Saturday, October 15

Daily WHUFC News - 15th October 2016

Preview - Crystal Palace

When and where?
West Ham United v Crystal Palace
Premier League
Saturday 15 October 2016, 5.30pm
Selhurst Park

What's the story?
The long wait for the return of Premier League football comes to an end on Saturday when the Hammers make the short journey south of the River Thames to take on Crystal Palace.

After an international break in which the likes of Dimitri Payet, Darren Randolph, Winston Reid, Sofiane Feghouli and Cheikhou Kouyate all turned out for their countries, the focus returns to club football with Slaven Bilic keen to return to winning ways.

The opening two months of the new Premier League season have not gone to plan for West Ham, with one win and one draw from their opening seven games leaving them 18th in the early league table.

A draw with Middlesbrough last time out, in which Dimitri Payet scored an outrageous solo goal, arrested a run of four defeats in the league and Bilic will be hoping that signals an upturn in fortunes.

Crystal Palace have enjoyed a better start, with eleven points from their opening seven games – although only four of them have been gained at home.

At Selhurst Park, they came up short against West Bromwich Albion in their season opener, but have recovered to draw 1-1 with AFC Bournemouth and comfortably defeat Stoke City 4-1.

They drew 1-1 at Everton last time out and possess a striker who has three goals to his name already this term in Christian Benteke.
Team news
The Hammers welcome Aaron Cresswell back into the fold following a three-month absence with a knee injury and he is expected to be in the matchday squad after returning to full training recently.

Elswehere, Havard Nordtveit and Jonathan Calleri are fit again, but Sam Byram (hamstring) and Gokhan Tore (quadriceps) are both injured.

Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew and Arthur Masuaku continue their recoveries from injury.

For Crystal Palace captain and centre back Scott Dann is missing with a hamstring injury.

Pape Soure and Loic Remy are long-term absentees and will not be available for Saturday's fixture.
Player head-to-head

Any links between the two?
Mark Noble admits Saturday's game will be a strange one for him as he lines up against friend and long-time teammate James Tomkins for the first time.

Tomkins needs no introduction to Hammers fans, having come through the ranks at the Boleyn Ground and played 243 games for the Club.

Palace manager Alan Pardew is also a familiar face for the Hammers, having managed the Club between 2003-06, winning promotion in the 2004/05 campaign and leading West Ham to the FA Cup final the following year.

How do I get to the game?
Click here for directions of how to get to Selhurst Park. The latest news on the roads and TfL train and Underground services can be found here and National Rail services here.

How can I watch the game?
The game is being shown live in the UK on BT Sport. See below for details of international coverage.

Five Talking Points - Crystal Palace

Cresswell, Tomkins, Antonio and Townsend are among the topics for discussion ahead of the Hammers' trip to Selhurst Park...

London derby
West Ham United return to Premier League action after a two-week international break eager to end a run of five top-flight matches without a victory. The Hammers' indifferent form and results have seen them unexpectedly slip towards the lower reaches of the table, and Slaven Bilic and his players will be desperate to return to winning ways on Saturday. However, the teatime kick-off at Selhurst Park will be no cakewalk for West Ham, where they face a resurgent Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew's side have collected ten points from their last four Premier League matches to climb into the top half and the form guide suggests the Eagles will soar to another three on home turf.
However, this is a London derby, and the form guide will (hopefully) go out of the window…

A welcome return
West Ham fans will likely have reason to cheer come 4.30pm on Saturday, when the official teams and substitutes are announced at Selhurst Park. Aaron Cresswell's name is set to be among them, ending a three-month injury absence for the popular left-back, who was hurt in a challenge during a pre-season fixture in Austria back in July. The No3's absence has been recognised as one of the reasons for the Hammers' slow start to 2016/17, and the defender's return will add solidity and balance to a back four which has conceded 16 goals in seven matches without him.

Alan Pardew may have departed the Boleyn Ground on the back of a terrible run of form that needed a Carlos Tevez-inspired Great Escape to keep West Ham in the Premier League, but his previous achievements will ensure his popularity in east London endures. As manager, 'Pards' led the Hammers to two Play-Off finals, winning the second in 2005, to within seconds of glory in the 2006 FA Cup final, and to a host of exciting Premier League victories during his three-plus years in charge. Pardew's win-percentage of 41.1% puts him fourth on the all-time list behind caretaker Sir Trevor Brooking (64.29%), Billy Bonds (43.61%) and Charlie Paynter (41.25%), but his only motivation on Saturday will be to score his fifth win in eleven career matches AGAINST West Ham.

Andros v Antonio
Saturday's fixture will pit two current England squad members against one another in wingers Andros Townsend and Michail Antonio. Townsend was involved as a substitute in Tuesday's goalless World Cup qualifying draw in Slovenia, while Antonio made the trip to Ljubljana for no more than a watching brief. A look at the statistics shows that the West Ham man has enjoyed the better start to the season, with five goals to Townsend's one, more shots on goal and an equal number of dribbles attempted, but it is the Palace player who has earned international recognition. This weekend, Antonio will get the chance to show Gareth Southgate that it is he who should feature for the Three Lions when they face Scotland and Spain in November.

