Watford v West Ham United

It's the last Preview Percy of the season. Before he ventures off into the sunshine in the company of Daisy the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, here's his look at Sunday's trip to Watford which contains a handy hint re what to do on 1st June......

So just as one gets used to the season being there it suddenly ends with a visit to Watford for a 3pm kick-off this Sunday. Travel? Well there's lots of stuff going on with C2C with replacement buses and diversions into Liverpool Street. The Southend Victoria branch will also have the usual rubbish. Plus if you use the Met to get up there there's nothing between Baker Street and Aldgate. You do realise that everything will be normal for the next couple of months don't you? They will wait until all the football stuff is done and pack away their picks and shovels for the summer, pausing only to consult next season's fixture list before wreaking havoc on the football supporter's weekend routine once more.

Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, informs me that the teams have met on 76 previous occasions with us having won 42, drawn 13 and lost 21 in that time. The first meeting, as I am sure you will all remember, took place in division 2 of the old Southern League, a thrilling 0-0 draw at their place in November 1898. It was quite pleasant for the time of year I recall.

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At present they sit in 10th place with 50 points from the 37 matches played to date. That's one place and point above our good selves so a win would see us swap places. However, whilst the league position is all well and good, the fact that Wolves have clinched the 7th spot that seems to be a thing this year means that they may have bigger fish to fry in the form of next weekend's Cup Final where they will face Man City.

Their recent form has been patchy. Since the start of April they have won just the two matches, At home to Fulham (4-1) and away at Huddersfield (2-1). Spot the connection? The only point gained in that period came courtesy of a St George's Day home 1-1 draw against Southampton. Other than that it's been defeats to Arsenal and Wolves at home (0-1 & 1-2 respectively) and Chelsea away (3-0).

They don't appear to have been overly busy in January. Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, tells me that they did bring in one first team squad player in the form of Filip Stuparevic. You won't see him on display this weekend however. As soon as the ink had dried on Watford's cheque for ?2m the player was immediately loaned back to Vozdovac, the Serbian outfit whence he came. Stuparevic is one of 29 loan deals to have been signed by the club this season. Not up to Chelsea standards but still a hefty number nonetheless.

They have two returning to the squad from the injury list. Player of the season Etienne Capoue will be returning from a groin strain, something that he may have aggravated by having to walk to the bus stop serving as he is a 3 month ban from driving having been clocked at 116 mph on the M25. Which is an achievement in itself. The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's Happy Bus is lucky to do a tenth of that speed on a good day seeing how chocca the road usually is. I can only assume Capoue must have been using the road at 3am or something.

Also returning to availability will be Centre back Miguel Britos who has recovered from having a wisdom tooth extracted, or put in. Don't expect to see him however, He's only made three league appearances all season - and one of those was as a sub. His contract is up at the end of the season and he's already expressed a desire to return to his native Uruguay when his time is up.

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Manager Gracia has been quoted as saying that he doesn't intend to rest players in advance of the Cup Final. Which will probably mean a start for the obnoxious Troy Deeney. Brave boy Deeney was quite happy to give it large in front of the crowd at the Olympic earlier this season, claiming that it was all part of that over-used word "banter". Funny then that when some weedy students decided to engage him in "banter" a few years back his sense of humour disappeared and his kicking in of some poor swot's head earned him 10 months inside. Class. Not.

Deeney shares his place at the top of the goal scoring chart with Gerard Deulofeu, both having 11 goals across all competitions this season. The Spaniard/Catalonian (delete as per personal preference) is being linked with a move to Milan in the summer though he is making all the correct politically comments that one usually hears when a player's agent is touting him about or after a pay rise ("It's very flattering to be linked with AC Milan but I'm concentrating on doing my job here at Watford"). That is one that Watford supporters might be glancing nervously at as the window shuts in a couple of months' time.

