Liverpool v West Ham United

And so a new season dawns. A new manager. Lots of new players. Same old Preview Percy though. Sadly. He's back with a look (sort of) at this weekend's visit to Liverpool. And an interesting theory as to the whereabouts of David Sullivan. On the off-chance that his theory is right we'd just like to say that Kepler 442b is our favourite exoplanet....

And so with the World Cup out of the way and all of the traditional curtain-raisers out of the way, as well as some of the less traditional ones the season commences with a trip up to scouseland where we will be hosted by Liverpool. It's a Sunday match with a 1:30 pm kick-off so unless you're staying up there on Saturday it's an early start. The trains look ok - some C2C trains that normally go to Liverpool Street will be diverted into Fenchurch Street but if that causes you a problem you probably shouldn't be out on your own in the first place. Anyway just wait until Network Rail realises the season's started.

So Liverpool. It's rare that anything from that part of the world makes me laugh out loud - years of being told that the likes of Boardman, Tarbuck, O'Connor etc are "funny" does rather jaundice one's view of a place. However, the So-Called Champions League final back in May saw sales if incontinence products go through the roof as Loris Karius re-enacted the golden age of TV Comedy with his Frank Spencer impersonation (ask your parents). As ever there was ready excuse. I say "ready", it actually took five days for someone to come up with "concussion" as an explanation for Karius's "oooh Betty" moments (ok ask your grandparents then). As ever the support rallied round their man and all those death threat tweets you read were just them having a laugh with that legendary sense of humour we know and love so well. Even the German David Brent got in on the act claiming that he would have spent ?65m on 'keeper Allison however well Karius had played. Which suggests that Klopp doesn't exactly trust Karius either.

That figure of ?65m was supplied, by the way, by Daisy, our new work experience girl with the lovely smile here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. Welcome Daisy and we're sorry that you didn't get the job working down the sewers that you would have preferred.

Daisy has been going through their new signings and informs me that ?52.75m went in the direction of Red Bull Leipzig to secure the services of Guinean midfielder Naby Kaita. This deal is actually over a year old, the negotiations having been finalised last summer with the final fee being dependent on Leipzig's qualification for Europe. Prior to Leipzig Kaita was at Red Bull Salzburg and has probably spent all summer going cold turkey from a lack of sponsor's product. Merseyplod might want to have a close look at the player's documents should he fancy getting behind the wheel - he got a fine in the region of ?365k for using forged Guinean documents to get a German driving licence. Should fit in well in Liverpool then. Noises from Leipzig suggest that the player won't be missed out there - there are lots of finger pointing stories about a lack of effort in his final season and getting sent off three times in 5 weeks - albeit one of those was an international - didn't help much.

A further ?43m went on Brazilian midfielder Fabinho. Fabinho's surname is Tavares who, of course are the American family group who made a mint out of the 1970's Disco boom, though it's not clear which one Liverpool have signed. It's either Ralph, Pooch, Chubby, Butch or Tiny. I'm going with Pooch pro tem. Pooch came up through the ranks at Fluminese without troubling the first XI. He then signed a 6 year deal with Rio Ave in Portugal, nursery club for Walthamstow Ave. A deal to take the player to Walthamstow collapsed when it was discovered that the club hasn't actually existed for years so the player had to slum it on loan with Real Madrid Castilla (yes that lot from 1980) and progressed to a loan to the real Real Madrid making one first XI appearance. Rio Ave then sent him out on loan to Monaco for whom he signed permanently after two season-long loans. Thus, though he spent 3 seasons with Rio Ave he made a total of zero appearances for them. The Portuguese passport is presumably handy though.

In comparison to the largesse shelled out on Allison, Fabinho and Kaita, the ?13.5m thrown at Stoke for Shaquiri is small beer. This was presumably due to that figure representing the release clause in the player's contract. Shaquiri didn't make himself popular in the Potteries by suggesting that Stoke were so poor that the signing of Ronaldinho wouldn't be able to improve things. He was, of course, right but, as a way of endearing yourself to the home support it lacked a little.

