West Ham United v Crystal Palace

There's a spring in Preview Percy's step this weekend. Two wins in a row will have helped, of course but he also seems convinced that it is "open season" on carol singers and was last seen looking for his baseball bat. Here's his look at this weekend's trip across the water by Crystal Palace.....

Next up we play host to Crystal Palace, the club from Croydon that loathsome and benighted place that spawned the abomination that is the former Mrs Percy. My invitation to Donald Trump to build his wall around the place lest anyone equally as horrible should escape into more civilised territory still stands.

The good news is that, somehow, Greater Anglia and Network Rail have forgotten we are at home and have neglected to put in the usual engineering works that we all know and love. Ssssh!

So Palace then. After their 3-0 drubbing to ten men of Brighton - the only club sufficiently bothered to have any sort of rivalry with them - they currently stand in 15th spot with 12 points from the 15 played so far. That's six points and two places behind us and three points and three places off the drop zone. In truth the Brighton defeat could have been even worse - the contretemps that led to the dismissal of Shane Duffy followed what ought to have been a second spot-kick of the night, Kevin Friend playing to some unwritten law that says you can't award two penalties in quick succession no matter what the written laws of the game actually say. To sum up: If Friend had done his job the sending-off wouldn't have happened. Still if he ever so much as thinks of doing Rock Scissor Paper to decide a kick-off no doubt the authorities will use the full force of the sanctions available to them.

It's a relatively quiet week for Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile - they signed but three players during the transfer window and two of those arrived on frees. The one who cost anything was none other than Cheikh Kouyate for whom we managed to persuade them to part company with ?9.5m. When I was looking through his stats I was rather surprised to note that he had spent four years with us. That's no disrespect to the player or anything - it just didn't seem that he had been with us that long but four years it was. He will be remembered in years to come as the answer to the quiz question "who scored West Ham's first goal at the Olympic Stadium", that goal being the first of a brace in a 3-0 win against NK Domzale in the Thursday Night League.

One of the freebies was German Max Meyer, who has the sort of name one expects of a Roger Moore-era Bond villain. Meyer arrived from our old mates in Gelsenkirchen, Schalke 04. His transfer fee, or to be more accurate, lack of transfer fee can be attributed in part to a bit of a spat with the Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel. Meyer's public criticism of his boss led to him being dropped for the last couple of months of the season so he'd had a nice long rest in advance of his move to the god-forsaken wastelands of Croydon. The lack of anything resembling contract negotiations prior to that suggests that he was on his way anyway and, by getting himself ostracised, he managed to avoid picking up serious injury in advance of his move. The rest also enabled him to put the finishing touches to his undersea lair from which he will launch stolen nuclear missiles to provoke World War Three, presumably saving one for Gelsenkirchen purely for the hell of it.

The third arrival was Spanish custodian Vincente Guiata. His birthplace is listed as a place called "Torrent" which, presumably is the location of the plane on which the rain in Spain stays mainly on. He has been mainly used as back up for Welshman Wayne Hennessy, though he has managed three league appearances this term.

In addition to the permanent signings they dipped a toe into the loan market to bring in Jordan Ayew from Swansea, his Premier League wages presumably not being in keeping with Swansea's income as a Championship club. No goals in 9 (two of which were from the bench) means that, barring injuries, he's likely to be in the racing car seats on Saturday.

I do worry about that Wilfried Zaha you know. So often does he hit the deck he might hurt himself one day. Now his recent protestations to the effect that he needs protection do carry some merit - to a degree. However, the fact is that he will continue to be known for his tendency to go to ground for as long as he goes horizontal at the slightest odd look in his direction. Zaha is joint top scorer in the league with three so far this season - the other joint top scorer is Milijovejic - who is the usual beneficiary from the penalty spot of Zaha's "efforts". Good luck to those of you who have entered the sweep then.

In addition to Kouyate we will also say hi to James "He hits who he wants because he gets fed up with people spelling his surname incorrectly" Tomkins. Tomkins gave away a penalty in the corresponding fixture last season so a repeat of that would be nice.

