Sunday, 4 March 2012

TLFG: 5-11 March 2012

This time eight weeks ago news was coming through of Neil Warnock's sacking by QPR, today it's the turn of Andre Villas-Boas at neighbours Chelsea.

Both seem to have been hard done by in many ways. Warnock was tasked with keeping the Shepherd's Bush club out of the bottom three come January, something he did but he was still shown the door and Mark Hughes, his replacement, has so far fared little better. A short distance away at Stamford Bridge, a promising young manager appears to have been let go despite apparently agreeing to a tricky three-year plan of rebuilding an ageing squad.

I was actually really disappointed when AVB took the Chelsea job, believing it had come far too early in his fledgling managerial career. One and a bit seasons at Porto, albeit very successful ones, didn't seem enough for a 34-year-old with little top level playing experience. He would have been better served spending another year or two with the Portuguese champions trying to re-establish them in the Champions League. If he won that, like Jose Mourinho, then he would have been far better placed to move to one of Europe's biggest clubs.

After several weeks of disappointment, QPR actually managed to avoid defeat on Saturday by drawing 1-1 with Everton. They seemed to have figured out that keeping all 11 players on the pitch might help and probably should have beaten the Toffees who hardly mustered a shot in the second half. New signing Bobby Zamora started to show some of the attributes which he was signed for and had his best game in a hooped shirt.

QPR fans stream out of Loftus Road with plenty to ponder
Although Rangers are currently top of the mini relegation league of five clubs at the foot of the Premier League, many will see them as favourites to go down as their remaining fixtures are truly terrible with six of the top seven clubs all yet to be played.

That's enough about my concerns, here's what tickets are on general sale for some of the bigger matches that are coming up in London over the next few weeks:

2 June - Belgium 515pm, Wembley Stadium, international friendly 

Nothing currently available

18 March - Leicester City 205pm, FA Cup (on sale 9 March)

17 March - Swansea City 3pm, Premier League
31 March - Norwich City 3pm, Premier League

Nothing currently available

9 April - Norwich City 3pm, Premier League 

With all that digested, here are this week's match maps:

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



WEEKEND MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday 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.

A bumper midweek schedule ensures that there is an impressive total of 80 games to choose from in London over the next seven days with FA Cup, FA Youth Cup and various county and league cups boosting your viewing options. A lot of games that look really good on paper have failed to make the top 10 this week so make sure you take a close look at the maps above before deciding where to go.

TLFG TOP 10

ARSENAL v AC MILAN (Tuesday 6 March, 745pm)
Two of Europe's biggest clubs meet in the second leg of this last 16 Champions League tie at the Emirates on Tuesday. A year or two ago this could well have been tightly poised at this stage but sadly for the Gunners they find themselves on the wrong end of a 4-0 deficit from the first encounter. Despite a morale-boosting win at Liverpool on Saturday, there appears to be too much to do for Arsene Wenger's side. However, if they do pull it off it will be one of the greatest European displays of all time. Tickets: SOLD OUT

CHELSEA v STOKE CITY (Saturday 10 March, 3pm)
Usually this wouldn't have made the cut but since the departure of AVB this match has taken on far greater significance. It will be the first home game following his departure and it will be interesting to see how the Blues' players react against the tough team from the Potteries. Tony Pulis's side have been on a rocky run of late but have recovered, winning their last two. They have also managed to draw their last two games against Chelsea but wins have been much harder to come by. The last time Stoke beat the London club in any competition  was in 1975 and their last success at Stamford Bridge came the year before. Tickets: SOLD OUT

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v STEVENAGE (Wednesday 7 March, 730pm)
Stevenage were a non-league side the season before last and now they're knocking on the door of the Championship after another fine campaign in League One. On Wednesday night they return to FA Cup action when they travel to White Hart Lane for this replay. The Boro acquitted themselves well in the initial match and held Spurs to a 0-0 draw but it seems to have taken it out of them with a winless streak of four games ensuing since then. Whether they can pull off an amazing cup shock will probably depend on how seriously Harry Redknapp takes it but with it being Tottenham's only realistic chance of silverware they're likely to go for it. Tickets: SOLD OUT

WEST HAM UNITED v WATFORD (Wednesday 7 March, 745pm)
Elsewhere in London on the same night we have this game which by Championship standards can be classed as a derby. The Hammers picked up a fine 2-0 win at Cardiff on Sunday to close the gap on top club Southampton to just one point with a game in hand. The Hornets' current form isn't nearly as impressive as their hosts' but a 3-2 win over Burnley on Saturday which eased them even deeper into the midtable comfort zone means they'll arrive at Upton Park with little pressure on them. There are also reduced price tickets of £20 available so you might regard this as a bit of a bargain. Ticket info.

