West Ham United v Crystal Palace

It's Crystal Palace at home this weekend. Cue Preview Percy's traditional hatchet job on the London Borough of Croydon which may, in some way, be connected with the fact that his ex-missus came from there. This week's random musical instrument is the glockenspiel, naturally...

Next up it's home to Crystal Palace. The match kicks off at 5:30 pm, partly for the purposes of broadcast communications. The engineering works that blight both the Southend Victoria line and the C2C lines will be in effect with rail replacement buses nausing things up for everyone in that part of the world. Check before you leave and all that.

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Palace are of course from Croydon, the borough that was a the subject of a tug of war between Surrey and London in the 1960s. London lost, gaining custody to 380,000 n'er do wells including the loathsome former Mrs Percy and her antecedents, some of whom, to be fair, have now learnt to tie their own shoelaces, even if they haven't quite worked out that the shoes going on the feet is the first part of the process.

A cultural wasteland that is currently rejoicing in the fact that overrated "artist" Banksy has opened what appears to be a "pop-up" shop "selling" all sorts of what is admitted to be "rubbish". Apparently much of the inspiration for the "installation" came from the "artist's" desire to protect his copyright.

Which reminds me, if anyone has a number for anyone connected with the estate of the late author David Nobbs you might want to give them a call - the whole thing bears a remarkable resemblance to the second series of the marvellous Fall & Rise Of Reginald Perrin in which the eponymous hero opens up a shop called "Grot" selling all sorts of what is admitted to be "rubbish" - square hula hoops, his son-in-law's sprout wine, that sort of thing.

None of which has much relevance to this weekend's proceedings but does go a long way to explaining why, despite their laughable "ultras", they are the club to whom the rest of the league looks at and says "oh, are you still here?" when they turn up on the fixture list.

The club from Croydon currently sit in ninth place with 11 points from the seven games so far. Results have been mixed with points being largely picked up with teams from the nether regions of the league. A 0-0 draw on the opening day at home to Everton was followed up by a 1-0 reverse at the home of Sheffield Hypocrisy. Their first win came away at Old Trafford in the Croydon Derby, a result that was promptly followed up by a home win against Aston Villa- a result which owed much to Kevin Friend's brain freeze of a decision to punish a non-existent dive by Grealish at the end.

September saw one of each result, losing 4-0 to Spurs at the Toilet Bowl, drawing 1-1 at home with Wolves, finishing off the month with last weekend's routine 2-0 dispatch of Norwich. In the middle of that they were put out of the League Cup on penalties by the same zoo that did for Spurs last week.

Daisy, the full-time permanent assistant with the beautiful smile informs me that they brought in four players this summer. One wouldn't normally spend too much time on the background of someone brought in as a third-choice 'keeper. However, the custodian in question is one Stephen Henderson, the Irishman who spent a couple of years at the Boleyn not really playing for us.

He did pick up a play-off winner's medal in 2012 but much of his Hammers career was spent out on loan. In fact much of his career overall has been spent on loan, his list of employers reading Aston Villa, Bristol Coty, York City, Weymouth, Aldershot, Yeovil, Portsmouth, Us, Ipswich, Bournemouth, Charlton, Forest and now Palace, who he joined on a free on being let go by Forest. A quick session on the abacus suggest that he averages 14 league games a season, that figure being skewed by the lengthy two-year sojourn at the Valley where he managed to rack up over 50 league apps.

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They brought in a striker in the form of Jordan "Thingy's brother" Ayew, who fetched ?2.5m coming in from Swansea. He's not really a new signing though - he spent last season on loan at Selhurst Park as Swansea worked on cutting their post-relegation wage bill.

They didn't have to check the bank balance to bring in Gary Cahill. Having made a handful of appearances for the Chelsea Money Laundry he took the hint and left Stamford Bridge on a freebie in the sort of deal for a past his prime player we used to be notorious for. He missed the first couple of games through injury, eventually making his debut up at Old Trafford.