The big news of the week is that their training ground was recently given a zero rating for food hygiene thanks to a rodent infestation. The training ground - which was one of the grounds used by NatWest Bank back in my playing days, actually lies between Lower Sydenham and New Beckenham in the London Borough Of Bromley, hence the zero rating. it would have scored higher of course had it been in Croydon where standards are that much lower.

And so to us. Odd game on Tuesday. For a while. We set off like a train (not one of Greater Anglia's, obviously) and could have been three up before they got anywhere near our box. Then we took our foot off the pedal and, but for Fab, we could have been a couple behind. They had a slight flurry at the start of the second half but once that thirty seconds had expired it was pretty much one way traffic with their 'keeper keeping the score down to respectable levels.

Perez took his goals well - the first resulting from scrappy defending before Snodgrass took control with the clever lob that set Perez up. The second goal was the result of some excellent football. Noble's turn and ball to Arthur inside the full back were things of beauty - it was noticeable that when the goal went in a number of players at the back made a beeline to the skipper to celebrate (saving all the energy involved in running all the way up to the other end of the pitch and back in the process).

There were some interesting points to note. We finally got to see the return of Carroll. The interesting point to come out of his appearance wasn't the return itself, more the fact that when he did come on we didn't alter the style of play one bit. We carried on passing our way through Cardiff in the manner of a dodgy curry going through the digestive system after twelve pints. This was pleasing to see (the passing not the reappearance of the curry that is). All too often Carroll's presence has meant lump ball. His absence has clearly had a positive effect in an ironic way - the other players have clearly settled into a passing game so that now Carroll is back they are entrenched in that style of football.

There were decent performances all over the pitch. Apart from a few moments in the first half Antonio stuck to his task at right back well, giving Zabaleta a break and ensuring that any suspension for a 5th yellow is pushed back at least a week. One of those odd things isn't it - stick him on as an attacking midfielder and he can't buy a goal. Put him in at right back and it's hello 3-0. Funny old game innit.

Rice again showed maturity beyond his years - contract please. I thought Noble was outstanding - his part in the second pretty much summed up his 90. Perez - and like most I was expecting Carroll on first - will take heart from the goals he scored and there was a nice runout for Diangana at the end which probably had Cardiff's defence praying in thanks to their deity of choice that they didn't have him for the full 90.

Of course Colin saw it differently - "I was asking how are we three nil down?" he was quoted as saying. I'll admit we were asking the same question with the insertion of the word "only" just before the word "three". The answer Colin to your own question by the way is "because Cardiff have a manager who can't see how they are 3-0 down when they are 3-0 down".

They did score of course, note to ref Scott: If you're not sure which of three or four fouls to give the sensible idea would be to give one of them and place the ball down for the free-kick in the general area of the scene of the crime. As opposed to giving none of them. I know there's only one letter difference between "one" and "none" and, as a top flight referee, spelling is probably a bit of a challenge for you but at least make an effort.

Whilst we are on the subject of Warnock, I note that the less intelligent inhabitants of the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered have recently taken to monopolising the common room tv to watch some programme featuring number of celebrities and Harry Redknapp. It seems that they are transported to Australia and have to slum it in some sort of outback living off insects and pureed marsupial scrotums (which, come to think of it is pretty much the menu here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered). I paused to see the saggy-faced twitch machine regurgitate a few old football jokes as if they were actual anecdotes (the "at my last club we only got an orange" joke is probably contained somewhere in the works of Shakespeare if you look hard enough) at which point I came up with my own idea for a tv series: I'm a Nonentity Get Me Out of Here. Basically you round up people like Colin, Morrissey, Piers Morgan and the population of Croydon then drop them off in the Atacama Desert. The camera crew then leaves them to it (Colin: so you'll be back to pick us up later then?" Cameraman: "er, back. Yeah. Something Like That"). After departure the TV company then puts something good on like a re-run of Casablanca, Some Like It Hot or, at this time of year It's A Wonderful Life. And that's it. It's a winner I tells ya.

