Filed: Thursday, 6th April 2017
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy's struggling a bit this week. We hear he is receiving treatment for some sort of strain sustained during the 100th rendition of "The Wenger Hokey-Cokey" up at Arsenal the other night. Apparently he got stuck during the "knees bent" bit. Here's his look at this weekend's visit of Swansea, with due apologies for the overpowering smell of linament...
Swansea next. 3pm kick-off at what I will carry on calling the Olympic Stadium unless the sponsors want to chuck a new S8 plus my way. Then I’m willing to negotiate. Possibly. Trains. Well as mentioned last week, they cleverly held back engineering works in and out of Liverpool Street until we were at home. Great planning guys. The tubes look ok though.
So Swansea, or as the road signs insist for 50% of their surface area, "Abertawe". They currently sit in 18th place with 28 points from their 31 games played so far. That's 3 places and 5 points below us now that we are looking. Like many in their situation they changed their manager when things looked a bit bad. In fact they’ve done so twice this season with Francesco Gudoilin lasting until October before being handed his P45.
Enter Bob Bradley. Now by any stretch of the imagination this was a bit of a gamble. Yes he had experience of managing at international level, notably for his own USA. However, there is a gulf between managing a side through qualifications and friendlies (most of which simply involved having to not be the worst team in the CONCACACACAF zone) and taking over the day to day running of a club, even before you throw the fact that we are talking Premier League into the equation. For all his undoubted experience at representative level his last position prior to Swansea was Le Havre, something one can’t help but feeling ought to have been a clue to the Swansea board.
Bradley muddled through until Boxing Day, including a spell of umpteen consecutive matches letting in three or more goals. The final straw was letting in four. To us. In some respects one could almost take Bradley’s dismissal as an insult (you let in four?? to West Ham??? You’re out) but the way this season has gone you can see their point I suppose. Bradley did not go quietly into the night, claiming that the Swansea board hadn’t realised that his project needed time to work. Reacting to other claims that the players called him “Ronald Reagan” behind his back, Bradley commented that none of his players had ever heard of Reagan.
So enter Paul Clement. Clement has some big names on his CV, albeit largely as assistant manager. Indeed his role immediately prior to taking over at the Liberty stadium was that of assistant to Ancelotti at Bayern. The appointment of Clement sparked a mini-revival – three wins out of four in January saw him get the manager of the month award (do they still give them one of those massive bottles of scotch? I expect not more’s the pity) but they have lost three of their last four and their injury-time capitulation against Spurs the other night (1-0 up on 89 minutes 3-1 down at the end) coupled with Hull’s win saw them slip back into the bottom three.
In some ways Swansea in general and Fabianski in particular were the architects of their own downfall on Wednesday. Fabianski’s time wasting antics, including a lengthy pause for a non-existent “injury” contributed to seven minutes of stoppage so it’s hard to have any sympathy, even if it was against Spurs.
Missing of late has been top scorer top scorer Fernando Llorente. The Spanish striker, who fits in well in Wales with the double “L” at the start of his surname, had been pencilled in for a return to action on Wednesday but his troublesome ankle proved to be too bothersome. Informed sources (well the work experience girl wearing the Bonnie Tyler t-shirt without knowing who she is anyway) reckon that he should be fit for Saturday.
They brought in four players in the last window. Having somehow relieved us of £20m in the summer for Andre, they quelled the withdrawal symptoms of not having anyone on the books with the surname “Ayew” by signing brother Jordan from Villa in return for a conditional £5m plus Neil “Not That Type Of Player” Taylor. Ayew has been playing up front in the absence of Llorente of late with mixed success.
Another £4m went on Netherlands international (16 Dutch Caps for those who like a running gag) Luciano Narsingh. Narsingh came in from PSV with whom he had previously won the Dutch league. He had been selected for the Dutch squad in the last World Cup but missed out through injury.
The defence was bolstered by the addition of left back Martin Olsson who arrived for yet another £4m fee from Norwich. Olsson started his English club career with Blackburn and, although he seems to have been around for the last 40 years, he is in fact still only 28. Much capped by his native Sweden, he caused controversy a few years back by breaking the unwritten rule in football that, no matter how blatantly you cheat, you should never admit to doing so (“The Anfield Protocol”). His sin was admitting to diving to win a penalty in a match for Blackburn against Burnley.
The fourth of the quartet to arrive in January was Tom Carroll who came in from Spurs, Swansea adding another £500,000 to their standard £4m fee to secure the player’s services. How unlike Spurs to overcharge for anything. This is Carroll’s second spell with Swansea, him having had a season-long loan a couple of seasons ago.
