AFC Wimbledon v West Ham United

Despite the cold weather, last weekend's defeat and an England batting collapse Preview Percy seemed remarkably chipper when we popped over to the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered earlier today. We think the announcement today that there are now more distilleries in England than there are in Scotland may have had something to do with his improved demeanour. Not that you'd notice it from this, his look at Saturday's visit to Kingsmeadow for AFC Wimbledon in the 4th round of the FA Cup........

A day off from the league now as we move into the 4th round of the FA Cup or, to give it its proper name and annoy the sponsors, the Cup. Our hosts will be AFC Wimbledon and kick-off on Saturday at Kingsmeadow will be 7:45pm for the benefit of telly, This is the last round for which there can be a replay if the scores are level at 90 mins by the way, and there's no VAR for this one.

Travel-wise, should you be one of the lucky 600 or so souls with a ticket, there's no engineering works in the area (nearest station Norbiton) to speak of but if you're coming in from Essex the usual issues apply between Southend Victoria and Shenfield with replacement buses and all that gubbins. Check before you leave.

It's at this point Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, would usually delve into her recently acquired book of stats and start to tell me of days gone past when the clubs first met all those years ago. The days when everything was in black and white (causing chaos at traffic lights), footballs weighed half a ton (double that when wet) and football boots were, consequently, big enough and robust enough to do service as temporary housing for those displaced by the Great Fire Of London. Not this week though. Although the recording of stats for matches involving clubs with Wimbledon in the name is largely a matter of definition, I am reliably informed that most independent stattos would say that this coming match will be the second meeting of the two clubs, the previous one occurring way back in, er, August 2018. When It was warmer. I know Dons fans can get a bit touchy about their history so all I will say on the subject is I don't make the rules - go take it up with most independent stattos and leave me and Daisy out of it.

I think the politest thing to say about their season thus far is that it has been, well, disappointing. They are currently bottom of League 1 (that's division 3 in old money) having picked up 23 points from the 29 games played so far. That's 8 points away from the safety spot currently occupied by Rochdale.

They have progressed this far in the Cup having beaten Isthmian League Haringey "There's Only One Team In Tottenham" Borough 1-0 away in the first round, National League FC Halifax Town (aka "Halifax") 3-1 away in the second and then prevailing against fellow League 1 outfit Fleetwood Town 3-2 away. That match was a bit of a rollercoaster with them having gone 2-0 up by 55 minutes only to be pegged back to 2-2 by 72 minutes with Appiah's 90th minute effort finally putting them through to the 4th round for the first time in their history (see previous disclaimer on that stat).

In one of those coincidences that the Cup draw likes to throw out from time to time, the away tie at Fleetwood forced the postponement of the home league match against the same opponents. They got round to playing that one the other night, a brace from Ched Evans contributing to a 3-0 win for the visitors. There is probably some sort of comedy mileage to be gotten out of Evans being at a Fleetwood side managed by Joey Barton. Probably involving the word "Rumours." It'll keep though.

The win up at Fleetwood was the first Cup game in charge for boss Wally Downes who was a defensive coach at the Boleyn under Avram Grant, becoming a first team coach under Sam Allardyce after Grant had departed to give his name to the rest home for the bewildered from which this is currently being written. Downes' departure from the Boleyn was rather sudden but I have promised the kumb lawyers I wouldn't mention any of the speculation that did the rounds at the time - bless 'em they have been looking as white as sheets every time I put pen to paper of late so I figured I'd give their blood pressures a break for once. Downes arrived after the departure from Kingsmeadow "by mutual consent" of Neil Ardley who was the boss when last we met.

According to Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, they have brought in a couple of loan signings and one permanent signing. The first of the loan signings to note was Aaron Ramsdale who came in from Bournemouth on a deal to keep him at Wimbledon until the end of the season. It did get me thinking - how perfect would it be if due to a spelling mistake on one of the forms Juventus got up one morning in the summer to find a 20 year-old Bournemouth reserve 'keeper sat on their Turin doorstep asking how his ?300k per week was going to be paid, whilst a former Arsenal player would be standing at the seaside wondering where the Alps had gone.Ramsdale was between the sticks for both the cup and league matches against Fleetwood so expect him to continue.

The second loan signing was Birmingham City left-back Steve Seddon. I say Birmingham, the player spent the first half of the season at Stevenage and didn't have time to do so much as pack his bags before being shipped out to the Dons.

The permanent signing came from the Emerald Isle in the form of winger Dylan "Cyril" Connolly. The fee paid to Dundalk was "undisclosed" but is believed to be something in the region of ?30-40k, roughly what Dundalk paid for the player in the first place. Connolly was part of the Dundalk side that did the Irish double last time out with their season taking place in what passes for summer in that part of the world (most of my childhood summers were spent dodging showers in Co. Cork so I know of what I speak when it comes to Hibernian meteorology).

Top scorer, with 9 goals is Joe Piggott. Piggott was on target in the earlier match as went 1-0 down thanks to our traditional weakness at corners. He was subsequently sacrificed after the sending off of McDonald, though not literally, obviously. He has 9 in all matches, of which 5 have come in the league, one in the Cup, two in the League Cup and one in that thing we send the kids along to play in from time to time. Since we last met they have taken steps to keep the player at the club. Having signed him on a contract of undisclosed length from Maidstone it appeared that that contract was fairly short-term in nature, presumably to reduce the risks involved in signing a striker from non-league.

Ok enough of them, what of us? Very disappointing last weekend I must say. Carroll's miss sort of defied the laws of physics and geometry - I'm still trying to work out how someone can clear the bar by a vertical distance greater than the horizontal ground distance from the goal. That door you just heard slam was Pythagoras popping over to the shop for some aspirin.

