Wolverhampton Wanderers v West Ham United

Preview Percy was at the AFC Wimbledon match. He is also a cricket fan. So we sent someone over to the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered to pick up his preview for Tuesday's visit to Wolves. I mean he's bad enough when we are winning....

Next up we have a midweek jaunt up to Wolverhampton where we will be hosted by Wolverhampton Wanderers. Kick-off at Molineux on Tuesday night will be 7:45pm. At the time of writing there are yellow warnings for snow for pretty much everywhere between London and the West Midlands for Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. At the very least it will be a bit nippy so let's be careful out there.

Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile has consulted her book of records and informs me that this will be the 63rd meeting of the two clubs, the first meeting coming back in February 1910 (ah those were the days) in an FA Cup tie at their place that saw us win 5-1. Overall we've won 29 and lost 19 with 14 drawn.

Whilst we were ensconced in a Bournemouth hostelry the other week partaking of a pre-match tot of "We Used To Have A Navy" Rum (purely for medicinal purposes to keep out the chill you understand), we happened to encounter Wolves' match against Leicester being shown on the box. "There's a contractual obligation match" we said. "That'll be a dull one" we said, adding "now watch it be a classic now we've said that". What followed was a bonkers 90 minutes that saw them prevail 4-3, s result that left them in 8th place, two places and one point ahead of us. We have identical goal differences (-4).

They will be rightly pleased with being in the top ten at this stage of their first season back in the top flight since 2012. Their form has come in patches though it has to be said. They won 4 and drew 3 of their first 8. Rather bafflingly they then lost 5 of their last six. Those six games threw in defeats from Watford, Brighton, Spurs, Huddersfield and Cardiff with the sixth match being a home draw with Arsenal. Odd run that.

They then went off on a three in a row winning streak, taking out Chelsea, Newcastle and Bournemouth in the process before embarking on their current mixed bag of results that reads LDWLLW. Enough wins to be ticking over but you're never quite sure what you're going to get.

Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, tells me that, although three youngsters have come in during this window, two of them, Ed Francis who came in from Man City and Michael Agboola (Dagenham & Redbridge) are going into the U23 set-up whilst the third, David Wang who came in from Spanish 2nd division outfit FC Jumilla (a club with which they have an "arrangement"), was immediately packed off on loan to Sporting.

Top scorer is Raul Jimenez who has 6 in the league at present. Jiminez was linked with a loan deal with us a few years ago but claimed that the reason the didn't turn up for the booked medical was that he had "overslept". It was later suggested that his agent had put him off the deal. There is a buyout clause included in the current deal that sees the player at Molineux on loan from Benfica but the club has said there will be no decision until the end of the season.

No.2 on the goalscoring charts is Jota who has five in the league, three of which came in the aforementioned bonkers match against Leicester. This made him the first Portuguese player to perform the hat-trick in the Premier League since some chap called (checks notes) Ronaldo.

Joto is just one of the many Portuguese players at the club - a situation that it is said sees them with as many Portuguese on the books as they have at Porto. As mentioned earlier this season the ownership structure at the club has been under investigation from both the EFL and the Premier League. The problem is that the regulations prohibit anyone who owns a club from having an interest in an agency. On the face of it the fact that Wolves' Chinese owners also have a stake in the Company run by Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes would appear to breach that rule. The Chinese owners' stake in Mendes' company is not held directly, it is true - the Agency stake is owned by a company under common ownership. This seems to have satisfied the authorities, though they haven't really explained how, despite the obvious potential conflicts involved. One can't help but thinking that we may not have heard the last of this you know.

They have pretty much a full squad to choose from, the one absentee being central defender Willy Boly. Boly managed to upset Liverpool fans over the foul on Man City's Bernado Silva that earned him a straight red, that will see him sitting this match out on suspension. Boly's tackle looked pretty similar to a foul committed by Kompany on Salah. The problem the scousers had was that Kompany didn't get a red. "Double standards" they whined without a hint of irony in their tone. I mean if anyone should know about double standards it's that lot - after all it was the same referee that sent Nuno Espirito Santo to the stands for celebrating a last gasp winner in the match against Leicester as did no such thing to the increasingly irritating Klopp for the same crime. It's also the same club that saw the FA disciplinary people issue a statement that contradicted both the laws of the game and their own internal regulations to bend over backwards to ensure that the aforementioned Salah didn't get the retrospective ban he deserved for a dive. See also bent transfers etc etc.

