Sunday, 27 November 2011

TLFG: 28 November - 4 December 2011

For the first time since launching this blog I had a totally football-free week. I'm not proud of it, actually a little bit ashamed but these things happen once in a while.

Before I go any further I'd like to pay my respects to Wales manager Gary Speed who very sadly was found dead earlier today. Things seemed to be going really well for him, at least professionally, so this news came as a big shock to most football fans. RIP.

Over the last few days some of you may have noticed that I've added a map which sits at the top of my sidebar giving the location of the 107 clubs which TLFG covers. It's also occurred to me that I often list Premier League games in the TLFG Top 10 which are sold out by the time I publish so I've decided to try and give you advance information of what is currently on general sale so you don't miss out - hopefully visitors to London will find this particularly useful. So here's the current list that I know of:

ARSENAL
Nothing available

6 December - Valencia 745pm, Champions League
26 December - Fulham 1pm, Premier League (on sale 28 Nov)

14 December - Odense BK 805pm, Europa League
17 December - Bolton Wanderers 3pm, Premier League

3 December - West Bromwich Albion 3pm, Premier League
21 December - Sunderland 8pm, Premier League (on sale 2 Dec)

30 November - PAOK Salonika 805pm, Europa League
3 January - West Bromwich Albion 745pm, Premier League
11 January - Everton 745pm, Premier League

At the time of writing this is all correct as far as I'm aware - feel free to add anything in the comments section below if any of this is wrong. Of the above, the QPR v West Brom game is as good as sold out so don't hang around if you want to go to that one.

Back to the week ahead and it's another seven days which are crammed with cup football be it the FA Cup, FA Trophy, FA Vase or one of the many local county cups. There's also more Friday night football and some interesting local derbies - in all there are 80 matches taking place.

Here are this week's match maps:

MIDWEEK MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Magenta pin - Friday fixtures
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures


With a whopping 80 to choose from, here's a few games I've cherry picked for your consideration:

TLFG TOP 10

As mentioned above, the biggest games are often sold out by the time this blog goes up and this is no exception. The Gunners often have a few tickets knocking around for Carling Cup games like this but not this time, a sign perhaps of how important these two clubs' fans are taking the competition this season. The hosts have been without a trophy for several years now and after defeat in last season's final (possibly as a result of complacency) should want to go one better this time. City are flying at the top of the Premier League so might see this as a distraction but their squad is so strong that they will field a decent team by default. Expect goals.

London will be heaving with fans of some of the biggest clubs in the country on Tuesday night as another sold out Carling Cup match takes place at Stamford Bridge. This game comes just 9 days after the Premier League meeting between the two which the Reds won with a goal shortly before the end so with that battle still fresh in the players' minds it should be quite lively. With both sides' league chances looking slim already, you'd hope they'd be taking this trophy pretty seriously.

Admittedly this isn't the biggest European tie to be taking place in London over the coming weeks but Spurs are an attractive team to watch and with qualification for the next stage of the Europa League by no means a foregone conclusion this could be worth a watch. As my research suggests, it is still on general sale so if you've always wanted to see Spurs or are just in town for a few days this could be one for you. For the record, PAOK are currently top of this group and lie fifth in the Greek Super League.

On the rare occasion there's some Friday night football in London I like to highlight it whether it's Barnet, Colliers Wood United or Crystal Palace. From memory both sides started this season pretty strongly but have fallen away a bit in recent weeks although to be fair the table is really tight (just 3 points separate 6th from 15th) so a win here for either could put them into the top six. Category B prices apply for this match which means the cheapest adult tickets are £20.

Although only in League One, this is arguably the most significant game in London this week as first play third at The Valley. The visitors set a Football League record of going 43 games without defeat by beating Notts County 2-1 last weekend while the Addicks have only last one match themselves this season and that was away from home. Chris Powell's side have averaged 2.6 goals in home games so far while Huddersfield are getting two of their own on their travels. Tickets are still available from £18 and if you know a Charlton season-ticket holder they can get you in for a tenner if they buy by midday on Monday. 

This Saturday sees the staging of the second round proper of the FA Cup where some of football's minnows get to within touching distance of a dream draw against one of the big boys. The Bees are still at the wrong end of League Two but appear to be turning the corner and have now gone five games without defeat in all competitions. Their biggest test for some weeks comes in the form of the visiting MK Dons who are fourth in League One and come into this having won their last five, scoring a daunting 20 goals in the process. Notably Lawrie Sanchez, who scored Wimbledon's winner in the 1988 FA Cup final, is Barnet manager. Will he be part of another upset?

This is the archetypal FA Cup second round tie and ESPN have noticed this too selecting it for live broadcast on Sunday evening. The U's play three divisions below the Magpies but have a fine pedigree in the FA Cup having beaten several professional sides including then top flight Coventry City in 1989. This will also be the third meeting between these two in the FA Cup since 1994 with the League One side having won the previous two encounters. The two teams are both in good form in their respective leagues so morale shouldn't be an issue, it will probably all come down to who wants it more. All seats have sold out but there are plenty of standing tickets still available.

Since officially opening their new ground against Spurs 11 days ago, things have gone well for Enfield Town having recorded back-to-back wins over Chatham and Soham to climb to third in the Ryman League Division One North just one point and one place behind their opponents in this match (although they could swap places if Enfield beat Waltham Forest in midweek). If you don't know, Grays were in the Blue Square Bet Premier, or whatever it was then, as recently as 2009/10 but for various off-field reasons had to drop down and are now looking to climb the leagues again.

As regular readers of this blog will know, Hanworth are enjoying a decent season having made the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup - no mean feat for a side playing at Level 9 of England's football pyramid structure. They would also be at least Combined Counties League joint leaders if they won their games in hand so they should be reasonably confident of doing well in this FA Vase tie. However, Herne Bay are in awesome form in the parallel Kent League. They are yet to lose a game, are seven points clear and have played two games less than their nearest rivals. Both sides are averaging close to three goals a game too so this could be quite a contest.

(Wednesday 30 November, 745pm & Saturday 3 December, 3pm)
As someone who has a bit of a soft spot for the hosts (a friend's friend set them up), I've been waiting for this all season. Why I hear you ask? Well mainly because it's a massive derby as the clubs share the Mile End Stadium. It's also the first season they've both played in the Essex Senior League (the latter were in the Kent League previously). Why the two dates? Well quite by chance the two were drawn to play each other in the FA Vase just three days after the long awaited league encounter so if you miss it you won't have to wait long for another opportunity. The sides are very evenly matched too, sitting eighth and ninth in the table respectively. Miss it, miss out!

Finally, all the best to Redbridge of the Ryman League Division One North who travel to League Two high flyers Crawley Town for an FA Cup tie on Saturday. It's a huge day for the East London club who are the lowest ranked side remaining in the competition. Keep an eye out for their result.

Make sure you check the match maps to see what other games are on because there are some crackers.

Please share your stories and photos of football in London either in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. You can also contact TLFG through Twitter or email if you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London. I'd also like to hear from anyone regarding reciprocal links as I look to raise the profile of the blog.

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