Tuesday, 19th February 2019
West Ham United v Liverpool
Filed: Sunday, 3rd February 2019
Author: Preview Percy

We've lost our last three in the league and signed nobody in the transfer window. However, Preview Percy has an unusual suggestion for a signing of what might be a free agent. Read more in his look at the forthcoming visit of league leaders Liverpool.....

Next we play host to Liverpool. It’s Monday night, 8pm for the benefit of Sky TV. The weather is warming up a bit so they’ll have to find another excuse for delaying you on the trains tubes and buses.

Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, informs me that this will be the 139th meeting of the two clubs. The first of which finished in a 1-0 defeat in the Cup way back in 1901 (ah those were the days) Taking the 2006 Cup Final that we were cheated out of as a 3-3 draw we have won 28, drawn 37 and lost 73 of the previous meetings

The visitors are of course top of the league helped by the much more pleasing on the eye Man City slipping up from time to time. At the time of writing the lead is two points following the Citizens’ 3-1 defeat of Arsenal on Sunday evening. They retired from the Cup going down 2-1 at Wolves. Alan Shearer described the fringe players fielded at Molineux as “failing” Klopp. I’d disagree. I’d say that they did exactly what was asked of them, getting Liverpool out of the Cup with the minimum of fuss so they could concentrate on trying to win the League for the first time since they brought in the back-pass law (no coincidence that).

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They have ridden their luck from time to time in recent weeks – the defeat of Crystal Palace had its unconvincing moments as did the draw against Leicester. They have also benefited from the rewriting of the laws of the game in their personal favour with Salah escaping a two-match ban when the FA decided the rules on retrospective action for diving should not apply to teams based at Anfield.

As a general point, let’s nail this myth about diving once and for all. For years it has been put forward by pundits that “if there is contact a player has the right to go down” as if this was part of the laws of the game. So much has this orthodoxy been pushed by those who seek to defend their particular favourites, it now seems to have been taken on board by both referees and the FA disciplinary bods. Which is odd because of all people you’d expect the latter two groups to have actually read the laws of the game and have some interest in defending them or at the very least play some sort of lip service to them.

So what has law 12 to say on the matter? Well it says that a direct free kick is awarded if a player……impedes a player with contact. In other words any contact has to “impede” a player. So far so obvious. If the contact doesn’t impede a player then it’s not a free kick. Any exaggeration of the effects of contact to try and persuade the referee that the contact was responsible for impeding him is therefore cheating, pure and simple.

Salah’s dive against Newcastle fooled nobody – the ref knew that the contact wasn’t enough to make Salah go down but gave it purely on the strength of the “if there’s contact….” mantra that now appears to be PGMOL official policy. The idea of retrospective action should prevent this sort of thing from happening but it’s never going to work if the authorities don’t uphold the laws every time one of their favoured clubs is involved.

Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, tells me that the Tottenham of the north emulated their southern counterparts by signing absolutely nobody during the recently closed window, though unlike their southern counterparts they did find £160m+ down the back of the sofa to bring in a few players back in the summer. The three outfield players who came in have been intermittent starters since their arrival with Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho having been on the pitch at the start 10,11 and 10 times respectively. Alisson has started all 24 in the league as one might expect of a keeper whose fee was over £55m.

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They’ve had a few injury problems at the back where the absences of Lovren (hamstring) Gomez (broken leg), and Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee and disappointing second album) saw Milner pushed into service in the back four against Palace where he was given a bit of a torrid time by Zaha, no stranger to the dive himself.

Much was made of the fact that Jon Moss, the ref dishing out the two yellows that afternoon, had been Milner’s PE teacher at Primary School. Presumably Moss wasn’t up to the exacting standards of primary school football which is why he ended up on the select group on PGMOL where there is less of a premium placed on getting things right. Oddly, little was made of the fact that Milner’s previous sending off had also come against Crystal Palace – also for fouls against Zaha. Which tells us either that Millner doesn’t enjoy players running at him, or that he just doesn’t like Zaha. Millner will be available for selection having served his suspension in the 1-1 draw against Leicester and is likely to return to the full back role.

In addition to the aforementioned three defenders they will also be without Oxlade-Chamberlain who has a long-term knee problem.

