Everton v West Ham United

Back after the break and, in addition to his look at this weekend's visit to Everton, Preview Percy has been turning his mind to the problem of delayed fixture change announcements.

He's toned it down a bit from his proposed reintroduction of capital punishment for tv company executives. However, we suspect they still won't like it much......

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Had a nice break? Good. Ok let's start again then. It's Everton away with a stupid kick-off time of 12:30pm on Saturday. If you are making the early start to travel up on the day, the usual rail replacement buses on both the Southend Victoria line (around Shenfield) and the C2C line (twixt Grays and Barking) will be in force so either hire yourself a happy bus or set the alarm a lot earlier for your trip into Euston.

It's been a mixed season so far for the half of Merseyside that bothers to get international clearance for its players. And by mixed I mean a season that started slowly and then went on to deteriorate. The opening day 0-0 draw at Palace had Match Of The Day trying to work out if they could actually have a game on after the last one. It's an idea. Lineker could say "listen the last game is so bad we're not going to show it. Instead here's a rerun of "Some Like It Hot". Those who really want to watch that game instead of a masterpiece of cinematic comedy can do so via the red button.

Following that opener, they beat Watford 1-0 at home, lost 2-0 at Villa before prevailing 3-2 at home over Wolves. At that point at the beginning of September, they had won two, drawn one and lost one. A solid enough start giving them seven points from their opening four games. Solid enough one might have thought. The problem is that it's been defeats all the way since then.

They went down 3-1 at Bournemouth, 2-0 at home to Sheffield Hypocrisy, 3-1 at home to Man City and, if you can remember that far back, they lost their last outing 1-0 over at Burnley. So they still have those seven points. The problem being is that the teams around them have more.

Newcastle's defeat of Man Utd the other week has left them third from bottom, Southampton sitting above them on goals scored with both teams having a -7 goal difference. Norwich are a point behind in 19th spot, whilst Watford's 3 points is showing signs of that particular lifeboat beginning to separate from the others and drift away.

So what's gone pear-shaped since they finished 8th last season - a win away from the Thursday Night League lest we forget? It's not like they didn't sign anyone in the summer. According to Daisy, the full time personal assistant with the beautiful smile, seven permanent deals were inked, whilst one loan signing arrived. However, on closer inspection, there isn't much scope for the new arrivals to have had much impact.

For example, of the three who came in on 1 July, Gomes's ?22m arrival from Barcelona is listed only on a technicality, the player having spent all last season at Goodison on loan. Centre half Sebastien Kristiensen is a kid who has been packed off to do prep at the Academy. The third arrival was Jonas Lossl who found an escape pod in the Huddersfield Town Relegation Starcruiser and, as a 'keeper, spends his days keeping the racing car seats warm.

They spent ?8.5m - potentially rising to ?10m with add-ons on Fabian Delph, whose best mates wouldn't say is someone who is a major season-changer. He arrived after 4 seasons with Man City with whom he managed to manage 14 League appearances a season. His youngest daughter was born during last season's World Cup, a lack of planning that suggests that he was as surprised as we were when he made the squad for that tournament. At the time of writing he is rated 50-50 for this weekend, a hamstring problem being the culprit.

?25m was the undisclosed fee spent on Ivorian international midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin who arrived from Mainz. JPG has had a stuttering start to his career with the Toffeemen, a tendon injury bringing his season to a temporary halt after just the one start and one sub appearance in the league. Although born in the "Cote D'Ivoire" (as they insist on calling it on "Pointless" these days) he was brought up in France and worked his way up through the French youth system all the way to U21 level. However, he eventually elected to throw his hat into the Ivorian ring and now has double figures in caps for the country of his birth. The aforementioned tendon injury will keep him out of contention at the weekend.

