West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur: match preview

Preview Percy is largely concerned with referees (again) this week. However after the simply unbelievable antics of Rob Jones at the weekend we reckon he has a point. There’s some stuff about Spurs too if you’re that bothered about them...

Next up we play host to Tottenham Hotspur, a club from north London in a very rare Tuesday night match. Kick-off is at the equally unusual time of 8:15pm and live coverage in the UK is courtesy of TNT, who seem to have given up providing explosives for Acme to sell Wile E. Coyote in favour of sports broadcasting.

So "Spurs" then, as I believe they are known. It looks like a two-way fight between them and Villa to finish in fourth place to grab what traditionally has been the final so-called Champions League spot.

However, as part of UEFA’s plan to show that they can ruin an already messed-up competition even further, the expansion of the group stage to 36 means that there may well be an extra place up for grabs, with two being made available to the federations with the best co-efficient scores.

These scores are based on how well a country’s teams do over the three competitions. It is an amusing thought that their participation in the competition will thus depend to a large degree on how we fare on Thursday nights!

Their first 10 games saw them come out of the traps like a suspiciously unfancied greyhound that had had some sort of illicit pharmaceutical added to its Winalot. They won eight and drew two and at that point they were top of the league.

However, there is a reason everyone else laughs at them all the time and, despite all the claims from their supporters that this was going to be their year, the rest of the world saw no reason to cease giggling.

And, as usual, the rest of the world was right. In November the wheels fell off. It was as if the greyhound owner had seen his mutt win a few times and thought he’d not bother with the Winalot supplement. Or maybe the greyhound owner was too busy to go to his usual greyhound dietary supplement pusher due to his desperately trying to avoid a 45-year prison sentence for insider dealing.

Either way November put a stop to the "we’re gonna win the league" comments once and for all. They lost all three in November, to Chelsea, Villa and Wolves. Their first two in December saw them draw with Man City and then lose the hilarious "rope a dope" match against us.

By the time they started winning again in mid-December, the talk had gone from "we’re gonna win the league" to "Hopefully we’ll get into the so-called Champions League. If there’s an extra place going"

Daisy has had to do some work this week, as they brought in two players during the window. The first arrival was German striker Timo Werner, who arrived on a loan with an option deal from Fizzy Drinks Leipzig. He has netted twice in nine since his arrival early in the window.

A couple of days later they brought in Radu Dragusin from Genoa. The fee paid came to roughly £21.5m, making him the most expensive Romanian since Adrian Mutu arrived at Chelsea from Verona with a suspiciously runny nose.

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Dragusin came up through the youth system at Juventus but never got established there, making just the one league appearance in three years in Turin. After various loan spells he ended up at Genoa who eventually bought him for peanuts. The deal that brought him to this country was therefore a good return on a player who they only owned for a year.

Enough of them – and I’ll give the Wild and Wacky World of Association Football a miss this week as I have one or two things to say on the subject of the criminal refereeing we saw at the weekend.

As usual, PGMOL pocketed the payment made by the Premier League in return for the supply of an honest and competent set of match officials, then supplied Robert Jones and his cronies who are demonstrably anything but. Jones set his stall out early on with the award of a penalty that a) was not a penalty – Gordon manufacturing the contact, and b) was offside.

Jones is a graduate of the Wirral, the Association that produced Mike Dean and clearly page one of their training manual starts with the sentence: "Pick the side you want to win and do all you can to make that happen. Nobody will ever investigate you". The thought process obviously went: "I should really give the free-kick for offside, but I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen".

Try as he might Jones couldn’t find a reason to rule out the equaliser then forgot himself completely as he allowed us to take the lead with a quickly-taken free-kick. Schar committed the foul and the went down clutching his face as if months of reconstructive surgery would be required to repair the damage.

One imagine the conversation went "sorry guys but that’s so embarrassing I can’t do much about it. Tell you what, I’ll ignore the yellow card I’m supposed to issue for feigning an injury with intent to deceive match officials and make it up to you in the second half."

Bowen’s goal to make it 3-1 really didn’t fit with Jones’ plan for the game and with the crowd on the home side’s backs, it was time to act.

