Opposition Q & A

West Ham got their season back on track with that Monday night draw against Liverpool, although if the lino had his eyes on the game we could have claimed a deserved victory. Recently we have seemed to follow up a good performance with a crushing defeat. Hopefully we can buck this trend this Saturday against a Crystal Palace team, who over the past few years we have held the upper hand against. Ahead of the game I spoke to old friend and South Londoner Colin Prevatt, brought up within spitting distance of Crystal Palace Park, but now wisely residing in Trinidad.

First of all give us the news from Trinidad? Is our old mate Jack Warner still living it large, or has he been extradited to USA to spend a few well deserved years in prison yet?
Carnival is only a few weeks away so most people are gearing up for the greatest show on earth, increasing exercise activity to be able to manage all the parties and the two-day masquerade celebration which is now copied the world over. Mind you, with the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, T&T is on alert as we are only 7 miles away from our South American neighbour. Jack Warner is still at large and continues to fight extradition to the USA. He has maintained a relatively low profile for a while now, however, he has recently been making overtures to former political allies in an effort to revitalise his career in politics.

The last time I saw you, was when you were over for an FA Cup final a couple of years ago, when you ultimately fell to Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United. Memories of that day?
After missing out on a trip to Wembley back in 1990, there was no way I was not going to be that final and I’m grateful to my friend Horace McDonald for arranging a ticket for me. I felt very proud to tell the immigration officer at Gatwick that I was there for the FA Cup Final who was amazed that I had travelled all the way from Trinidad. It was a great day and the Palace fans certainly outdid those from ManU with that sea of red and blue. Disappointed not to win especially with Jason Puncheon scoring with just a few minutes remaining. However, we lost focus and didn’t close out the game professionally. Rooney was given too much space and should never have been allowed to advance as far as he did in setting up the equaliser.

How is the coverage of the Premier League in Trinidad? Do you get to see Palace regularly or is it a constant diet of Man Utd and Liverpool (with I expect now the odd game featuring Manchester City)?
We get full coverage of all Premier League matches – every game is shown live via the Premier League TV’s overseas broadcast. So whoever you support – no problem. There’s also live matches from La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1, the Dutch Eredivisie, Chinese Super League, this list goes on!

Since your outing to Wembley three years ago Crystal Palace have discarded Alan Pardew as their manager, and had a couple of other incumbents: any that you wish you had stuck with? Are you happy with Roy Hodgson?
No, not really. Frank De Boer didn’t have the right players to implement his style at Palace, so Steve Parish was right to admit his mistake early on and get Roy Hodgson in. Roy has done a good job with the squad he has and the injuries sustained over his period in charge. My main concern is that his substitutions are invariably too late to be effective. Generally, Roy has to be commended for the disciplined formations which makes the team hard to break down.

How do you rate Manuel Pelligrini as West Ham’s manager?
Seems to be getting grips with what’s needed for West Ham to progress. Obviously did well with Man. City in winning the League, but that was with an established squad. His current stint will certainly be a sterner test. He likes to play with style and he should do well with the likes of Felipe Anderson and Lanzini when he’s fit.

What do you think of the current Crystal Palace squad? What are it’s particular strengths and weaknesses?
I’m generally happy with the squad given the limitations within we have to work. Guaita is an improvement on Hennessey and the defence is solid – Tomkins has been our most consistent and reliable player. (Still wonder why y’all sold him). AWB has been outstanding at right back. We could do with some more creativity in midfield and Cabaye is missed. Max Meyer will improve as he gets stronger and more accustomed to the Premier League. Happy to have Batshuayi in the squad – he looks to have the close control on the ball that our other forwards lack. He will also give Benteke the competition he needs earn his place in the starting line up. Our strength is our pace on the counter-attack, however, we need to be more clinical in front of goal.

Given that Wilfred Zaha will be suspended this weekend, any West Ham players that you wish were suspended to balance it up?
Is Wilf He’s Just Too Good For You Zaha suspended? I haven’t heard or seen anything yet to confirm that but if so West Ham fans will be relieved! Accordingly, I’d wish Felipe Anderson was suspended – he’s fast and skillfull on the ball, especially when putting his gloves back on! Also Declan Rice could do with picking up a virus.

It’s been a surprisingly close title battle this year round, seeing as how Man City were so dominant last season. They currently sit on top of the table on goal difference having played a game more, are they going to win the League again? Are Liverpool going to blow their good chance? Prediction for top four teams in order?
I’d like to see Liverpool win this year, however, Man City seem to be grinding out the results. Hopefully Liverpool will overcome this current “blip”, develop momentum to the end of the season and prevail on top! Top four: Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea.

It looks like both of our teams will be safe this season – are you surprised by that? Where do you think we will both finish?
Both Palace and West Ham have underachieved for far. Both should finish comfortably mid-table and West Ham even up to 7th with a good run of wins after Saturday.

How are Crystal Palace going to line up against the Mighty Claret and Blue this weekend? Predictions for line up & formation?
4-4-1-1 with Ayew just behind Benteke if Wilf is suspended. 4-3-3 if Wilf plays. This will probably be a 4-5-1 with Roy electing to let the Hammers have the ball and going on the counter-attack with the speed of Wilf and Townsend.

Are you feeling confident that you can beat West Ham on Saturday? Prediction for the score?
Quietly confident now that we seem to have our scoring boots back on. 3-2 with some help from Michail Antonio!

Well thanks to Colin for taking the time out from his day on the beach to enlighten us with his thoughts. We all know a bit more about Trinidad than before, I will also let him get away with his boast that Trinidad had the first Carnival. Perhaps I was wrong about Wilfred Zaha being suspended this weekend, as apparently if you contest the ban you can delay it until after the hearing. Hopefully with a bit of help from Michail Antonio West Ham can themselves get back to winning ways, I’m going to go for a 1 – 2 away victory. COYI

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