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Some eyebrows were raised at the arrival of Moise Kean who has been lauded as one of Italy's more promising prospects. Everton paid EUR27.5m to Juventus with add-ons potentially increasing that fee to EUR30m. I would tell you what that is in good old pounds sterling but when I rang up Thomas Cook for the exchange rate the bloke who answered got very angry and hung up on me, which I thought was a bit odd.

Kean is the youngest player to represent the Azzuri in 60 years and is also the second youngest Italian to score for his country. His first international goal came in a Euro 2020 qualifier against Finland, a match that cemented his status in the Italian hierarchy once and for all, closing off the Ivorian option which had been open to him by virtue of parentage. He's another who has yet to set the world alight so far, Although he has appeared in seven of theeight8 matches played so far, six of those apps have come off the bench which is not quite what one might expect of a EUR30m wonderkid.

The final permanent signing of the season came in the form of Alex Iwobi who arrived from Arsenal for a fee of ?28m which, because Everton like an add-on, has the potential to rise to ?34m. The transfer happened a few days after the player was quoted as saying how much he was looking forward to his return to club football with Arsenal after the African Cuppa Soup, in which he had participated for Nigeria.

Although Lagos born (hence his Nigerian international career) he spent his formative years in our neck of the woods. He actually went to Campion School in Hornchurch, a seat of learning that I know a number of you attended. This makes his qualification as a professional footballer slightly more remarkable, given that, if memory serves me right, they favoured the egg chasing code at that school to the exclusion of proper football until lads entered the sixth form.

They did have a quick dabble in the loan market. Right-back Djibril Sidibe came in from Monaco for the season with an agreement that, if all works out well, Everton will make the deal permanent next season. Sidibe was part of the 2018 French World Cup winning side, but his only appearances this season have come in the League Cup.

This is likely to change this weekend as Seamus Coleman has had what you might call "one of those weeks". Coleman picked up two yellows in the Republic Of Ireland's defeat by Switzerland the other night earning him a ban from their next qualifier. Those two yellows were added to the pair he picked up the weekend before last at Burnley, transgressions which will preclude his participation in this match. Still, on the bright side, there's a few of those odd jobs around the house that will now be done I suppose.

And so we move on to the wide and wacky world of Association Football. During the last round of league matches we saw (yet again) Liverpool got out of jail with a penalty so laughable you'd have to be a Liverpool supporter (who by definition have no sense of shame) not to be embarrassed by it.

Having last year issued a statement that contradicted both its own policies and the laws of the game to enable Salah to escape retrospective punishment, the FA kept schtum this time around and just bent the rules silently this time to allow Mane to escape the retrospective punishment his blatant cheating deserved. As a reminder to you all, if you hear anyone saying "if there's contact the player has a right to go down" simply remind them that the laws of the game requires that any contact must impede a player before a free-kick can be given. Then punch them in the mouth .

Elsewhere, Spurs became the gift that keeps on giving, though Lloris's injury was something that nobody wants to see. I understand that the tv company deliberately refrained from showing that goal from certain angles due to the horrible sight of an elbow going the wrong way. All I can say is that those views must have been horrible - the ones that were fit for public viewing were bad enough.

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On the international front England had an off day against the Czechs but felt confident enough against the Bulgars to leave a few out. Declan's sniffles allowing lesser players of the likes of Winks to have a run out bless them. Kane finally scored after missing a hatful of sitters. Are we that short of strikers in the England squad these days? I mean anyone can take penalties after all.

The racism thing raised its ugly head in Sofia of course. Now on the whole I quite like the idea of not having respect for UEFA, an organisation which seems to have the sole benefit of not being as bent as FIFA. So on the face of it a t-shirt with "No Respect to UEFA" on it might seem like "a good thing". However, one finds oneself having to side with the governing body, lest one ends up on the side of the sort of people who think Nazi salutes are also "a good thing". Which is a bit like finding yourself agreeing with Piers Morgan about anything, a prospect that fair turns the stomach.