Saturday's fixture will see James Tomkins face West Ham for the first time since he completed a summer switch to Crystal Palace. The Basildon-born centre-half has made a fine start to life in south London, helping his side to collect seven points from the four Premier League matches he has featured in, and defeat Blackpool in the EFL Cup second round. At the age of 27, and after nearly ten years in the West Ham first-team squad, Tomkins felt he needed to leave the club which produced him in search of regular Premier League football, and this weekend he will have the opportunity to show his previous employers exactly what they let go.

Hammers' Nigerian partnership confirmed

West Ham United's relationship with African partner Capital Oil and Gas Ind. Ltd strengthened
Managing director Angus Kinnear welcomed to Nigeria by founder Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah
Agreement was signed in August 2016 with aim of boosting football in the African nation

West Ham United's strong relationship with the Club's first African partner was confirmed at a star-studded ceremony in Nigeria.

The Hammers agreed a historic partnership with Nigeria Premier League side FC Ifeanyi Ubah as part of the long-term agreement signed with the club's principal investor Capital Oil and Gas Ind. Ltd in August.

The partnership between West Ham and FC Ifeanyi Ubah, which will see the clubs work together to produce and develop young Nigerian footballers, was confirmed at a gala event in the West African country's largest city, Lagos.

Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, who founded Capital Oil and Gas in 2001 and bought the club which now bears his name in 2015, welcomed West Ham's managing director Angus Kinnear and a host of leading dignitaries from Nigeria's political and sporting worlds to the launch event.

Also present at the partnership launch event were the Chairman of Nigeria's National Assembly Sports Committee Senator Joseph Ogba, Nigerian Football Federation Chairman Amaju Pinnick, League Management Company Chairman Mallam Shehu Dikko, Ministry of Sports Permanent Secretary Solomon Dalung and members of the FC Ifeanyi Ubah coaching staff.

Alongside them sat a who's who of Nigerian football, including former internationals Taribo West, Peter Rufai, Victor Ikpeba, Victor Agali, Julius Aghahowa and Henry Nwosu, as well as current Super Eagles midfielder John Ogu.

There, Dr Ubah spoke passionately of the major benefits of the partnership for young Nigerians, saying: "Our vision is to get kids involved in football. Nigeria is a nation of over 180 million people. Nothing should stop us from producing the future Cristiano Ronaldos and Lionel Messis of these world.

"We have at least 18 areas why we are partnering with West Ham United ranging from scouting and merchandising to going to England to play friendly matches, among others. We chose West Ham United because they are famed for running the best academy in the world.

Dr Ubah's enthusiasm was shared by Kinnear, who also presented a £35,000 donation to the Anambra State Football Association and Okongwu Memorial Grammar School towards the development of youth sport in the state.

"We believe FC Ifeanyi Ubah are ideal partners as they share West Ham's vision and ambition for youth football development," Kinnear confirmed. "We are delighted to seal our first partnership in Africa and this trip has proved we could not have made a better choice. Whilst we are confident this partnership will deliver elite playing talent we will focus initially at the grass roots level where it has the capacity to turn young lives around.

"The fantastic on pitch achievements of FC Ifeanyi Ubah since their foundation less than two years ago demonstrate that the driver of this partnership, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, is a man who is passionate about football and has a unique vision for the development of the game across Africa.

"In the next two to ten years, we want to look back and see that we have created a lot of value for Nigerian football, whilst simultaneously building the West Ham fan base in Africa's most populous nation."

The duo's visit to the businessman and philanthropist's home state to promote the 'Made in Anambra Football' project was graced by the supportive presence of Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Chief Solochukwu Lobelu and the traditional supreme ruler of the city of Nnewi, HRH Igwe K.O.N III (Igwe of Nnewi), who was presented with a West Ham United shirt.

Also present were local cabinet members Crown Prince Obi Orizu and Senator Alphonsus Igbeke, alongside former Nigeria and Arsenal forward Nwankwo Kanu and Nollywood actor and comedian John Okafor.

Angelo's World

Hammers defender Angelo Ogbonna returns in the latest edition of his new blog, which delves into the Italian's life with the Club and outside football.

This week, the former Juventus centre-back discusses the recent international break which saw him team up with the Italy squad and West Ham's upcoming Premier League London derby against Crystal Palace.

The 28-year-old also revealed why he can't wait for Christmas to come around this year…

Hello everyone,

I've just returned from the international period with Italy, and it was a good break for me. For us, our 1-1 result at home to Spain was a very good result. Spain are huge in world football with a great team so it was a good result. First half maybe wasn't as good as we'd liked, but in the end, we drew and one point for us is really good.

Then we had Macedonia, and it was the first time I've ever been there. It is a nice country. It was quiet and that was good for the squad. We won 3-2 which was also a great result because although we made a few mistakes, after we got back to win.

The team morale around our Italy camp is good. There have been a lot of changes and we have a new generation, and sometimes you can lose games and make mistakes. But you have to be very focused as it can be hard, but it is good around the team at the moment.

