West Ham United v Everton

It was just as well there's been an international break since the Huddersfield match. It's taken Preview Percy two weeks to try and make sense of what was going on. Frankly, we're not that sure he succeeded. Here's his look back at Huddersfield and his look forward to this weekend's visit of Everton.......

Next, after what seems like an eternity but was in fact just your average international break, we return to the league where our visitors will be Everton. It's one of those neither one nor t'other kick-offs, taking place as it does at 5:30pm. Look I'm getting bored with repeating this, but repeat it I will: Liverpool Street to Shenfield? Forget it. Check before you leave and all that.

So Everton then. This will be the 140th meeting of the two clubs. The first meeting took place back in February 1907 when we went down 2-1 at home in the 2nd round of the FA Cup. Those were the days. Overall we have won 39 and lost 69 of those 139 with the remaining 40 being drawn. Obviously.

They currently sit in 11th place with 40 points. Form has been mixed. They have won 4 drawn 1 and lost 6 of the 11 played since the turn of the year. However, their last outing saw them turn over Chelsea at Goodison 2-0.
It's fair to say there are rumblings amongst the support over the future of the manager with the conflicting views being split between the "He's better than Allardyce give him time" lobby and the "Whether or not he is better than Allardyce we've been rubbish this season and he should go" brigade.

There has been much debate as to whether, given the resources available Silva's squad can yet be considered "his". Having brought in 4 first- teamers in the summer they gave Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile the square root of sod-all to look at this time around. Yup, they signed absolutely nobody in the last winter, which either means Silva is happy with the resources he has got, or the club hasn't got an awful lot of spare cash floating around, neither of which will improve the mood chez Goodison.

Of course Silva himself is a bit lighter in the wallet after recent events following the 3-2 defeat up at Newcastle where his post-match berating of ref Lee Mason cost him a ?12k fine from the FA.

In goal they will start with under-pressure custodian Jordan Pickford. His recent form has been patchy. Now I rate Heaton the better 'keeper myself but the Burnley no.1 has suffered from his lengthy absence last term from action through injury. Southgate's loyalty to his squad and a fine start to the Euro 2020 Qualifiers means that Pickford is set fair to stay in place pro tem.

They have two players leading the scoring charts. Both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison have 12 in the league. Sigurdsson's total ought to have been augmented from the spot but he's missed three of the five he's taken this season, though to be fair, the last of those against Chelsea saw him tuck away the rebound.

Richarlison's arrival for a fee of ?35m - potentially ?50m with add-ons - raised a few eyebrows. His 12 goals will have allayed some of those concerns but the jury is still out with some Evertonians, with some suggesting Catalan arms should be ripped-off if, as is rumoured, Barcelona were to come in with an appropriate bid.

On the injury front they will be tutting the international break which saw Colombian international Yerry Mina do his hammy in a friendly against South Korea in midweek. Mina has turned out only 14 times for the Toffees this injury-interrupted season - I suppose it makes a change for another side to have spent ?27m on someone with a poor injury record.

Mina's tale of woe means that it is probably just as well for them that the Michael Keane has been in much better form this season than last. Keane missed out on the World Cup last year, his form being adjudged to have put him even behind Gary Cahill in the pecking order. His improvement has seen him return to the fold at international level and he was on the scoresheet the other night in Montenegro.

French international Lucas Digne is a doubt, having missed Les grenouilles' Euro qualifier at the weekend, another hammy being the rumoured ailment of choice. However. It seems that it's more of a tweak than anything else and his chances of a start have improved by the hour. Leighton Baines is likely to deputise at left back should Digne not make it.

Ah enough of all them. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Firmly filed in the "so stupid it's embarrassing" bin we should first tip the hat towards James McClean who, as is his wont, informed Declan Rice that he could "sod off". That's the James McClean who has 7 U21 caps for Northern Ireland which, whether the intellectually challenged third-rater likes it or not, was the country of his birth. Before switching allegiance to the slightly better side south of the border. Still McClean, I'm sure Declan is grateful for the advice. After all it's not everyone that can aspire to playing under such a managerial heavyweight as Mick McCarthy. I guess if Declan really applies himself, he too could have a career that takes in Wigan, Sunderland and, er, Stoke. Of course, when Rice said something stupid at least he had the excuse of only being 15 at the time. Unlike McClean.

