AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United

Those of you that thought they saw Preview Percy smiling at the weekend won't have made the same mistake after the midweek trip to Oxford.

Meanwhile, if you ever needed to find a connection between Narnia, a Prime Minister from the sixties and seventies, and the Dagenham Girl Pipers, read on as the grumpy one takes a look at this weekend's trip to AFC Bournemouth...

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Next up it's down the M3 and M27 to what used to be Hampshire before someone moved the Dorset border a few yards to the right, where we will face what used to be called Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic before somebody - possibly the same person who likes to move borders a few yards to the right- decided to cock a snook at tradition and rename the club "AFC Bournemouth", saving the club millions in compensation payable to club typists suffering from RSI.

Kick-off at what I will refer to as Dean Court (in the absence of sponsorship money coming my way) is at 3pm. You can tell we are away - the Shenfield shenanigans of recent weeks seem to have ended so replacement buses will hold no sway over that part of the world. However, work on the lines between Basingstoke and Woking will mean diversions to and from Bournemouth via the Portsmouth line, meaning that a journey one might reasonably expect to do in a shade under two hours on a fast train is more likely to take nearer three. Check before you leave.

It's been a Ted Rogers start to the season for the Cherries who have a 3-2-1 record thus far this term. Since the opening day 1-1 draw at home to Sheffield Hypocrisy and the subsequent 2-1 defeat of Villa on their own patch, all their results have finished 3-1 in one direction or another. They lost at home to Man City and away to Leicester by that amount, then beating Everton at home and Southampton away by that score. All of which leaves them in sixth spot with 10 points from six games, a point and a place behind our good selves.

Like ourselves they will be "concentrating on the league" for the next few months having been knocked out of the League Cup, being beaten 2-0 by that well-known tailors Burton. The match was apparently blighted by numerous power failures which affected the local area, so rumours that Eddie Howe was to be found rummaging around the stadium fuse box with the score at 1-0 can be discounted.

Daisy, the full-time personal assistant with the beautiful smile informs me that four first XI squad members arrived in the summer on permanent deals. First to turn up with a holdall containing boots and shin-pads was Bristol City central defender Lloyd Kelly. The 20-year-old came in for a fee of ?13m having been with the Robins since 2017, much of his life up to that point in foster care so more power to his elbow. Not literally obviously - that's a red card offence - but you know what I mean.

The transfer charabanc moved across from Bristol to Luton, who were raided for defender Jack Stacey in return for an "undisclosed" fee that the whole world and his mum seems to know was ?4m. Stacey started his career at Reading but spent most of his life at the Wiggydome away from the Wiggydome on loan.

After a short spell with Barnet, the Reading management decided to play a practical joke on the lad, sending him first to Carlisle then to Exeter. Had the season been long enough Aberdeen and Plymouth in that order were lined up for the next loan spells. Probably. However, fed up with the quality of sandwiches of Cross Country he threw his hat into the ring (see what I did there?) at Kenilworth Road, being part of the side that got promoted to League 1 in 2017-18.

Bournemouth picked over the carcass of relegated Huddersfield Town for the services of midfielder Philip Billing. Although Copenhagen-born, he came over to Huddersfield at the age of 17 and came through their youth system. Capped at U17 and U19 level by the Danes, he did get a call from the Nigerian FA who were aware that his mum hailed from their shores. However, he elected to stay as part of the Danish set-up though he has yet to gain full honours despite having had call-ups to the squad. He was, apparently the tallest midfielder in the Premier League last term, though I don't suppose there's an award for that to put on the mantelpiece.

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Another who elected to give Nigeria a body swerve was Lagos-born winger Arnaut Danjuma who cost ?13.7m to bring in from Club Brugge. Prior to joining the Belgians he had spent his career in the Dutch league, having spells at PSV, NEC as well as, for all I know, GCSE and R2D2 as well. It seems that nobody from the "Super Eagles" bothered to get in touch about his availability whilst in the Netherlands, for whom he qualified through his father, and who were only too happy to award him a couple of Dutch caps.

In addition to the four permanent deals signed they also dipped a toe into the loan market, bringing in the late former Prime Minister and MP for Huyton Harold 'Harry' Wilson, aka Baron Wilson of Riveaulx. Despite passing away in 1995 he signed his first professional contract for Liverpool in 2014, though first XI opportunities have been a bit limited on Merseyside.

He spent last season on loan at Derby though his biggest claim to fame arises from his full Welsh debut at the age of 16. His arrival on pitch in the 87th minute of a match against Belgium netted his Grandad ?125,000, who had placed ?50 on hid grandson becoming an international footballer when the kid was a mere 18 months old. William Hill were the bookies taking that particular hit, Winstone the Turf Accountant having hidden behind his sofa once he'd calculated the odds of an ex-Prime Minister from Yorkshire getting a full cap for Wales.

The Cherries have five on the sick list for this one. Gosling (groin), Brooks (ankle), Smith (thigh) Daniels and former Hammer Stanislas (both knee) are all definitely out. No fitness tests required here.

