Sunday, 12 February 2012

TLFG: 13-19 February 2012

The flakes had just fallen last time I wrote and although we're nowhere near approaching a 'Winter Wonderland' here in London, the cold weather ended most people's chances of watching some live football.

Consequently I have nothing to talk about in terms of grounds visited or matches seen in this edition of TLFG. Despite this, the blog enjoyed another strong week in terms of traffic as the latest match postponement news proved popular again.

As for all that other stuff about the England manager, I'm not actually that bothered Fabio Capello left. I've always admired the Italian and thought he'd do a great job when he was appointed but his four-year reign has been largely pretty forgettable and the time seemed right for a change.

If you want to see how the national team get on against the Netherlands at Wembley at the end of the month or want ticket details about other big games coming up in London here's what's currently on general sale:

29 February - Netherlands 8pm, Wembley, international friendly

ARSENAL
Nothing currently available

18 February - Birmingham City 1230pm, FA Cup
10 March - Stoke City 3pm, Premier League

4 March - Wolverhampton Wanderers 205pm, Premier League
17 March - Swansea City 3pm, Premier League
31 March - Norwich City 3pm, Premier League

QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Nothing currently available

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Nothing currently available

Again it looks highly likely that there will be a few postponements in the week ahead but here are the match maps to help you find what's on and where:

MIDWEEK MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Turquoise pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures



WEEKEND MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures

Please let me know if there are any errors or omissions and always make sure you check with a club on the day whether a match is still taking place.

Weather permitting, we've got a healthy amount of 76 games to look forward to over the next seven days. These include fixtures from the fifth round of the FA Cup, a delayed FA Trophy third round match and a couple of FA Youth Cup games which I've thrown in for good measure. 

TLFG TOP 10

Having seen off QPR in a fractious west London derby in round four, Chelsea play host to Championship side Birmingham in the last 16. The hosts are second favourites with the bookies to win the FA Cup this year and are overwhelming favourites to win this one too. City, however, shouldn't be totally written off as they come into this game on the back of an excellent 12-game unbeaten run that has lifted them to third in their division. They also beat Premier League Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round. If this was being played at St Andrew's then the London club's recent unconvincing form could've made them vulnerable but as it's at Stamford Bridge I can only see one winner. Tickets are still on general sale for a flat rate of £30 for adults and  £15 concessions.

Both sides have found this season to be a struggle. The Lions are 20th in the Championship while the Trotters are second from bottom in the Premier League having just suffered a morale crushing home defeat to bottom club Wigan. However, the FA Cup has provided a glimmer of hope as both have enjoyed surprise victories over Southampton and Swansea City respectively. These two haven't played each other for 17 years when Bolton earned a 1-0 win at The Den - I expect this meeting to be equally close. Tickets for this are on general sale at a discounted rate too with adult ones available from £20.

For some reason the football authorities decided that Valentine's Day would be a fine time to schedule a load of games all over the country, potentially causing all kinds of relationship disharmony that may otherwise have been avoided. One of these matches is a barnstormer which pits first versus second in the Championship. The Saints had a good run at the top but had a wobble and now it's the Hammers' turn. Neither team have been overly convincing recently with stuttering results that have left the hosts only a point ahead of their visitors. Southampton edged to a 1-0 win back in October and haven't lost to the east London club since 2001 so the head-to-head record seems to back them. You could be there to see what happens as a few tickets for this are still available too.

The Eagles and Hornets have got to that point of the season where they're virtually only playing for pride with the play-off and relegation places a long way off. That they have achieved this with rookie managers and tight finances is a great achievement and I'd be pretty satisfied if I was a supporter of either. The main reason I've gone for this is because it qualifies as a derby with both sides located within the TLFG catchment area. Although there isn't any great rivalry, there should be a reasonable crowd and competitive spirit. Palace won 2-0 at Vicarage Road earlier in the season and will hope for more of the same here.

This midweek game is another one to whet the appetite as two clubs chasing promotion to the Championship meet at The Valley. The Addicks have been at the top of League One for a long time now and have lost only twice in 18 games (one of those was to Premier League Fulham in the FA Cup). The visitors have also looked impressive on their climb up to fifth and recently should have knocked QPR out of the FA Cup only for poor finishing to let them down. Neither lose many games and the reciprocal fixture in September ended in a 1-1 draw so expect another tight contest here. Ticket deals are available for this match as well - all under 18s get in for £5 while season-ticket holders can take up to two guests for £10 each.

By League Two standards this is a bit of a David against Goliath contest. The Daggers have been battling the drop all season and currently sit just above the relegation places. The Robins, however, are sitting proudly on top of the tree and look destined for a move up to League One. The visitors, however, haven't had it all their own way recently winning only one of their last four including a draw at struggling Hereford on Saturday. This, combined with the fact that Crawley Town are reeling them in quickly, could add to their nerves and make them more vulnerable. 

Freezing weather conditions saw this FA Trophy third round tie postponed three times in a matter of days as the teams tried everything to get it played. Their next attempt will come on Tuesday night with a trip to either Cambridge United or Guiseley awaiting the winners in the quarter-finals. As discussed in a previous blog, both these clubs are on excellent runs that have seen them win far more than they've lost in the Blue Square Bet South and Ryman League Premier Division respectively. The Stones did manage to beat Blue Square Bet Premier team Barrow at home in the previous round but I feel the Darts will have too much for them on this occasion.

Apart from being a TLFG derby, the main reason I've highlighted this Blue Square Bet South game is because the club are allowing everyone in for FREE. Yes you read that right, FREE football at Sutton on Valentine's Day. This match was originally scheduled for New Year's Day but got postponed and the club are offering people the chance to check out their facilities and match day experience with this excellent offer. Strictly speaking, admission is on a 'pay what you want' basis so donations will be gratefully received but the club have been keen to stress that there's no obligation to pay as their marketing for the event shows. If you do take them up on this and don't pay to get in, please at least buy a programme and/or some refreshments - if the night proves to be a success they might do it more often.

By the time this match takes place, the Urchins could be top of the Ryman League. If so, this game against fellow promotion hopefuls Lewes will take on even greater significance. When the sides met at the Dripping Pan back in October, Hornchurch stormed to a 4-0 win. It's a scoreline that could be repeated again as the Rooks have now gone eight games without a win and will find the going tough here.

Finally this week, I'd like to recommend this match between third and fourth in the Ryman League Division One South. I think I'm right in saying that both these clubs have had spells at the top this season but both have drifted a bit recently. In Dulwich's case they've had a couple of games postponed so they will climb back to second, behind Bognor Regis Town, if they win them. With only the top side going up automatically it's crucial for the teams to start winning regularly or they'll be left scrapping in the play-offs.  For those of you who know  nothing about Maidstone, they actually played in what is now League Two from 1989-1992 until they went bust. They are also the club where Manchester United and England defender Chris Smalling began his career.

So that's it for this week. I'll try and keep you updated as and when matches get postponed through TLFG's Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you have any questions or need advice about watching football in London, you can also get in touch via those, using the comments section below or email

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