They do have an ex-Hammer in the ranks, though sadly for him Domingos Quina will sit this one out through injury. We got a million for him last summer with him fretting abut the lack of first XI opportunities at the Olympic. Which is ironic really given the fact that Rice has gone from occasional first team starter to England over the course of the last 12 months.

I think we will gloss over the wide and wacky world of Association Football this week. The prospect of two of the most obnoxious sets of supporters you will ever meet going to Madrid for the so-called Champions League final is one that doesn't bear thinking about. Still I understand that there is a 2 hour special of "When Earwigs Attack" on the Discovery Channel that night so at least you have something to watch. The amusing thing will be seeing how many dim Spurs fans end up on the wrong continent.

On the home front the Scousers kept themselves in the hunt for the league by virtue of yet another blatant dive. It might be an exaggeration to suggest that they'd be fighting relegation but for the patronage of PGMOL, but they sure as hell wouldn't be anywhere near the title without the points gained from the bent refereeing they have always enjoyed. Let's put it this way, when even Souness - no stranger to the "Liverpool players always have a right to go down" theory - admits that it was a dive you KNOW something's wrong.

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Let's move swiftly on to us. Last week was comfy in the end, though we didn't start the second half well, sitting back and inviting them on to us in a manner that I always dislike us doing. Thankfully they were handicapped by one big problem: namely, the fact that they are not very good. In the end any result other than a home win would have been wrong.

On the injury front Anderson and Rice have both recovered from whatever bug it was that got the better of them. Cresswell's knee and Nasri's shin/calf are all ok which means that only Reid Yarmolenko and Carroll are hors de combat. Yarmolenko has been training with the squad but wisely it's been decided to give him a decent pre-season to work to getting him back to full fitness. He had just started to show what he is capable of so he will be a welcome returner to the ranks next August.

Well it's final prediction of the season time. Though Gracia has stated that resting players is not an option for him, I will believe that when I see it. There must be a temptation to leave one or two out - especially as red card dismissals count across both the league and FA Cup. Even those who do play the match may have one eye on Wembley. On the other hand, this hasn't been a particularly happy hunting ground for us in recent years. Whilst an away win won't be beyond the bounds of possibility I think the lure of wherever it is I have to avoid this summer so that I don't bump into footballers on the sauce will be uppermost in one or two players' minds (not you Declan - you have a Nations League trophy to pick up for us). So on balance I reckon a draw will be on the cards.

So for the last time this season I will fire up the Winstone Turf Accountancy App(when the fun stops you have seen who scraped into the so-called Champions League Final) and place the ?2.50 I might otherwise have placed with those Malaysian betting syndicates who were allegedly so busy this week on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the summer!

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When last we met at Vicarage Road Lost 2-0 (Premier League November 2018)

First game in charge for David Moyes who professed disappointment that one or two big reputation players hadn't impressed him. Hughes in the first half and Richarlison in the second were on target but it took a string of saves from Gomes to prevent us getting anything out of the game.

Referee Chris Kavanagh

Yup that confirms it. Kavanagh is this season's Atkinson. If in doubt give West Ham to Kavanagh and hope nobody notices.

Danger Man: Troy Deeney

Not that he is any good - well not as good as he thinks he is anyway. I''s just that he is the sort of bog standard run-of-the-mill forwards who score against us.

Percy's Poser

Last week we went to the Southern Daily Echo whose crime page brought us the following gem:

Burglar who ate XXXXXXX during raid is caught thanks to DNA

Well done to Mrs Victoria Vapo-Rub of Stanford Le Hope who correctly identified the missing word as "yoghurt". Well done Victoria!

This week we visit the Watford Observer which is just as dull as ditch water as the town it serves. From there in the "it's all happening" department we have obtained the following headline:

Thieves make off with XXXXXXX

(Clue: If Plod had decided to make this a priority it wouldn't have been the fastest of chases.)

I'll put up the correct answer sometime after the game ends so you aren't waiting all summer for a reply.

***UPDATE: If you're really that interested the missing word was "tractor". Hey who said anything about it being interesting?!

Good luck everyone!

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