West Ham United v Everton: match preview

Preview Percy: The good news is that he’s not trying to speak Greek in this week’s preview. The bad news is that he has written this week’s preview. Here’s his look at the visit of Everton...

Next up we play host to Everton. Set your alarm clocks – having first taken the precaution of making sure they have taken heed of the change from BST to GMT that takes place overnight. You’ll need that extra hour as kick-off is at 1pm.

This is a consequence of Greater Manchester Police moving the corporate event formerly known as the Manchester Derby to 3:30 pm, meaning that everyone else has to kick off earlier to give Sky lots more time to fawn over two of their darling clubs. Lots of engineering works on C2C and Greater Anglia so be prepared for replacement buses.

So Everton then. Well they stayed up by the skin of their teeth last season. The fixture list couldn’t have been kinder really: there are worse ties than Bournemouth at home to have for your last game of the season. Their 1-0 win was needed in the end as Leicester’s victory over us would have meant relegation for the Toffees had they drawn or lost.

They are relying on the “hoping there are three teams worse than us” tactic at the moment. This is a ploy that has seen them win two, draw one and lose six so far leaving them on seven points from the nine played so far with Luton (five points), Burnley (four), Bournemouth (two) and (tee hee) Sheffield United (one) the only teams below them. They also have a three-point gap between them and both Forest and Brentford on 10 points above them.

They will of course be in the midst of dealing with the death of Bill Kenwright this week. Although he had long ceased to be the majority shareholder in the club – I believe he was down to 2% at the time of his passing - he retained the chairmanship, a decision that left him, perhaps unfairly, acting as a focal point for the ire of those supporters unhappy with the state of the club in recent years.

However, unlike the club’s owners, he had been a life-long Evertonian and their recent woes – of which more shortly - will have hurt. It was he who appointed David Moyes back in the day giving them their best spell in quite some time.

The finances are a bit of a mess. The new stadium at Bramley Dock has been a drain on resources and the Premier League has opened an enquiry into alleged FFP rule breaches. The papers have been full of headlines of a 12-point deduction. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the hearings had been done and dusted but at this stage the it’s just the penalty that may be sought in the event that they are found guilty.

Things aren’t being helped by the protracted sale of the club by Farhad Moshiri. The proposed c£550m+ takeover by American investment company 777 Partners is currently crawling through the regulatory process to ensure that the new owners are fit to buy the club. Whilst the approval process can be glacial – look how long it took to decide Newcastle’s that Newcastle’s owners hadn’t murdered that many journalists for example – 777 haven’t helped themselves.

Part of the latest procedure requires prospective buyers to submit audited financial accounts for review by the Financial Conduct Authority. 777 apparently haven’t done this so far, a failure which has prompted speculation that all is not well with the takeover. Such talk has been pooh-poohed by those involved but that won’t stop Toffees’ supporters from fretting more and more the longer the books are missing from the FCA’s HQ in Stratford.

It seems like an age ago but they have already had one deal collapse this season – a proposed £190m investment from another US concern called MSP going belly up back in August.

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The financial state of the club is, perhaps, reflected by the transfer balance sheet which saw £82.8m come in over the summer but only £38.7m spent. Saturday’s fall guy in the latest Liverpool/PGMOL love-in, Ashley Young was a free-transfer arrival from Villa this summer. It seems that now he’s at the veteran stage of his career and being in possession of a resale value akin to that of a signed photo of Philip Schofield he has a fresh attitude to playing in the lower regions of the Premier League.

In the past he turned down a move to The Boleyn to avoid having to play in a relegation battle. Funny how flexible principles can become when nobody wants to sign you. He will of course be unavailable for selection having been the latest victim of the dishonest officiating that our finest reserve for Anfield.

They paid out £12m to Sporting in return for Portuguese Under 20 international Youssef Chermiti. At the age of 19 one suspects that the original plan may not have involved throwing him straight into the deep end of Premier League life but he has already made three league appearances in the league as Everton’s forwards have struggled with form and injury.

Portuguese striker Beto had a bright start to his Everton career, coming on at half-time as the Toffeemen were struggling to equalise in the League Cup at Doncaster. He netted his first for the club as they came from behind to avoid what would have been an ignominious exit. He has found things a little more difficult in the League however and has failed to score in any of the five League matches he has featured in since his debut.

Everton’s other goalscorer at the Keepmoat that night was Dutchman Arnaut Danjuma. Danjuma is in on a season-long loan, something that should have happened back in January, only for the deal to be hijacked by Spurs at the last minute. Having returned to parent club Villareal in the summer, Everton swallowed their pride and signed the player this summer instead.