A horrible night and one awaits with baited breath to see what UEFA do next. Their track record has not been great in the past - they once find Nicklas Bendtner ?80k for illegal display of a sponsor's logo, a fine that was 10 times the usual punishment dished out for racism offences. However, the use of the 3 stage protocol seems to have heralded a more serious approach to these matters. We shall see.

Meanwhile it's a sobering thought that (irrespective of your views on the whole thing) the Prime Minister managed to come away from Brussels with some sort of deal to put to Parliament BEFORE the Premier League managed to inform us of the December/January fixture changes. I suppose we ought to be grateful we got the announcement before Easter. The next TV deal should contain a clause whereby if the fixture changes are not announced by the due date the tv companies would forfeit the right to broadcast that month's fixtures but, and here's the clever bit, they would still have to pay. I'll settle for 1 per cent of the take for coming up with the idea.

And so to us and the self-inflicted firearms to foot incident that was Palace at home. Well I don't suppose it'll be the last time we drop 3 points to a team that would have been over the moon to have gotten just the one. Basically, we struggled to break down a side that reverted to a back 8 as soon as they didn't have the ball, which was quite a lot. We had VAR again but only up one end - Haller was pulled down for a penalty at the end but displaying all the incompetence that he has become renowned for over the years Oliver said no.

The problem with VAR is that one incident will tend to overshadow the wider problem with our match officials which is namely that they are rubbish. Oliver had a lousy game throughout but the it's the millimetres highlighted by VAR that grab all the headlines. VAR is simply sticking a plaster on a shaving cut whilst blood pours out of a severed artery elsewhere on the body. And because it isn't being used properly the shaving nick is still bleeding as well.

Ah well. Let's move on shall we. On the injury front Rice has recovered from the sniffles that allowed lesser lights to have a training stroll against Bulgaria in midweek. Cresswell and Snodgrass should also be ok. On the subject of Snodgrass, he has announced his retirement from international football, his country having given up the ghost years ago. Definitely out are Reid, Antonio and Fabianski, the latter two making decent progress from their recent ops. Reid's muscular injury must be gutting after so long out, poor sod.

Prediction time. Well on both sides it's a case of who turns up; which Everton and which West Ham. The pressure of being in the relegation zone will either galvanise them or the pressure will get to them. On the other hand will good West Ham or indifferent West Ham turn up? On the whole I fancy us to nick this one so the ?2.50 that was going to be spent on buying the Premier League fixtures guys a calendar (the fact that Christmas is in December seems to have caught them unawares. Again.) will instead place it an away win. Mr Winstone if you will please accept this as a wager on a 2-1 win for us.

Enjoy the game!

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When Last We Met At Goodison Park: Won 3-1 (Premier League, September 2018)

The season finally woke up as Yarmolenko opened his account with a first-half brace. Sigurdsonn pulled one back before the interval but Arnautovic sealed it on the hour. Good performance and all three points were well-deserved.

Referee: Paul Tierney

They like giving him this fixture - it's the third time in as many years by my reckoning. Hopefully he will have learned that his first duty is to ensure the safety of the players in his charge.

Danger Man: Alex Iwobi

A difficult choice this week, partly because they haven't been playing well and partly because I have seen little of them. He has looked sort of dangerous in the few games I have seen and that's as good a reason as any I suppose.

Percy's Poser

A couple of weeks back we looked at the Croydon bit of "My London" which published an article entitled

XX irritating things about living in Croydon

Congratulations to Mrs Portia Plugin-Hybrid of Cranham who correctly guessed that a) They found 53 irritating things and b) The only reason they stuck at 53 was the publication deadline.

For this week's poser we visit the pages of the Liverpool Echo which is a depressing read at the best of times. Honestly, trying to find something amusing in amongst all the crime stuff is damned hard work I can tell you. Anyway, I did manage to find the following headline which, although it concerns a Warrington resident is amusing enough to qualify. So just fill in the missing words from the following:

"Tourist thought he had found XXXXX XXXXX worth thousands"

Good luck everyone!

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