Up the other end, for all the quality of Wilson's ultimate finish it was a bit of a freak goal, Diop's decent recovery tackle could have gone anywhere but ended up sitting up nicely for Wilson. From that point Bournemouth were quite happy to sit back having worked out in the first half that we didn't have a clue how to break them down. After all if Carroll couldn't score from there we weren't likely to score from anywhere.

It wasn't really Carroll's day - he fell foul of the strange amendment to the laws of the game that sees him punished for infringements that others get away with. Since his return I have seen the player pulled up when he has been the victim rather than the perpetrator of a foul, get booked for winning the ball cleanly and, this weekend, given a yellow card for an offence that was mild in the extreme - especially when compared to Cook's lunge on Anderson which, although spotted, mysteriously avoided any sanction other than the free-kick reluctantly awarded by Hooper. To those who continue to defend the appalling standards of officiating in this country ask yourself this: Had Carroll committed the challenge Cook perpetrated do you think he would have escaped a yellow? Not a Spurs supporter's chance on Mastermind.

By all accounts Arnautovic, who was "not in the right frame of mind" to play on Saturday, has been behaving himself in training which means that this would be a decent game in which for him to get his brain back into gear. The player's "not being in the right frame of mindedness" apparently arose as a result of his being told that he will be going nowhere until the summer. I won't speculate on the player's underlying reasons for wanting an earlier departure - mainly because the kumb lawyers have told me not to. However, it does concern me that the Chinese transfer window doesn't shut until the end of February. It does seem odd that countries can have a unilateral window of their own. We used to have our own system whereby you could sign anyone you liked from the end of the previous season up to the end of March which was deadline day. We quite happily carried on like that until the current system was imposed on us. Given that most activity in the windows happens later rather than sooner, as clubs all wait for each other to make the first move so that all the pieces of the puzzle can be shifted into place, it does seem a bit odd that some countries can bring in people pretty much as they like.

There's been some welcome activity on the injury front this week. Manuel Lanzini has recommenced training this week after his serious knee injury. Not full training, obviously - he is a fair way from a return to action so it's more a case of him joining in with the warm-up sessions. However it's still one of the best bits of news we've had in a while on the medical front - even if he might have timed it better from the weather point of view.

There could also be a return to action for Ryan Fredericks. He made a return to action a few days back in a "behind closed doors" match against Gillingham U23 earlier this week. Should he return he will provide welcome relief for Zabaleta who has been gamely battling on despite the years. Otherwise it's the usual suspects that are out (Wilshere, Reid, Balbuena, Yarmolenko and Sanchez). Varying dates between mid-February and next season for those.

So prediction then. Well we don't have a million players available to us so one would expect a similar squad to last week. We'd be looking at Fredericks and Arnie to add to that obviously. And also Perez whose place in the pecking order seems to have plummeted beneath mine - even with Arnie not about last week Costa Silva got on the bench before Perez, suggesting that the latter may not be long for this parish. So on the whole, unless MP gives the whole of the first team the day off it will be a fairly experienced side that takes the pitch on Saturday night.

There are a number of "levellers" of course though the weather forecast suggests that the lack of undersoil heating won't be an issue given the damned hard frost we've had in these parts. So it will be less of a matter of the relative quality of the respective squads and more a question of attitude, which is what makes the Cup such jolly fun, I suppose. I'm trusting MP to ensure that this game is approached with the right attitude.

Given that and the fact that their current lowly status is there for a reason, I will be placing the ?2.50 I was going to chip in towards Ronaldo's tax bill on an away win. On with the Winstone Turf Accountancy App please (when the fun stops you are probably the former leader of the SNP) and please wager the lot on a 3-1 win for us again.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Kingsmeadow: Won 3-1 (League Cup August 2018)

Blimey whatever happened to the concept of attention spans? I mean we only have the one match to consider, after all. And it wasn't that long ago. OK, for those of you with the memory of an amnesiac goldfish, Piggott put them 1-0 off in two minutes. Even before McDonald got his second yellow it was looking like one-way traffic for the rest of the game. I'm not a great fan of "possession" stats but the fact that Wimbledon managed only 19% does say a fair bit (even Macclesfield managed to scrape 20% in an 8-0 defeat). Diop powered home a splendid drive, Ogbonna gave us the lead at a corner and Hernandez added a Carlton Cole-style comedy effort at the end to put us through.

Danger Man: Joe Piggott

Top scorer, scored before against us and we still fret at corners. Yup there's your danger man.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Every time he referees a game in or around Greater Manchester, where he lives, people question his integrity, which is wrong. It's his competence that should be questioned.

Percy's Poser

Last week we had a look at the Bournemouth Daily Echo where this headline was on display:

Britain's longest-serving butcher fears her business may eventually XXXX XXX XXXX

Heartiest congratulations to Mrs Zena Hale-Bopp of Goodmayes who correctly identified the missing words as "face the chop". Oh my aching sides.

This week we visit the pages of the Wimbledon Times who, in one of the more pointless rebrandings of our time, are keen to point out that they are formerly The Wimbledon Guardian. Glad that's cleared up.

Whatever you call it, they brought the world a piece of news to which the following headline applies:

XXXXX XXXXXXX to close for TWELVE MONTHS as redevelopment works take place

Must be pretty important for them to put TWELVE MONTHS in capitals like that I'd say.

First correct answer out of the digital hat goes into a ballot to win a chance to enter a competition with an actual prize. Terms and conditions apply etc.

Good luck everyone!

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