Sunday, 11 December 2016

TLFG: 12-18 December 2016

I don't think I've got a huge amount to write about this week as I've been working every night and haven't had a chance to see any live football.

My teams, QPR and Harrow Borough, both suffered further defeats to leave them going into Christmas in a relegation battle. With Boro that's the norm but for Rangers, their squad and resources should see them nowhere near the bottom three. With back-to-back home games against vastly improved Derby and Aston Villa sides over the next few days, it could get even worse.

More generally, from a London perspective, the Premier League is showing signs of becoming a two-horse race between Arsenal and Chelsea as they both won again while Liverpool, Manchester City and Spurs all dropped points.

In all the divisions of the EFL we have several teams pushing for a play-off place but title challenges look unlikely for most of them.

In non-league, keep on eye on the eighth tier Ryman League Division 1 South where things are really hotting up. Six of the top eight clubs are from the London area and several meet each other this week.

It's late on Sunday night so I'll keep this brief and wrap things up now. Enjoy your week and let me know what you've been up to.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are well over 100 matches in the London area over the next week with action in the Premier League, EFL, National League and several minor league and county cup competitions.

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
Magenta pin - Wednesday fixtures
Black pin - Friday fixtures




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




TLFG DAILY DIGEST
In the following section I list, by day, what are in my opinion the most notable games of the week and give some brief reasons for my choice. Check the maps above for kick-off times, ticket info and directions.

Monday 12 December

Premier League 2 
West Ham United v Swansea City @7pm - it's fourth versus the leaders in this PL2 Division 2 game at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground
Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion @7pm - the Cottagers are just ahead of West Ham and will need to win to make sure of their place in the top three of this U23 competition

Ryman League Division 1 South
Carshalton Athletic v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - the promotion race in this division is really hotting up with these two south London rivals very much in contention

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Tuesday 13 December

Championship
Fulham v Rotherham United @745pm - the hosts are London's main contenders in this division at the moment with a win here against the division's bottom club possibly putting them in the top six

FA Trophy First Round Replay
Wingate & Finchley v Wealdstone @745pm - Ryman League Wingate did well to salvage a late 2-2 draw against the Stones on Saturday. Will they make the most of home advantage and cause a cupset in the replay?

Ryman League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Lowestoft Town @745pm - after a slow start, these two regular promotion contenders are right back in it. Now both in the top seven, a win would really bolster their credentials

London Senior Cup First Round
Clapton v Greenwich Borough @745pm - the Tons are up in the top four of the Essex Senior League while Greenwich are in the top four at the level above. The Old Spotted Dog could be a leveller, especially if the Clapton Ultras return to the stands after their boycott but it's looking doubtful at the moment


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Wednesday 14 December

Premier League

Crystal Palace v Manchester United @8pm - there's a big night of top-flight action on Wednesday with this probably the pick of the games as teams needing points at either end of the table do battle. Stat attack - this game sees the highest scorers in the bottom six (Palace with 27) take on the lowest scorers in the top six (Man Utd with 20)
Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City @8pm - Spurs have suffered only two defeats in their last 10 league games and put five past Swansea last week. A struggling Hull side should also be dispatched with relative ease
West Ham United v Burnley @745pm - without a game on Saturday, the Hammers dropped back into the bottom three but they pulled clear again after a fine 2-2 draw at Liverpool on Sunday. Burnley are having a better season than many predicted and could well win here if the Hammers aren't 'on it' from the start

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Derby County @745pm - after suffering a humiliating 1-0 defeat at bottom club Rotherham on Saturday, Ian Holloway's return to the club as manager already appears to be going badly wrong. With three defeats from four games against sides who were all in very poor form, things are looking worrying. The Rams also had a shocking start to the season but with Steve McClaren back in charge they've won six in a row and are force again