CHARLTON ATHLETIC v NOTTS COUNTY (Saturday 10 March, 3pm)
The games are coming thick and fast now for the Addicks who are dead certs for the League One title. Promotion would be no more than the south-east London club deserve having lost only twice all season. Whether they'll be able to maintain their unbeaten home record against the in-form Magpies remains to be seen. New boss Keith Curle took over on 20 February and has already won his first four matches, lifting them into the play-off places. Charlton took the honours at Meadow Lane earlier in the season but only by 2-1 meaning this should be another close one. Ticket info.

BRENTFORD v SHEFFIELD UNITED (Saturday 10 March, 3pm)
Another League One match catches the eye this weekend too. Uwe Rosler's Bees have been loitering around the edge of the play-off places for most of the season and a win against the former Premier League Blades would do their chances of making the top six a world of good. Sadly for them this won't come easily as Danny Wilson's team arrive at Griffin Park in second place. Their form though is a little inconsistent as witnessed by their 3-2 home defeat to Oldham on Saturday. However, Brentford haven't managed to beat the Yorkshire club since 1983 so the omens don't look too good for the London side. Ticket info.

AFC WIMBLEDON v DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE (Saturday 10 March, 3pm)
It's a battle of south-west against east as these two TLFG teams go head-to-head in this League Two encounter on Saturday. Neither of these former non-league sides have done particularly well this season but the Dons will probably feel they've done just enough to avoid an immediate return to the Conference sitting as they do some nine points above the relegation zone. The Daggers, on the other hand, have been really struggling but have managed to pull themselves out of the relegation places by winning their last two. They will target this match as one to win to keep the momentum going. Ticket info.

HENDON v AFC HORNCHURCH (Saturday 10 March, 3pm)
The Greens have had some big games in recent weeks and this is another one. Hendon were the early season pacesetters but have fallen back a bit since then. They are still firmly in the race for a play-off place though but with Canvey Island closing the gap on them, a win here will be a huge priority. The Urchins will almost certainly get a top six finish but they'll be more interested in winning the title and going up automatically as they are the current main challengers to top club Billericay Town. In fact, if they win their two games in hand they'll go three points clear. Don't forget that season ticket holders at Premier/Football/Scottish League clubs get in for £5. Ticket info.

VCD ATHLETIC v HERNE BAY (Tuesday 6 March, 745pm)
A trip to Oakwood, near Dartford, on Tuesday night will give you the chance to see two of the top three in the Kent League in action. The hosts will start this League Cup semi-final first leg as underdogs against the almost invincible Herne Bay. Simon Halsey has put together one of the strongest teams in the country at Level 9 with them having lost only once in the league. Notably, a 2-1 win at Shortwood United on Saturday also put the Bay into the semi-finals of the FA Vase. So why should VCD believe they can win here? Well that only league defeat was inflicted by them at the end of January so if anyone can, they can. Club info.

LONDON APSA v SPORTING BENGAL UNITED (Tuesday 6 March, 745pm)
You may remember me recommending this game a couple of weeks ago, well it's come round again but this time it's a cup match. Get yourself along to Clapton's Old Spotted Dog ground in Forest Gate if you fancy seeing this East End derby. For those that don't know, APSA have their roots in the local Pakistani community while Sporting trace theirs back to Bangladesh (although there are players from various backgrounds at both clubs) so there'll be plenty of pride at stake. Club info.

A special mention should also go to Wealdstone this week who travel to Wales on Saturday to play Newport County in the first leg of their FA Trophy semi-final tie. If they get past them, it'll be a trip to Wembley to play Luton or York.

If you have any questions or need advice about watching football in London you can contact TLFG via the comments section below or via Facebook, Twitter or email.

2 comments:

  1. AFC Hornchurch played one of their games in hand on tuesday and lost 0-1 for Hastings. So even if they win tomorrow and Billericay loose, Billericay will still be on top on goal difference (+7), if they don't loose considerably at home, which I don't consider very likely...

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  2. Very true Per-Helge. Who do you think will eventually be crowned champions?

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