For West Ham, I'm not sure if the international break came at a good or bad time for us. But it has been our time to reflect and work on things ahead of the game against Crystal Palace. We tried to win the last game against Middlesbrough and we tried to show our character.

At the moment, of course it is a difficult time for us. We have no excuses to complain; the Stadium or anything – no. We have to work and always prepare for the next game which we are now doing.

The upcoming match is our big London derby so we're all looking forward to it. I think the most important thing is the performance. If our performance is good, the points will come.

We will obviously be up against my former teammate James Tomkins, and it will be great to see him. He is a good player, and I didn't expect his move during the summer. It was a good move for him. I wish him the best of luck at Palace – although not on Saturday! After the game, hopefully we can greet him and have a chat.

I enjoyed playing with him at the back last season. He can play in many positions on the pitch, so everyone liked to be alongside him. Sometimes when there are a lot of changes, you are disappointed because you have lost your friend or teammate, but this is football. I wish him the best of luck.

Away from football, everything is good for me and my wife, who is currently pregnant. Our baby is due on Christmas Day! It could be a big celebration for us and a really good gift! We are starting to prepare but we are not in a rush, we have time. My wife needs to be relaxed.

We know it is going to be a boy, and maybe he can be a footballer when he is older too! The most important thing is that he is healthy, though.

As I said previously, I have a very good relationship with Matteo Darmian as we played together at Torino. We meet frequently, but I see a lot of footballers who are in London who I also know too!

London and England is great; there is respect. You can walk where you want and people don't stop you too much and you can live your life.

When you are the training ground, you are focused fully on your next game, as we are for Palace, but outside of football, England allows you to live your life also.

I hope we can get the three points on Saturday at Selhurst Park. Enjoy the game, everybody.

Noble & Adrian visit Richard House

It was another special day for the young children at Richard House Hospice after club skipper Mark Noble and Adrian spent the afternoon supporting such a great cause in Beckton.

Noble has a special affiliation with the Hospice having grown up just down the road and has been a patron for a number of years.

The Hammers midfielder donated part of his Testimonial proceeds to Richard House and has forged a number of close relationships – including some special young friends.

Noble cannot praise the staff enough for the sacrifices and hard work they put in to support the youngsters and says it makes him realise how fortunate he is to be a Premier League footballer.

Noble said: "This is something that means a lot to me. Some of the proceeds from my Testimonial came to Richard House and I wanted to see how everyone is getting on.

"The staff do an amazing job and you don't really appreciate until you come here how lucky you are. It puts life into perspective every time you come here.

"When people hear the word hospice, you know what that means. It is not a nice word and no-one likes it. But you have got to face it and the job the staff do and the patience they have is incredible.

"You see us playing with the kids for ten minutes and water being chucked about and the kids squirting everyone, the staff have this all the time and they deserve a lot of credit.

"I didn't realise until I had kids how hard it is for them. It is not going great at West Ham at the moment, but you come to places like this and realise there is a lot worse things going on in the world.

"It is nice to come here and realise that life is not really that bad. We all want the results to turn around and I am sure they will, but places like this make you realise what is important in the world.

"I know our results affect a lot of people and as captain I feel it as much as anyone else because winning games is very important."

Adrian was also pleased he could put a smile on the few of the youngsters and also paid tribute to the hard work that is done by everyone at Richard House.

Adrian said: "It is great to spend some time with the children. They probably don't know much about us but they enjoyed playing with the ball and the water. It is a great thing.

"This is real life and it is great that we can provide the opportunity for them to have a smile on their face. The staff do an amazing job every day to support the children when they have difficult moments.

"The children need maximum support and they need help from the beginning and the staff help them so much.

"It is a great thing for the Club to show their support towards such a great cause."

Latest fixture changes confirmed

The Premier League have announced their fixture changes for December and January, with five changes for the Hammers.

West Ham United's home fixture against Arsenal remains on Saturday 3 December, but will now kick-off at 5.30pm.

The game at Liverpool the following weekend will now take place on Sunday 11 December with a 4.30pm kick-off.

As a result of this fixture moving, the Hammers' home date with Burnley will now be on Wednesday 14 December, with kick-off still at 7.45pm.

Our first game of the New Year, at home to Manchester United, remains on Monday 2 January, but kick-off is now at 5.15pm.

Finally, the home match against Manchester City moves back 24 hours to Wednesday 1 February, with a 7.45pm kick-off.

Adrian - We need to get back that winning feeling

Adrian has stressed the importance of getting back on the winning trail against Crystal Palace and moving out of the bottom three this weekend.

The Hammers are keen to get their season back on track in south London following a frustrating start to the campaign which has seen them win just one Premier League game.

But Slaven Bilic's side showed they have the character to get out of the situation as they came from behind to earn a draw with Middlesbrough in the last game and end their losing run of games.

Adrian says the players have been working even harder over the international break to address the situation and hopes they can achieve a similar result to last season when they came away with an impressive 3-1 victory at Selhurst Park.

Adrian said: "We are hoping to get back to winning ways against Crystal Palace on Saturday. We have been preparing for this game for a long time and we have spent a long time together over the national break.

"The players who were away on international duty are now back with the squad and we have enough time to prepare. We want the three points and a victory.