Ryman League Division 1 South
Walton Casuals v Godalming Town @745pm - the pick of the night's non-league action gives us the opportunity to run the rule over the Stags who are mounting a bit of a promotion challenge. Despite being without a ground of their own this season, they're right up in seventh and enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win over Tooting & Mitcham on Saturday, a result which knocked the Terrors off top spot. The visitors are having a horror season and should provide another three points 

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Friday 16 December

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers @7pm - end the working week with a bit of U18 football up at Boreham Wood's ground. If that's not handy, Fulham play Mansfield Town in the same competition at the club's Motspur Park training ground

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Saturday 17 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Chelsea @1230pm - the Eagles end a tough week of games with this derby against the Blues who could well be league leaders by the time kick-off comes round. On paper Palace should lose but they have managed a couple of wins over Chelsea in recent years including a 2-1 triumph at Stamford Bridge last season
West Ham United v Hull City @3pm - back-to-back home games against Burnley and Hull could make or break the Hammers' and particularly boss Slaven Bilic's season. Both games must really be won, four points would be acceptable but much less than that could be terminal

Championship
Fulham v Derby County @3pm - depending on how things go in midweek, this could be a really entertaining game. The Cottagers have bagged nine goals in their last two games and should see off Rotherham. Derby, as mentioned above, are on a hot streak built mainly on a solid defence which has seen them concede only two goals in six games

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Port Vale @3pm - the Dons suffered the disappointment of a 1-0 loss at arch rivals MK Dons on Saturday. Given how tight the table is, they dropped down to 10th but a win here against lower midtable opposition could put them right back up there
Charlton Athletic v Peterborough United @3pm - two sides with a good shot at the play-offs meet at The Valley in the day's other third tier game

League Two
Barnet v Stevenage @3pm - the Bees played their first game following the departure of manager Martin Allen on Saturday. Interim boss Rossi Eames, a 31-year-old coach who has never played pro football, took charge and masterminded a 1-0 win over Yeovil to keep the north London club firmly in the hunt for a play-off place. This match, against opponents from Hertfordshire, is effectively a derby too

National League
Boreham Wood v Barrow @3pm - the Wood welcome team of the moment Barrow who are currently on a spectacular 23-game unbeaten run which has taken them to fifth in the league and earned them a place in the third round of the FA Cup. The sides drew 1-1 in Cumbria earlier in the season

National League South
Hampton & Richmond Borough v St Albans City @3pm - the game of the day in the NLS pits fifth against second. I went to the reverse fixture on Non-League Day and it produced an entertaining 4-2 win for Hampton but it's City who have been on the up since

Ryman League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Tonbridge Angels @3pm - in the division below we have another heavyweight contest to look forward to. Dulwich are fourth and even though Tonbridge are back in eighth they've got between three and five games in hand on most of the clubs above them so should be there or thereabouts by the end of the season

Ryman League Division 1 South
Corinthian Casuals v Greenwich Borough @3pm - there are lots of big games in this division this week with many of the top six in action against each other. At the time of writing this is fifth against third
Carshalton Athletic v Hythe Town @3pm - a little further to the east, we've got fourth versus sixth so take your pick!

Essex Senior League
Clapton v Takeley @3pm - a top four clash at the Old Spotted Dog. As mentioned above, the Clapton Ultras are in dispute with the club over a sudden rise in admission prices so have been boycotting games so the atmosphere might not be as lively as normal
Barkingside v FC Romania @3pm - it's possible a few of them might make the short trip to Ilford to support Barkingside's 'Game for the Homeless' as they throw open the doors to local people who find themselves without accommodation. They'll also be collecting money, food and clothes to benefit such people so don't go empty handed

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Sunday 18 December

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley @4pm - Spurs host the Clarets knowing a win could take them back into the top four, if midweek results go their way

Championship
Queens Park Rangers v Aston Villa @12pm - if you've got tickets to the above you could very conceivably combine it with this game and catch two games in a day. QPR are struggling at the moment while Villa are a much improved side under new boss Steve Bruce and are climbing the table steadily

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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. 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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