They paid out ?3m for James McCarthy, whose disgusting tackle on Payet a few years back still grates both in these parts and amongst the minds of most right-thinking people. It will be interesting to see if the Toffees' supporters who rejoiced in that particular act of thuggery are quite so impressed when the fellow professional he deliberately goes out to cripple happens to be wearing an Everton shirt later this season. McCarthy's five league appearances this season have all come from the bench this season.

In addition to the permanent deals they brought in Real Betis midfielder Victor Camarasa on loan. The deal includes an option to purchase at the end of the season, assuming that Camarasa can stomach Croydon for that length of time. There again he spent last season on loan at Cardiff so he is clearly not that fussy about location.

So that's ?5.5m plus whatever fee they may have negotiated with Betis for Camarasa spent. Which doesn't seem an awful lot of money. Especially when you consider that they somehow managed to extract ?50m from Moan Utd for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who, by looking very ordinary against us a couple of weeks ago, seems to be fitting in very well with his equally as mediocre team mates up at Old Trafford.

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Maybe the bulk of that fee has been earmarked for the new stand they have been given planning permission for. Work was said last year to have been cleared to start "as soon as possible" but some last-minute planning hassles and, presumably having to wait for the Wan-Bissaka money to clear seem to have caused a few delays in that regard. Still, any improvement to a ground whose safety certificate for the away section is surely the punchline to a sick joke is to be welcomed I suppose.

Meanwhile, in the wild and wacky world of Association Football Liverpool received a ?200k fine - half of which was suspended - for fielding an ineligible player in the League Cup. The authorities took "extenuating circumstances" into account in coming to that punishment, those circumstances being that Liverpool must never ever be punished properly for anything they ever do.

Witness last season's decision to not punish Salah for a dive, the reasons for which both contradicted the FA's own rules on retrospective punishment, and also the laws of the game themselves. Remember the world record fine we got for fielding a player that actually was eligible? Or the time we were made to replay a match for exactly the same offence? Something stinks here and it's not just the Mersey.

On a lighter note, I know we have all been laughing our socks off at a certain so-called Champions League result in midweek but there is a serious point to consider. I know it's funny but really guys, nobody should take humour in the situation that a once-proud club finds itself in. I mean it must be terrible for Bayern to have to lower itself to playing the likes of Spurs, like some former boxing champion reduced to beating up drunks in fairground booths, just in the hope that they can knock over enough no-hopers to get through to the knockout stages where there might be a couple of clubs worthy of a match.

That's the sort of predictable sad state of affairs that results from years of tinkering with what was once a prestigious trophy. Meanwhile, back at the Toilet Bowl, Spurs' official view on next year's new Superfluous Thursday Night Conference - as it shall henceforth be known in this column is believed to have swung from "nothing to do with us" to "what a good idea" in the space of a 90 minutes, whilst Jan Vertonghen admitted to being "ashamed" and that he would be encountering "sleepless nights", though quite what his thoughts were on the Bayern defeat he didn't say.

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"Enough of this Tottenham Taunting Tomfoolery", I hear you say. "What Of Us?" Well last week's draw was one of those matches that, while you are watching it you are caught up in the tension of it all but when you are walking back to the Avram Grant Rest Olympic Home For The Bewildered's Happy Bus and you process what you have just seen, you think "on the whole that was an entertaining game of football".

The VAR stuff still needs sorting of course. I don't have any qualms over the decisions it came to in the match, but did it really need to take that long? Their equaliser showed a non-scoring player in an offside position so the one question should have been "was he (in the modern parlance) 'active'" - or as is a more descriptive and useful definition, was he "interfering with play", for example by being in Fab's eyeline. If the answer is "yes" no goal. If "no" then award the goal.

It's taken me about as long to write that bit as it should have taken whichever idiot whose turn it was to sit in the bunker to confirm the decision. Instead, I grew a beard in the time it took them to dig out their (presumably mint condition) copy of the laws of the game and work out what was going on. Similarly for the disallowed goal. And in amongst all that Atwell reminded us just why he is regarded as the Frank Spencer (ask your parents or grandparents) of the refereeing world, failing to spot such basic offences as foul throws.

