it was hard work watching them struggle for the most part. The usual media over-the-toppedness being augmented by the decision to award Kane the MOTM on the strength of a goal from a couple of feet and an "assist" that consisted of a shot that surprised the 'keeper with its ineptitude. Oh well they had to give it to someone I suppose.

Moving back a couple of weeks, if you can remember that far back, we drew 1-1 with Huddersfield. A bang average first half was followed by an improved second half and, overall, the draw was about right. Not much to say really. Sometimes "respect the point" is a valid statement. However, if our former manager is reading this he should note the use of that word "sometimes".

We have had to endure a load of speculation on the future of Arnie of course over the past few weeks which rather prompts the question "what is it about players who have their brothers for agents". It seems to me that sibling agents are more trouble than they are worth. I remember that Nicolas Anelka was represented by his brother Claude for a period and tales of his outlandish demands to clubs were legendary amongst football circles. In Arnie's case you do have to wonder whether anyone who mentions so-called Champions League football in the same breath as Everton is really earning their 10% (or whatever it is).

We have fresh news on the injury front. Ryan Fredericks picked up a shin injury that will keep him out of action until the new year which, worryingly, leaves Zabaletta as our only proper right back. Get the cotton wool out guys.

Wilshire and Carroll should be available for selection whilst Snodgrass, having picked up his fifth yellow of the season, will replace Noble on the naughty step, the skipper having served his three-match ban for his transgression against Leicester. Yarmolenko, Reid, Lanzini and Sanchez remain in the long term list.

So the thorny matter of a prediction. Well they are streets ahead of everyone else at present - their win against Man Utd containing a goal that contained so many passes the move actually commenced 24 hours before kick-off. I suppose stranger things have happened than a side that bumbles its way to a draw at Huddersfield turning up for their next match and beating Man City. Like Scotland winning Auxiliary Group Z 94 B. In any sport. However, since that's already happened this week the odds on our winning are on a par with those of winning a multi-rollover lottery without actually going to the bother of buying a ticket. I fear that were I to place the traditional ?2.50 that I was going to send to our opponent's owners (the Abu Dhabi royal family) to help chip in to avoid them having to go cap in hand to the sponsors on a home win and it came in the resulting payout would bankrupt dear old Winstone and his Turf Accountancy business.

With that in mind head will rule heart on this occasion I shall use the Winstone app (when the fun stops it's probably because your brother is your agent) to place that ?2.50 on a 4-0 win to our opponents in the fervent hope that I'm wrong.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at the Olympic: Lost 1-4 (Premier League April 2018)

Some dreadful defending didn't help matters - Adrian rushing off his line, Ogbonna making a hash of the subsequent clearance and Zabaletta and Rice combining to turn the ball into their own net between them was so slapstick someone's probably filmed it in black & white and set a jaunty piece of honky-tonk piano to the footage. That followed an opener from Sane that took a wicked deflection past Adrian.

The team rallied a bit and the visitors had two large slices of help from the officials. Arnie robbed Caballero on the edge of his box to slot home only to have the goal chalked off for a non-existent offence. Then Fernandes was upended a yard inside the box. Although the ref spotted the offence, perhaps (like me) fearful of reprisals from the Abu Dhabi royal family, Swarbrick (for 'twas he) inexplicably decided that it occurred ten miles away outside the box. Happily Cresswell put away a superb free kick to give the score a fairer reflection of play up to the interval.

Sadly, that was as good as it got. In typical West Ham style having given us a glimmer of hope we allowed them to walk the ball into the net twice in the 5 minutes either side of the hour with goals from Jesus and Fernandinho.

Danger Man: Raheem Sterling

On form at the moment and, though his comical trip in Europe the other week wasn't a dive, he's not averse to the odd spell of theatrics. You can take the player out of Liverpool...

Referee: Andre Marriner

Imagine the scene at PGMOL HQ (prop not the Abu Dhabi royal family - yet). West Ham v Man City comes up on the screen.

Official 1: "West Ham v Man City. Atkinson again?"

Official 2: "Surely not - people will begin to notice. When did they last have Marriner?"

Official 1 "Last season away at Watford"

Official 2 "How the hell have they gotten away with that for so long? Stick him down then"....

Percy's Poser

Last time out we asked you to complete the following headline from the Huddersfield Examiner website:

Students at college have to ask teachers for XXXXXX XXXXX after XXX XXXX XXX

The first correct answer from the digital hat came from Mrs Caroline Garmisch-Partenkirchen of Vange who correctly identified the missing words were "Toilet Paper" and "Bog Roll". Well done Caroline!

For this week's competition we return to the Manchester Evening News, It's a bit of a long one this week (ooer). So, to win a tv set that automatically changes channel every time the word "Brexit" is mentioned, all you have to do is complete the following:

Customer claims staff at Herm?s snatched XXX out of his hand and told him he wasn't allowed to touch it. "I found it completely out of order. It's not like I'm some XXXX"

Good luck everyone!

Legal Note: Competition not open to members of the Abu Dhabi royal family or, due to local laws, anyone from Scotland. Apparently, Nicola Sturgeon was offended by my suggestion a while back that she had never been seen in the same room as Jimmy out of the Krankies...

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