You have to feel a bit sorry for Phillips. I mean yes, he’s not had the greatest of times but he must have broken a dozen mirrors that had been manufactured on a Native American burial ground whilst carrying them through an archway comprised of 13 ladders to have been on the receiving end of a penalty decision that disgraceful.

The goal galvanised Newcastle and the late sending off of Gordon was merely backside-covering window dressing from Jones, coming as it did after Gordon’s fourth yellow card offence.

Of course, Gordon should have been the second taking an early bath, Burn’s rugby tackle on Kudus when clean through for some unknown reason not even being given as a foul despite Burn getting nothing of the ball – mainly because he had no intention of doing so.

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Frankly, Jones’ performance over the course of the 90 minutes was a complete and utter disgrace. And he does it pretty much every week.

In any other walk of life Jones would be facing disciplinary proceedings for his flagrant manipulation of the laws of the game to his own ends. However, 20 years of seeing Dean do the same thing has taught us that PGMOL would have to be given video evidence of a backhander being paid to a match official in a brown envelope marked "bung" before they would investigate anything. And even then they would use VAR to prove that the envelope was the wrong colour.

Not that I’m saying Jones had been in receipt of funds of that sort. However, the climate is such that it makes it very easy for that to happen, simply because nothing ever happens to stop stuff like this happening. If it happens every week who’s going to notice? Especially since they have now got rid of Jon Moss, whose criticisms were apparently beginning to get too close to home for comfort. Messenger sacked.

VAR was a glorious opportunity to weed out the incompetents and the dishonest. Unfortunately, because it is in the hands of the same incompetents and dishonest it has been used simply as another tool to be used to fiddle and cover-up all that is rotten with our referees, aided and abetted by the very organisation that is supposed to stop these things from happening.

PGMOL is football’s equivalent of Thames Water. There have been calls to nationalise that particular effluent distributor and if anyone has got any interest in dragging refereeing out of the gutter in this country something similar needs to happen here. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and, surprise, surprise, that doesn’t work.

The FA needs to stop ignoring its FIFA-required responsibilities and take over refereeing now. It’s too important to be left to PGMOL who don’t give a fig as long as their highly-paid executives keep drawing their six-figure salaries. Maybe this new football regulator can fine or suspend the Jones’ of this world. One lives in hope - but not much.

On the absentee front, it looks likely that Alphonse Areola will be out. He’s done an abductor muscle which saw Konstantinos Mavropanos taking all the goal kicks on Saturday until the substitution was made at half time. The only other absentee will be Edson Alvarez, who is currently suspended due to a surfeit of yellows.

So to the prediction, then. Well, they are inconsistency incarnate blowing hot and cold in the same way as we do so it’s a difficult one to assess. And of course, as we saw at the weekend predictions are a complete waste of time if PGMOL’s finest come into the match with a particular result in mind.

Nevertheless I’ll give it a go. I think this will be a high scoring draw. So, as one of the older season ticket holders in this parish, the £2.50 I was going to put toward a cheap shirt so that Sullivan and Brady can rip it from my back, will instead be put towards a wager down at Winstone The Turf Accountants to the end that the match will end up 2-2.

Enjoy the game!

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When we last met at the Olympic : Drew 1-1 (Premier League August 2022)

Not much to write home about. Kehrer put through his own net in the first half. Soucek equalised in the second. They moaned when VAR reversed a penalty decision that shouldn’t have been given in the first place. Bowen missed a difficult chance at the end. Then everyone went home.

Danger Man: Song Heung-Min

Still there – one would have thought he might have been picked up by a big club by now.

Referee: John Brooks

Relative newcomer whose last visit to the Olympic saw him dismiss Aguerd for two yellows, the second of which for a slightly mistimed challenge looked very harsh. Still he must be better than Jones. Mustn’t he?

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last week the Chronicle was the source for the missing words round:

Northumberland schools closes as XXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX mistaken for XXX

Well done to Mrs Genevive Woodham-Ferrers of South Woodham-Ferrers who spotted that the missing words were "Litter Picking Tool".

This week’s Haringey Community Press site brings us this short and sweet offering:

More XXXXXXX XXXXX for Tottenham

Good luck everyone!

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