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West Ham United v Leicester City


Filed: Thursday, 23rd November 2017
By: Preview Percy


As if he wasn't grumpy enough already we had to wake Preview Percy up a day early for his preview of this week's visit of Leicester City. For pete's sake don't mention we have a midweek fixture coming up.....

Next up it’s home to Leicester. Kick off is at 8pm Friday night so best check the other half for curfew details and make sure you have the burglar alarm combination readily to hand. Midweek means they will have to come up with some excuse other than engineering works to ruin your travel plans. Don’t worry they’ll think of something.

So Leicester then. 12 played, 12th place with 13 points which is only 4 above us however awful things have been of late. They are on their second proper non-caretaker manager of the season having started with Craig Shakespeare who turned things around last season when a bad run cost Ancelotti his job. Shakespeare exited stage left in October after a 1-1 draw with West Brom. Now here’s a funny thing: according to the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises, in the last 5 years no fewer than SEVEN managers have been given their P45 forms immediately following a match against West Brom. He/she did tell me who the other six were but I wasn’t paying attention.

Shakespeare was replaced by Claude Puel who managed to fail to win any popularity contests down at Southampton over the perceived style of football his teams were serving up at St Mary’s. In the three played since Puel took over they have won the once – 2-0 at home to Everton, drawn the once – 2-2 away at Stoke and lost the once - 0-2 at home to Manchester City. The defeat on Saturday was – as most games are these days – heavily influenced by the actions of the match officials. If referee Graham Scott seriously thought that the nearest other defender to Kompany when he scythed down Vardy was in a position to cover the run there is no way he is competent enough to run a professional football match. And if he didn’t think that he should be forced to explain why he failed to apply the laws of the game. Still the decision was a collectors’ item as it represented one of the rare occasions that Vardy has ever gone to the floor as the result of a genuine foul. Who can forget the referee in this fixture last season waving play on and making the “diving” hand signal at Rat Boy – without actually doing anything about it. And (as we will see later) Vardy isn’t even the worst culprit in the side.

But first, who has come on board since we last met? Well £25m of Her Majesty’s pounds went on Nigerian Striker Ihenacho. Now when the youngster came on as sub against us for Man City a few years back he looked a bit useful – in fact he was responsible for the visitors scraping a point against us that season. So when we got linked with him this summer I wasn’t displeased. However, there was a bit of confusion over the whole deal. Firstly Man City insisted on the deal including some form of buy-back clause, something that didn’t strike me as a particularly good deal. However, with the owners having pretty much agreed a fee and terms the deal was suddenly dead. The reason given was that Mr Bilic was worried about the player’s lack of Premier League experience, Whatever the reason – and I have learned to take official statements on matters such as this with so much salt that my blood pressure has a comma in it - the player ended up at Leicester, presumably with the same buyback clause included as part of the deal. He’s not set the world alight to date – only two of his 9 league appearances so far have been starts and his only goal in Foxes colours came in the League Cup against Leeds. His middle name is “Promise” though which is all anyone has seen of him since the move.

£12m possibly rising to £17m with add-ons was the fee paid to Hull for central defender Harry Maguire. That’s the fee paid by Leicester rather than what the player had to pay himself to escape the so-called City of Culture. He has taken full advantage of England’s weak qualification group and the tendency for players at certain clubs to pull up lame during international break weekends when there are no competitive points at stake to force his way into the England squad this autumn. He’s done alright at that level so far but sterner tests face him should he be on the plane to Russia next summer.

Another £15m went to Spain in return for central midfielder Vicente Iborra. Iborra was part of the Sevilla squad that won the Thursday Night League on three consecutive occasions. Iborra has a connection with our current manager, sort of. With three weeks to go before the start of 2016-17 David Moyes took over at Sunderland and, with time running out before the start of the season, embarked on a desperate attempt to bring in players to a club that was simply not good enough. Iborra was high on the list and a fee with Sevilla – one the Spaniards felt unable to refuse – was agreed. Only one problem: Neither the player nor his team-mates particularly wanted him to go. A few senior members of the squad protested to the board and eventually they changed their mind about selling. This made Iborra the luckiest escapee since that bloke said “tell you what – let’s save ourselves a few bob and go to New York on the Titanic’s second voyage”.

Those three represent the bulk of their spending over the summer, financed in the main by the £35m sale of Danny Drinkwater to Chelsea. The permanent signings were augmented by the arrival of Austrian defender Aleksandr Dragovic. Dragovic came in until the end of the season from Bayer Leverkusen. Despite his experience (over 50 caps for Austria) and the absence through injury of the thuggish Robert Huth, Dragovic has found it hard to break into the first XI and had made just the two League Cup appearances to date, with Club Captain (and tattoo parlour owner) Wes Morgan and Maguire being the preferred option in that part of the pitch.

I mentioned the propensity for Albert Steptoe impersonator Vardy to go to ground far too easily but, if last season’s corresponding fixture is anything to go by he has nothing on Japanese team-mate Shinju Okazaki. The much-capped (108) international went down unnecessarily at least 12 times at the Olympic last season and by all accounts this was not an isolated set of events. Maybe if he had stayed on his feet a bit more he’d have scored more than the three he managed in 16-17. Maybe it’s a lesson learned – he has beaten that tally in all competitions already this term.

