Cardiff City v West Ham United

Preview Percy claims he was going to the Cardiff match anyway and the fact that they have scrapped the tolls on the two Severn Bridges is just pure coincidence. Frankly we have our doubts......

Next we venture abroad to the capital of the Principality (the name given to countries not important enough to have a King or Queen) where we will be hosted by Cardiff City at the Cardiff City stadium. Kick off is at 3pm which, allowing for the time difference, is 15:00hrs Welsh time.

Trains? Well the usual stuff in and out of Liverpool Street plus Metropolitan line engineering works on the tube will require an early start to get to Paddington for your international journey on Taffystar. Check before you leave.

So Cardiff then. Before we move on to the usual insightful and erudite analysis (eh? - Ed) we should take a moment to have a quiet word about recent tragic events. All the somewhat tawdry bursts of claim and counter claim by the club and the agent(s) involved, the latest being the investigation by the Heddlu of alleged threats by the infamous Willy McKay, seems to have overshadowed the very sad fact that Emiliano Sala and Dave Ibbotson lost their lives in that plane crash. May they rest in peace.

The work experience girl with the beautiful smile informs me that the clubs have met on 59 previous occasions with us winning 32 drawing 16 and losing 11. The first meeting of the clubs came at the old Ninian Park ground in the Southern League in 1914 which I remember as if it were only 105 years ago. We lost 2-0.

The current side of course are struggling a bit. They are currently third from bottom, a position which they seem to be battling with Southampton to avoid at present. They have 25 points from the 29 played thus far which is two points and a shedload of goal difference behind Southampton. Of the two clubs the Saints would appear to have a slightly easier run-in, only having Spurs and Liverpool of the current top six to play, whilst Cardiff have Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Man Utd to come at some stage.

Having beaten Bournemouth (2-0 at home) and the aforementioned Saints (2-1 away) at the start of February they've lost their last 3 - 5-1 at home to Watford, 3-0 at home to Everton and 2-0 away at Wolves so they will be a bit twitchy at the moment. Still at least they have gotten back to playing in their proper colours after the "red aberration" they went through a while back. Their match against Nottingham Forest was on the box that season and Forest turned out in a blue change kit. To us old-timers used to a certain order of things it was a) very confusing and b) just plain wrong so I'm glad they got that cleared up.

The man in charge is our old friend - and I use that word with the greatest amount of possible irony - Neil "Colin" Warnock. It seems that a large number of past transfers involving Colin and his agent son have been put under the microscope. At the time of writing, the report from the authorities is still a few weeks away. However, should there be anything untoward be involved I am sure that Warnock will bear any punishment with good grace in the interest of "fairness in football".

In addition to the unfortunate Sala they also brought in midfielder Leandro Bacuna from Reading. The fee has been variously reported as ?3m or ?4m depending on which paper you eat your chips from. He has full international honours for Curacao, which used to be called Netherlands Antilles until the local drinks people persuaded the powers that be of the powers of marketing. That and some stuff about the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles so that Curacao could be a country within the Netherlands. Either way the change in name meant that I was spared the hassle of having to work out how to get the word "Antilles" into this column's traditional running gag involving "Dutch Caps".

Having scored 25 goals in 29 in the league it was clear that additional firepower was required and they brought in striker Oumar Niasse on loan from Everton. Niasse has spent most of his time at Goodison Park being out of favour. Having joined the club in February 2016 for ?13.5m, within six months he had been told to find another club, being sent to train with the U23s and even having his personal locker removed. He spent the second half of 2016-17 on loan at Hull - that's how you really know you're in the boss's bad books.

On his return to Goodison he got a few games under his belt and achieved some form of notoriety by becoming the first player to suffer retrospective action for the "successful deception of a match official". Says it all about the FA really - they get the right city but the wrong side of Stanley Park.He has yet to score in five since his arrival on the banks of the Taff.

They only have one player on the injury list but it is a significant one. Sol Bamba was stretchered off in Saturday's defeat at Wolves with what turned out to be a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament, an injury that was due to be operated on as I write. He will be out for the season. He will be doubly missed as, along with defender turned emergency striker Callum Patterson and Bobby Reid. One behind on 3 is Josh Murphy (or possibly his twin brother Jacob).

When last I wrote about Cardiff all was not tickety-boo with Danish striker Kenneth Zahore. Mystery injuries and a lack of form mean that his contribution to the goals for column can be measured in the singular. Colin expressed frustration with the player back in the Autumn and he has been further annoyed by the antics of on-loan Real Betis midfielder Victor Camarasa. The Spaniard missed some games through injury, having been told by his own personal injury consultants (or "Tom, Dick and Harry from abroad" in Colin-speak) that he was unfit to play. Nice to be in charge isn't it Colin?

