Sunday, 19 January 2014

TLFG: 20-26 January 2014

Hello there one and all and welcome to this week's TLFG. I hope you're in good form.

What have you been up to? This week I've been helping out with some more London football enquiries from some of TLFG's American readers and also managed to get over to Loftus Road for the first time in a while.

QPR had suffered their biggest blip of the season since my last visit at the start of December but after luckily seeing off Huddersfield on Saturday, they've now won three in a row to get back into the automatic promotion places so things are looking fairly rosy, at least on the surface.

Robert Green lines up his wall as Huddersfield threaten with an early free-kick
I say this because there were a lot of gaps in their defence yesterday. If Huddersfield's forwards hadn't been so inept when it really counted, Rangers would easily have been three or four nil down at half-time. It was strange as everything else the Terriers did, they did well. The only other exception would be their defence's ability to deal with Hoops top scorer Charlie Austin whose two match-winning goals were virtually the only chances he received. 

It was also interesting to note that of QPR's expensively assembled starting XI, the only one without Premier League experience was Austin. In fact he has spent more time in non-league than top-league football and yet he is arguably their most important player.

In case you'd missed it, the transfer window is open for the rest of the month and QPR manager Harry Redknapp is probably more famous than any other boss for doing deals at this point of the season. It's well known that he wants another striker to support Austin - Andy Johnson is a fine partner for him but is so injury prone it's a wonder he hasn't retired so can't be relied on. In my view, a mobile centre-back wouldn't go a miss either so lets see what pans out.

GET INVOLVED
If you're going to see a game, whether you're a local or a visitor, please let me know what you've been up to. 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.


LATEST TICKET NEWS
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

CHELSEA
Saturday 22 February, 1245pm - Chelsea, Premier League (on sale 3 Feb)

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

Saturday 1 February, 3pm - Southampton, Premier League

Wednesday 29 January, 745pm - Manchester City, Premier League
Thursday 27 February, 805pm - FC Dnipro, Europa League (on sale 24 Jan)
Sunday 2 March, 430pm - Cardiff City, Premier League 
Tuesday 21 January, 745pm - Manchester City, League Cup semi-final
Saturday 1 February, 1245pm - Swansea City, Premier League
Tuesday 11 February, 745pm - Norwich City, Premier League
Saturday 22 February, 3pm - Southampton, Premier League (on sale 21 Jan)
Saturday 22 March, 3pm - Manchester United, Premier League
Saturday 5 April, 3pm - Liverpool, Premier League
Saturday 3 May, 3pm - Tottenham Hotspur, Premier League


TICKET DEALS
This week League One leaders Brentford have had their match against Gillingham selected for live TV coverage and had the game moved to Friday 24 January. To encourage a decent turnout, you can stand on the terrace for only £10 while all seats are available for £15.

Watching the big clubs' youth and reserve teams often provides pretty good value.

Three Premier League clubs have their youngsters in action on Monday 20 January, in games which are open to the public, and they have staggered kick-offs meaning you could do a double. Crystal Palace are playing Bristol City at Tooting & Mitcham United's ground at 1pm - £5. In the evening, just to the west, Fulham then host West Ham United at their Motspur Park training ground - £3.

There's also a couple of FA Youth Cup ties too. Also on Monday night, Millwall play Sheffield United at The Den with admission only £5 and on Saturday it's Watford v Norwich City at Vicarage Road with tickets only £3. Details for all of the above are on the match map below.

Looking ahead to next week, on Tuesday 28 January there's another 'We Are Wimbledon' night taking place at Kingsmeadow which means it's only £10 to watch the League Two match between AFC Wimbledon and Hartlepool United.

Hartlepool obviously aren't seen as much of a draw by our local clubs as Dagenham & Redbridge are holding their 'Daggers Against Racism Day' against the Monkey Hangers on Saturday 8 February, cutting seat tickets to just £9.99 and standing to £2.50.

At the end of February, tickets for Tottenham's Europa League tie against FC Dnipro have been reduced to £20 for adults, a significant saving.

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

There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next week so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

With bad weather frequent at the moment, 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).

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


View London match map 20-26 January 2014 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.

