West Ham United v Liverpool: match preview

The maniacal laughing has just about stopped meaning that the meds they gave Preview Percy after last week’s visit to Palace must be kicking in. Here’s his look at Saturday’s visit of Liverpool. You’ll need to supply your own meds to get through it though...

Next up we play host to Liverpool. Kick-off at the Olympic is 12:30 lunchtime. So early you may as well go straight there from your night out.

Possibly best to allow a bit of extra time as it’s not unknown for extra ticket checks to take place when facing these particular opponents. However, as far as one can tell there doesn’t seem to be any engineering works in the area to delay your arrival at the ground. Administrative mistake I expect.

So Liverpool then. The amount of free advertising they get on the BBC was only eclipsed recently by that given to the release of a recording by inexplicably popular hit-parade chanteuse (checks notes) Taylor Swift, which sounds like that place in Hong Kong my dear old dad used to pop into when out there on business. They’d take his measurements one day and provided him with two bespoke suits 24 hours later. Amazing. Lousy suits though.

Er, where was I . Ah yes Liverpool. Well the day that Klippetty announced he was going there were over 20 separate pages on the BBC’s Football site devoted to his time at Anfield. Their defeat against Palace made the Sunday 9 o’clock news opening headlines, something that Arsenal’s more important defeat by Villa somehow failed to do earlier.

The only thing given more publicity by the BBC on a regular basis is Strictly Come bloody Dancing, which normally reduces events in the Middle East and Ukraine to items two and three on the bulletin when it is on. Which to a certain degree is baffling. Since 1989-90 they have won the league just the once.

Michael Cox, in his splendid book “The Mixer” looks at the evolution of tactics in the Premier League era and points out that the tailing off in Liverpool’s success started with the introduction of the back-pass rule, so adept were they at killing off games with continuous back passes to the likes of Grobbelaar who would take his time before releasing the ball to a player who would promptly give it back to him.

Of course, they ought to be used to that by now so one solitary title win in 2019/20 ought to indicate something to the BBC about how good they really are (spoiler alert it’s not as good as the BBC would have you believe)..

They have been performing true to style of late. Despite spending many weeks at the top, nobody (outside Broadcasting House and Anfield) really thought that the title was going to happen and so it has proven, defeats to Palace at home and Everton next door leaving them in third at the time of writing three points behind Arsenal and two behind Man City who also have a game in hand.

Throw in the fact that they have both Villa and Spurs to play, both of whom have European qualification ambitions, and it’s fair to say that things aren’t looking that grand. Shame.

It was another nice few days with her feet up for Daisy given that they, like many others in the Premier League, failed to get the chequebook out to sign anyone this winter. So the coffers will have been relatively full – including the £12m they somehow extracted out of Saudi for Jordan Henderson.

Indeed their main transfer news this season was the non-departure of the ever unsteady Mo Salah. Whilst he does have 21 goals across all competitions this season, there are a fair few penalties in that total and he doesn’t seem to have quite the same potency on getting on the end of those long clearances from the back they are fond of.

I was keeping an eye on the so-called “best full-back in the world” (© J Klopp) Terence Trent D’Arby during the Everton match. Now he’s a decent dead ball specialist, which is handy for a team that has traditionally cornered the market in “winning” dubious free-kicks in dangerous areas.

However his transition into midfield areas over the past couple of years may have stemmed more from a lack of trust in his defensive capabilities. Certainly if you have a look at his work at the corner from which Everton got their second the other night, where his marking of Calvert-Lewin seemed to be somebody else’s problem you’d probably want him kept away from defensive duties.

A relative of mine who supports Liverpool (we don’t talk about him generally) was moaning about Darwin Nunez. “He’s got the worst conversion rate of any striker with a top club” he whined. And thereby rests a valuable lesson in life, namely; never trust a so-called football supporter who talks about “conversion rates”.

Enough of them and let’s move on to the Wild And Wacky World Of Association Football. And the big story has been the meltdown by Nottingham Forest over the refereeing. Now whilst I have a large degree of sympathy for them having encountered the intelligence-free zone that is Stuart Atwell they made a right pig’s ear of the situation.

It has been reported that the club owners actually wanted to put out the now notorious tweet about Atwell’s Luton connections at half-time. Some desperate lobbying from the club’s media officer prevented that but he or she was powerless to prevent the tweet going out at the final whistle.

The problem is that, by questioning Atwell’s integrity rather than his competence Forest have put back the debate on refereeing that desperately needs to take place by years.

