West Ham United v Brighton & Hove Albion

We thought of putting up a glittery web post giving five reasons you should look forward to Preview Percy's look at the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion this week. We still might - if we can find any reasons...

Brighton & Hove Albion at home await us next at the Olympic. Fans of engineering work will be delighted to know that the Southend Victoria branch works are back all weekend. The rest of you in that part of the world will just be annoyed.

So the Seagulls then. They are within reaching distance at the moment being two points and two places above us in 15th place. This is largely a result of some indifferent form over the past two months. Since beating Arenal at the Library at the start of December they've just got the one win in nine, that coming against Bournemouth at home over the festive period.

Otherwise they have drawn four and lost four, the draws coming at home to Wolves and Chelsea and Villa and away at Palace. The defeats have come at home to Sheffield United and away at Spurs, Everton and Bournemouth.

Daisy, the full-time personal assistant with the beautiful smile informs me that they have been involved in what has been one of the funnier transfers of the current window, the net result being that they will have to pay a fee for signing their own player. Even our owners haven't thought of that one yet.

What happened is that they bought Argentinian Midfielder Alexis Mac Allister for about ?7m this time last year. Being deficient in the work permit department to the tune of one (presumably the authorities were worried he was Scottish), Brighton loaned him back to the vendors Argentinos Juniors for the remainder of last season.

Finding the player still short of the requisite number of caps to qualify for the coveted permit, Brighton loaned him on to Boca Juniors for this season. Eventually a brown envelope with OHMS on the front arrived with the relevant paperwork.

A quick call to Boca ensued whereupon it was pointed out that Brighton hadn't included recall clause in the loan deal, so, whilst Boca would be happy to drive the player to Buenos Aires airport, they would only do so if paid to break the loan arrangement. At the time of writing a deal has been agreed but the player won't be back for a bit as he's playing for the Argentinian U23s in the Olympic qualifying tournament.

It was all very redolent of Joe Kinnear's bonkers spell at Newcastle where he told his scouts to sign an opposition player he had seen in a reserve match, only to be told the player was already on the Magpies' books and was merely on loan at the other club.

The other done deal this window was that involving Aaron Mooy, whose loan deal from Huddersfield was converted into a permanent deal the other day for a reported ?5m.

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Top scorer is summer signing Neal Maupay who has chipped in with 8 in the league this season from his 20 appearances so far. For some reason I had it in my head that veteran journeyman of the sort that always scores against us Glenn Murray had chipped in with a fair few when coming on as sub. Daisy's research on the other hand suggests that he hasn't scored in 14 league appearances this term and that his only goal thus far came in the League Cup. Which suggests that I ought to pay more attention when watching football highlights.

And so to the wild and wacky world of Association Football. In the pst there have been some weeks where I have been scrabbling around to find something to write for this section. So I would like to register my gratitude to whichever bright spark it was within the GSB ranks who thought it was a good idea to make an official complaint to Sky over last weekend's "Sunday Supplement" programme.

You will recall that comments on the programme ranged from describing the club as "shambles" and as being run like a "fruit stall". One can only presume that the complaints were raised to complain about breaches of the Official Secrets Acts.

Of course, the prospect of Sky being banned for "unnecessarily negative" coverage is as remote as the prospect of finding an honest ref in a Liverpool match - the recently released accounts and the dire warning of the consequences of relegation means that the Sky cash is too important to turn away if those ?200k bonuses are to be paid out.

However, if the club are consistent in their treatment of individual journos, those post-match press conferences are soon going to be played out solely in front of the two splendid chaps who cover the game for hospital radio every week and that chap from Talksport who will only be there for the food.

I have written in the past of the time one of our number suggested to the Broness that the club had a habit of lurching from one PR crisis to another. Challenged to name one, our representative reeled off a whole list of stuff which didn't go down to well. Well you can add the Sky complaint to that list.

And you can also add the website post before Wednesday's match which wasn't actually entitled "Five reasons why Liverpool are so wonderful" but might as well have been. When the post started to garner the sort of reaction you might expect of something that was right down there amongst the "come and see the City Superstars" advert a while back, it disappeared for a while to be replaced by something less fawning.

Bit of a shame that the original version was printed in the programme then or they might have gotten away with it. In the meantime Sky will have some different legal problems to deal with as the National Association Of Fruit Stallholders consults its legal team to have a chat about defamation.