Back in less enlightened times the sort of stand-up comedian who used to do working men's clubs wearing a frilly shirt and bow tie would tell Irish jokes. Meanwhile across the water in Ireland the comedian's Hibernian counterpart would be telling the same joke about "The Kerryman". I'd like to think that somewhere in a parallel universe there are Kerrymen telling James McClean jokes.

Rice had a couple of decent games as England sauntered through matches against the Czech Republic and Montenegro. Even allowing for the fact that, unless you happen to be Scotland, it's harder to miss out on qualification than it is to actually qualify. It's been a good start and Rice did not look out of place in that side. He would have done in the Irish XI of course, his class standing out a mile against the likes of, to pick a random example, James McClean.

And so to us. Well that was a bonkers match a couple of weeks back. Many have said that we were rubbish for 75 minutes. I think that's a slight over generalisation. I thought we were looking good right up to the point at which we scored which was, what 15 minutes? And we did ok in the last 15 I suppose. However, you can't expect to win games if you are poor for an hour. Not everyone will cave in like Huddersfield.

Hopefully the break will have done some good - Arnautovic and Anderson both looked a little out of sorts for much of the game, though Anderson at least perked right up when he moved over to the left in the second half. At the back, although Oggy redeemed himself slightly with his goal it remains to be seen whether that will be enough for him to keep his place with Balbuena being available once more.

Nasri made a difference after the break so it's sod's law that he's picked up a calf injury that makes him unlikely to appear. Still, at least he didn't cost ?27m.

Prediction is going to be a sod this week. On the one hand there's us whose main consistency is the fact that we are inconsistent. On the other we have Everton who appear to be just as inconsistent as we are. On our day we could give them a right tonking. On a different day it could go the other way. So the clever money might go on a draw.

However, since when has my money been clever. The sun has been shining, the birds have been singing, (cook got the shotgun out anyway) and there's pigeon pie on the menu here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. So with the joys of spring being added to the happy pills Matron feeds us I'm going all "what the heck" and I'm going to place the whole ?2.50 I was going to use to buy McClean a red poppy on a home win. So as soon as the Winstone Turf Accountancy App has updated itself (when the fun stops, the BBC will be returning to Westminster) I will place it on a 2-1 win to us - but don't be surprised if it ends up 2-2!

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic: Won 3-1 (Premier League May 2018)

The final game of the season and a brace from Lanzini and one from Arnautovic gave us the three points that saw us finish in 13th place as we said thanks & farewell to David Moyes. And also to Ginge, whose 88th minute appearance drew the loudest cheer of the match. Niasse's 74th minute goal gave the visitors some hope for a while but the second of Lanzini's pair 8 minutes later put the game to bed.

Referee: Paul Tiernan

Will forever be remembered for allowing Everton to kick us off the pitch in this fixture a few years ago - including a particularly disgraceful tackle on Dimitri Payet perpetrated by James McCarthy that put Payet out for months. There was some poetic justice to be had from the football gods just for once though as McCarthy missed most of last year with a broken leg of his own. We do not celebrate injuries here. However, that doesn't mean we have to have sympathy. Meanwhile Tierney continues to referee despite failing to ensure the safety of the players under his charge.

Danger Man: Gylfi Sigurdsson

On his day he can be a rare beacon of class in a squad that even the most ardent of Toffeemen would concede is a bit lacking in the "wow" factor.

Percy's Poser:

Last time out we visited the Huddersfield Examiner who recently published an interview with the chairman of the Huddersfield-based Mid Yorks Chamber of commerce under the headline:

A coffee with Martin Hathawaywho is well connected and would like to have a XXXXXXXXXX with XXX XXXXXX

Congrats and heartiest salutations to Mrs Philomena Wilberforce-McStyrofoam of Vange for correctly identifying the missing words as "Knockabout" and "Ian Botham".

Well done Philomena - the keys to a brand-new Ford Fiesta are in the post. Let us know when you've saved up enough to buy the car itself.

For this week we return for the last time this season to the Liverpool Echo - the only paper that comes complete with its own chips. You know the score: Sort out the missing words from this headline:

Driver crashed into train station and said "it's ok I'm XXXXX and XXXXXXX"

Good luck everyone!

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