I think that’s enough about them – if you want to know more you can always watch the news from the BBC who seemed to think that the 10 o’clock tv bulletin was a suitable outlet for a puff item on the club the other night. I mean it’s not as if there is a shortage of news about at the moment is there?

And so to us. It wasn’t going to be a busy transfer window unless we could shift some big earners – not being owned by a country means we actually have to abide by the increasingly ironically-named Financial Fair Play rules, so when the likes of Hernandez, Perez and, indeed Arnie all found themselves still on the books as closing time drew near it was no surprise that the bloke Sky sends out to freeze his bits off outside our training ground had a wasted journey funny though it is that such news is somehow invalidated unless someone had to freeze their bits off to bring it to you. Still I understand we are still allowed to sign free agents – does anyone know who represents the black cat that got the MOTM award at Goodison Park on Saturday?

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On the playing side it was all very predictable the other night wasn’t it. Predictably the post-mortems centred on the effects of Arnie-gate on the team of late. However, there’s something more fundamentally wrong at the moment. Not so long ago we hit on how we should be playing. It worked by and large and, going one down, you always had the impression that we could get our way back into the game. Take Southampton away – much the better side and then went 1-0 down. We didn’t panic and the win came from a fine performance and was well-merited. Contrast that with Wolves away. Who amongst us saw us saw us coming back at 1-0 down? Not me. But for Fabianski it would have been even worse. It’s as if we have forgotten everything we were doing right. Yeah the injuries, yeah Arnie but that doesn’t excuse everything else.

Talking of injuries, in true Spinal Tap style we are up to eleven now. Of these, five have a chance of sorts of being involved. Fabianski’s painful looking blow to the arm should be ok, saints be praised. Cresswell’s hamstring is nearly there and he has a 75% chance of being fit. Arnie’s foot injury isn’t as bad as was first feared. A season-ending broken bone has turned out to be just bad bruising which is still painful enough I suppose. He is rated 50-50. Although Nasri is also rated as having an even chance of playing by some sources the official word is that he will need one more week. Perez is the other one with a chance of making the 18 – his ankle seems to have recovered from the kick it got just before the transfer window closed, he said cynically.

Prediction? Well they have scored four against us on each of the last few games and the way we’ve played over the past few weeks I can see it happening again I’m afraid. Much as I’d like us to see us playing a part in denying what would be the least popular Premier League win since Salford last won it I just can’t see us doing so.

So with heavy heart and that in mind I will place the £2.50 I was going to spend on hiring someone to explain to PGMOL that the International Football Board decides on the laws of the game not Mike Riley on an away win. Please switch on the Winstone Turf Accountancy App (When the fun stops you’ve been sent by Sky to stand outside a training ground in the snow) and place the lot on a 4-0 away win then.

Enjoy the game!

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When Last We Met At The Olympic: Lost 1-4

Lanzini’s neat finish was the only highlight as we got suckered on the break time and time again in a match where we were politely described by the BBC as having “defensive naivety”. Most of us had another word for it.

Danger Man: Mohamad Salah

Top scorer who now has official cart balance to throw himself to the floor as soon as someone looks at him in a funny way thanks to the FA’s reclassification as a whole new species of invertebrate.

Referee: Kevin Friend

On a good day he can be almost average. Almost.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we looked at the Wolverhampton Express and Star who have the following heartwarming tale to tell:
Black Country man on mammoth XXX XXXXX visits 21,000th XXXXXX

Congratulations to Mrs Charlotte O’Hanrahanrahanrahan of Prittlewell who correctly identified the missing words as “pub crawl” and “boozer”. The chap, named as Peter Hill said, with subtle understatement, that “it started in 1984 but spiralled out of control a bit….”. Mind you, I reckon that on those rare evenings I venture forth from the Swan And Superinjunction I have to visit that number of pubs before I can find one with a decent bitter these days.

This week we venture to the increasingly risible Liverpool Echo from which the following missing words headline was taken:

The XXX with nearly 40 XXXXXX XX XXX XXXXXX who’s a disgrace to his family

Strong stuff so there will be an extra special prize for the first correct answer out of the digital hat. Probably.

Good luck everyone!

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