Newcastle United v West Ham United: match preview

Preview Percy has spent the international break much as he usually does. Asleep. If only someone hadn’t prodded him with a stick to wake him up. We wouldn’t have to bring you his thoughts on this weekend’s visit to Newcastle...

Next up we make the long trek up to Tyneside where we will be hosted by Newcastle United. Kick-off is at 12:30 with TNT being on broadcast duty for this one. There's loads of engineering work between Colchester and Liverpool Street, so If you’re heading into town before heading up north you may need to allow extra time for the rail replacement buses.




So the Magpies, then. Despite, arguably, being the richest club in the known universe (and let’s face it, nobody with half a braincell buys this "no, Saudi Arabia isn’t pulling the strings because we have a bit of paper that says so and we don’t think they had their fingers crossed when the Crown Prince signed it"), they have struggled to make those petrodollars count.

This is largely due to the drawbridge being pulled up by other similarly financially-endowed clubs who pushed through the increasingly useless "profitability and sustainability"rules. The rules are really good at catching the likes of Nottingham Forest and Everton, but also prevent anyone with nearly all the money in the world from actually spending it. Unless they got it a few years ago, of course.

So their league form has been, well patchy to say the least. With 14 games played they were sitting in a solid if unspectacular sixth position. Then, in December the wheels fell off. They lost six of their next seven, a run that included defeats at Everton, Spurs, Luton and Liverpool and at home to Forest and Man City. The one bit of respite during that period came with a 3-0 win at home to Fulham.

Having negotiated a December and January horriblis things perked up for them at the end of January with a 3-1 win at Villa. Since then they have won, drawn and lost two, the wins coming away at Forest and at home to Wolves. The draws both came at home, 4-4 with Luton and 2-2 with Bournemouth. The defeats were both away, at Arsenal and at Chelsea.

All of which has left them with 40 points from 28 played. That’s four points and three places behind us, although they do have a game in hand. That’s ok for pushing for Thursday night football, but hardly the so-called Champions League places that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia might have been hoping for. If they were involved in the ownership of the club. Which they aren’t. Of course.

They weren’t particularly involved in the last transfer window. Daisy tells me that they did shell out £3.5m for Alfie Harrison, who was rumoured to be on our radar. Described – as is every half-decent player of that age – as a "wonderkid", he arrived from Man City and initially went into the academy set up. However, local reports suggest that he has been brought into the first XI set up over the past week or so.

Harrison’s arrival in the upper echelons may be as a result of the need for numbers, particularly during an international break. They currently have no fewer than nine on the absent list.


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Sandro Tonali has been banned for most of this season following FIFA’s ratifying of the Italian FA’s request that their eight-month ban should be effective worldwide. That ban will be over in August. However his chances of being back next season look slim following this week’s announcement that Tonali faces further charges from the FA for similar offences committed this side of the channel.

Also unavailable will be Callum Wilson. One of those journeymen who always scores against us – often illegally – he is out with a chest muscle injury and won’t be back until May. Which is the same expected return date for Joelinton (thigh) and Lewis Miley (back).

Nick Pope will be hoping his April return won’t be too late for a place on the plane to Germany, whilst Kieran Trippier (calf), Harvey Barnes (thigh) and Tino Livramento (ankle) will all be facing the proverbial late fitness tests.

Onwards we move to the Wild and Wacky World of Association Football. And the BBC toned down its usual wall-to-wall coverage of all things Jurgen Klopp following Liverpool’s cup defeat at Old Trafford.

Faced with a question from a Danish reporter that was slightly more testing than our national broadcaster’s usual "Jurgen why exactly is it you are so wonderful?", the slimy hypocrite lost his rag hurling insults at the hapless reporter for a period that continued well after the cameras had stopped running.

To be fair the BBC did cover the story, placing it somewhere between a dog that can bark the National Anthem and the traffic news for some of the uninhabited islands of the Outer Hebrides. Klopp of course has previous in this regard – a BT reporter faced similar issues a few years back. Funny how the BBC never has such problems, isn’t it?

And so to us. And yet again a substandard refereeing performance grabbed the headlines as Jarred Gillet proved once more that once your name is on the guest list at PGMOL, they will go to extraordinary lengths to protect you.


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The VAR stuff has been done to death but things like deciding to book one player for kicking the ball away whilst letting an opponent do exactly the same thing with no punishment are not acceptable. The fact that a second yellow would have resulted in a red shouldn’t enter into the decision.

If it did, Gillet was guilty of deliberately bending the laws of the game to bottle a decision. If not he’s incompetent. One would hope that the powers that be might have removed him from the ranks while they worked out which. Not a chance.

The match was a game of two halves, as they say. We could and should have been 2-0 up before the break. They deserved their equaliser. Overall, the draw was probably the right result. But it’s a result that should be decided by the relevant merits of the competing sides, not on the whim of an individual whose honesty is questionable.

On the absentee front we have three issues. Edson Alvarez is suspended having received 10 yellows over the course of the season, the football equivalent of being put away by the 1960’s Met Police – there’s a better than average chance that the idiot signing the charge sheet was bent.

Maxwel Cornet’s 50/50 to have recovered from his hamstring problem and Mo Kudus is the only player to return from international duty with a knock. The shoulder injury he picked up against Aston Villa was a problem before he hurt a knee away with Ghana. Again, he’s 50/50.

And so we move on to the prediction. A win’s not totally out of the question but much will depend on how we cope with Alvarez’s absence. Kalvin Phillips needs to come good and do so now. The potential absence of Kudus is also a worry.

For that reason I’ll be a bit more cautious than usual. The £2.50 that I was going to send to Jurgen Klopp for his eyesight treatment and anger management classes will, instead, be placed on a draw. Make it 2-2 Mr Winstone – I’ll send Tonali over with the cash shortly.

Enjoy the game!


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When we last met at St James’ Park : Drew 1-1 (Premier League February 2023)

Horrible start as they had the ball in the back of the net straight from the kick-off. Thankfully VAR spotted that the ball had gone out of play, something that was observable with the naked eye even from the away section at SJP. However, the warning went unheeded and Wilson scored with our defence looking as square as a 1960’s Dad watching Top Of The Pops. Thankfully we worked our way back into the game and the equaliser, when it came on the half hour, was fully deserved, Paqueta putting away a loose ball from a corner. We dominated until the last 10 or so when they threw a lot at us but couldn’t get past the defence, Aguerd’s tackle on Wilson really catching the eye. A ticketless Daisy was left in the care of valued Geordie friends Kirk & Maggie. When we were reunited post-match her first words were "please don’t let them give me any more to drink”!

Danger Man: Alexander Isak

16 goals across all competitions of which 12 have come in the league.

Referee: Robert Jones

The incompetent who was in charge of VAR at Sheffield United. It is astonishing that anyone connected with the officiating in that day is still in a job of any sorts, let alone taking part in a Premier League match. Or rather it would be if PGMOL had the slightest interest in anything other than ensuring their so-called select group stay in jobs irrespective of competence. Jones appears to have the most complaints against him this season. I wonder why.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last week the Birmingham Live website was the source for our missing words round:

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

Well done to Mrs Karen Spontaneous-Combustion of Belhus who spotted that the missing words were "My Laundry"and "Washing Machine"adding "the most baffling thing is that the journalist was baffled by only one thing!"

Well done Mrs S-C! This week gives us the following from the Chronicle:

Northumberland schools closes as XXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX mistaken for XXX

Good luck everyone!

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