"We had a good result against Palace last year but this is a different season and we need to get a win and move towards the top of the table.

"We have great players and a good squad and we just need to get back that winning feeling and just take it game-by-game."

Adrian is looking forward to meeting up with former team-mate James Tomkins for the first time following his summer move to Palace.

The Spanish keeper knows the qualities that Tomkins possesses having played behind him for such a long period and hopes he gets a great reception from the travelling West Ham supporters.

Adrian added: "It will be strange to play against James Tomkins but this is football. I wish him all the best but not for this Saturday. We need to get the win and have a good performance.

"James played for West Ham for a long time and was a great player and a great person. He deserves a good welcome from the West Ham fans."

Crystal Palace v West Ham United
Venue: Selhurst Park

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has presided over the club's worst start to a top-flight season since 1988-89.


Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew has confirmed Scott Dann will again be missing with a hamstring injury, but he should return for their next match.
Long-term absentees Pape Soure and Loic Remy remain out.

West Ham include fit-again Aaron Cresswell for the first time this season after a knee injury. Havard Nordtveit and Jonathan Calleri have shaken off knocks, but Andre Ayew, Sam Byram, Andy Carroll, Diafra Sakho, Arthur Masuaku and Gokhan Tore are out.


Jonathan Pearce: "Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty person? "Palace will equal their best Premier League run if they avoid defeat. But they've picked up just eight points from the last 33 in derbies. If they don't improve that record they won't finish in the top half. "West Ham have won on their last two visits to Selhurst Park. They looked better defensively against Middlesbrough. But it's still their worst start to a top-flight campaign since they were relegated in 1988-89.
"In the last five years, nine of the 15 clubs in the bottom three at this stage have gone down "How's your glass now?"


Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew on Slaven Bilic's problems: "It is part of the managerial role we have that everything is centred on the results. Sometimes all the stuff that goes on around them makes it difficult to get those results. "But he's an experienced manager - an experienced international manager - and he'll know how to deal with it. Better than I will. I have no doubt he'll get it right sooner rather than later."

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic: "Crystal Palace didn't start well but the last four games they have got 10 points and they probably didn't want the break.
"We played really well there last year and won 3-1 and hopefully we can do the same on Saturday."


Crystal Palace are one of the form teams in the country at the moment. It's safe to say that West Ham aren't. Dimitri Payet got the Hammers out of jail against Middlesbrough with that superb solo goal to earn them a point. I think they would be happy with the same result at Selhurst Park,

Prediction: 1-1



Crystal Palace have won just one of their last four top-flight meetings with West Ham.
The Hammers have won on each of their last two league visits to Selhurst Park - they have never won three in a row away to Crystal Palace in the league.
There has been a sending off in each of the last three league games between these sides: Cheikhou Kouyate in April 2016, Dwight Gayle in October 2015 and Glenn Murray in February 2015.
Crystal Palace

Palace can equal their Premier League club record of six matches unbeaten, which they have achieved twice before: November-December 2015 and February-March 1993.
Alan Pardew's side have gone 12 successive league matches without a clean sheet.
Jason Puncheon has created 24 goalscoring chances this season, more than any other Premier League player prior to the weekend matches.
Since his Premier League debut in September 2012, Christian Benteke has scored 19 goals with his head - the joint most in that period with Arsenal's Olivier Giroud.
West Ham United

West Ham are without a win in their last five league games.
The Hammers have conceded 17 goals so far this season, the most in the division.
They have failed to score a first-half goal in six of their seven league games.
Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini scored in both of West Ham's league matches against Crystal Palace last season.

SAM's verdict
Most probable score: 1-1 Probability of draw: 24%
Probability of home win: 51% Probability of away win: 25%
SAM (Sports Analytics Machine) is a super-computer created by @ProfIanMcHale at the University of Salford that is used to predict the outcome of football matches.

West Ham donate £35,000 to Nigerian club
Filed: Friday, 14th October 2016
By: Staff Writer

West Ham have announced a partnership with Nigerian Premier League club Ifeanyi Ubah FC.

According to the club, the new partnership "will see the clubs work together to produce and develop young Nigerian footballers".

The deal was signed on behalf of Ifeanyi Ubah by Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, who was the subject of a recent article in the West Ham Utd vs Southampton match day programme (25 September).

Celebrating Dr Ubah's birthday, the article on page 39 described him as "a successful businessman, industrialist, publisher, oil magnate, philanthropist, humanitarian, ambassador, plenipotentiary, sports investor, youth mobiliser and mentor as well as an astute politician."

The new partnership will see the two clubs work together in order to enable young, talented Nigerian (population 180m) footballers to develop. Representing West Ham at a ceremony in Lagos to celebrate the new partnership was Managing Director Angus Kinnear.

Speaking at the event, Unah said that he chose West Ham as a partner due to the club's well-established Academy. "Our vision is to get kids involved in football," he said. "Nothing should stop us from producing the future Cristiano Ronaldos and Lionel Messis of this world.

"We chose West Ham United because they are famed for running the best academy in the world. We are partnering with them in at least 18 areas ranging from scouting and merchandising to going to England to play friendly matches, among others.

