West Ham United v Cardiff City

We wouldn't describe Preview Percy's mood on his return from Newcastle as "happy". More "slightly less displeased than usual". As a newt. Here are his musings on the midweek visit of Cardiff City in which, unusually for him, he manages to not use the word "sheep" once.....

Next we return to home soil for the first of a brace of home matches in five days. Cardiff City will be the visitors for a 7:45pm kick-off. Tuesday night so no engineering works to speak of - just rush hour sardines.

Cardiff then. They have spent much of the season in the drop zone. However, Friday night's 2-1 victory over Wolves coupled with the continued failings of the likes of Southampton and Burnley have seen them move up to 16th spot with 11 points from the 14 played so far. That's two points clear of the freshly Hughes-less Southampton who currently occupy the uppermost relegation slot.

The Wolves win took place on Neil Warnock's 70th birthday - not that he mentioned it much. Well not as much as his fellow whinger Dave Whelan used to mention his cup final broken leg. But nearly as much. For some reason, media coverage of his birthday seemed intent on portraying Colin as an amiable buffer whose longevity in the game was to be was something to be applauded, rather than, say, an obnoxious dinosaur who has frequently brought the game into disrepute. It's odd really, when you meet a journalist very few have anything good to say about him. Well apart from the likes of Oliver Holt whose testimony in front of Lord Griffiths all those years ago would have bordered on perjury had it taken place in a court of law rather than a trumped-up kangaroo court. Still Holt made a few quid out of ghosting Warnock's "auto" biography so giving "evidence" was probably the least he could do.

Having brought Cardiff up in second place (9 points and a million years behind Wolves) Colin would have felt the need to go shopping. In the end, according to Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, they brought in four players, none of which, with all due respect, could really be said to fall into the category of "Marquee" signing.

At left back in came Greg Cunningham, an Irish international actually born in Galway. Cunningham, who can apparently fill in in the centre of defence when required. He arrived from Preston (not exactly shopping at Harrods are they) for an undisclosed fee which, as usual, everyone knows is around ?4m. Cunningham is a doubt for Tuesday with an unspecified knock.

They spent a bit more on Norwich winger Josh Murphy who commanded a fee of ?11m this summer. At least they think they signed him. Murphy is the identical twin brother of Newcastle's Jacob so they only have Norwich's word as to which one they got. He's been on target twice in the 12 league matches he has played this season. Or perhaps it was his brother - you'd be tempted to do a swap just for the hell of it wouldn't you - if only for the change of scenery.

Is it me or is ?10m for Bristol City midfielder Bobby Reid rather a lot of money? I mean I know that fees are daft money these days but an 8-figure sum for a player who spent much of his 2017-18 fighting relegation at Ashton Gate does seem a bit steep. Ok he did make the Championship team of the season I suppose, but even so. Maybe he cost more for the label - I guess any player with a middle name of "Armani" is going to have a bit of a premium to his price.

I have a big soft spot for 'keeper Alex Smithies, who arrived from QPR for an undisclosed fee of ?3m plus a further ?500k if Cardiff stay up. Smithies was in goal for Huddersfield for the League One playoff final in 2012, saving three penalties and scoring one in a marathon shootout. All well and good but it is the fact that the Terriers' opponents that day were Sheffield United which gets him the "free drinks for life" pass at the Swan and Superinjunction should he ever pass this way.

There is something odd going on up front. Top scorer is Callum Paterson with 3 in the league. An odd stat given that he is nominally a full back who has been pressed into service as an emergency striker. There are other strikers at the club, notably Kenneth Zohore.

Quite what's gone wrong with Zohore isn't clear but it is quite plain that he has naused-off Colin no end which is not, in itself, a bad thing. "I don't really think I can tell you how I really feel about him" was Colin's response to the question "are you frustrated with him".
Either way, despite two wins in the last four it will be necessary for owner Vincent Tan to stick his hand in his pocket in January if they want cause to shell out that extra half mill for Smithies. Zohore for his part has had injury problems but has been "pain free" for a while so the fact that a makeshift striker is getting the nod over the Dane speaks volumes. Maybe "Ken" could fill in at full back for Cunningham.
We might have to keep an eye on Joe Ralls. He got away with a shocker of a tackle on Gundongan against Man City and a cynical hack at Wembley against Spurs got him a red and a three match ban - Mike Dean getting one right for once. Sounds like a typical Warnock player then.

