AFC Wimbledon v West Ham United

The last time we played a team with "Wimbledon" in their name Preview Percy wasn't our preview writer. Ah, happy days....

We take a break next from the travails of the League to visit AFC Wimbledon in the League Cup for which, as ever, the usual rules apply, namely I will mention the sponsor when they pay me to do so. It's the second round and, as ever, they have tinkered with the format so that, in the event of scores being level at 90 minutes we will eschew the traditional 30 minutes of extra time and go straight to penalties, the taking of which will revert to the alternate method after the "ABBA" system proved too taxing for those who have difficulty tying their shoelaces. And referees. Kick-off is at 7:45 if you were lucky enough to get a ticket - and don't forget, thanks to the club's email snafu we know who you are!

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So here we are. We have an immediate problem when writing about this week's opponents in that I have no idea what matches we are supposed to count towards past matches played against them. I mean we played a Wimbledon FC in the 2nd division (or whatever it's called now) a few years back but that was the lot who are now known as the Milton Keynes Concrete Cows or something. This lot claimed custody of the history in the spat that followed the shifting of the original mob to Milton Keynes. And after some sort of negotiation - some of which included the woman responsible for the Wombles withdrawing her permission for one of the teams to use them as mascots - all the replica trophies from the original era (don't laugh - in addition to the FA Cup there were lots of Southern Leagues, Isthmian Leagues and an FA Amateur Cup to consider) were returned to South West London where they currently reside in the custody of Merton Council I believe.

There's a slight irony in that since the Borough hasn't always been the most helpful towards the club in its quest to return to the borough. All is sweetness and light though now and a stadium is being built on the old greyhound track just along the road from the old Plough Lane ground, a venue of which I can honestly say is the worst ground at which I have ever watched top flight football.

Meanwhile the antipathy to their Buckinghamshire rivals continues and, whilst I am not without sympathy for the disgruntledness of the support over what happened, I do think that not putting the name of your opponents on the front of the matchday programme as the club did the other year is just a bit, well childish.

The current venue, Kingsmeadow, has been their home since this club was set up and itself has a bit of a chequered history. For years it was the home of Kingstonian FC who allowed Wimbledon to groundshare. Kingstonian hit a few financial problems which resulted in the sale of club and ground to Rajesh & Anup Khosla. Both sets of home supporters were wary of the Khosla's intentions for the ground, the perception being that they were businessmen rather than football people. And what with the site being firmly located in "Good Life" territory the ground had value.

After a season as tenants of the Khoslas which was spent with one eye nervously focused on those planning applications pages at the back of the local paper, Wimbledon decided to raise the money and buy the ground. They kept Kingstonian on as tenants - though at a much reduced rent which was partly reduced by the takings from an annual pre-season friendly between the clubs. Wimbledon then flogged the ground on to Chelsea who now use the ground for youth and women's football. Kingstonian left, firstly to groundshare with Leatherhead and latterly up the road at Tolworth with Corinthian Casuals.

So far this season they have yet to win any of their three home games, having drawn 0-0 with Coventry, lost 3-1 to Walsall and, most recently, lost 2-1 to Sunderland at the weekend.They have won away though, picking up three points at Fleetwood on the opening day. Another goalless draw at Barnsley completes the set in the League all of which leaves them in 15th place in Division 3 (yeah whatever). In the League Cup they got a creditable 2-1 win away at Pompey, a late Walkes OG giving the club what was its first ever win in the competition.

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They are managed by Neil Ardley who was a stalwart of the original club making over 200 appearances between 1991 and 2002. Ten years later he returned and has been at the helm for the last 6 years an this remains his only senior management role, having previously had a spell in charge of Cardiff's academy.

The opening goal of last weekend's defeat came from Joe Piggott who, according to Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, boasts (if that's's the word) a middle name of Wozencroft granted presumably because Lester would have been silly. He started his career with Charlton but spent most of his time there on loan. Whilst on the books at the Valley he spent time at Bromley, Gillingham. Newport County, Southend, Luton, and Maidstone. All that in 5 years. His discount railcard having expired he turned his loan spell at Maidstone into a permanent deal and he set about scoring 17 goals in 45 National League matches which was enough to earn him a contract at Kingsmeadow where he arrived during the last winter window. In addition to the two goals he has scored in the league he was also on target in the previous round of this competition. Which leaves him in the position of top scorer.

Yet to make an appearance this season is summer signing Terrell Thomas. Although nominally signed from Wigan, who in turn had signed him from Charlton, the vast majority of his football over the last few years has been spent on loan in the National League firstly with Woking and latterly with Sutton United. You just hope that after their defeat at the weekend he berated his team-mates in a suitably posh voice with the words "you're an absolute shower".

