Sunday, 15 November 2015

TLFG: 16-22 November 2015

With the international break taking place at the moment, it's been a pretty quiet week in London on the footballing front.

Fulham sacked boss Kit Symons last Sunday, meaning QPR and the Cottagers are both currently looking for new managers. According to the bookies, former Leicester City gaffer Nigel Pearson seems to be the leading candidate for both clubs although I'm sure most R's fans would be more than happy to give caretaker Neil Warnock another go after his previous success at the club.

The biggest match this week has to be the international friendly between England and France at Wembley. 

Prior to the terrible events in Paris on Friday night, I would probably have paid little attention to this as international friendlies for the Three Lions have become a pretty drab affair even when the opponents are one of their biggest rivals.

It will be interesting to see how the crowd are affected both in terms of turnout and how and what they sing. Will England take it easy on their opponents? Will France be subdued or will both sides give it a really good go?

I've got a few days off this week and had flirted with the idea of going but decided early last week to go and visit family in Somerset instead. To be honest, I'm glad I don't have a ticket as I think the atmosphere could be a bit uncomfortable but here's hoping I'm wrong.

Interestingly there is also a fans' match between England and France at Bedfont & Feltham on Monday evening at 745pm with admission free to all.

I do, however, plan to take in a bit more Essex Senior League action on Friday night when I take Paul Baaijens, the Dutch author of 'Match Days', to the East End derby between Tower Hamlets and Clapton at Mile End Stadium. Over the last five years I've developed a bit of a soft spot for both sides but have never seen them play each other - it will also be interesting to see what the Ultras get up to at an away match. Maybe see you there.

LATEST TICKET NEWS
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THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 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 on the following match maps. If you've never used them 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 drop down menu at the top of the map page to make sure you get all the information. Games are listed from top to bottom in date order so Monday's games (yellow pin) will appear first and Sunday's (white pin) last. Games are also ranked in terms of status so the higher the division, the higher up the list they will appear on each day.

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).

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Yellow pin - Monday fixtures
Green pin - Tuesday fixtures
Red pin - Wednesday fixtures
Purple pin - Thursday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Blue pin - Saturday fixtures
White pin - Sunday fixtures



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. England v France - this was looking like being another fairly dull Wembley friendly, albeit between two of the world's big teams, until the terrible events of Friday night in Paris. Initial statements gave the impression that this match would be cancelled but after discussions with all the relevant authorities it is going ahead. Although nothing is at stake, it will be a very poignant occasion and it will be interesting to observe the mood of the crowd. Will people be put off from going? Will more tickets get sold? At the moment, there are still some available. From a footballing point of view, England could do with a win. Not only did they lose comfortably to Spain on Friday, they haven't beaten France since 1997 so are well overdue a victory. (International friendly, Tuesday 17 November, 8pm. Ticket info)

2. Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United - with the international break out the way, the Premier League returns at the weekend. On Sunday we have this derby between two clubs looking to force their way into the Champions League places. In recent years Spurs have managed to crack the top-four cartel but West Ham haven't got anywhere near. This season, however, they're both right up there in fifth and sixth just three points behind the elite group at the top. Historically Tottenham have the better record but in recent years wins have been fairly evenly distributed between the two. The fan rivalry is also pretty intense with little love lost on either side. (Premier League, Sunday 22 November, 4pm. Ticket info)

3. Watford v Manchester United - of the teams promoted from the Championship last season, runners-up Watford are faring the best. Sitting comfortably in midtable above much bigger clubs like Aston Villa, Chelsea and Newcastle, things couldn't be going much better. On Saturday they welcome the Red Devils to Vicarage Road for the first time in nine years and unsurprisingly it's a sell out. Although this is far from the strongest Man Utd side to have graced a pitch over the last few years, Louis van Gaal's charges are still more than good enough to win here. The Hornets are also on a nine-game losing streak against the Mancunian club with their last win coming all the way back in 1986 when Graham Taylor was in charge. (Premier League, Saturday 21 November, 1245pm. Ticket info)

