West Ham United v Aston Villa: match preview

Preview Percy got out of breath just watching Kudud’s length-of-pitch run the other night. There again he gets out of breath changing channel on the telly. A few puffs on an asthma inhaler however means that he’s fit to share his wisdom on the matter of this weekend’s visit of Aston Villa. If only he had some...

Next up we play host to Aston Villa. Kick-off at the Olympic is at 2pm but there’s no UK live tv coverage. The area seems relatively-free of engineering works, though some of the early-morning services on the soon to be renamed Overground to Stratford will be reduced. A virtue-signalling issue one presumes.

So Villa then. They’re in fairly decent nick at present, having won four and lost two of their last six. The second of those was the somewhat surprising 4-0 reversal at home to one of the lesser clubs – Tottenham I think they were called. Prior to that they had won three on the trot, 3-2 away at Luton, 4-2 at home to Forest and 2-1 at Fulham, that following a home defeat to Man Utd.

The Luton game was an interesting one. The first half saw Villa take a 2-0 lead as Luton looked like the relegation-threatened outfit they are. The second half saw Luton forget who they were and with 20 minutes left they were level, only for their amnesia to disappear just before the final whistle, Villa netting an 89th minute winner.

All of that has left them in fourth spot with 55 points from 28 played. That’s two points clear of Spurs who do however, have a game in hand.

They were, of course, in action on Thursday in the Thursday Night Conference. Having got home at a reasonable hour from our game I was able to catch much of the second half of theirs. There was one moment of commentary during that match which was pure xenophobic bilge.

“Henderson”, spouted the commentator, “has a bit of an uphill task to get this Ajax side back up to the standards of the past”. Suggesting “sign an Englishman and everything will be alright”. It didn’t seem to occur to the commentator that the fact that the club of Cruyff, Neeskens and Rep were now reduced to signing Saudi League failures might have had something to do with their plight.

No wins in nine matches with Henderson in the side tells its own story and Villa must have been delighted to have seen him on the pitch as they gleefully ran in four, the Dutchmen’s cause not being helped much by being reduced to ten after a red card, or, more accurately, reduced to nine men and Henderson. Villa’s reward was a QF tie against Lille. I don’t suppose they fancy a swap?

Just the one new signing for Daisy to report on. They have seen something in striker Morgan Rogers for whom they paid out £8m to Middlesbrough, possibly rising to £15m with add-ons. £2m of the original £8m will be sent to Man City as part of a sell-on clause included in the deal that took him to Teesside in the first place.

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His record of two in 26 league games with Boro is hardly what you might call prolific and he’s yet to score in five appearances for Villa. On the bright side for the player, the transfer represents a return to home turf, the player being brought up in the West Brom academy. On the downside that means returning to the West Midlands.

The win on Thursday was not without its potential costs on the injury front. Talismanic striker Ollie Watkins sustained a self-inflicted knee injury in a late challenge on the Ajax ‘keeper. He recovered enough to score but was withdrawn shortly afterwards. The injury was described as a “cut” which doesn’t sound too serious, though the noises coming out of the Villa camp aren’t, in the main, optimistic ones. Could be a bit of mind games going on there.

One player who will definitely be out is Diego Carlos. The central defender felt a hamstring go on Thursday. It’s only a week or two since he recovered from a similar injury though it’s not recorded whether the same thigh was involved this time around. A 50-50 chance I suppose.

Another absentee will be midfielder John McGinn. Apparently kicking lumps out of players these days is still a red card offence, even if the player kicked plays for Tottenham. This will be the first of a three-match suspension from the straight red he received. He’ll be a big miss – for all the headlines Watkins gets, McGinn is often regarded as the heart of the team

Enough of them. Let’s move on to the Wild and Wacky World of Association football. Last week the Premier League clubs voted to scrap the Profit & Sustainability rules that they themselves voted to introduce a couple of years ago. It seems that the clubs hadn’t thought anyone would actually take the rules seriously.

The punishment and potential punishments doled out to Forest and Everton seemed to come as a great surprise and one suspects that the fact that the Everton punishment was dished out so early in the season was a major factor in the lack of activity in the winter window. Not that Daisy is complaining.

The failure to sort out the PSR shambles has had a knock-on effect with the latest round of talks re:funding from Premier to Football leagues stalling once more. Nobody is coming out of the situation with much dignity and the latest to chip in with comments of a “Henry Kissinger/Death Of Satire” nature is Preston director Peter Ridsdale, who has been bemoaning the lack of handouts from above.

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The younger of you probably won’t remember Ridsdale who presided over the start of the financial collapse of Leeds United, leaving them £103m in debt when he left in 2003. I realise that the younger of you will probably not remember Henry Kissinger either, but you’ll have to go look that up on your own.

And so to us. Dunno what we were worried about! Ok I wasn’t totally comfy until the fourth went in – this is West Ham after all – but overall there was much to be happy about. Kudus’s first was something special – and hats off to the photographer who caught that photo of the shoe-polishing goal celebration.

It was a thoroughly professional outing against a team who must have been a disappointment to their lively travelling support. It must have been galling for them to have had a whole week of dreaming of quarter final progress only to see it disappear like tears in rain as Roy Batty would have had it.

It wasn’t all good news – Edson Alvarez’s yellow will mean a suspension for the first leg out in Leverkusen but, hey, let’s worry about all that nearer the time.

Team news is that the same two players are on the injury list. Maxwel Cornet is definitely out with a possible return over Easter on the cards. Emerson is a bit nearer a return but faces a late test, with Cresswell set to continue in his stead if required.

So to the prediction then. Well lots of different factors for or against a particular point of view. Usually you imagine having an edge when you play a side who had a midweek European tie but that applies both ways. If you really wanted to split a hair you might point out the two extra hours of rest we had but that would be being really silly – even for this column.

I’m therefore going to take the £2.50 I was going to send to Spurs owner Joe Lewis towards his US legal fees having pleaded guilty to insider dealing will instead be placing it on a draw. Let’s call it 2-2 shall we Mr Winstone?

Enjoy the game!

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When we last met at the Olympic: Drew 1-1 (Premier League March 2023)

We had the brighter start before getting sucker punched, Watkins getting between our central defenders to nod home a cross from deep. The lead lasted about 10 minutes before Benrahma lashed home a penalty. He then went on to miss a whole shedload of chances and, in typical West Ham style, we needed a late double save from Areola to take a point out of a game in which three points went begging.

Danger Man: Leon Bailey

I was going to plump for Bailey even before there was a doubt about Watkins. Runs at defenders in exactly the way that they hate. Ask Ajax.

Referee: Jarred Gillet

Over the past few years there has been a decline in London’s pub scene with hostelries closing down all over the place. This has led to loads of Australians wandering around London, stumbling into jobs for which they have little aptitude. Well can you think of a reason he’s a referee?

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last time out we gave you the following missing words round to muse on:

Hospital’s Trust "sorry" after XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX incident on baby ward

Well done to Mrs Juliet Spanner-Ligament of Leigh-On-Sea (no relation) who spotted that the missing words were “unfortunate” and “artwork”. Apparently, the picture which contained silhouettes of butterflies were described as Cabbage Whites but had the more distinctive shape of the Camberwell Beauty. See if you can tell the difference:

This week we look at the Birmingham Live website from which the following oddity was nicked:

I did XX XXXXXXX at a hidden outdoor XXXXXXX XXXXXXX in Brum. One thing left me baffled”

Good luck everyone!

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