Sunday, 24 November 2013

TLFG: 25 November - 1 December 2013

Greetings one and all and welcome to the 100th edition of TLFG, thanks for reading.

I'd liked to have had something special in place to mark the occasion but I hadn't expected to be in the country.

Sadly another family member is struggling badly with illness and my trip to Ireland to visit them was called off. I'd therefore like to dedicate this piece to them - so thanks a lot Rory for all the good times, encouragement, advice and especially for the words of support following my Mum's death earlier this year.

Being a big sports fan, I'm sure he'd be impressed that I finally managed to take in a whopping two whole games this week!

On Tuesday I went to Wembley to see England's uninspiring 1-0 loss to Germany and on Saturday I went to watch QPR for the first time in a couple of months as they entertained fellow Londoners Charlton Athletic.

As always Wembley looked stunning under lights and it was interesting to see all the new shops and leisure facilities that have recently opened outside it.

Football under the arch at Wembley
The game itself meant nothing and consequently the crowd, although large at 85,000, didn't seem that bothered.

The fact Germany had rested virtually all their big names and sold only around 1,000 tickets to their own supporters made it even more of a non-event.

A fine shot against the post by Andros Townsend was probably as good as it got for England who didn't create much. It was good though to see Joe Hart pull off a number of fine saves in his return to action.

Tickets for England's next match at Wembley against Denmark in March are on sale now but I doubt you'll need to rush to secure one. Although I'm being a bit unenthusiastic, I strongly recommend you go if you've never been to Wembley as it is an awesome stadium and getting tickets for cup finals and play-off finals is often very difficult without membership of the participating clubs so do it!

As for my trip to QPR, Rangers have a much better squad than Charlton and did dominate for long periods but made hard work of ensuring victory. Ultimately a stunning 30-yard shot from Charlie Austin shortly before half-time decided the game and you can see it here on QPR's official YouTube channel:

In other news Chris Charles, a friend and former BBC Sport colleague, has just published his first book "Cilla Wants Her Teeth Back: Football's Barmiest Banners, Funniest Chants and Stupidest Stadium Announcements". It is of course a humorous publication and I'm told it makes 'the perfect stocking-filler' so check it out.

Also on the book theme, a Dutch writer is coming over to London shortly and will be spending a few weeks here ahead of writing a book about his football experiences in the capital. As one part of this project, he is trying to gain some experience playing for a London team.

I know getting some game time in a full competitive fixture is probably highly unlikely but if you could perhaps include him in a training session even if it's only with the reserves then please let me know and I'll put you in touch. It could be great publicity for your club.

As always, please remember to let me know what you've been up to and if you're interested in reviewing a ground within the London area for this blog then get in touch. You might also want to have a go at writing a 'Top Ten' one week. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

You can contact TLFG through the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or even by good old email.

Each week at TLFG we attempt to compile a list of what's on general sale to non-members at London's Premier League clubs and for other notable matches (click on the team name for details).

Wednesday 5 March, 8pm - Denmark, international friendly, Wembley

Nothing currently available

Nothing currently available

Tickets are only available to season-ticket holders, members and their guests

Wednesday 4 December, 8pm - Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League
Sunday 8 December, 130pm - Aston Villa, Premier League
Saturday 21 December, 3pm - Manchester City, Premier League
Wednesday 1 January, 3pm - West Ham United, Premier League
Saturday 11 January, 3pm - Sunderland, Premier League

Thursday 12 December, 805pm - Anzhi Makhachkala, Europa League 
Wednesday 18 December, 745pm - West Ham United, League Cup
Thursday 26 December, 3pm - West Bromwich Albion, Premier League
Sunday 29 December, 4pm - Stoke City, Premier League 
Saturday 11 January, 3pm - Crystal Palace, Premier League
Wednesday 29 January, 745pm - Manchester City, Premier League (on sale 28 Nov)
Saturday 14 December, 3pm - Sunderland, Premier League
Thursday 26 December, 3pm - Arsenal, Premier League
Saturday 28 December, 1245pm - West Brom, Premier League (on sale 26 Nov)
Saturday 22 March, 3pm - Manchester United, Premier League
Saturday 5 April, 3pm - Liverpool, Premier League
Saturday 3 May, 3pm - Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League

The best deal this week is to be had on Tuesday at AFC Wimbledon where it's 'We Are Wimbledon Night'. To raise funds for the League Two club's transfer budget, it's only £10 for adults to get into the derby against east London rivals Dagenham & Redbridge.

There's also some FREE youth football up at Boreham Wood again where Arsenal entertain Marseille in the Uefa Youth League on Monday.

Looking ahead to next month, Tottenham Hotspur are pricing all adult tickets at £20 for the visit of Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League. Family tickets are also available.

If you know of any other deals I may have missed or your club is running a promotion let me know.

There are well over 80 matches in the London area this week so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

With bad weather becoming more frequent, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or venue has been changed. Also, please let me know if anything is wrong or missing.

Details on all of this week's games can be found in the following match map. If you've never used it before, please note that when there is more than one match at a specific ground you'll only be able to see individual match pins if you zoom right in. If you don't, the pins obscure each other and you might miss them. To avoid this, you can also scroll down the list of games on the left side of the map page to make sure you get all the information.

