Sunday 24 September 2017

TLFG: 25 September - 1 October 2017

With September coming to an end, the leagues TLFG covers are starting to take a meaningful shape.

After a fallow year last time, Chelsea are once again spearheading the charge in the Premier League from a London perspective with Spurs just behind them.

Arsenal are struggling by their usually high standards but it's West Ham and Palace who really have things to worry about.

At this early stage, it's Watford who are the surprise package sitting pretty in sixth despite an absolute thrashing by Manchester City last week.

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In the Championship I'm staggered say that it's QPR who lead the London pack which shows just what a mediocre bunch we have in the second tier. Whilst in League One, Charlton are well up with the play-off contenders but need to arrest a winless run which is starting to look troublesome.

Barnet are all on their own in League Two and they, to borrow a cricket phrase, look unlikely to trouble the scorers in any meaningful way at either end.

Lastly in the National League, a deliciously tight title race is already unfolding with only three points separating the top nine clubs and it's our very own Sutton United who currently lead the way.

One of the highlights of the week ahead is the next round of the FA Cup. 

The Third Qualifying Round sees all remaining teams from Levels 6-10 of the national system battle it out to go in the hat with all the sides from the National League (Level 5) in the final qualifying round before the League One and Two clubs enter in the round after that.

For a number of sides, getting to play one of the big teams from the National League would be prestigious enough as there are many former league clubs including Tranmere Rovers who made the League Cup final back in 2000.

There are a handful of ties to enjoy in London on Saturday so check one out if you get the chance.

There's now less than two weeks to go until this year's Non-League Day
Lastly from me, just a reminder that we're now closing in fast on this year's Non-League Day (NLD). I don't have a huge amount to add, just put it in your diary and visit a game if you can. I'm still undecided as to where I'll be but I'll be somewhere for sure. Use our match finder to see what's on.

We've also launched our new range of NLD t-shirts to go with some of the most popular ones from previous years. If you're a groundhopper then I hope you'll like the theme. With these, the manufacturer will also be donating a percentage of the proceeds to PCUK and grassroots football charity Street League. All the designs can be found towards the bottom of our homepage and several of them can be customised to your club's colours.

Next week I hope to put together a Non-League Day special so you know exactly what's going on in London on 7 October.

There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days as the Premier League and EFL take centre stage. It's also a big week of cup football with the next round FA Cup taking place and a number of other minor cups too.

As always, 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 (orange 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.

This special 'Ronaldo edition' of FIFA18 is released on Tuesday

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.

Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Friday fixtures - black pin

Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin

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 25 September

Premier League
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion @745pm - there can't have been many times, certainly in the Premier League era, when the Baggies have travelled to Arsenal and found themselves above them in the table but that is very much the case after five games. Despite this, I'm sure they'll still be happy to leave with a point as they've only won at the Emirates or Highbury three times over the last 40 years


Tuesday 26 September


Brentford v Derby County @745pm - the Bees have found things tough going in the opening weeks of the season but finally picked up their first win at Bolton on Saturday. The Rams have been models of inconsistency alternating between wins, draws and defeats and sit slightly surprisingly in midtable
Millwall v Reading @745pm - Lions fans must be satisfied with their side's start to life back in the second tier. Although not pulling up any trees, they're holding their own and find themselves above the Royals who were expected to be title contenders

Bostik League Premier Division
Hendon v Staines Town @745pm - while big spending Billericay have made the early running, it's great to see clubs with much more meagre resources also challenging. One of those are Hendon who avoided relegation on the final day of last season and are currently up in fourth. The Swans are locked on level points in fifth so this should be a very well matched contest

Evo-Stik League East Division
Egham Town v Hartley Wintney @745pm - the Sarnies have made the play-offs for the last two seasons and are right up in fourth challenging again. However, newly promoted Hartley Wintney are just above them and have games in hand on the top two as they look likely to push for more honours again


Wednesday 27 September

Bostik League North Division
Grays Athletic v Canvey Island @745pm - these two Essex clubs both suffered relegation last season and it's Canvey who have made much the better start and should be expected to win here
Romford v Cheshunt @745pm - just down the road at Thurrock's ground, we've got an early season 'six-pointer' between two of the division's strugglers


Friday 29 September

Queens Park Rangers v Fulham @745pm - one of the matches of the week comes at Loftus Road where these two old west London rivals meet for the first time this season. QPR narrowly avoided relegation last season while Fulham made the play-offs. Currently they're both in midtable with Rangers just one point ahead. One other point to note, QPR's recent record against Fulham is poor with only two wins in the 12 games since 1999

Premier League Cup
Charlton Athletic v Liverpool @7pm - if you don't fancy splashing the cash for the game above, then how about an U23 game at The Valley for a far more reasonable £5?