"With this partnership with West Ham United, we are going to be producing over 50,000 footballers in [FC Ifeanyi Ubah's home state of] Anambra soon."

West Ham United ✔ @WestHamUtd
West Ham United have strengthened the Club's partnership with @CAPITALOILNIG and @FCIfeanyiUbah ➡️ #COYI
3:56 PM - 14 Oct 2016
46 46 Retweets 50 50 likes

Kinnear presented a cheque from West Ham for £35,000 to aid Anambra State Football Association and Okongwu Memorial Grammar School with youth development.

"We believe FC Ifeanyi Ubah are ideal partners as they share West Ham's vision and ambition for youth football development," said Kinnear. "We are delighted to seal our first partnership in Africa and this trip has proved we could not have made a better choice.

"Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah, is a man who is passionate about football and has a unique vision for the development of the game across Africa.

"In the next two to ten years, we want to look back and see that we have created a lot of value for Nigerian football, whilst simultaneously building the West Ham fan base in Africa's most populous nation."

Evening all: five games rescheduled for TV
Filed: Friday, 14th October 2016
By: Staff Writer

No less than FIVE of West Ham's fixtures between December and the beginning of February have been rescheduled for the benefit of television.

Three games in December - plus one each in January and February - have been changed at the behest of the TV companies, four of which are to be played at the Olympic Stadium later than originally scheduled.

The home fixtures against Arsenal, Burnley, Manchester United and Manchester City have all been moved to either late afternoon or evening kick-offs - whilst the trip to Liverpool will now take place on a Sunday afternoon.

That means only five of West Ham's pre-2017 home matches will take place at the traditional 3pm kick-off time. The new dates are as follows:

Saturday, 3 December: Arsenal (h) 5.30pm
Sunday, 11 December: Liverpool (a) 4.30pm
Wednesday, 14 December: Burnley (h) 7.45pm

Monday, 2 January: Manchester Utd (h) 5.15pm

Wednesday, 1 February: Manchester City (h) 7.45pm

Stadium operators to oppose capacity rise
Filed: Friday, 14th October 2016
By: Staff Writer

Olympic Stadium operators LS1856 are set to oppose West Ham United's plans to extend the capacity of the ground by a further 9,000, according to reports. A story in today's Daily Mail claims that West Ham's proposal to accommodate up to 66,000 supporters every game will be blocked by the company, who have been heavily criticised for their handling of previous matches at the stadium this season. And whilst the news may not go down particularly well in West Ham's boardroom, it is potentially good news for existing supporters who have experienced serious delays getting to and from the stadium in recent weeks - with attendances considerably below maximum capacity (currently 57,000). Whilst the stadium infrastructure is already in place to cope with extra demand, LS185 will oppose West Ham's plans as a result of the extra costs likely to be incurred, adds the Mail, citing the need for additional stewarding. It is also suggested that the stadium operators are determined to eradicate any of the many existing issues that have plagued West Ham's move from Upton Park to Stratford before agreeing to expand the arena's capacity.

Crystal Palace v West Ham United
Filed: Thursday, 13th October 2016
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy takes a look at this weekend's visit to Crystal Palace. As usual we would advise readers with any connection to the London Borough Of Croydon to take a stiff drink before proceeding any further.....

Next up we have to visit the London Borough Of Croydon, where we will be hosted by Crystal Palace. Kick-off is 5:30pm for televisual purposes and, for those of you coming in to Liverpool Street, that's probably just as well. Yup those pesky engineering works that have blighted our home matches in recent weeks are set to continue so if you are coming in from anywhere between Liverpool Street and, well, Russia, look forward to rail replacement buses etc. Thankfully south of the water there's no digging up of the tracks but check before you leave to be on the safe side.

The London Borough Of Croydon is, as I'm sure you will remember, the dreadful place that spawned the first Mrs Percy, something that even the locals there are embarrassed about. Unfortunately, my proposal that a huge wall be erected around the place lest anyone quite so dreadful escape from there again still hasn't been granted planning permission so it looks like we will have to continue our annual outing from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered for another year until they get relegated. Which is a shame because once that odd Mr Trump fails to get elected there will be millions of workers hanging around over there with no wall to build.

The local side are having a not bad run at the moment sitting in 8th spot with 11 points from their 7 games. This followed a particularly poor run in the league last season after last yuletide which saw them barely scrape a win in the league until the end of term, their early season form being enough to keep them afloat. All that was sort of disguised by their progress to the FA Cup Final where they lost to the team that would have been out at the quarter final stage but from some remarkably dishonest refereeing at Old Trafford last March. Did I say "remarkably" I meant "typically".

Their main problem last season was the fact that nobody employed as a forward at the club seemed capable of scoring goals. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much a failing if you happen to be a forward employed to do just that. The failure in this department was hardly surprising when you think that the striking options at various stages included Emmanuel Adebayor and Marouane Chamakh, neither of whom would qualify as "prolific". Clearly changes were required if improvements were to be made.

