West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth: match preview

It’s been so long since we had Preview Percy do one of these that we had to wake him up for his look at Thursday night’s visit of AFC Bournemouth. Perhaps, on reflection, we’d have been wiser to let the old fool have a lie-in...

Next up, after what seems to have been an eternity, we play host to AFC Bournemouth. It’s a slightly earlier kick-off for an evening match of 7:30 for some reason, that reason presumably being connected with the fact that TNT have the broadcast rights in the UK for those unable to make the trip.

So Bournemouth then. It’s been an odd season so far with them failing to win until their 10th game of the season, when they beat the rather hapless Burnley 2-1 at home. Any thoughts of building a momentum at that point disappeared with a quick look at the fixture list, which sent them immediately to Man City, who dispatched them 6-1 the following week.

At this point they were 18th in the table. However a friendly run of fixtures against a combination of not very good teams, and good teams playing below par turned things around dramatically. A 2-0 home win over an out of sorts Newcastle was followed by wins at Sheffield United, Palace, Man Utd, and Forest.

In that run of away matches they played just the twice at whatever Dean Court is called these days, drawing 2-2 with Villa and beating Fulham 3-0. That run, in which they won six and drew one, aided by Everton’s points deduction right at the start of the run, saw them climb to 12th place in the league, a position they still hold despite their last two matches resulting in defeats – 3-1 at Spurs and 0-4 at home to Liverpool.

All of which has left them in 12th place with 25 points from 20 matches. That’s at time of writing of course. There are games to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday which may have changed that position by the time this goes out over the sub-etha network.

It should also be pointed out that they are one shy in the “Games Played” column at the moment with their match against Luton in December being abandoned due to the collapse of Luton’s Tom Lockyer.

Much to Daisy’s pleasure they haven’t done any business during the window up to the time of writing. One presumes that, given the authorities’ recent discovery that they had rules and regulations on financial sustainability and they weren’t afraid to use them (or in the case of Man City, weren’t afraid to use them eventually) clubs have been a bit more circumspect than usual down at the shops.

One bit of business has been done this week in the exit direction however. Midfielder David Brooks, who has been well down the pecking order this season, moved eastwards along the coast to join Southampton’s promotion push. This was despite his influential role in the 5-0 FA Cup win over Swansea last week.

The clues were there I suppose, when asked to comment on Brooks’ performance, boss Iraola merely commented “everybody played well”.

They also outed £20m signing Hamed Traore. There was a feeling that the player didn’t fit into Iraola’s style of play, though picking up malaria a couple of months ago didn’t help any. The Ivorian has been shipped out on loan to Napoli for the rest of the season with an option to make the deal permanent.

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Up front they have been reliant on the goals of Dominic Solanke who has 14 across the 24 games he has played in all competitions this season. That reliance is underlined by the fact that the next name on the list – Justin “Son Of” Kluivert – has just the four to his name. Even in the 4-0 home drubbing by Liverpool, Solanke had the odd chance, so keeping him quiet will be a priority.

And so on to the Wild and Wacky World Of Association Football. Well the BBC finally disappeared totally up the backside of Liverpool FC after years of burrowing. The announcement that hypocrite Klopp is to retire at the end of the season saw the Corporation go into full mourning mode, with their football page devoting something like 20+ pages to the departure.

I don’t think that they devoted that many pages when the Queen passed, gawd bless ‘er. Get used to it. We will be looking at headlines like “Volcano erupts in Iceland – How will this affect Klopp Departure?” for the rest of the season.

Let’s move on to us. Well here is what Howard Webb should be saying when he makes his next TV appearance.

"Yes, Michael Salisbury seems to be having problems with the basics of refereeing at the moment. We’ll be taking him out of the firing line for the foreseeable until we are happy that he is up to the standards required of a major European League." Will that happen? Will it heck.

It wasn’t just the two points his incomprehensible decisions cost us that were annoying – 50% of Coufal’s red card came as a result of the player suggesting that the disgusting assault from Brewster may have been worthy of a straight red.