They will welcome back Jordan Henderson from the World Cup. Watching the matches on the box one couldn't help but notice how Henderson was being bigged-up by the commentary teams even though he showed all the creativity (and mobility) of a paving slab. He was lucky to stay on the pitch in the infamous Colombian match having head-butted a player in exactly the same way as he himself had been headbutted, the commentary teams choosing to ignore the butt much as they had ignored his face-clutching antics. During one match matron shouted the word "six" out at random. Further enquiry provided the information that Henderson's overhit pass out for another goal kick represented the sixth time a commentator had mentioned "a rare misplaced pass" from Henderson, suggesting that, at international level anyway, some people need to look up the meaning of the word "rare". Henderson, like Loveren, Mignolet, and Terence Trent D'arby is listed as being 50-50 for this match by virtue of his late return from international duty.

Another example of the Scouse-centric nature of tv coverage in this country was the commentary on Egypt's matches in which commentators felt compelled to refer to the striker as "Liverpool's Mo Salah". Despite apparently being the only player on the pitch, even when he was on the bench, Egypt lost all three games. Salah had a fine set of statistics last season in the league and any Scouser will tell you that that damned unsporting chap Ramos kicked Salah out of the So-Called Champions League Final. What a rotter - puts you in mind of, say Graeme Souness or Tommy Smith doesn't he.

There are a few injuries in the camp. Latest of these was that of James Milner whose genuine twitter account showed a nasty cut to the forehead that required stitches of the sort that cartoon artists use when creating a Frankenstein's Monster type character. He is more likely than not to be available at the weekend but it'll be interesting to see what the (excellent) spoof "Boring James Milner" twitter account has to say about the injury. Definitely out are Oxlade-Chamberlain (out for the season with a dreadful knee injury) and Joel Matip (Pelvic strain).

And so to us. Well amongst David Sullivan's business interests is the Sunday Sport. For those of you unaware of this publication I am reliably informed that every page is page 3 and, if you can be bothered to seek out the written word the thing is full of frankly unbelievable stories such as "WWII Bomber Found On The Moon", "London Bus Found At the South Pole" and "Chalks Buys A Round". A staple of these stories is the "I was kidnapped by aliens" strand, in which the correspondent invariably ends up being, er, "probed" by extra-terrestrial life-forms who have gone to the bother of developing near-lightspeed technology to travel millions of parsecs specifically to insert probes where their sun doesn't shine. All of which makes me wonder: Has Sullivan been kidnapped by aliens? I mean what other explanation is there for the vast amounts of money we seem to be lashing out at the moment. Surely Sullivan has no control over the finances? All will become clear if/when Sullivan turns up at Anfield. If he walks a bit funny and seems reluctant to sit down we know that the aliens have been in charge. In which case we salute you our alien overlords. Really we do. And if you could take Jamie Carragher and Glenn Hoddle with you next time, just to improve the quality of tv punditry down here.

Before we look at the new boys we should bid welcome to the new boss. Thanks Mr Moyes for keeping us up. You always seemed a decent sort who handled himself with dignity amid the more bonkers stuff that the owners were getting up to last term. Good luck wherever you end up. So bono estente to Manuel Pellegrini who comes to us after a couple of years in China with FC Fortune Cookie (or something). Now it's early doors I know but there are two things that have impressed me so far. Firstly, if the rumours are to believed, Manuel has taken one look at the training facilities and said "not good enough". Having visited Rush Green and Chadwell Heath over the years I can vouch for the fact that during the years of my playing "career" I regularly played at venues with better facilities and pitches than those at our training grounds so any improvement there will be most welcome, especially if it cuts back on the stupid number of injuries we seem to keep getting.

The second impressive thing is the quality of player that Pellegrini seems to have been able to attract. It's all very well having aliens from the planet Kepler-442b to distract the joint chairman from the fact that you've found his debit card and password but you have to be able to attract players to the club in the first place. I mean no disrespect to Mr Moyes but I can't imagine too many of our new boys coming to the club under his reign.

