Sunday, 26th May 2019
West Ham United v Southampton
Filed: Friday, 3rd May 2019
Author: Preview Percy
If you were anywhere near Preview Percy's local, the Swan & Superinjunction, last weekend you may well have seen him a) smiling and b) actually buying a round, events so rare that they have never been known to occur on the same night. Here's his look at the visit of Southampton for the final home game of the season.......
It’s time for the last home game of the season. The visitors will be Southampton against whom kick-off will be at 3pm or proper time as we call it around here. Trains? Engineering works on C2C will see stuff diverted into Liverpool Street. Replacement buses between Barking and Grays via Rainham and there’s nothing between Shenfield and Southend Victoria on that bit. What’s the betting everything will be hunky dory next weekend while we are up in Watford.
Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile informs me that there have been 172 matches played between the clubs so far, with us having won 76, drawn 46 and lost 50 thus far. The first meeting between the clubs took place in 1899 when Thames Ironworks lost 3-1 away in the old Southern League. Those were the days.
When we last met the managerial reins had been taken over by Ralph Hasenhuttl, who left the cast of that Baywatch programme we all used to watch for its enlightened and educational portrayal of the ecological issues that threaten our coastlines to replace Mark Hughes who left the club in December in the bottom three. Hughes is one of those managers who you were always surprised when they kept getting jobs. It was especially surprising that the club that gave us Le Tissier should appoint someone whose football credentials were of the more prehistoric variety – I mean Stoke you can see but his arrival on the south coast had very much the aroma of the panic button about it. The fact that Hughes doesn’t appear to have had too many people beating a path to his door suggests that he and Arnie won’t be meeting too much in the Premier League any time soon.
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Hasenhuttl arrived after a bit of a break following his departure from RB Leipzig, who he left having been asked to stay on until his replacement arrived. His immediate start saw them lose to Cardiff, then beat Arsenal and Huddersfield before they went down at home on a chilly December night to us. Since then their progress has been patchy with them picking up enough wins against the smaller clubs (Leicester, Everton, Fulham, Spurs) to ensure their mathematical safety, something that was finally confirmed by last week’s 3-3 draw with Bournemouth. In 16th place with a possibility of finishing 17th they have done enough but I suspect their support will be looking for more next season.
Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, tells me that Hasenhuttl’s work in the winter transfer market was limited to getting shot of those who didn’t want to be there so Steven “Interesting” Davis, Wesley Hoedt and Cedric Soares all departed for Rangers. Celta Vigo and Inter Milan respectively with few expecting them back any time soon. Given that he had only been in the job for a few days before the window opened it was little surprise that Hasenhuttl didn’t buy anyone in January, presumably the plan being to snaffle up enough points to leave Brighton Cardiff Fulham and Huddersfield in the cart then have a look see in the summer.
Taking the league alone they have joint top scorers in the form of James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings. Ward-Prowse is a bit of a specialist with the dead ball.so we will need to take a bit of care in that area 10-15 yards outside the box. It’s often a feature of sides with such a player in the ranks that one or two of his less scrupulous colleagues might be in the habit of going to ground a bit easily in the danger zone. Hopefully we will have a good ref capable of spotting such shenanigans *checks referee appointment* ….er, oh dear.
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Ings is coming to the end of a loan deal that expires at the end of the season whereupon his transfer should be come permanent The way that worked I expect was that Southampton went to Liverpool and said “we want Ings now but don’t want to pay for him until next season” to which the scousers replied “on your bike”. At which point Southampton opened their dossier of past transfer dealings with Liverpool and were about to send photocopies to the FA when the scousers decided that that was a can of worms they particularly didn’t want opening. Or possibly not.
Serial irritant Shane Long has been on target in recent weeks. He has four in his last five and his opener against Watford is listed as the fastest “in Premier League History” which clocked in at slightly over 7 seconds. There is probably a faster goal on the books in the top flight which, whatever Sky tells you, actually existed before 1992. However, neither Daisy nor I can be bothered with looking it up so you’re on your own there.
We should spare a thought for former Southampton defender Francis Benali. He’s been trying to complete seven triathlons in as many days, presumably having mislaid his bus pass. He managed four days’ worth before having to retire, though at the time of writing he hopes to start again on Saturday. If you’ve sponsored him I’d suggest it might be a bit churlish to start to withhold donations on the grounds that the poor bloke hasn’t finished. You may laugh but I know people in Southampton who are like that you know.
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Elsewhere, it’s been a fun week in the wacky world of Association Football hasn’t it. The so-called Champions League came up with a “right and proper” win double. I have long rallied against the employment of tv pundits based solely on whether or not they played for Liverpool. Having watched the umpteenth replay of Messi’s glorious free-kick we were treated to a rather churlish McManaman expressing the opinion that “the ‘keeper shouldn’t be beaten from there”. Sometimes ‘tis better to be silent and thought of as stupid than to open your thick scouse gob and remove all doubt.