And so what else has happened in the world of football. Well Pochettino has picked himself up a two match ban for not being called "Klopp", a fact that would have spared him much more than a fine. I'm not bothered enough to feel sorry for him mind but thought I'd point it out as yet another example of the FA rewriting the rule book when it comes to Liverpool.

Meanwhile, according to the BBC website, former Dutch international Ronald De Boer has gone on record saying that he believes that it is within the scope of Scottish clubs to emulate the success of Ajax after their 4-1 win at Real Madrid the other night. Let's just analyse this for a moment shall we? De Boer reckons that a league so poor that it can be won on multiple occasions by teams managed by Brendon Rodgers, (a man who thought so much of their top team that he saw Leicester as a step up), can provide teams (note plural) capable of burying Real at the Bernabau??? It all goes to prove one thing, namely that the Netherlands' noted relaxed attitude to the consumption of certain recreational pharmaceutical products is not quite the good thing some people seem to think it is.

And so to us. Marvellous to see Billy open his stand at the weekend - the dear chap was clearly touched by the welcome given to him by the supporters - and to be honest he wasn't the only one with a slightly moistened eye in the place by a long chalk. Even the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's resident Geordie, Preview Alastair, paid his respects - as did his fellow toonsmen, a measure of the respect that Billy commands even beyond the confines of our support.

The match was pretty regulation really. 2-0 was a decent reflection of the play. Good to see Lanzini getting back towards his best and there's at least one thick Geordie regretting going onto You Tube and mentioning Sean Longstaff in the same breath as Declan Rice. One day son maybe.

On the injury front, of those not on the long-term list Cresswell was the main doubt having been taken off halfway through the first half. However, they have wiped the blood off and given him a Disprin so he should be ok. Arthur will deputise one presumes should Cresswell not make it. Balbuena played part of an U23 match in midweek with no ill effects but he will have to go some to break up the Oggy and Diop pairing who were so excellent on Saturday. He can bide his time until the next injury which, knowing our luck, will come our way at some stage.

Prediction? Well if we put together the football we did on those occasions when we felt like it against Newcastle - a team lest we forget that were on a bit of a roll of sorts - we ought to be able to pick up three points, even if the match will involve a trip to foreign climes. Colin's comments about players' advisors deciding on whether they are fit plus other barbed remarks relating to the stomach some of the players might have for a relegation scrap suggest a not totally happy crew at present, and I think we may have gone past the stage where they are picking up just enough points to keep things interesting.

So set all the clocks to Cardiff Mean Time and I will therefore be placing the ?2.50 that I would have had to spend on buying Preview Alastair a drink had we lost last weekend on an away win. So on with the Winstone Turf Accountancy app (when the fun stops you are in the company of Neil Warnock) and let's place the whole darn lot on a 3-1 to us.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met abroad Won 2-0 (Premier League January 2014)

A goal from Carlton Cole before the interval and one from Noble deep into stoppage at the end gave us a first win in eight and lifted us out of the bottom three for a bit, - though it was a run of six wins out of nine over February and March that year that saw us safe in the end. We played the last 20 minutes with ten men with Tomkins picking up a second yellow and we had also lost Guy Demel to a nasty head injury that saw him stretchered off wearing an oxygen mask. Cardiff finished bottom.

Referee: Graham Scott

Thought badly enough of by PGMOL that they thought about demoting him. Which is pretty much the ultimate sanction as far as they are concerned. Thinking about it that is. Took charge of the reverse fixture in December.


Danger Man: Josh Murphy

Or possibly his brother Jacob. If he turns up on both wings in a suspiciously short space of time I think we can draw our own conclusions as to what is going on.

Percy's Poser:

Last week week we look at Newcastle's Chronicle. The following headline appeared recently:

Campaigners fear plans for XXXX XXXX near Newcastle

Well done to Mrs Cynthia Floor-Mop of Abridge who correctly identified the missing word as "Coal Mine". Cynthia commented - "they should make up their minds - I remembering them kicking up a hell of a stink all those years ago when they closed them down after all" Quite, Cynthia.

For this week's missing words we visit the Wales Online website from which the following missing word headline has been half-inched....

XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX could stop Royal Mail staff delivering post to Cardiff streets

Good luck everyone!


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