By and large I’m guessing that referees are not as bent in the traditional sense as they have notoriously been in other countries. However, where there HAS been what one might loosely refer to as a “conspiracy” has been with PGMOL’s repeated failures to deal with plummeting levels of competency among its ranks, preferring instead to shield their members from any meaningful scrutiny.

Unfortunately by hinting that referees errors are based on their personal biases Forest have played right into PGMOL’s hands just when people were slowly beginning to raise serious questions. Cheers a bunch Forest.

Elsewhere Man Utd boss Erk Ten Hag threw his toys out of the window, refusing to answer questions from a number of news outlets in retaliation over what he regarded as the negative reporting of his team’s flukey penalty win over Coventry. He had a point – I mean its not as if his team required a dubious VAR decision and penalties to get by a mid-ranking Championship side is it. Oh, hang on...

Finally former England international John Barnes has been put on the naughty step by failing to pay his taxes, resulting in a three year disqualification from acting as a director. Best headline came from the Accounting Web website (how very “Have I got News For You), who lead with “John Barnes rapped over £190k tax bill”. Hats off (and if you are too young to understand that google Englandneworder and you’ll see what one means)

And so to us. Well what did you expect from a squad six players short, with a central defensive pairing best described as geriatric? I know I’m sounding like a broken record but we simply do not have the squad depth for the Thursday-Sunday merry-go-round.

Thursday took a lot out of the players and Sunday was a game too far. It was bad enough maintaining the squad at the level it was before Christmas. But then letting three go without proper replacement was just criminal.

Still there was a lot of fun to be had at the expense of the home support at Palace. Playing music after goals, choreographed name announcements and the use of the Dave Clarke Five’s “Tottenham Sound” are all pointers to a lack of self-awareness on a breathtaking scale. Queuing up at Norwood Junction far too many of them seemed very concerned as to how their “other club” were getting on at Wembley against Coventry. Embarrassing.

On the injury front there is mixed news. The news on Bowen suggests that he is likely to be available barring any last-minute disaster. However Aguerd is still out, meaning that we will be sweating on the availability of Mavropanos, who faces a late fitness test.

If he’s not available expect a back three in the manner that finished at the Deathtrap last week. Since he now appears to be fit I’d throw Areola back in – Fabianski commanded his area last week about as well as Harry Kane commands the English language.

So to the prediction. Well I’m going to buck the trend on this occasion and play the “typical West Ham” card. I mean how typical would it be for us to ship five against Palace one day and finally knacker the last of their title aspirations six days later. Look what we did to Bayer Leverkusen in the first half the other night. And they’re 10 times the team Liverpool are.

So the £2.50 I was going to contribute towards John Barnes’s tax bill will instead be somewhat optimistically going on a home win. I shall pop in to Winstone’s the Turf Accountants and place the whole bally lot on a 2-1 win to us.

Enjoy The Game!

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When Last We Met At The Olympic: Lost 1-2 (April 2023)

Not for the first time the visitors owed all three points to some highly suspect refereeing. Paqueta had opened the scoring only for Gakpo and Matip to give the visitors the lead. A Bowen goal was pored over until they found a strand of DNA in an offside position while at the death Thaigo handled twice in the box. It was an offence so blatantly clear that everyone knew that the penalty would be given . Except PGMOL’s jokers who elected to avoid upsetting Klopp and did not give the penalty. It was a perverse decision that, like so many others, no honest man who knew what they were doing could have given. One of those that, had it gone the other way, would have resulted in the BBC asking questions in Parliament.

Danger Man: Darwin Nunez

Apparently he has the worst conversion rate amongst top clubs. So sod’s law says he will score against us

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Incredibly he is adjudged to be worthy of a place in the Euros, meaning he is officially one of the two best in the country. Depressing isn’t it.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser.

Last week’s missing words round provided the following:

The Surrey Town people are flocking back to to avoid “XXXX and XXXXXXXX” XXXXXXX…

Well done to Mrs Letitia Fforbes-McNugett of St Osyth for spotting that the missing words were (rather obviously): “Dead and Horrible Croydon” .

It being difficult to negotiate the Liverpool Echo without some horrible crime or another appearing we return to our “dumb criminal” spot.

So, in 2021 a Liverpool drug dealer was put away for 13 years. But what was the vital piece of evidence that resulted in his conviction? Was i:

a) A block of stilton cheese;
b) A dustpan and brush set from the middle aisle at Lidl; or
c) A bottle of “not nearly as nice as HP” Daddie’s Sauce.

Good luck everybody!

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