As for Wednesday's game, well you may recall that I mentioned PGMOL's propensity to assist Liverpool in any way possible and that I suggested that, in addition to the headline hugging VAR stuff there was a far more insidious habit of making sure that the seemingly minor stuff went their way. Now I'm not one to blow my own trumpet but I was right wasn't I.

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Isn't it funny how the definition of "clear and obvious" gets shifted so that even in 4K ultra HD and super slo-mo it is impossible for VAR to give any decision that does not benefit Liverpool. There was handball in the build up to the penalty and it was a handball of the sort that we have been penalised for on a number of occasions this season so it's galling, but sadly not surprising that the one major decision went their way. It always does.

The tactical fouls that were ignored, the frankly disgraceful yellow card given to Noble and the hilarious free-kick conceded by Rice for looking at Van Dyke in a funny way were all symptomatic of a disgustingly one-sided performance from the match officials. I have no idea whether competent and honest officials would have made a difference but wouldn't it be nice to find out one day?

I mentioned last time out the possibility of improving and protecting the game by importing laws on tactical fouling from other sports. To that Idea I would like to add one ore idea pinched from from cricket, namely the idea of having neutral officials. It would make a change. Meanwhile, if, as Pele suggested, football is the beautiful game, Liverpool and its supporters remain one of the biggest zits on its face.

Ngakaki's debut was promising. Not the finished article by any stretch but some nice stuff in there all the same. It was a harder working performance all round - it couldn't have been worse after West Brom I suppose - and we weren't steamrollered. With a bit of luck and a more honest ref we might not have gotten anything out of it but a goal or two weren't far away.

Injury news is that the usual suspects - Anderson, Yarmolenko and Fredericks are all "three weeks away" which is here they all seem to have been for the last month or so. Wilshere will be back for this one though. Not. He has apparently been "working in the gym" though this may well just mean that he has been sweeping up or folding the towels or something.

Incidentally some of you may have seen the social media post at the club that showed the players training before Wednesday's match. Appearing to show "state of the art" facilities, the whole thing as carefully shot so that there wasn't the merest glimpse of any "temporary modular building units" which is what the people at PortaKabin like us to call PortaKabins just in case they aren't PortaKabins. Funny how that video appeared after the facilities took so much stick in the press.

Back to Saturday and we are sweating over Antonio's hamstring again - the irony being that the one West Ham player to feature in the aforementioned fawning article about Liverpool wasn't fit enough to take part in the game. New signing Tomas Soucek could make the squad as well - he has only just commenced training so a place in the starting XI is unlikely.

Well this one is what the clich?-o-matic machine insists that I refer to as a "must win". On the pitch they are in as bad a place as we are. However, they haven't got our current owner-inspired atmosphere. A good start is vital - and for a change it would be nice to score early, hold on to a lead and, who knows, maybe add to it? Just to cover the possibility of us letting one in. They don't travel well so with that in mind I'll be putting the ?2.50 that I as going to add to our transfer kitty on a 2-1 win to us, more in hope than expectation. Make it so Mr Winstone.

Enjoy the game!

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When Last We Met At The Olympic: Drew 2-2 (Premier League January 2019)

It was 0-0 on 55 mins. On the hour we were 2-0 down. 8 minutes later it was 2-2. Arnautovic's brace earned the point.

Referee: Michael Oliver

Rated by the obnoxious Alan Green as the league's best ref. Even if that were true, which it isn't, that would make him simply hopeless.

Danger Man: Leandro Trossard

Major creator of the few goals they score

Percy's Poser:

Last time out we looked at the pages of the Liverpool Echo from which the following headline was nicked:

Mersyside's back to front XXX XXXXX that nobody got to use

Well done to Mrs Geraldine Copper-Sulphate of Ingatestone who correctly identified the missing words as "ski slope" the article. They built a ski slope in Kirkby apparently but it kept getting vandalised during construction. The (incorrect) rumour was that it had been built facing the wrong way. In the end as the local scallys tore bits off it one more time, after two years of construction and about a million quid in today's money spent they wrote the whole thing off as a bad deal before spending the next 40 years moaning that they never got any money out of London.

The Brighton Argus is our next port of call for a bit of punnage:

XXX-XXXX as heritage group want milk company's advert on historic church taken down

Good luck!

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