Saturday 30 September

Premier League
Chelsea v Manchester City @530pm - top billing this week goes to this clash of the Titans at Stamford Bridge where the reigning champions play host to the current league leaders. Both are scoring for fun at the moment (22 between them from their last three games) and they should serve up a fine contest at tea-time on Saturday
West Ham United v Swansea City @3pm - earlier in the day we have a game between sides with much more to play for at the other end of the table. After a poor start, the Hammers had shown signs of improvement but came unstuck again on Saturday against Spurs despite a spirited fightback. Like them, the Swans have only managed one win this season so this is a must-win game for Slaven Bilic's side

Millwall v Barnsley @3pm - if Premier League football is beyond your budget, then this second-tier game represents your next best option. To be fair, this lower midtable Championship game is hardly mouthwatering but you won't struggle to get a ticket. The last time these two met was in the the 2015/16 League One play-off final which Barnsley won 3-1 so there could be some unfinished business for the Lions' fans

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Rochdale @3pm - much to their disgust, the hosts lost their big match against MK Dons to leave them just above the relegation zone. Rochdale are down there with them so really must be beaten

National League
Bromley v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - the Lilywhites welcome Rovers to Hayes Lane on Saturday for one of their biggest games of the season. Although struggling badly by their standards, former second-tier club Tranmere are one of the best supported sides in non-league football and will bring a sizeable contingent

FA Cup Third Qualifying Round - the country's top cup competition is starting to get serious with the glory of the First Round now just two games away. No new teams enter the draw at this stage which is still regionalised roughly between north and south although a few sides have some very lengthy journeys. The winners of each tie receive £7,500 in prize money. Slightly annoyingly, a couple of ties are still to be confirmed after replays from the previous round were postponed until Tuesday so we'll get the full line-up then
Ashford Town (Middlesex) v Leatherhead @3pm - having notched impressive wins over Wembley, Corinthian Casuals and Marlow, Ashford now face a significant step up in class as Bostik Premier title contenders Leatherhead pay a visit. The Tanners have scored 11 goals in the previous two rounds and should provide formidable opposition
Enfield Town v Phoenix Sports @3pm - after beating west Londoners Harrow Borough and Hanwell Town in the previous two rounds, the hosts next welcome a side from the south-east of town who play in the division below. On paper, this should be a banker for Enfield. TLFG fact - this is the furthest Phoenix have ever gone in the FA Cup so they should be pretty chuffed with their efforts whatever happens
Haringey Borough v TBC @3pm - one of the ties still be confirmed is this one at Coles Park. What we do know is that Haringey will definitely be at home thanks to their stunning win at Welling United in the previous round. They face a visit from either Bodmin Town or Bideford who hail from Cornwall and Devon respectively
Hayes & Yeading United v Havant & Waterlooville @3pm - the last time these two played around 18 months ago they were fighting a relegation battle from the National League South. It was a fight they both lost and went down. Fast forward to today and we see that Havant went straight back up as Ryman League champions while Hayes went down again as a dark period in their history continued. Now finally in their new ground, they're trying to stop the rot and turn things round. This cup match is probably the biggest the SkyEx Stadium has yet hosted and it should be a great occasion

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v Westfield @3pm  - head down to Gander Green Lane if you want to run the rule over the visitors who are taking the CCL by storm this season. Unbeaten in nine games, averaging nearly 4.5 goals a game and six points clear, the Woking-based club are in spectacular form

Essex Senior League
West Essex v Enfield 1893 @3pm - the hosts only debuted at this level last season so to see them top after eight games is quite a surprise. The table is tight and two sides below have games in hand so they'll need to win to keep up with the pace

Sunday 1 October

Premier League
Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion @12pm - aside from a couple of recent meetings in the FA Cup, this will be the first time the clubs have met in a league match since 1983 when the Gunners won 3-1 at Highbury. At the time of writing, the Sussex club are tied on level points with Arsenal after their valuable win over Newcastle on Sunday. Arsene Wenger's side will start as favourites but roared on by 3,000 travelling fans, I'm sure Brighton will give it a good go

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 in 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. I do not charge for this advice like some other sites so don't hold back!

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

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