So who have we spent the cash on? Well the first record-breaker (a sure-fire indicator of alien abduction if ever there was one) came in the form of centre back Issa Dioup. ?22m went to Toulouse for the 21 year-old French U21 international. He is said to be decent in the air and has a bit of pace though a trawl through the records suggests that he is no stranger to the referee's notebook.

Arriving on the same day, albeit slightly less expensive, was Polish international custodian of the onion bag Lukasz Fabianski. Fabianski did what most people do when they realise they don't have to be in Wales anymore and legged it out of Swansea as soon as the relegation was confirmed with ?7m crossing the other way over whichever of the Severn Bridges they could be bothered to open that day. Fabianski spent time at the World Cup with Poland thus returning from pre-season later than most. As a result Adrian has had more pitch time pre-season. Should be an interesting tussle for the 'keeper spot then, especially as there won't be that strange compulsion to give Joe Hart a game just because he is there.

Also putting pen to paper officially on 1 July (though the deal had been announced earlier) was Fulham right back Ryan Fredericks who arrived on a freebie from Fulham having been part of the play-off winning team at Wembley back in May. Fredericks is an example of triumph over adversity having spells with both Tottenham and Millwall (loan) on his CV. The fact that he was able to overcome these twin handicaps is right up there with Joe Hart's battle against dandruff as the feel good story of the decade.

It's odd that Fredericks registers on the braincells as a youngster while our next signing. Jack Wilshere, comes across as a veritable veteran by comparison. In fact Wilshere is just a year older than Fredericks. The lad has had his issues with injury over the years but one thing he will no longer have to contend with is the sense of shame he must have felt for all of those years in having to turn out for Arsenal in the knowledge that his heart lay in claret and blue. Still the peace & quiet will have helped his recovery time.

You'd have thought that by now the new signings would have been complete. However, those aliens were being particularly thorough with their probing of Sullivan allowing whoever had his wallet to carry on spending. Enter Andreiy Yarmolenko for ?17.5m from Borussia Dortmund. He was surplus to requirements in Deutschland only a year into a four year deal having singed from Dynamo Kyev last summer. A full international for Ukraine his domestic career with Dynamo was notable for an ongoing feud with Shaktar Donetsk midfielder Taras Steponenko. AY (as I shall call him) chopped TS (as I shall call him) in two the latter being lucky to escape serious injury. The pair appeared to make up and swapped shirts but AY pointedly chucked his opponent's knitwear on the floor. At a later match the two brawled after TS indulged in a spot of badge-kissing in front of the Dynamo fans. File under "possibly easy to wind-up".

The aliens were searching for replacement lubricant by the time Fabian Balbuena arrived. The undisclosed fee was believed to be something like ?3m which went to Brazilian outfit Corinthians. A centre half by trade, Fab, as I expect he is called, is the proud owner of 7 Paraguayan international caps but might take a while to settle in - this will be the first venture outside South America for "The General" as he is known.

You want more signings? We gottem. Having tortured Sullivan for the combination to the lock on his wallet, the aliens found his bank card, extracted his PIN using some particularly painful looking equipment and immediately liberated ?36,000,000 from his post office account. This went to Lazio in exchange for Felipe Anderson, a midfielder noted for his pace according to the notes given to me by Daisy the work experience girl with the lovely smile. It's been so long since we had a midfielder with pace I had to look the word up.

Anderson started his career with Associa??o 14 Companhia de Pol?cia Militar Independente, who became famous a few years ago for their ground being closed after the home supporters gave one of their own a good kicking for starting up a chant of "...give us an "A". I expect. He is apparently quite useful at set-pieces which, given the long-term absence of Lanzini, will be a bonus.

Whilst examining Sullivan's clothes our alien chums found a spare ?2m hidden in the lining of that daft Russian hat he wears so that went to Vitoria Guilmaraes in return for Xande Silva, a 21 year old whose time will be spent with whatever the team below first XI status is called these days - the one that Westley runs.

You'd have thought the aliens would have had enough by then. Not on your Nellie. Deadline day came and lord knows what equipment they used to extract enough dosh for two more players. Lucas Perez came in for a rumoured ?4m, thus becoming the second player rescued from their Arsenal hell this summer.