TLFG TOP 10
1. Chelsea v Stoke City - for the second weekend in a row the biggest match of the week in London takes place at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. After soundly beating Manchester United, Jose Mourinho's team are looking more and more like serious title contenders with every passing game. This match, however, is an FA Cup fourth round tie and one they should win quite comfortably given that the Potters are much nearer the bottom of the Premier League than the top. The Staffordshire club have also lost on their last six visits although they did beat the Blues at the Britannia Stadium last month. (FA Cup, Sunday 26 January, 330pm. Ticket info)

2. West Ham United v Manchester City - under normal circumstances this would have been match of the week as it's a League Cup semi-final second leg. Usually there should be loads to play for and a tense night of thrilling cup football to look forward to but nothing looks more unlikely thanks to City crushing the Hammers 6-0 in the first leg. Given that both have greater Premier League priorities it's hard to know what kind of teams the two managers will field. Even if it's two reserve XI's, the visitors shouldn't have too many problems. (League Cup semi-final second leg, Tuesday 21 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

3. Brentford v Gillingham - with it being an FA Cup week all our Championship sides have either been drawn away or knocked out meaning we next focus on a League One match. The Bees are one of the country's most in-form teams but they lost top spot on Saturday after only managing a draw at Walsall. They will return to the summit if they win this localish derby against Kent club Gillingham on Friday night. The Gills are midtable at the moment and don't appear to be going anywhere so will start as second favourites but they did draw with Brentford back in August. As mentioned above, tickets for this match have been significantly discounted. (League One, Friday 24 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

4. Dartford v Cambridge United - regular readers will know that the Darts are having a terrible time at the moment. Their last league win was exactly three months ago when they scraped a 4-3 victory over Hyde who are the worst team in the Conference Premier by some distance. They raised their game to record a 1-1 draw at big local rivals Welling recently but got back to losing ways on Saturday. It's unlikely to get any better this weekend when title chasing Cambridge come to town. The U's have topped the division already this season and will go top again if they win their games in hand over current leaders Luton. See this match if you want to see potential champions or one of the upsets of the season. (Conference Premier, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Bromley v Hayes & Yeading United - the Lilywhites have surprised many with their table-topping antics but they're still going strong after a 2-1 weekend win at Bath City. Although their 11-point lead is considerable, second placed Eastleigh have four games in hand so could still usurp them. In other words, the Kent club can't rest on their laurels just yet. Former Conference Premier club Hayes are on a stinker of a run at the moment, losing their last three meaning they're stuck in midtable. Bromley beat them 2-0 on the opening day and a similar result looks likely here. Fact - Hayes are managed by former Liverpool player Phil Babb. (Conference South, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Wealdstone v Bury Town - we've got a top-eight clash in the Isthmian League on Saturday. The Stones have suffered defeats and postponements in the last couple of weeks which have led to them relinquishing top spot to Kingstonian. The K's will move six points ahead of them if they beat Met Police on Monday so a win here will be very important for Gordon Bartlett's side, at least psychologically. Suffolk side Bury always seem to be involved in the race for a play-off place but until recently it looked a bit beyond them this year. However, they appear to be coming up on the rails and haven't lost a game in any competition since November. A very tricky game for Wealdstone. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Thurrock v Heybridge Swifts
 - there's top-six football too in the Isthmian League Division 1 North. Only one point separates these two but Thurrock are in superior form being unbeaten in six. Swifts were right up there with leaders VCD Athletic earlier in the season and did beat them but have wobbled a bit recently as other sides have caught up. The hosts also seem to know how to undo Heybridge having thrashed them 5-0 in October. (Isthmian League Division 1 North, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. Northwood v Uxbridge - our local representatives in Southern League have been a bit of a let down this season with the exception of Northwood who could move into the play-off places with a win in this swiftly re-arranged local derby (it was postponed on Saturday). They are in better form than the Reds but got thumped 5-1 in the reverse fixture back in September so it could be close. (Southern League Division 1 Central, Tuesday 21 January, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Hanwell Town v Ashford United - Saturday also saw the postponement of the two FA Vase fourth round ties being played in London. They have both been moved to this Saturday instead. This is one of the ties of the round as it pits two of the best sides from parallel leagues against each other for a place in the last 16. Hanwell are currently third in the Spartan South Midlands League but would be 11 points clear at the top if they won their games in hand. Kent club Ashford, on the other hand, are one of the leading lights in the Southern Counties East League so it should be quite a contest. (FA Vase, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. Club info)

10. Hanworth Villa v Eastbourne United - the other tie is at Rectory Meadow, also on the west side of town. This match isn't quite as eye-catching as the one above as it's between a midtable Combined Counties League side and Eastbourne who are currently top of their division but from a level below. Given the visitors' decent season, there could be a cupset on the cards. (FA Vase, Saturday 25 January, 3pm. 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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