Of course into every life a little rain must fall, unless you actually live in the Atacama desert, in which case you probably have other problems - not the least of which is the likes of Colin, Morrissey, Piers Morgan and the population of Croydon wandering about the place. I feel like every time we win a game I have to write a sentence that begins something like "the one dark spot was the injury to (insert player name here)". The one dark spot this week was the injury to Arnautovic, who caught hamstring from Cresswell. At the time of writing we've yet to hear the results of a full assessment on the muscle but hamstrings being the tricky coves that they are, for Arnie 2018 is now over.

Having returned to the squad and, indeed playing a nice pass to set up Anderson for the 3rd up at Newcastle after coming on to protect Noble against a second yellow from a nutter of a ref, Wilshere was left out of the squad on Tuesday, his ankle being a bit sore. That's the other ankle to the one that kept him out earlier this season. Thankfully he only has the two. Otherwise it's the usual list of Lanzini, Reid, Sanchez, Cresswell, Yarmolenko, and Fredericks that are crowding out the physioroom.

Selection-wise I'd expect to see Zabaleta come back into the team. His wiliness and experience will be invaluable in dealing with the likes of Zaha and, in the event that Zaha does con the ref into dishing out a yellow, the resulting suspension will take place against Fulham rather than Watford which is about the way round you would want that to happen. I'd also expect Balbuena to return to the fold - I'm guessing that his presence on the bench on Tuesday was to give his dead leg a bit of a breather before this one. This would mean a return to the bench for Oggy.

Prediction then. Well, having won two in a row for the first time since the introduction of Decimal Currency (ask your grandparents) there is a temptation to get a bit carried away. However, as average as they are, I would wager that Palace will be a bit harder to beat than either of our last two opponents. Having said that much will depend on their reaction to their midweek defeat to Brighton which was described as "not good enough" by manager Hodgson. It's hard to imagine the ever-genial Roy ever really flying off the handle at his players - there again it's hard to imagine Hodgson coming up with the sort of "I couldn't believe that we were 3-0 down" codswallop that we got from Colin the other night either. Nevertheless, Hodgson is experienced enough to know when a few choice words are required so I'm sure his players will have no doubts as to what their boss thought of their display.

On the other hand, we ought to be really up for this. I believe William Pitt The Elder was prime minister the last time we won three in a row - something that coincided with the war Of Rob Jenkins' Ear, so if that's not an incentive I don't know what is.

In the final reckoning I think that our buzzedness will probably outweigh their reaction to their midweek and I suggest that we will prevail in what could be a tight one. So, bearing all that in mind, I will be opening up the Winstone Turf Accountancy App on my smartphone (when the fun stops you've probably arrived in Croydon) and placing the ?2.50 that I was going to spend on a dictionary to look up the meaning of the word "twerk" so I can get involved in next year's FIFA awards on a home win. 2-1 to us then.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at the Olympic: Drew 1-1 (Premier League January 2018)

10 first XI players out injured left us well short of attacking options, a situation not helped by Antonio's internal suspension for turning up late to training. The starting XI included six defenders and 2 defensive midfielders. Zabaleta played in midfield and kept Zaha quiet. Benteke nodded the visitors ahead. Noble equalised from the spot after Chicharito had been upended by Tomkins. The point lifted us up into 10th.

Danger Man: Wilfried Zaha

Loves gullible referees. Is there any other sort?.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Did the Liverpool away match this season for which I described him as a "buffoon". Since then I am glad to say I have been able to update the entry which now reads as follows:
Total buffoon.

Percy's Poser

For the Cardiff game we asked you to complete the following headline from walesonline:

XXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXX appears overnight in Cardiff City Centre

Congrats to Mrs Hilda Basmati-Rice who correctly identified the missing words as "Giant Gingerbread House" Obvious really. Mrs Basmati-Rice wins Wales - however Hilda has wisely taken the cash equivalent of ?2.50 instead.

Well done Hilda!

This week we go over to the Croydon Advertiser website which, presumably out of embarrassment, is "rebranding" itself as "My London". No, it's your Croydon and you are welcome to it.

All you have to do to win Croydon is fill in the missing words from the following headline:

legendary XXXX X' XXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXX wants improvements to Crystal Palace dinosaurs

Good luck everybody!

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