Sunday, 21 September 2014

TLFG: 22-28 September 2014

Hi there one and all and welcome to TLFG.

How's your week been? With Non-League Day (NLD) now well and truly over, it's been nice to have a week doing more mundane things.

Sadly my free Saturday saw me awarded babysitting duties so I had to listen to QPR v Stoke City out of my window, gauging how things were going by the reaction of the crowd.

Aside from Niko Kranjcar's fine late free-kick which earned Rangers a 2-2 draw, I don't think there were a huge amount of positives to come out of the game. Today's results have also been pretty dire, pushing us into the bottom three.

Next up is a trip to in-form Southampton so I'm not expecting too much from that. However, QPR do have a good record at St Mary's where they've won three times and drawn twice since it opened in 2001.

Going back to NLD, I'm pleased to report that a friend of mine who joined me at Dulwich Hamlet a couple of weeks ago was so impressed with what he saw that he went back again on Saturday with his girlfriend so hopefully there have been a few more like him doing the same thing around the country.

In other news, I have a big birthday coming up in November and am hoping to mark it by going to watch some European football. I've been to a few of the big clubs already and am still debating where I want to go and what tickets will be available.

There's usually always some big matches on with the probably the most notable being Paris St Germain v Marseille but tickets for this are very hard to get. Besiktas v Fenerbahce appeals too but I think the game will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium some way out of Istanbul's central area as the hosts' ground is being rebuilt.

There are some massive games in the Champions League as well but matches like Ajax v Barcelona and Bayern Munich v Roma will both see their tickets fall into the goldust category.

A Portuguese twin centre break seeing Benfica one night and Sporting the next and then heading over to Madeira to see Nacional play the Eagles again also appeals but I've been to Lisbon before and seen games at both grounds.

I'd love to go to Moscow too. Here I can do a parkrun on the Saturday morning and then see Dinamo v CSKA or Torpedo v Lokomotiv. Spartak are at home too. However, I find the prospect of going to see football in Russia quite daunting given the very different language and less than brilliant reputation of some of the fans.

If you've got any advice about watching Russian football or recommendations about any other European games in early November then I'd love to hear from you.

Anyway, that's it from me. Don't forget, you can get all the latest ticket information for our local clubs and other big games taking place in the capital on the 'Match Ticket Info' page .

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.

Got any questions about visiting London? Don't hesitate to ask - be they football or more general travel/touristy queries.

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


LATEST TICKET NEWS
Please follow this link or click on the tab at the top of the page for all the information you need about how to get a ticket, what's currently available to non-members at London's biggest clubs and any other special offers or promotions which might be running.


THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days so there's plenty to choose from whatever your budget.

However, 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
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
Red pin - Sunday fixtures


View London match map 22-28 September 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. If I miss one that you think should get a mention then add your own in the comments section below.

TLFG TOP 10

1. Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur - it wasn't hard to identify this as the game of the week in London. The big match on the north side of town is arguably THE derby when it comes to ranking such matches throughout the capital. Although there are geographically closer rivals or even more bitter ones, overall I think this generally shades things. The Gunners usually start as favourites and will do so here given their better start to the season and home advantage. Arsene Wenger's side have won the last four games, in all competitions, against Spurs at the Emirates netting 13 goals in the process. (Premier League, Saturday 27 September, 530pm. Ticket info)

2. Chelsea v Aston Villa - if Villa hadn't lost at home to Arsenal on Saturday, this would've been a clash of the Premier League's top two. However, they did so it will be first against third. As I write this, the Blues have just drawn 1-1 with Manchester City to go three points clear. Jose Mourinho's side saw off other unfancied contenders Swansea last weekend and you'd expect them to do the same here. Interestingly, the head-to-head record between these two is exactly even with 57 wins apiece and 34 draws in all competitions.  (Premier League, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

3. Charlton Athletic v Middlesbrough - the Addicks' draw with Rotherham on Saturday saw them extend their unbeaten league run to eight games. The dropped points saw them pushed out of the play-off places by Boro whose 4-0 drubbing of Brentford was their performance of the season. Aitor Karanka's side have really started to hit form after a rocky start and will be tough to beat. Boro are also becoming a bit of a bogey team for Charlton at The Valley where they have won on the last three occasions. (Championship, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