That much was visible to the naked eye at normal speed to everyone in the ground. Even the commentary team for the match were embarrassed by the official’s decision that the challenge was worthy of exactly the same punishment as was dished out to Coufal for pointing out what a lousy decision it was.

The reasoning behind VAR should be to pick up the stuff that referees miss or don’t catch. And to correct the occasional howler. Unfortunately, VAR has served to shine a light on how lousy refereeing standards are in this country, standards that have been declining since PGMOL became responsible for things.

It seems that – very belatedly indeed – the penny is dropping. Mr Moyes alluded to such in his post-match interview when he suggested that Salisbury’s performance was the sort of level managers had come to expect of late. Time to scrap PGMOL and for the FA to take over.

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Bright spots from the Bramall Lane fiasco were the form of Ings and, in an unfamiliar role, of Johnson, who looked like he’d been playing in midfield all his life. Whether or not the performance had any influence on the rumoured dismissal of an enquiry from Palace out of hand is not clear. However, if the timing was right it won’t have hurt.

We also bid "hello!" to Kalvin Phillips who will be with us until the end of the season. Though I have to admit that I was a bit gobsmacked as to the levels of negativity that the deal has produced from certain quarters.

I mean all the “he couldn’t get in the Man City team” stuff – particularly the stuff that conveniently ignores the fact that the player in front of him for selection on most occasions was Rodri. Good luck to the chap I say and let’s hear none of this nonsense.

Phillips will go straight into the squad as will the returning Mohammed Kudus whose Ghana took an earlier than expected exit from the Cuppa Soup. Nothing personal Ghana, but I won’t be shedding too many tears – hope you understand. Nayef Aguerd is also on his way bck to Blighty – Morocco’s African adventure ending with their last 16 defeat against South Africa.

Said Benrahma, should he still be on the club's books by time of kick-off is serving the second of a three-match ban for kicking someone who shouldn’t have been on the pitch to kick in the first place, whilst Vladimir Coufal’s ban for breaking the Official Secrets Act is just the one game.

Lucas Paqueta is likely to be another week or two whilst Michail Antonio is anyone’s guess at the moment. Edson Alvarez is a possibility, according to Moyes but the pressure to bring him back is reduced by the arrival of Phillips of course.

So to the prediction. Well if I’d be fired up for this one knowing that we should be two points better off. Hopefully, the week off won’t have dulled the sense of injustice any.

On that basis I am going to plump for a home win. So, if it’s ok with you Mr Winstone, the £2.50 I was going to spend on the fare to BBC HQ in order to sign their book of condolence at the departure of Klopp will instead be going on us to win 3-1.

Enjoy the game!

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When we last met at The Olympic: Won 2-0 – Premier League October 2022

Zouma opened the scoring at the end of a first half we had dominated, flicking away a header after a Bowen corner had bounced around the box a bit. Then manager O’Neil moaned that Kehrer had handled as the ball came across, ignoring the fact that both Downes and Scamacca were being fouled before the ball got that far. Benrahma completed the scoring from the spot at the end of the second half after Zemeura had handled. If you see the footage check out the guilty look on Zemeura’s face as he realise VAR will become involved – priceless.

Referee: Tim Robinson

Last seen taking charge of the reserve team fixture in the Quarter Final Of the League Cup at Anfield so his backbone was not tested as it might have been had we sent out a side capable of putting up a fight. Incidentally the fourth official will be Darren England whose attitude to the laws of the game in the recent Cup trip to Bristol was to apply them only to the visiting side. Somehow still in a job.

Danger Man: Dominic Solanke

Seems to be having his best season since moving to the seaside.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last time out we asked what world record was set in Sheffield on 14 March 1994?

Well done to Mrs Harriet Variable-Interest Rate of Debden who correctly responded that they had a 6 hour rainbow there on that date.

This week we have a good old-fashioned missing words round from the Bournemouth Echo:

Council comments on missing Bournemouth XXX XXXXX

Good luck everybody!

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