Perez actually spent last season on loan at Deportivo La Coruna and is one of those players that has am "international" cap for a "country" that doesn't really exist. Perez turned out for the Spanish Region of Galicia which, like the Catalonia, has its own football federation. You do wonder what the clubs in the region think about their highly expensive players playing in matches for a team that is not affiliated to FIFA or UEFA. I mean the matches must cost the Galician Federation a bomb in insurance. Which is why they haven't had a match since Perez's debut in a 1-1 draw against Venezuela back in 2016: they've been saving up for the premiums. One thing is certain - the aliens won't be releasing him for the second leg if and when that ever takes place.

The second player to arrive on deadline day was Fiorentina midfielder Carlos Sanchez. The experienced (32 years old and 88 caps for Colombia) defensive midfielder is seen as a replacement for Cheikh Kouyate who the aliens actually managed to make a profit on in flogging him to Palace, despite an indifferent season last term.

Sanchez gained some notoriety by becoming the first player sent off in the World Cup this summer, a goal-scoring opportunity denying handball being his crime. This resulted in death threats from his compatriots in a country where, sadly, history tells us that such threats are not always empty. Perhaps that will be of some comfort to Karius the next time some brain-dead idiot sends him a threat - this isn't Colombia.

I guess even extra-terrestrial life forms have their limits and, having signed all that lot they put their feet up for a well-earned cup of space tea and biscuits. Jim White, with Sullivan incommunicado and unable to brief his tame mouthpiece, seemed to be at a loss as to what to make of it all, whilst Allardyce bleated "I wish you'd done that for me David". You can see what he means - after all how many Matt Jarvises could we have had for that money?

Incidentally, though it might appear that the aliens have also kidnapped the Baroness (well she doesn't appear to have said anything daft this summer, yet) I can confirm that this is not the case. It's purely that there must be a limit to the number of times alien ears can bear to hear about all those successful businesses she has run over the years.

And so to the thorny subject of the prediction. We rarely get much from this trip - if they don't get you the ref will. We do have pre-season optimism though - and for once it may not be totally unfounded or a result of the happy pills they sneak into the breakfast porridge here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered (in case you were wondering I avoid those pills by having a fry-up instead). The atmosphere around here reminds me of that day we played Arsenal away on the opening day where I couldn't quite put my finger on it but I had a feeling something good would transpire. 90 mins later we left the Library with three points and Ozil in Reece Oxford's pocket. I'm not daft enough to predict a repeat of the visit to Anfield that season - pleasant though that would be - but reckon there will be enough gumption, nous and pre-season -tinted glasses amongst the squad for us to give a good account of ourselves. So let's start in cheery mode and go for a draw. I will be wagering this online at The new Winstone Turf Accontant new-fangled app-thingy (when the fun stops send more of your money anyway) and will be placing the traditional ?2.50 on a 2-2 draw. And if you think the traditional ?2.50 is a bit stingy of me just remember that's more than Spurs spent on players this summer.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Northern Library: Lost 1-4 (Premier League February 2019)

We were given t-shirts to commemorate the anniversary of Bobby Moore's passing. Early chances went begging - including a beautiful lob from Arnautovic that Karius tipped onto the bar. Can, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain gave them a 3-0 lead. Antonio pulled one back but Mane made it 4. Evra was given a debut and the loudest noise from the home crowd came from their "boos" every time he got the ball after his role in the racism affair that got Suarez a ban. Anticipating the Labour party policy on anti-semetism by some months it seems that racism isn't racism when committed by a Liverpool player.

Referee: Anthony Taylor


Danger Man: Mo Salah
It will be interesting to see how sharp he looks after the World Cup.

Percy's Poser
It's back. Mainly because I couldn't be arsed to come up with a new and fresh concept with which to finish these things off. I have adapted it slightly though by paying homage to the "Have I Got News For You" 'missing words' round. This week's guest publication is the Liverpool Echo and we ask you what is the missing word from the following headline that appeared this week in the Echo?:

Woman with live XXX in bath told that pest team will do with it next week

Good luck everyone"!

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