Out went Dwight Gayle to Newcastle for what the work experience girl wearing the Van Der Graaf Generator T-Shirt without knowing who they are assures me was £10m of Her Majesty's Pounds. That seemed a lot to me – maybe the notoriously tight-fisted Mike Ashley was off sick that day.

The money didn't rest in that account for too long though. In fact they returned it to SJP with a further £3m in return for Andros Townsend. Townsend it appears had a clause in his contract allowing him to leg it out of toon the second they got relegated. It was a case of "yes guys it's all very nice up here and all and the Northumberland countryside is very nice but, if it's all the same to you I'd rather go to someone still in the Premier League, because, like, I won't get picked for England if I stay here". Having said that he was initially omitted from the latest England squad, only being drafted in when Raheem Sterling got hooked due to injury (I bet HIS calf muscle strain will have cleared up by this weekend).

A reported £27m went to Liverpool in return for Christian Benteke as the scousers cut their losses on the player after an unimpressive spell up there. Now he's picked up a goal or two in recent weeks prompting some to bemoan the fact that we didn't sign him ourselves. However, I've not been over-impressed with him over the years and he wouldn't have been my first choice of striker when we were in the market for one.

Slightly less known is the fact that Benteke came in a "buy-one-get-one –free" type deal whereby Palace nipped over to Belgium to pick up Benteke's kid brother Jonathan. I'm sure that the deal was completed on merit and was in no way a sweetener made in return for Benteke senior's signature. The pair of them had 6 minutes of shared pitch time towards the end of their trip to Boro' but Benteke minor suffered a knee injury and is now out of contention for 4 months, an injury described by the manager (of whom less later) as "disappointing".

They also brought in Chelsea striker Loic Remy on loan from that bit of the Chelsea organisation that seems to have been specifically set up to buy and subsequently loan out players – football's equivalent of Moss Bros if you will. He promptly got injured and went back to the Stamford Bridge treatment room where he is likely to stay for another month or so.

The worst injury of all happened to full-back Pape Souare. It's not often one could describe a player with a broken leg as "lucky" but given that the break was the worst of the injuries the lad received during a car crash on the M4 things could have been a whole lot worse for the Senegalese full-back. Happily the prognosis is that the player should be able to make a full – if lengthy – physical recovery.

Back on the transfer front they also went abroad to pick up a new 'keeper in the form of Steve Mandanda who came in for either an undisclosed fee or on a free transfer – sources differ – from Marseille. Mandanda was born in Zaire and qualifies internationally for the Democratic Republic Of Congo on the grounds that it is the same country following a "rebranding" (as we must call it) that took place in 1997. However, he opted to play for France which led to his goalkeeper siblings to nickname him "Frenchie". Which is a pretty damned horrible insult in my book, ranking right up there with "Croydonian". Mind you "Steve" did rather get the short straw when it comes to forenames when you consider the fact that his younger brothers are named Parfait, Riffi and Ever. Steve has been capped over 20 times at senior level by France though these days he is seen pretty much as Lloris's deputy over the channel. Which meant that he got to watch Payet play against Bulgaria last weekend like the rest of us.

They bolstered the central defensive area by paying us a reported £10m for James "He Hits Who He Wants" Tomkins. Now that was a transfer that didn't overly please us at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered, though, having reportedly been told that his first XI chances would be limited at the Olympic Stadium one can see the logic of his departure to ensure first team football, even if it does mean his having to visit Croydon every other week. The uncertain start we've made would have meant him having the chance to build up a run in the first team. Strength in depth against keeping players happy - the perennial struggle.

Tomkins may be partnered by skipper Scott Dann who is due to return from a hamstring injury. Palace supporters have been clamouring for him to be included in England squads for a while, which just goes to show that once you start picking players as limited as Henderson everyone starts to think they can get in.
They are of course managed by Alan Pardew about whom the kumb lawyers have insisted I write precisely nothing. For some reason. So I'll move swiftly on to other matters. England then. Liverpool fans were hailing their latest "world-class" player (titter) as Jordan Henderson was the least worst player on the pitch against, er, Malta, resulting in him being awarded the captaincy against Slovakia. Whereupon he gave the ball away so often he reminded the rest of us that he's bloody lucky to be anywhere near an international squad in the first place. Still, as awful as it is watching England these days (Sturridge here's a cow's backside, here's a banjo. Come back when you've mastered that) at least we're not Scottish. (Note to Scottish readers: hahahahahaha!)

Meanwhile we are all avoiding looking at the photos of the Boleyn being demolished – we were tearful enough on that last night without seeing the place getting pulled apart. Taking our minds off things we have injury news, and as usual, there is another one to add to the list. This time it's Gokan Tore who has a thigh injury that will keep him out for about five to six weeks. Poor bloke must have walked under half a dozen ladders on his way over from Turkey. It had been thought that Carroll and Sakho might be close to recalls but that now looks more likely to happen at the end of the month – maybe the extra hour in bed when the clocks change just before Everton away will make all the difference. Ayew & Masuaku are still a fair way off and Byram's hamstring was bad enough to require an operation last week. On the plus side Cresswell, Nordveidt and Calleri have all returned to full training. Cresswell has been sorely (pun intended) missed after that two-bob nutter from Karlsruhe did him in pre-season so let's just hope he really IS fully fit this time around – we can't afford for him to miss any more games.

