West Ham United v Everton

As supporters get ready to protest at the way the club is run, Preview Percy explains exactly why "being run like a circus" may not actually be a bad thing. Oh and there's some stuff about Everton as well...

Next up we are back at home where we will play host to Everton. 3pm Saturday is the perfect time. Whisper it but it looks like they may have finally finished the engineering works on the Southend Victoria line at long last. C2C looks clear as well. The tubes and DLR are all operating and even the Ginger line is putting off its work until Sunday. Looks like they were expecting things to be moved for TV.

So Everton then. Bit of an odd season for them so far. They sit in 11th spot with 28 points from 22 games. That's five places and six points ahead of us. The papers have been full of stories of disgruntled Toffees turning up at the training ground after the Cup defeat to Liverpool. Which is odd really because their recent form has been solid if unspectacular.

Since getting thumped 5-2 at Anfield in the league encounter they have lost just the once in seven games, that being a New Year's Day 2-1 reverse away at Man City. The remaining games have seen them win four and lose two. Those seven games contrast with the previous 11 of which they managed to lose eight.

The change can be attributed to a change in boss. Patience with Marco Silva was finally lost and, after a short spell under the caretakership of Duncan Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti arrived. Daisy, the full time personal assistant with the beautiful smile tells me that Ancelotti has yet to make any moves into the purchase side of the transfer market.

There has been one departure however. German-born Turkish international Cenk Tosun didn't hang around for long after Ancelotti's arrival. The far from prolific striker - one goal all season - was shipped out to Crystal Palace where no doubt he will be giving Christian Benteke a run for his money in the "who can score the least goals competition".

This leaves them with two top goalscorers at the moment. Ancelotti wasted no time in bigging up Dominic Calvert-Lewin suggesting that the player is "going to be at the top both in England and Europe". That might be a tad optimistic but he has got 10 in all competitions, 8 of which have come in the League.

He is joined at the top of the goalscoring charts by former Watford front man Richarlison. He followed Marco Silva up the M1/M6/M62 and, although he did finish top scorer for the Toffeemen last season, the total potential fee of up to ?50m paid to the Hornets a couple of years ago still looks a bit generous. Richarlison was on target in their 1-0 win over Brighton last weekend.

One of their brighter players this season has been ex-Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi but he's been struggling with a thigh injury so won't be about to torment us.

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If the rumour mill is to be believed midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson won't be an Everton player this time next month. Clearly talented - check the goal he got against us up their place - it's one of those classic cases where player and club seem singularly ill-suited to each other. It remains to be seen whether a change of club will rejuvenate him, and it appears than Ancelotti may be less than enamoured of the player. However he played the full 90 against Brighton last weekend and, if he is in the shop window he will need to impress.

And so we move on to the wild and wacky world of association football. If you ever needed any proof that PGMOL has its pension fund staked on Liverpool to win the League this season all you need do is look at a rerun of their defeat of Spurs last weekend in the "if only both sides could lose" derby. Scousers from all over Norway were up in arms over the suggestion that the multiple stream of fouls - some given many not - in that ten yard area either side of the halfway line was not somehow totally acceptable.

What has become known as "tactical fouling" or as we like to call it "fouling" has been a trademark of that particular club since the 1960's. The failure to issue a yellow or red card to Robertson under circumstances that would have seen sanction had he been wearing any other club's shirt just goes to prove that Liverpool supporters and PGMOL officials (a term that appears pretty much interchangeable these days) have no concept of the idea of "shame".

And of course there is VAR. The state of play in this country is that we have incompetent referees who are not up to the job. Some of them sit in a bunker proving that, no matter how many times they see an incident, they still haven't got a clue as to what they are doing.

The irony is the one bloody law they seem capable of enforcing is the stupid double standard that applies to handball, for which there are now different interpretations depending on whether an attacker or defender is involved. If you are going to "punish" an attacking player for what is not generally considered to be "handball" you have to do the same to defenders. Anything else is just bonkers and the fact that the powers that be didn't anticipate the consequences of such a moronic change tells you all you need to know about the calibre of person involved in running the game.

Nearer to home it can't have escaped your notice that the owners have been appearing in every medium they can get their hands on. One might almost think that there is some sort of demonstration or protest planned for the weekend. The general tone of things is that they are disappointed that things haven't progressed much since they took over. Which is, I suppose, at least an improvement on the "best stadium move ever" party line they keep peddling.

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Of course all the interviews didn't touch upon a current transfer policy that seems to consist of sending Spurs on a wild goose chase to Portugal in the hope that they won't sign Joe Allen.

Incidentally, remember that old comment that the club wasn't being run like a circus anymore? That's always perplexed me. Have you ever given any thought as to the complex logistics involved in shifting dozens of people, animals, massive tents, seating and lord knows what up and down the country? Maybe being run like a circus would be an improvement.

Which brings us to last weekend then. Well I thought we were the better side in the first half but we lacked cohesion in the second half. I thought the first half merited us a point but it just goes to show that you have to take chances when you get them.

Of course, our goalkeeping position proved the old adage that if it weren't for bad luck we'd have no luck at all. Fabianski's absence is not likely to be too lengthy but it was a right royal pain that the hitherto reliable Martin chose Friday night to have a Roberto moment. The kick-out to Balbuena was bad enough and then the final shot went under his body.

For this weekend Darren Randolph, whose medical started a few weeks before they started building Crossrail, will join the squad and, depending on whether or not we have signed a fit keeper (stranger things have happened) he may will go straight into the starting XI.

Whilst we are talking injuries, in addition to Fabianski, we will definitely be without Wilshere, who last played just before they started work on the Bakerloo line, Fredericks and Yarmolenko. Antonio has a remote chance of being available - that chance being small enough to be statistically insignificant. There's better news of Anderson who had a sore back but is rated 75% likely to be available at the time of writing.

So on we move to the prediction. Well there were times when we looked ok in the first half last week. But equally we seemed bereft of attacking intent for much of the second. A good start is imperative and if we do take the initiative we need to keep it. Not sure we are up to that level of improvement yet. I'm not going to go the full pessimist though so I will suggest a point apiece. The ?2.50 I was going to put towards the wages of a scout for the club will instead go on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at The Olympic: Lost 0-2 (Premier League March 2019)

"A complete disaster of a performance" were the words used by Pellegrini to describe this match. He wasn't wrong.

Referee: Andre Marriner

On a good day he can almost be mediocre. Almost.

Danger Man: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Talented and possibly on the lookout for a new employer.

Percy's Poser:

Last time out we asked you what was the part played by actress Ann Sellors in the movie "Threads" a film set in a post-nuclear holocaust Sheffield? Well done to Mrs Vanessa Garibaldi-Smyth of East Tilbury who knew that Ms Sellors had the pivotal role of "Woman Who Urinated Over Herself" a role for which there was much competition in the area.

This week we look to the Liverpool Echo, the paper that is full of chips before it leaves the newsagent. As we know local newspapers are often full of crime stories and we normally try and steer clear of those, However, every so often we hit upon a story that contains something so dumb we can't help ourselves. So pick the missing words out of this:

"Idiotic robber chased by post office owner led him to XXX XXXX"

Best of luck!

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