Also if you're unfamiliar with the English league structure I indicate the level at which an individual league sits in the national 'pyramid' with the Premier League at the top (Level 1) and various minor leagues at the bottom (Level 10). Typically a top level game will see crowds of anywhere between 20,000-60,000. These figures will gradually decline as you go down the leagues until you get to Levels 8-10 where attendances of 150 or less are most common.

It should also be noted that the top four levels are for fully professional teams. Level 5 has a mixture of professional and semi-professional teams, while Levels 6-10 will see most players paid but it will vary from no more than travel expenses at the bottom, right up to several hundred pounds a week at the top (e.g. clubs in the Conference South).

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

View London match map 25 November - 1 December 2013 in a larger map

Next up is this week's TLFG match recommendations where I list a few games which I think could be worth a watch. There are often many more games that are worthy of a mention but I simply don't have the time or space to squeeze them all in so add your own in the comments section below.

1. Arsenal v Marseille - it's a big week for London's top clubs including Arsenal who could clinch a place in the last 16 of the Champions League if they win this one. If the Gunners don't see off their opponents it will be quite a surprise as they have a great record against them and the French side have lost all four previous Group F games. (Champions League, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

2. Chelsea v Southampton - back in the Premier League we've got a clash between two of the top five. The Blues enjoyed a 3-0 win at struggling West Ham on Saturday to climb up to third above the Saints who slid to a 2-0 loss at Arsenal. The visitors have the best defence in the Premier League and could frustrate Chelsea but I doubt they'll get more than a draw. (Premier League, Sunday 1 December, 410pm. Ticket info)

3. Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - after a fine start Spurs have started to waver. Three league games without a win culminating in the 6-0 drubbing at Manchester City on Sunday has seen them slip to ninth. However, the table is tight and a win over the Red Devils could launch them back towards the top four. David Moyes' side were looking shaky but a six game unbeaten run has seen them move to within three points of second-placed Liverpool. They'd only be a point behind if they hadn't let in a late equaliser on Sunday at Cardiff meaning some vulnerabilities are still there for Tottenham to exploit. (Premier League, Sunday 1 December, 12pm. Ticket info

4. West Ham United v Fulham - after another weekend of poor results for both sides this game has become even more crucial than it already was. If you haven't kept across it, both teams are at the wrong end of the table with only goal difference keeping the Hammers ahead of Fulham and out of the bottom three. The form guide suggests a home win is more likely as Sam Allardyce's team have drawn two of their last five while the Cottagers have lost four in the same period. The west Londoners have also gone eight league games without a win at Upton Park so the omens don't look good for them. (Premier League, Saturday 30 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town - this game could interest the football history fans among you as it's taking place on the day the Addicks mark the 21st anniversary of their return to The Valley. I'm not sure if they've got anything special planned but I'd be surprised if they didn't. On the pitch neither club are doing hugely well with the hosts currently just above the relegation zone. If you've got kids you can get into the family stand for a reduced price of £15 or if you're lucky enough to know a 'Valley Gold' member you can get in for a tenner. (Championship, Saturday 30 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Brentford v Peterborough United - a few lousy results in September and October had started to instill doubt among the Bees faithful but five straight wins and a draw at second-placed Wolves has put them right back in contention. The Posh pay a visit to Griffin Park on Tuesday night for what should be another testing fixture. I say that given their early season form - until recently they were neck-and-neck with leaders Leyton Orient but suddenly it's all come crashing down and they've lost four in a row. If Brentford win they'll go above them. (League One, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. AFC Wimbledon v Dagenham & Redbridge - about six miles to the south on the same night we have a derby game in League Two. As mentioned above, it's 'We Are Wimbledon Night' so the Dons have cut all adult tickets to £10. Not only are they both London clubs but they're also really close together in the table with only a point separating them in tenth and ninth respectively. A win for either could lift them into the play-off places so there's plenty at stake. (League Two, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

8. Dartford v Barnet - it's derby time too over at Princes Park in the Conference. In London terms these two aren't near neighbours but for a national division they certainly are. Dartford got promoted to this division last year and did really well to finish eighth with many believing they'd punched above their weight. Sadly it seems to be a case of 'second-season syndrome' this time round with only five wins from 21 leaving them in the relegation zone. Although Barnet were a League Two side last season and have a fully professional squad, they haven't found their return to non league that easy going and have been desperately inconsistent. They should have too much for Dartford but are equally just the sort of side that the strugglers could kick start their season against. (Conference Premier, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Wealdstone v Harrow Borough - one non-league derby which does generate a bit of rivalry is this one over in Ruislip. The Stones were originally based right in the centre of Harrow but they sold their ground, suffered a nomadic existence for a few years and then settled over in Ruislip. They were also the best non-league team in the country back in the '80s and although they are only a shadow of that great side they still play competitive football and have a strong fan base. Boro have always lived in their shadow and will start this game as underdogs again. However, Harrow are doing quite well by their standards and are unbeaten in six away from home so it could be a bit closer than usual. (Isthmian League Cup, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

10. Walton Casuals v Leatherhead - we finish this week with another big Tuesday night game as second play third in the Isthmian League Division 1 South. Walton were top but a very rough patch in recent weeks has seen Hastings move ahead on goal difference with two games in hand. They did, however, get back to winning ways on Saturday and will need to be at their best against the Tanners who are in great shape having not lost in five. (Isthmian League Division 1 South, Tuesday 26 November, 745pm. Club info

If you have any questions or want advice about watching football in London, you can contact TLFG using the comments section below or via FacebookTwitter or email.

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