Prediction? Well my original optimism for this match has been tempered by the injury news – I'd originally been working on the lines that one or more of Carroll and Sakho might be about. Their absence leaves us looking at Zaza and Calleri as the main options, with perhaps Antonio taking on some sort of striking role as he did against Boro'. Zaza is struggling for form at the moment and if he wants to stay he'll need to start pulling his finger out. Calleri has been injured but even before that he wasn't exactly in the Samsung league in terms of setting the world alight. I do have a rather bad feeling about this one given they are in a run of luck at the moment. So I think that the £2.50 I was going to pay to watch the next UKIP boxing match (well there's bound to be one isn't there?) will go on a pessimistic 2-1 home victory as soon as I can get myself down to Winstones The Turf Accountants, the one bright spot being that if any idiot dressed as a clown gets in my way as I get near the ground on Saturday I can happily deck them safe in the knowledge that, since they come from the London Borough Of Croydon, I will be doing the world a double favour.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Selhurst Park: Won 3-1 (Premier League October 2015) An eventful match that took place almost a year ago to the day. Jenkinson put us 1-0 up before a very dodgy twice-taken spot kick from Cabaye levelled the scores. Gayle then got himself dismissed rather stupidly, kicking lumps out of Payet and Kouyate with a petulant shove on Adrian coming in between to suggest that he had an early date that evening – (this being back in the days when referees actually bothered to issue second yellow cards when they were due). It seemed that the self-styled greatest supporters in the world all had similar plans to Gayle as even the twit with the "official drum" legged it once Lanzini had put us 2-1 up. So they would have missed the delightful finish from Payet that sealed the points. Talking of whom, it was in this match that "The Payet Song" really started to take hold, something that occurred with a spontaneity light years beyond the comprehension of the risible home "ultras".

Danger Man: Christian Benteke I don't particularly rate him but that makes him precisely the sort of player in form that will play well enough to bite us on the bum. Honourable mention for James Tomkins who will be a danger at corners with the added influence of the law of the ex to come into play.

Referee: Martin Atkinson Of course it is. We get him every three bloody games whatever happens.

Percy's Poser: Last time out we asked you why the BBC had to issue a disclaimer at the end of series 3 of Auf Wiedersehen Pet, which had partly been set in Middlesbrough. The first correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Winifred Cornplaster of Pitsea who told us: "The BBC told us that they had had received complaints that the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge had been dismantled for the programme. The last episode of the programme therefore contained a disclaimer aimed at Spurs supporters and other hard of thinking groups pointing out that the bridge was still actually intact and fully functional and the apparent absence of the structure on the tv was the result of not very convincing special effects.." The prize of a can of genuine Middlesbrough Smog is on its way to you Mrs Cornplaster even as we speak. Well done Winifred!

For this week's poser we will be asking the question: The London Borough Of Croydon's employees have a warped sense of humour – how else do you explain their granting of a safety certificate to Selhurst Park every year? But what did the burghers of that lousy borough do in 1954, 2000, 2002 and 2012 that caused the rest of the country to collapse uncontrollably with laughter. First correct answer out of the digital hat will win either the London Borough Of Croydon or a used J-cloth. Good luck everyone!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to,

Crystal Palace v West Ham preview: Scott Dann misses out, Tomkins to start against former club
Last Updated: 14/10/16 3:13pm

Crystal Palace and West Ham, who are at contrasting ends of the form table, meet at Selhurst Park on Saturday evening. The Eagles are unbeaten in five Premier League games (W3 D2 L0), their longest run without defeat since December 2015 while West Ham are without a win in their last five top-flight games (W0 D1 L4), their longest winless streak in the competition since December 2015. West Ham will be hoping Dimitri Payet, who has scored just once in the league this season, rediscovers his best form against a team he scored twice against last campaign.

Team news

Crystal Palace's Scott Dann remains unavailable for the hosts. The captain and central defender is still recovering from a hamstring strain, so James Tomkins is expected to start against his former club alongside Damien Delaney.

Manager Alan Pardew hopes Dann will be fit for next Saturday's trip to Leicester, but beyond him his only absentees are Pape Souare, who fractured his thigh and jaw, and Jonathan Benteke, who has an injured knee.

Aaron Cresswell is in the West Ham squad for the first time this season.

The left-back is fit after recovering from a knee injury sustained in pre-season, and he is joined by midfielder Havard Nordtveit and striker Jonathan Calleri who have shaken off minor niggles.

Summer signing Gokhan Tore (thigh) and right-back Sam Byram (hamstring) have replaced them in the treatment room while Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew, Arthur Masuaku and Diafra Sakho are still unavailable.

Match stats

Crystal Palace have won just one of their last four top-flight meetings with West Ham, drawing one and losing two.

West Ham have won on each of their last two top-flight visits to Selhurst Park; they've never won three in a row away to Crystal Palace in the league.

There has been a sending off in each of the last three top-flight clashes between these two sides (Kouyate in Apr 2016, Gayle in Oct 2015 and Murray in Feb 2015).