The Tottenham game was also highly amusing – apart from the Vertonghen substitution debacle. Even before he returned to the fray he looked paler than a Wikileaks editor so why on earth anyone thought he was fit to continue is a mystery. The ref did specifically ask the medical staff if he were ok and they claimed that he had passed all “the usual concussion” tests from which one can only conclude that “the usual concussion tests” consist of asking the player if he has concussion and accepting any answer other than “yes” as proof of full health.
And so to us. Well last week was rather sweet wasn’t it. As usual we have heard every conceivable excuse from Spurs, ranging from “It was a weakened team with one eye on the Ajax match” (in which case what was the excuse for Ajax?) to “The weather was unseasonally inclement”. Actually I made that one up, obviously. I mean words like “unseasonally” and “inclement” would be beyond the vocabulary of the average Tottenham fan. Thinking about it I’m not even too sure about the word “weather”.
One of the funnier comments being bandied about was the one that said Eric Dier was making Mark Noble look like Pirlo. That one is easy to correct. What in fact happened was that Mark Noble made Eric Dier look like Eric Dier. Or, in England terms, the poor man’s Declan Rice. Never mind Eric – I understand there’s a spot in the Republic of Ireland squad going begging.
Fine performances throughout the team last week. The skipper was superb and the central defensive pairing were outstanding – if only Diop could have stuck that one away at the end.
The much-maligned Arnautovic came in for some rather undeserved stick. He gave the Spurs backline no time to settle, particularly in the second half when he moved a bit wider and his lifted pass to set up the goal was an absolute peach.
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One should spare a few words for the Bedpan itself. It’s ok I suppose but hardly what I’d call a billion quid’s worth though. Maybe that was what was on the bills they show to the tax man. I couldn’t really see where all the £40m of public money that was supposedly going to improve the local area went either. Unless they were using really expensive wood to board up all those properties that will end up being replaced by “affordable” dwellings, the description of which will only work if you take an over-literal interpretation of the word “affordable”.
Meanwhile, Pochettino went to press suggesting that the playing squad needed investment so that it matched the stadium. I would argue that the squad, overrated and overpriced as it is, compliments the stadium perfectly.
The only down side of the weekend was the somewhat poor service at the chosen pre-match hostelry in the Highbury area. It seems that Mr Wetherspoon is somewhat taken by surprise when someone wants to take a drink in one of his early-opening hostelries. If you’re reading this guys, it’s ok. I think after 6 days I can do without my breakfast – I has one last year.
Back to the matter in hand and Lanzini, Cresswell and Nasri are all said to be fit for selection if required. Sanchez will be another week or so and everyone else, see you next season. Or in some cases not.
Which brings us on to the question of a prediction. Actually, before that a quick “best of luck” to the Ladies at Wembley and a solid two fingers in the direction of the FA for making it difficult for supporters of both sides to attend the final. Presumably the whole thing was scheduled by a Spurs supporter.
Back to the prediction then. They will be happy at having gotten themselves mathematically safe. On the other hand we have had two good and one half good performances in the last three matches, two of which saw us surrender points to the officials. Last week has put me in a good mood (really? Ed) so that and the fact that we have potentially got three more players to add to the squad this week, together with the hint that they might involve a few of their fringe players and the end of season party feel about the place has led me down the path for me to go for us this time around.
I shall therefore spend the £2.50 I was going to send to the good people of Barcelona towards the cost of cleaning up their lovely city on a home win. So if I can work out how this Winstone Turf Accountancy app works (When the fun stops you have just woken up and realised you still support Spurs) the whole lot will go on a 2-1 win to us.
Enjoy the game!
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When Last We Met At The Olympic: Won 3-0
Mario and a brace from Arnautovic lightened the atmosphere in the first home match after the infamous visit of Burnley. Arnautovic’s celebrations were rather aggressively aimed at then Saints manager Mark Hughes with whom the Austrian had “worked” at Stoke. Little love lost there I suspect. The stats show that Hart had no saves to make all game. File under “comfortable”
Danger Man: James Ward-Prowse
A bit useful at the old set piece thing
Referee: Stuart Atwell
If I make a cultural reference involving the words “Frank Spencer” would I be expecting too much of the readership? Google it if you’re unsure.
Last week’s guest publication was the “Tottenham Independent” website who provided this delightful snippet. From which we have removed some delightful words:
Drug dealer hid 26 XXXXX in his XXXX
Congratulations to Mrs Norberta Dentressangle of Prittlewell for correctly identifying the missing words as “wraps” and “anus”. Apparently he was caught when plod noticed his funny walk.
This week we go to the Southern Daily Echo whose crime page brought us the following gem:
Burglar who ate XXXXXXX during raid is caught thanks to DNA
Good Luck everyone!