Their other loan signing was Jack Harrison, who, freakishly, scored a hat-trick at the Olympic a couple of seasons ago in our equally freakish 3-2 home defeat by Leeds.

There’s not many players can say that their senior debut came in a 7-0 defeat at Yankee Stadium. Well outside baseball anyway. However, having spent his early career at New York City that’s exactly what happened as they conceded a hatful to local rivals New York Fizzy Drinks. Harrison arrived on loan from Leeds on their relegation and the further loan spell on Merseyside appears to be a case of hedging his bets.

On we go to the wild and wacky world of Association Football. And I am even more indebted than usual to the beautiful Daisy for picking up on the story of the Borussia Dortmund team coach. That’s the wheeled transport conveyance rather than ex-Hammer Edin Terzic.

It seems that the vehicle found itself up the coast in Tynemouth parked at a 90 degree angle across half a dozen car parking spaces. This attracted the interest of the local Community Support officer who promptly stuck a ticket on the vehicle, an action that honestly had nothing to do with the previous night’s result. Honest guv.

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Elsewhere it was trebles all round in Zurich as Swiss prosecutors dropped their investigations into President Gianni Infantino after a he had held a secret meeting with the Swiss Attorney General. Both he and FIFA were over the moon at the decision.

However, someone in FIFA’s press office really needs their head examined if they think the world is going to listen to a statement that refers to FIFA as “a clean, well run and robust organisation which operates in accordance with the highest ethical and governance standards” without rolling about laughing. I bet that one is playing well in Saudi Arabia as they plan for the World Cup they are about to be handed on a plate.

And so to us. Well the problem with Thursday was that we started with the wrong XI.

Now I appreciate that some of the changes were enforced, Fabianski and Coufal for example. However given the quality of the opposition this was one to throw resource at. Instead we started with Ings up front, a player clearly lacking in confidence and it looked to be the equivalent of football euthanasia when he was withdrawn just short of the hour.

We were short on the basics – some of the passing was embarrassing and the failure to close players down on the edge of the box was something you teach at junior school level. The bright side? Well Paqueta’s goal wasn’t bad was it – and it nearly – but not quite - erased the memory of all the times he gave the ball away. Let’s hope lessons are learned and we stick out a proper first XI in the return fixture in a couple of weeks.

On the injury front the main doubt is Coufal who didn’t travel to Greece due to “muscular tightness”. He has only a 50-50 chance of starting. Which is still more than Emerson who is ruled out through suspension, having breached the “five yellows before the end of December” rule. Other than that it’s a full deck.

So, on then to the prediction. Well I reckon that once you get that losing habit it becomes a difficult one to shift and their run is a lot worse than ours has been. It’s a home win for me this time around then so the £2.50 I was going to spend on a stamp to post all my bank details to Gianni Infantino now that FIFA have said how honest he is, will instead be placed on a wager with Mr Winstone for a 3-1 to us victory.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at the Olympic: Won 2-0 (Premier League January 2022)

We thought we had problems until this one. Bowen ended a run of 12 games without a goal netting two in ten first half minutes against one of the more woeful opponents we faced last season. The win took us out of the drop zone and saw Frank Lampard (junior) sacked with many wondering why on earth he had been given the job in the first place given his appalling record elsewhere at the helm. With rumours abounding that Mr Moyes might face a similar fate had we lost the match had been dubbed “El Sackio” by the wags in the press.

Referee: Stuart Atwell VAR: Simon Hooper

Perennially accident-prone referee on the pitch coupled with a perennially accident-prone video assistant referee. What could possibly go wrong?

Danger Man: Abdoulaye Doucore

Joint top scorer with Calvert-Lewin but gets the nod because, well, he’s a better player really.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last time out we gave you the following missing words to consider:

German Christmas Market takes shape in city centre but Brummies say “XXXX’X XXXXXX”

Congratulations to Mrs Karen Fruitloop-Spacecadet of Abridge who spotted that the missing words were “shan’t bother”. Classy.

This week I actually found a piece of news in the Liverpool Echo that didn’t concern murder, drugs or the feasibility of installing solar panels adjacent to Jurgen Klopp’s buttocks. File under: “This looks important:

H&M’s £28 soft knitted jumper dress in 3 colours hailed as “XX XXXXXXXXXX and XXX XXXXX”

Good luck everyone!

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