4. Dagenham & Redbridge v York City - in League Two, London rivals AFC Wimbledon had a dream week recording back-to-back wins over the top two. Although avoiding defeat against Cheltenham, the Daggers are findings things tougher with their winless run now standing at five games. This sequence of results has left them just one point above the relegation zone making this match against fellow strugglers York an important one. Although the Minstermen are tough to beat, with only one defeat this season, they've only managed one win so are right down there too. Last season the hosts won 2-0 so they'll be hoping for more of the same. (League Two, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley - Tuesday is a huge night in the Isthmian League with its top four clubs all in action against each other. Margate and Maidstone, the top two, meet in a huge Kent derby while back in London, third placed Dulwich host fourth placed Wingate. The fact that Maidstone, Margate and Dulwich fill the top three places will surprise no-one but Wingate in fourth after 11 matches with a game in hand is something very few would've predicted. The north London club are one of the smallest in the division attracting a tenth of the support Maidstone do on a good day. Not only this but they also got relegated last season but stayed up courtesy of financial problems at other clubs. Shrewd transfers have transformed W&F into a fine side who should be quite capable of giving a talented Dulwich team, who are going through a rocky patch, a run for their money. (Isthmian League Premier Division, Tuesday 23 September, 745pm. Ticket info)

6. Wealdstone v Concord Rangers - it's FA Cup time again this weekend with the Second Qualifying Round seeing the entry of Conference South clubs. Two such teams meet at Grosvenor Vale. The Stones looked to have finally turned the corner on Tuesday when they got their first win of the season at Whitehawk but sadly their bad form returned on Saturday when they lost 3-0 at home to St Albans City. Gordon Bartlett's side enjoyed a notable run to the FA Trophy semi-final in 2012 and they could do with a good cup run this year to get their season back on track. Like Wingate, Concord are another side who are punching well above their weight and put four past Wealdstone in the league just over a week ago so they'll fancy their chances here. (FA Cup, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

7. Hendon v Leiston - with the top four in the Isthmian League all playing each other on Tuesday, the teams in fifth and sixth, at the time of writing, meet in the FA Cup on Saturday. The Greens are another side who do consistently well on relatively meagre resources. Always seemingly in the hunt for a play-off place despite being without a ground of their own for five years. Gary McCann, in charge since 2005, has done a tremendous job to keep Hendon competitive. Suffolk club Leiston have made a decent start to their campaign but came unstuck at struggling Harrow on Saturday and will hope that Earlsmead, where Hendon also play, won't be unlucky for them again. (FA Cup, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

8. VCD Athletic v Harrow Borough - there's another all Isthmian League affair in this tie too. The Vickers have made spectacular progress over the last two seasons winning back-to-back promotions to move from the Kent League up to the heady heights of the Isthmian League Premier Division. It looks like such progress will halt this season and could even reverse as they've found life at this level tough losing eight of their first 11 games. My beloved Harrow are one of the perennial strugglers of this division but somehow never get relegated. They would've fallen into the drop zone yesterday but managed a shock win over Leiston. VCD have never made it beyond this round of the FA Cup while Harrow seem either go out straight away or achieve First Round glory. It's anyone's!  (FA Cup, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

9. Romford v Kingstonian - this is one of the only ties in London which sees a team from a lower division play host to one of the bigger clubs. Romford have had an unspectacular start to the season and are sitting comfortably enough in the middle of the Isthmian League Division 1 North table. On Saturday they lost 3-1 at home to Aveley in a local derby so they'll really have to raise their game for the visit of the K's. Kingstonian, from the division above, finished second last year and should really be in the Conference South but they lost in the play-offs. This season they should challenge again with their current ninth place the product of them having played two or three games less than most of their rivals. In Isthmian League terms there's a bit of the David versus Goliath about this but this is the FA Cup so anything could happen. (FA Cup, Saturday 27 September, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Thurrock v Aveley - at the same ground a day later we've got this mouthwatering local derby. Only a mile separates these two clubs geographically and only a point separates them in the Isthmian League Division 1 North table with Thurrock third and Aveley fourth. The Fleet have won three on the bounce scoring 11 in the process while the Millers have gone on a staggering run which has seen them win nine in a row in all competitions. With local bragging rights and £4,500 of prize money up for grabs, the stakes are high. (Sunday 28 September, 2pm. Ticket 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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