Another option up front is Algerian International Islam Slimani. He was out of favour at the start of the season and Shakespeare was understood to have wanted shot of the player. However no transfer was forthcoming.. The bulk of his appearances have come from the bench, the seven minutes he got against Man City last weekend being about par for the course.

Up the other end of the pitch they will have the services of Kaspar Schmeichel between the sticks. Now I know I am old. Yes very old. However, I felt just a little bit older last week when it was put to me that that kid who is the son of the bloke who used to moan his way through matches at Old Trafford is no 31. THIRTY-ONE??? It only seems like yesterday that he was shuffling round the country being sent out on loan like a Chelsea import. His list of clubs reads Man City, Darlington, Bury, Falkirk, Derby, Coventry, Notts County, Leeds and Leicester. He has in fact spent the last six years at Leicester, for whom his first XI appearances outnumber all those of all his previous clubs combined. Thirty-one? No not having that.

Ok I’ve put this off long enough. Sunday? Unacceptable, Disgraceful, spineless, useless. Those are becoming words I am using so often this season I am beginning to think I will have to use some sort of shortcut like I do when I mention the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises to save me time. Yes I know with a bit of composure we could have had two or three and the usual complete lack of any idea as to what was going on as displayed by Andre “I can’t believe they pay me for this” Marriner also didn’t help but frankly that defeat was by and large self-inflicted.

Last week every time you turned on your laptop there was yet another video showing how “intense” training has become since the new regime arrived. Perhaps if they spent a bit more time getting that rabble organised rather than getting them to run into the ground for the cameras things might improve.

One feels one ought to comment on the toxic atmosphere between club and supporters at this point. Now I haven’t got the energy to get all shouty at my age but even with away matches capped at £30 that’s still a fair chunk of money to spend on a day out when you throw in fares, a small tincture or two and perhaps a spot of luncheon. So you can understand when the average supporter gets a bit cheesed off. Especially after a tincture or two. Especially when you throw in the general way in which our weekends are messed about for the benefit of tv – any time you want to confirm what I am doing on New Year’s Eve feel free to let me know guys.

The owners don’t exactly help themselves though do they? Not sure I hold with the doorstepping of board members but banning the person who owned the flag when he wasn’t there was a bit of an o.g. As was the attempted explanation of “it was all a misunderstanding – he wasn’t banned at all”. So when the chap from the club rang up and said “you’re banned for three years” what he meant to say was “you’re not banned for three years at all, see you on Friday night” Easy enough mistake to make I suppose. Not.

You had to laugh on Sunday. The gallows humour of chants such as “we stayed to the end” at least raised a wry grin in these parts, though if they fail to get their act together on Friday night whether there will be anyone actually left in the ground at the Olympic Stadium to moan at Carroll is a question that I think we all know the answer to.

Injury news is that the nasty wrist injury that Arnautovic picked up will have healed enough for him to be available. Ayew has apparently recovered from that which ailed him for the Watford match– I too was sick and tired before and after that match but that’s a different story. Fonte is out for the New Year, Hernandez & Byram – ready for Man City, Collins & Antonio – possible but unlikely.

Prediction? Can’t see where the next point is coming from I'm afraid. Even when we do get the ball into our opponents penalty area the chances of us actually scoring seem to depend on a referee being honest enough to give us a penalty – and we all know that the chances of finding an honest man anywhere near PGMOL are on a par with winning three Euro lotteries in a row without actually buying a ticket.

So: Dear Mr Winstone. In case I don’t make it out of the Swan & Superinjunction before you close please accept this as a wager on Leicester to win 2-0. I’ll send the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises along with the £2.50 that I have left following the Chancellor’s spending of a small fortune of my money on electric cars just so he could make a crap joke about Top Gear tomorrow morning if that’s ok.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at the Olympic: Lost 2-3 (Premier League November 2016)

A speculative mis-hit cross from cum shot from Mahrez snuck in at the far post. Ref East was the only person not to spot Okazaki’s constant diving (a new record) and gave a free-kick from which Huth headed home. Lanzini’s free kick and a second half Ayew effort from close range brought us within striking range but Schmeichel pulled off save after save after save to earn himself the MOTM award and his side three rather flattering points.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Again

Danger Man: Jamie Vardy

Thick as two short planks. Sadly still more intelligent than the gullible referees who he cons.

Percy’s Poser: Last weekend we asked what topped the charts in a well-known travel website’s top 34 “Things To Do In Watford”. Well done Miss Lucy Craggs of, oddly enough, Watford who was first out of the digital hat with the answer: “going to Cassiobury Park”. Mini-golf was sixth on the list after which they began to struggle. Miss Craggs wins a slap-up meal at the expensive restaurant of her choice, the bill to be picked up by her father.

For this week’s poser we ask a simple question: What is the world’s most pointless motorway? First correct entry out of the digital hat wins an all expenses paid (by themselves) trip to the two cities either end of said motorway.


Good luck!


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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