Ok. Here we go.I can't put this off any longer. It's time to talk about us. That was simply unacceptable I'm afraid. Right from the start it was clear that we had selected the wrong team for the match. When Carroll first came back from his latest injury I was impressed that the team continued to employ a passing game despite the obvious temptations. However, in the weeks that have ensued the player's presence has often coincided with us lapsing into old - and not particularly welcome habits. As for the player himself, I fear that the latest injury may have been one too many. Never particularly blessed with pace of the blistering kind in the first place, it has become rather painful to watch him being given ten yards start by opponents who still have time to do the Times crossword before overhauling him.

So having reverted to lumping it, which wasn't working, we were left with a midfield that, on seeing what they thought might be an "out" ball cut off by a Wimbledon defence who encounter that sort of thing week in week out, didn't have the guile, creativity or nous to actually run at the opposition or to find a decent pass. Clueless.

Things did improve in the second half but letting in the third before we'd sorted ourselves out proved fatal. My own mood wasn't improved by my checking the latest on the cricket as I left the ground. The only up side was at least it had stopped raining. Presumably after the 4 million gallons dumped on us on the way to the ground there was none left.

Arnautovic was, of course left out for that one. The thought process behind this would appear to have been to keep him fresh for this match. The "news" that the player had signed a new deal was released shortly after the full-time whistle at Kingsmeadow, something that had all the hallmarks of someone saying "let's rush out some good news to take supporters minds off what they've had to endure". Needless to say few were impressed. I haven't seen read any details that may have been released on Arnie's new deal but let's just say that, as a piece of the jigsaw, it would not come as a major surprise if some of the finances involved had been rearranged to provide some recompense earlier than he might previously have been due.

On the injury front Perez's return to arms was short-lived. Having received a kick during Saturday's debacle he is likely to miss out. One would expect things to be improved by the return of a number of players whose reputations were enhanced simply by not taking part in the farce that we had to endure. The returns of Rice, Zabaletta, Cresswell and even Nasri will be welcome but much will depend the sort of effect that Saturday will have had on the collective mindset, especially for those who were part of Saturday.

To be honest I'm struggling to see us get anything out of this one. Yes it's likely that I'm overreacting to the misery I endured on Saturday - misery not helped by the pre-match drenching I received caused by dressing for the weather forecast as opposed to the Ark-building downpour that actually occurred. (Thanks a bundle Met Office).

Yes the returning players that were missing the other night will help. However, we didn't play well at Bournemouth either and I have a nagging doubt that the events of the last couple of weeks will have too much of a downer on things.
So for that reason I will take the ?2.50 that I was going to spend on a new batch of seaweed for the Met Office on a home win this week.

So please turn on my Winstone Turf Accountancy app (when the fun stops you're getting drenched somewhere near Norbiton) and place the wager on a 2-1 win for them in the hope I'm wrong.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Molineux: Drew 1-1. (Premier League October 2010)

We were poor in the first half and a weak punch by Green fell to the feet of Jarvis who put them one up on 10 minutes. We improved in the second half and Noble stuck away the equaliser from the spot after Obinna had been upended. Piquionne had a last ditch winner incorrectly ruled out for handball. We went down. They stayed up by a point only to go down the next season when we came up. Which it's why it's been so long.


Danger Man: Raul Jimenez

Top scorer though six goals in 22 league appearances is far from prolific. He is said to work hard but the goals to game ratio is one that has divided supporters. So he's nailed on to score against us then.


Referee: David Coote

Was under investigation earlier this year for some unspecified "misconduct" that was never explained. I'm sure he was totally innocent of all charges but since PGMOL have covered the whole affair up I guess that we'll have to just trust them, after all they are so trustworthy aren't they. Meanwhile his (we assume) being found not guilty of all charges meant that he was free to take charge of our match against Burnley where he was free to caution Carroll for precisely nothing whereupon every time the player jumped for a ball the home side went down clutching their heads. Gullible then. And possibly bent.


Percy's Poser

Last time out we had a look at the Wimbledon Times (formerly The Wimbledon Guardian) who brought us the following:

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

Congratulations to Mrs Letitia McCompactdisc of Herongate who correctly identified the missing words as "Polka Theatre". I believe the phrase is "first world problems". Sadly Mrs McCompactdisc wasn't successful in the ballot to enter a competition that had an actual prize. Better luck next time Letitia.

This week we look at the Wolverhampton Express and Star who have the following heartwarming tale to tell:

Black Country man on mammoth XXX XXXXX visits 21,000th XXXXXX

Something jolly spectacular as a prize to the first correct entry out of the digital hat. I expect.

Good luck everyone!


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