Let's move on to this week in the wacky world of association football. Just when you thought FIFA might be getting its act together they manage to conjure up a fresh voting scandal from their rather pointless "Best" awards.
Mo "Tom Daley" Salah got in a bit of a strop with the Egyptian delegation who had failed to give him their vote for player of the year. It seems that the Egyptian votes which, we were assured, would have made no difference to the result, weren't counted because they were done in capitals rather than in joined-up writing. Genuinely. It's not the first time the Egyptian FA has upset their player - he once threatened to walk out over them not paying image rights.

The voting "irregularities" continued with a number of countries denying that their votes were cast in the manner shown on the official list. The Nicaraguan delegate, for example, denied casting any vote whatsoever, presumably, this being FIFA, nobody having come up with enough cash to make it worth his while.

Meanwhile Jurgen Klopp managed to get "best coach" on his CV for only finishing second in the league thanks to the generosity and assistance of match officials, and for beating Tottenham, something that even Steve Bruce has managed. A closer look at Klopp's votes showed that his "award" owed a lot to the support of such footballing powers as Narnia, Ruritania and Oak Furnitreland. And, probably, Scotland.

Then we move to Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is where the great and the good administrators of UEFA seem to be living. You see, not content with replacing the European Cup with the so-called Champions League, a trophy that can be won by beating Tottenham, and foisting the Thursday Night League on a world that can't be bothered with it until the final stages, they have come up with something called the "Europa Conference League" aka "The Other Thursday Night League".

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It's a competition that you didn't know you wanted for the very good reason that you almost certainly don't. It appears that this latest wheeze will be inhabited by those who don't qualify for the other two competitions, and probably those who get knocked out of the other two competitions. You might think this is another way for the richer clubs to protect their "divine right" to a so-called Champions League slot. You would be right.

Meanwhile Liverpool didn't have everything their own way this week. They failed in an attempt to register the word 'Liverpool' as a trademark on the grounds that the name had already been taken by the city of that name. Undeterred, the club announced that they would be demanding a royalty payment from any club successfully using tactical fouling to break up play on the grounds that they were doing it first.

And finally spare a thought for Barcelona who felt the full wrath of the Spanish FA who came down hard on the Catalan outfit following their illegal approach to Antoine Griezmann earlier this year. The resulting fine at today's exchange rate works out at about ?265. That'll teach them.

And so, unfortunately, to West Ham United. Those of us who thought our second string of senior players might show enough gumption and professionalism to see us through to the 4th round of the League Cup by defeating third-tier Oxford found our naivet? get the kicking it probably deserves. I am usually loath to query players' commitment but when even the manager does so you know there is an attitude issue to be raised.

I for one am fed up with this happening practically every season and it has to damn well stop. Of course, I've been saying that for years and there will some who say "typical West Ham - beating Man Utd one day and losing to Oxford the next". To which I would reply:

1) There's nothing special about beating Man Utd - much as their muppet fans seem to think that there is; and

2) Surely it doesn't HAVE to be this way. I should point out that Oxford fully deserved their win and I do not in any way shape or form wish to diminish their achievement - I doff my cap to them and wish them well in the next round. But for Pete's sake the next time we get drawn against lower league opposition can we at least respect the fans that travel to such places in crappy weather by at least not making it easy for them?

Moving forward, and it appears that hopes suggesting Ryan Fredericks' muscular injury might have resolved itself in time for the weekend were somewhat misplaced with the player rated as only 25% likely to be available. Manuel Lanzini is back in contention, whilst Winston Reid and Michail Antonio will be the others to miss out.

And on to the prediction. Let's hope that Premier League West Ham turn up rather than the League Cup version. I am going to assume that's the case and, notwithstanding the fact that Dean Court has not been a happy hunting ground for us over the past few years, I am going to opt for us not to return empty-handed this time around, though I reckon it will be honours even. So the ?2.50 that I was going to send to Barcelona in their hour of need will, instead, be invested with Winstone The Turf Accountant on a wager that we will emerge with a point from a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at Dean Court: Lost 2-0 (Premier League January 2019)

Marko Arnautovic's sulk was in full swing, his absence from this one being explained by the player's head being occupied by "another issue". Replacement Carroll blazed over from yards out when the game was goalless. Callum Wilson stuck away a freak stunner whilst Joshua King wrapped it up in stoppage time. Over 60% possession but no end product was the order of the day.

Referee: Stuart Atwell

The standard of officiating in the Premier League would actually improve if Atwell were to retire. A bit.

Danger Man: Callum Wilson

Always seems to get at least one against us.

Percy's Poser:

In midweek we had a gander at the pages of the Oxford Mail which posed the following tough question:

"Fancy learning how to XXXXXX XXXXX?"

Congratulations to Mrs Endeavourina Morse of Great Baddow for correctly identifying both the missing words - Morris Dance - and the correct answer to the question, which was, of course, "No".

This week the Bournemouth Echo has come up with a corker which has something for everyone. All you have to do is identify the missing words from the following headline:

Neighbours' XXXX-XXXXXXXXX spat boils over as XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX claims "they called me a XXXXXXX XXXXX"

Good luck everyone!

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