Manuel Lanzini also scored in both West Ham's games against the Eagles last season (two goals in total); with Palace the only side he has scored more than one against in the top flight.

Since Christian Benteke's Premier League debut in September 2012, only Olivier Giroud (also 19) has scored as many headed goals in the competition as the Belgian striker.

Crystal Palace have now gone seven games without a London derby win in the Premier League (W0 D2 L5), the longest run of any current top-flight club.

West Ham have picked up just four points from their opening seven Premier League games; their worst points tally in a top-flight season at this stage since 1988-89 (also 4 - and they were relegated at the end of that campaign).

Since the start of last season, Dann has netted seven goals in the top-flight, more than any other defender.

Jason Puncheon has created more goalscoring chances than any other Premier League player in the opening seven matchdays of the 2016-17 season (24).

Merson's predictions

Benteke should be unplayable. He is tall, strong, quick and great in the air, and it was just a lack of confidence at Liverpool. He's got that back now and has been great for Palace.

In contrast, West Ham are struggling and their confidence is shot, so if Alan Pardew's side start quickly I can see them running away with it.

It is a concerning time for the Hammers because it took an unbelievable piece of magic by Payet to get a draw at home to Middlesbrough.

They have played Watford, Bournemouth, Southampton and Boro at the London Stadium and only have one win. All the big boys are still to come.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (Sky Bet odds 14/1)


A Saturday evening London derby at Selhurst Park, where Crystal Palace are 11/10 with Sky Bet to inflict another defeat on struggling West Ham. The Hammers are 12/5 for their second Premier League win of the campaign, with the same price available on the draw.

Benteke has scored in Palace's last two games and netted a hat-trick for Belgium against Gibraltar: he's a clear 4/1 favourite to net the opening goal in this one.

West Ham look to reboot in London derby against Crystal Palace

West Ham return to league action after the international break with a clearly defined objective. The team need to start winning matches -- and soon. Although many football fans find the enforced international breaks a distraction, it's undoubtedly a fact that the Premier League season is now defined by the segments resulting from the demands of the international football timetable. Following a poor early season and a series of awful defensive displays, the Hammers' latest season restart is surely the most significant. There's always a point when a poor slump turns into a crisis and Slaven Bilic and his men are slowly approaching it.
If the improvement shown against Middlesbrough last time out is maintained, then the Hammers can hopefully move out of the bottom three and set about repairing their season. If the calamitous start continues however, then the club will almost certainly find themselves in a relegation battle. It's usually during the autumn when these things are set in stone. League history then often dictates that the battle -- whether ultimately successful or not -- will continue well into the next spring.
The return to form of Dimitri Payet is one thing that should encourage Bilic. It was noticeable that the whole team seemed lifted when the French international scored his wonder goal against Boro. The manager will also be hoping that the age-old injury issues are starting to ease with both Andy Carroll and Aaron Creswell both hoping for an earlier than expected return from the physiotherapist's room.
Despite strong reservations from many fans about the injury-prone striker's long-term contribution to the squad, the fact remains that Carroll's strength up front and, more importantly, in defence is something that the team miss when he is unavailable. As for Cresswell, there was never a doubt. An instant hit from the moment he joined the club from Ipswich, the 26-year-old's influence at left-back is keenly felt. The Hammers' defence looks completely out of kilter when he is not playing.
A local derby is always eagerly anticipated and the hop across the river to face south London rivals Crystal Palace will be a strong test for Bilic and his team. Many of the claret and blue faithful think their latest manager can learn a lot from their old boss. Alan Pardew's return to Palace, the club he used to play for, has been nothing but an unqualified success. The former West Ham and Newcastle United manager bought well in the summer -- not least in securing the services of Boleyn favourite James Tomkins. Meanwhile, seeking a winger, Bilic turned to players he knew from his previous club; the result has been depressingly underwhelming. Pardew on the other hand, shrewdly bought Andros Townsend from Newcastle. There is no doubt who has made the most impact. Dimitri Payet's late goal allowed West Ham to avoid extra time. Dimitri Payet's form has been one of the few bright sparks for West Ham United this season.
Similarly, while the Hammers searched for a striker all summer, it was Pardew who decided that the Premier League experience of Liverpool forward Christian Benteke would be a sensible option. West Ham were linked with the Belgian International throughout but ultimately did nothing. Instead, Bilic's pursuit of Simone Zaza is already looking like a big mistake; with rumours that the player will return to Italy in January rife.
The Hammers have a good record against Palace generally, but there is one major threat to them this time out. When a player with something to prove comes up against his old club there is usually only one outcome. Tomkins is a fine defender, but he scored many goals in the claret and blue by powering in from the far post; he will surely be looking at the porous defence of his former club and thinking he can prove Bilic was wrong to let him leave in the summer for £10 million.
West Ham may be happy to take a point away from Selhurst Park, but Bilic knows his team need to start winning soon. If not, then there might be another type of chill wind blowing around the club in the coming months.

Peter Thorne, aka Billy Blagg (@BillyBlaggEsq), is ESPN FC's West Ham blogger.


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