First choice custodian in the league is Tom King who is on loan from Millwall. He too has spent much of the last few years on loan and was at the centre of a bit of a contretemps a few years back when playing for Braintree Town against Guisely Town. Taking a throw after Braintree had put the ball into touch to allow a Guisely player to receive treatment the ball fell to Oliver Norburn who opted to lob King from 30 yards. Words were exchanged and King was accused of trying to be clever by the Guisely manager who refused to let his players allow Braintree to equalise. All a bit rum. Should King be rested for this competition, as seems to be the done thing these days, his deputy at the weekend will be Joe McDonnell who has been at the club for the past three years having signed from Basingstoke town.

There's another Millwall connection in the form of Liam Trotter who spent four years with the knuckle-scrapers between 2010-14. I'm sure there's something incredibly witty to be said about a player called "Trotter" being based in South East London but I'm damned if I can think of it at the moment. In the meantime, if our opponents warm up wearing Trevor Francis tracksuits you can have a reasonably good stab at where they came from.

Enough of them. What of us. Well there were things to be encouraged about and, as with last season's match at the Library, the result flattered Arsenal in the extreme. Individual errors and a failure to take any of a number of good chances were what cost us in the end. It must be right - that's pretty much what they said in the nanosecond's worth of analysis we were granted by MOTD once they had finished telling the world about what "Dick" Emery had had for breakfast.

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Apart from the result, the big downer was the injuries to Arnautovic (knee or "muscle" depending on your source) and Antonio (ankle). I wouldn't have expected to see either of them feature in this one given the usual squad rotation that one might expect. However, it is to be hoped that Arnie's issue can be sorted out sooner rather than later. Noble's back is likely to preclude his appearance but again I suspect that he'd have been watching this one from the side anyway. The rest of the sicklist is comprised of Carroll, Reid and Lanzini.

It is it's difficult to work out who will start this one. Well Adrian, obviously, but with the Boss still trying to find out what his preferred starting line-up, second guessing who is regarded as more of a squad player is an equally onerous task. My view? The bulk of Saturday's bench will start - which will mean Zabaleta, Rice, Obiang, Yarmalenko, Perez, & Hernandez might all get runouts. When I compare that and the line-ups for last year's cup matches I note that there seems to be a greater depth to the squad - thanks presumably to the alien overlords from Kepler 442b who are still trying to work out how we lost at the weekend.

Which brings me on to the question of the prediction. Normally three defeats on the spin would lead me to pessimism, something that comes naturally to us here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. However, there was enough in Saturday's performance to suggest that a corner is about to be turned.

Although there is a natural tendency for so-called lesser teams to raise their game against their betters (much as Arsenal did at the weekend) , Wimbledon have not had the brightest of starts themselves and much as I might be concerned about our defensive frailties - especially against a side which, judging by their match against the Mackems, have a somewhat "robust" look about their attack - I think that the aforementioned strength in depth will prove telling.

So with all that in mind the ?2.50 that I was going to contribute to the Taxi for Hugo Lloris fund will instead will be placed on an away win - say 3-1 to us once I've worked out how the Winstone Turf Accountancy app (When The Fun Stops you turn into Michael Owen) actually works. And that will see us through to the next round the draw for which has probably already been made.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met at their place......

Well technically we haven't really. When we played Wimbledon at Selhurst Park in 1999 their current boss was on the scoresheet as we drew 2-2. We next played a side with that name on a windy night at the National Hockey Stadium in an otherwise forgettable 1-1 draw. Pick one of those if you must.

Referee: Tim Robinson

As usual at this stage of the competition we get one of those outside the so-called Select Group. He's averaging 4 yellows and half a red a match so far this season, his busiest match being the Wigan v Sheffield Wednesday encounter on the opening day which saw him issue 5 yellows and a red.

Danger Man: Joe Piggott

Gets the title by virtue of his status as top scorer

Percy's Poser:

Last week we gave you the following incomplete headline from the Islington Gazette:

Police forensics called in over mysterious Finsbury XXX XXXXXXX

Well done to Mrs Violet Norovirus of Canvey Island who, rather disdainfully, wrote "Dear sir. The answer is 'poo thrower'. Obviously". They're an odd lot up at Arsenal. Well done anyway Violet!

For this week's poser our guest publication is the Surrey Comet. You know how this works - just fill in the missing word(s):

"Single mum in Kingston council flat told she can't keep XXXXXXXXXX"

Good luck everyone!

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