4. Chelsea v Norwich City normally this game wouldn't get a listing as the outcome would be a foregone conclusion (Chelsea have won five of the last six meetings at Stamford Bridge, scoring an average of almost four goals a game) but this year anything could happen. On paper, the Blues should win but somehow in late November they find themselves a point and a place below last season's Championship play-off final winners. In fact if results go against them, they could mathematically end the day in the bottom three which would surely be terminal for Jose Mourinho's reign as manager. (Premier League, Saturday 21 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

5. AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe Wanderers - nothing is taking my fancy in the Championship or League One this week so next we have what I would class as a bit of derby between two sides with promotion ambitions in League Two. The Dons have been all about consolidation since promotion from the Conference in 2011 but this year they are well placed for a crack at the top seven being just a point adrift in what is a very congested table. Wycombe suffered the heartbreak of a play-off final penalty shoot-out defeat last season so will hope to go one better this time. They are on level points with the hosts so we should see a pretty even game. The clubs are also managed by Neal Ardley and Gareth Ainsworth who were both part of the Wimbledon squad which last competed in the Premier League back in 2000. (League Two, Saturday 21 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

6. Boreham Wood v Northwich Victoria - the rest of this week's Top 10 will be dedicated to FA competitions as we have games in all three of their main cups - firstly we have this FA Cup replay. The Wood should start this game as overwhelming favourites and it's a little embarrassing that they need a replay at all given they play three divisions above their opponents but it is what it is and that's the beauty of the FA Cup. Northwich, one of the founding members of what is now the National League and former FA Trophy winners, have fallen on hard times over the last few years but currently top the Northern Premier League Division 1 North so have momentum and shouldn't be underestimated. (FA Cup First Round Replay, Monday 16 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

7. Kingstonian v Dorchester Town - in south-west London the same night we have an FA Trophy replay to look forward to. These two seventh-tier clubs produced an entertaining 2-2 draw in the original tie on Saturday so hopefully we'll get a few goals here too. The sides play in the top divisions of the parallel Isthmian and Southern Leagues and are well matched with very similar records so far this season. For both, this competition represents a much more realistic chance of getting to a Wembley final although it would still be a hell of an achievement. The K's, however, do have a glorious history in the competition having enjoyed back-to-back wins in 1999 and 2000. (FA Trophy Second Qualifying Round Replay, Monday 16 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

8. Sutton Common Rovers v Beckenham Town - in the FA Vase we've reached the Second Round which means of the 572 teams who entered, we're down to 128 already. At Gander Green Lane we've got an all south-London affair to enjoy on Friday night. SCR moved back to their home borough at the start of the season to groundshare with the much more famous Sutton United following the laying of their new 3G pitch over the summer. Results in the Combined Counties League have been a little underwhelming so far but they have made progress in the Vase with wins over former landlords Cobham and also Worthing United. Beckenham, from the parallel Southern Counties East League, are doing rather better in the league and could even challenge for the title if they win their games in hand. On paper - away win. (FA Vase Second Round, Friday 20 November, 745pm. Ticket info)

9. Colliers Wood United v Loxwood - not a million miles to the north the following day, CWU take on Sussex club Loxwood from the Southern Combination. As with the Kingstonian game, the sides from parallel leagues have quite similar records although the visitors' is a bit better. Both have netted over 40 goals this season so hopefully there'll be plenty at the Wibbandune on Saturday. (FA Vase Second Round, Saturday 21 November, 3pm. Ticket info)

10. Sporting Bengal United v Sleaford Town - if you're in the East End on Saturday, get yourself over to the Mile End Stadium to see if SBU can make it to the last 64. The Vase is for clubs in the ninth and 10th tiers of the English game meaning these two ninth-tier sides have a reasonable chance of getting through another round or two yet. Sleaford from the United Counties League will start as favourites but SBU have been impressive in the Vase so far, scoring 15 goals in their four previous games. (FA Vase Second Round, Saturday 21 November, 3pm. Club info)


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.

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