Fabianski's injury was a major blow of course. Roberto looked shaky initially, mainly as a result of messing up his first kick and it was noticeable that in the first half the defence seemed reluctant to play the ball back to him even when that would have been the obvious option. That in itself doesn't help a keeper's confidence. However, he did chip in with a couple of vital saves in the second half once he had grown into the game a bit more - it's always difficult to come on as a sub 'keeper part way through the game as you don't get same type of bedding-in opportunity the outfield subs do.

Fab's absence is going to be measured in months plural and he will join Winston Reid and Michail Antonio on the sick list. Antonio is said to be progressing ahead of schedule in his rehab - though I'd urge caution to the lad. Our history is littered with examples of players being rushed back too soon and, whilst I am sure the medical team know what they are doing I reckon that they need to be firm with the player and not let him back before they are sure the hamstring won't go again. I remember my own injury issues when I tried to come back too soon with the result that I will never play the glockenspiel again and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

And so to the prediction. This will be a clash of styles of course, with the visitors not exactly noted for their subtlety and, in Zaha, they have a player who could be quite good if he stayed on his feet once in a while - maybe VAR will be reigning that in much to the dismay of Milivojevic who, as chief penalty taker, has profited handsomely, from Zaha's regular penalty box-inspired attacks of vertigo in the past. So we will have to be careful there. Thankfully Yarmolenko seems to have got his own bit of Meniere's disease out of his system - I don't recall him sullying his fine performance down at Dean Court with a touch of the Salahs and long may that continue.

It's the likes of Yarmalenko and Lanzini - who prompted the recovery last week - who will be key to this match. On the front foot they will enjoy taking on the likes of Cahill on the deck whilst I can see Haller relishing the prospect of holding up the ball against Cahill and Kelly. We must ensure we get on the front foot in the first place of course. But, with that proviso in mind, I am still quietly confident that we can wrap up three more points.

With that in mind I will be placing the ?2.50 that would have gone on chipping in to the crowdfunding to pay Liverpool's fine that I suspect will commence once the Liverpool Echo can start up a charity campaign, on a home win. So Mr Winstone, pray open up your turf accountancy app (when the fun stops I've finally remembered to add a "when the fun stops" comment to this part of the preview) and allow me wager the lot on a 2-1 win for us.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at The Olympic Won 3-2 (Premier League December 2018)

Not as close as the scoreline suggests though we had a spot of luck when a free-kick came off the bar at the end of the first half, denying the visitors what would have been a 2-0 lead that would have been even less reflective of the state of play. Three minutes into the second half Snodgrass curled one in. On 62 minutes Chicharito stuck a rebound away after a free-kick had been saved. Anderson's curler gave him the KUMB goal of the season gong. A late goal from Schlupp might have made things shaky but didn't.


Referee: Michael Oliver

The experiment of employing invertebrates as match officials continues.


Danger Man: Wilfried Zaha

With a gullible ref (see above) the phrase Milivojevic (pen) is a regular sight on scoresheets for a reason. They will have to find another to convert Zaha's unsteadiness into goals though as the Serb will sit this one out on the naughty step having picked up five yellows.


Percy's Poser:

Last week the Bournemouth Echo came up with a corker which had something for everyone. All you had to do was identify the missing words from the following headline:
Neighbours' XXXX-XXXXXXXXX spat boils over as XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX claims "they called me a XXXXXXX XXXXX"

Well done to Mrs Anthea Probiotic-Cakestand of North Weald who correctly identified the missing words as: "Tree-poisoning", "transgender sandblaster" and "gutless freak". A bit obvious really.

This week we visit the pages of "My London" - which is where the "Croydon Advertiser" web entry diverts to. Even the local paper is embarrassed by its surroundings it seems. Anyhow it published an article entitled

XX irritating things about living in Croydon

To win the prize all you have to do is a) guess the missing number; and b) give a plausible reason as to why that number is so small.

Good luck everyone!

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