I think that's enough of them and, reluctantly, it's time to move onto us. Well for about 20 minutes on Wednesday we looked ok. We were keeping the ball well and playing in their half. Antonio was giving Bellerin a hard time and and even Atikinson wasn’t falling for some of the most laughable diving spotted outside Anfield, though, of course he stopped well short of actually doing the job he is paid to do by booking anyone for simulation. Not for the first time this season we were treated to the sight of an official telling someone that they had dived and proceeding to do nothing about it.
The problem we had then was that we got cocky. Instead of working hard in their half we started to sit back and we allowed a team low on self-confidence to start to knock it around. That’s West Ham for you. Making the very average believe that they are world beaters since 1895. Of course it wouldn’t be Arsenal without the usual assistance from a referee. The handball leading to the first goal was so embarrassing that even Ian “I don’t care how bent Arsenal are They Can Do No Wrong” Wright was forced to grudgingly admit that he would have been “aggrieved” (translation: “gone completely mad”) at the decision.
Those of you who got their information from Match Of The Day won’t be aware that we had a great chance to equalise straightaway, some good work down the left ending with a Carroll shot that required a rather desperate block from the home defence. Can’t imagine why they edited that out. But, by and large the goal removed what little spirit we had and we can be thankful that we weren’t playing anyone half decent or we might have faced a cricket score – and not one involving an England mid-order collapse either.
There was one nice little bit of Irony at the end when they were denied a possible penalty, presumably Atkinson weighed up the balance of probabilities and decided that the most likely position was that it was a dive. 999 times out of 1000 he would be right.
It was worrying to see Antonio depart (or more accurately fail to reappear) after half-time. The fear was that he might have been rushed back from his hamstring problem but it transpires that the player had been suffering from some unspecified “illness” (sick as a parrot?) and should be available for the weekend. The return of Sakho was a welcome sight, though I’d personally have preferred to have kept Carroll on as well if we were genuinely wanting to chase the game (rather than, as I expect, write it off) However, it seems he may have had a recurrence of his groin problem and he is described as a "slight doubt" for the weekend. The remaining injuries are all a while away from return, with the exception of Arbeola whose invisibility has gotten so bad they have even stopped pretending he’s injured, judging by the usual injury sites.
OK this is a bit of a crunch match. We need to be bold and take it to them. We also need to develop a spot of concentration, the lack of which has cost us dearly in recent weeks. It may be the time to reinstate Adrian into the fold – Randolph is currently inspiring not an awful lot of confidence at the moment and he ought to have done better with the first on Wednesday (blatant handball notwithstanding). We need to keep the ball a whole lot better than we did in the second half of Wednesday. For Pete’s sake it’s Swansea we’re playing not Barcelona. Go for it so we can get this season out of the way and regroup for next term.
Prediction? I shouldn’t be optimistic. I’m not optimistic but, I think we will win if that’s not too much of a contradiction in terms. If we can get over a nervy start and stop giving away stupid goals (big if I know) I think an early goal will settle the nerves. I will therefore plump for a home win and I will be putting the whole £2.50 I was going to spend on the best selling book in Islington “How To Do The Hokey Cokey” (When I called the bookshop it was out……) on us to win 2-0.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met at the Boleyn: Lost 1-4 (Premier League May 2016) A rare off day at home last term. We were all over them for 20 minutes and then suddenly found ourselves 3-0 down, including a goal from Ayew (A). Sakho netted our consolation in a match where three of our goals could be traced to the problem right-back position, occupied at that point by Antonio. This match was supposed to have been the final match at the Boleyn but having cheated their way past us in the FA Cup Man Utd found themselves having to come to the Boleyn in midweek instead.
Referee Kevin Friend Another of the “not quite sure what I am doing here” group of referees as opposed to the “you’ve paid to watch me” group. There has, however, been a disturbing hint or two that he aspires to the latter group.
Danger Man: Gylfi Sigurdsson Often the one to make them tick he surely must be able to do better than Swansea? Slav?
Percy’s Poser: Last time out we gave you a “what happened next” after Piers Morgan commented that “You’d have to be stupid to fall off a Segway” when George W Bush did exactly that. Congratulations to Mrs Clarabelle Voicemail-Hacker (no relation) of Great Dunmow who told us that a few years later the obnoxious Morgan had a go on a Segway – and fell off. Mrs V-H added “I am a confirmed agnostic” however sometimes I reflect on this incident and I am reminded of the fact that Morgan broke several ribs in the process. I know from personal experience just how painful broken ribs are so, knowing how much Morgan must have suffered I am forced to wonder if there is a God after all”. Well done Clarabelle! A copy of the “Wit And Wisdom Of Piers Morgan” is on its way to you. You can use the blank pages to write shopping lists on if you like.
For this week’s poser we ask: What was unusual about the sending off of Swansea Striker Walter Boyd against Darlington in 2000? First correct answer out of the digital hat will win Wales. Or, if I find another quid down the back of the sofa, a bar of chocolate.
Good luck everyone!
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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