I'll move onto us then. Well despite the best efforts of LNER to mess things up for us we had a splendid weekend. I say "we", our resident Geordie Preview Alastair didn't quite have the same amount of fun as I did. Still I'm sure the copious amounts of restorative tinctures we took on board helped out in that respect going down all the better for the fact that LNER's delay repay will make a significant contribution to the economy-altering amounts of funds we spent on our intake of "for medicinal purposes" liquids.

Newcastle were disappointing but that's mainly because they weren't allowed to be anything else. They had a few chances, yes, but there again we could have doubled the three we did get. Decent performances all round - Anderson had his marker tied up in knots and, whilst Arnie had a quietish one, we were set up to play to Hernandez's strengths, and he took full advantage. And it should be remembered that it was Arnie's clever header that set up Chicharito's second.

In retrospect one should have piled on a few bob on there being a goal on 11 minutes, that being the time of the walk-in protest against Ashley's ownership. It just had to be, didn't it? The timing was designed to reflect the 11 years of ownership by the chap who I am told, ought to pay sponsorship to the Jeremy Kyle Show, given that so many of the participants in that freak show wear his products. Funnily enough every taxi driver we encountered over the weekend said the same thing about the protest - "he's got your money so a few empty seats is gonna make zero difference". Safe to say there were more than a few empties by the time the final whistle went.

The one down side was Creswell's hammy - that could keep him out for a while. It's a particular worry given Arthur's current form, or lack of it. Another area to look at in January perhaps. Some sources list Cresswell as having a 25% chance of playing. I suspect that's balderdash myself. Hamstrings are nasty little sods and I wouldn't risk one unless it was verifiable that it was 100%

Cresswell adds himself to the usual suspects of Reid, Yarmalenko, Sanchez, Lanzini and Fredericks on the sick. There was a concern over Balbuena who picked up a dead leg at the weekend but that's not thought to be serious enough to be a worry for Tuesday. All being well I would go with the starting XI we went with at St James' Park with the obvious swap of Arthur for Cresswell. It was a good balance and with Anderson, Arnautovic and Hernandez operating in harness there's enough attacking intent in there to make the mouth water.

Prediction? Both teams had confidence-boosting wins at the weekend. However when you look at the relative strengths of the two squads, even allowing for the injuries we have I reckon we ought to have enough quality to prevail in this one and, to coin a phrase currently being used to flog another Kevin Keegan, book, "I would love it" if we could stick one on their manager this time round (nothing personal Cardiff).
With that in mind I will be going for a home win. So this time, using the Winstone Turf Accountancy App (When The Fun Stops Mike Dean is refereeing again) the ?2.50 I was going to donate to the Justice For Klopp fund that the scousers are probably already getting together (someone else's fault, obviously) on a 3-1 to us.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at home Lost 3-0 (League Cup 3rd round Sept 2013)

Morrison (1) and Jarvis (8) gave us an early 2-0 lead which looked like setting up a rout. Dozens of missed chances later and they pulled one back just before the break through Noone. With 15 left Odemwinge levelled and extra time looked on until Vaz Te headed home the winner with two minutes left to play. A classic West Ham example of making it hard for themselves.

Referee: Graham Scott

So bad they tried to demote him - and we all know how hard it is to get a ref demoted out of the so-called select group. So difficult that they changed their mind when he begged them to let him stay.

Danger Man: Callum Patterson

Let's face it we are just the sort of team that a makeshift striker would score against aren't we?

Percy's Poser

Last week we went to The Chronicle from which the following two-parter header to a piece of video was lifted:

Watch as 'Tyneside's finest' XXXXX bus driver after he tells her to get off
The woman was kicking off with another Stagecoach passenger and asking questions about her XXXXXX

Well done to Mrs Florence Twistleton-Zappa of Havering Atte Bower for correctly identifying the missing words as "moons" and "gadgie". Just another night out on Tyneside then.

This week we look at "Wales Online". All you have to do to win Wales or something is fill in the missing words from the following headline:

XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXX appears overnight in Cardiff City Centre

Good luck everyone!

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