Monday, 11 December 2017

TLFG: 11-17 December 2017

In last week's blog I made mention of the Conifa World Football Cup which is coming to London at the end of May.

It seemed to spark real interest among you dear readers so I'll keep bringing it up as we get nearer to the event.

The organisers revealed the seedings this week with Barawa, Abkhazia, Panjab and Padania in the top pot. Local favourites must be Ellan Vannin (more commonly known as the Isle of Man) but they are only in Pot 3 so presumably face an uphill task if they are to win.

Next month we'll get to see which venues are being used and when the tickets are going on sale so watch this space for more news.

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Having been on late shifts all week I haven't had the chance to see any games but I've got a couple of days off coming up so that could change.

I know a few of you did make it to matches and one of those was Anders H from Norway who enjoyed watching QPR's demise from the away end as Leeds picked up a pretty comfortably three points at Loftus Road. He also very generously donated to TLFG's coffee-drinking fund this week. As ever, I really appreciate this so many thanks again.

It's late and I haven't got anything I really want to add so enjoy your week and let's hope the weather doesn't see too many matches postponed.

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big  derbies in the Premier League and the next round of the FA Trophy.

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.
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.

MIDWEEK MATCH MAP
Monday fixtures - yellow pin
Tuesday fixtures - green pin
Wednesday fixtures - magenta pin
Thursday fixtures - purple pin
Friday fixtures - black pin



WEEKEND MATCH MAP
Saturday fixtures - blue pin
Sunday fixtures - orange pin




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 11 December

Premier League 2
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur @7pm - there are a few U23 games on Monday but this is far and away the best one on offer. The Hammers' youngsters are second only to Arsenal in London at the present time so should have the edge here

Bostik League South Division
Carshalton Athletic v Lewes @745pm - one of the matches of the week at non-league level sees third placed Carshalton host the current leaders. The Robins have a 3G pitch so it should survive the bad weather

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Tuesday 12 December

Premier League
Crystal Palace v Watford @8pm - another full midweek programme of Premier League games gets underway with this derby at Selhurst Park. Despite returning to the bottom of the table on Saturday, Palace extended their unbeaten run to five games as they drew with Bournemouth. Watford are having a much better season but haven't won in three and can definitely be beaten

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Queens Park Rangers v Charlton Athletic @7pm - fancy seeing a game at Loftus Road for only £3? This is your chance as the U18s take centre stage. Tickets should be bought from the box office and will not be for sale on the gate

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Barking @745pm - two of the division's top five meet at Bridge Avenue for an east London derby

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Great Wakering Rovers @745pm - things are looking good for the Motormen. With nine wins from their last 10, they currently top the ESL. However, despite the good run it's still tight at the top with only six points between the top five. Great Wakering are fifth and have a game in hand so this game is important for both

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Wednesday 13 December

Premier League
West Ham United v Arsenal @8pm - the match of the week in my opinion should be this derby at the London Stadium. Things were looking pretty bleak for David Moyes' men going into the weekend but they pulled off a shock win over Chelsea. Arsenal are no better than the Blues so won't be able to take anything for granted. Unbelievably, tickets still appear to be on general sale to non-members
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion @8pm - across town at the same time, Spurs welcome the Seagulls to Wembley for what is also a bit of derby given Brighton's close proximity to London. Tottenham thrashed Stoke on Saturday while Brighton came unstuck at Huddersfield so the hosts should start as strong favourites

FA Youth Cup Third Round
Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday @7pm - the Gunners' youngsters entertain the Owls at Boreham Wood's ground in a match they should win

Bostik League South Division
Cray Wanderers v Sittingbourne @745pm - if you'd rather see a non-league game, I believe this one is possibly the best on offer. Playing at Bromley's ground, Cray are well in the hunt for promotion and could move up to second if results go their way
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Thursday 14 December

Friendly
Brentford B v Wolverhampton Wanderers U23 @12pm - I'm not aware of any other games on Thursday and this one at the Bees' training ground might not even be open to the public so please check before you travel 

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Friday 15 December

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Derby County @7pm - U23 football tops the bill again on Friday as the title-chasing Gunners entertain the Rams. Currently second in the table, they're still a whopping eight points behind leaders Liverpool so must win this one

FA Youth Cup Third Round
West Ham United v Blackpool @7pm - there's also some U18 action to be enjoyed at Dagenham & Redbridge's ground where it's just £3 to get in

Bostik League North Division
Aveley v Hertford Town @745pm - there's also a non-league option at Aveley's fine Parkside ground but neither side are having a stunning campaign so there's not a huge amount riding on it
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Saturday 16 December

Premier League
Arsenal v Newcastle United @3pm - with attendances of well over 50,000 these are two of the biggest clubs in the Premier League but that's where the similarities end. The Gunners are, as always, in the hunt for honours in several competitions as we approach Christmas. Newcastle, however, are starting to lose form in worrying fashion. Winless in seven, they're just two points above the relegation zone
Chelsea v Southampton @3pm - after suffering a shock reverse at West Ham on Saturday, the Blues will want to put things right against Huddersfield in midweek. With that out of the way, Chelsea will then welcome Southampton. A glance at the records shows the hosts have only won one of the last three against the Saints at Stamford Bridge so it could be pretty tricky too
Watford v Huddersfield Town @3pm - not many would've predicted these two would be ninth and 12th in the table at this stage but that's exactly what they are. A midweek win for the Terriers could even propel them into the top 10

Championship
Brentford v Barnsley @3pm - with both sides in the lower half of the table there's not a huge amount to recommend about this and as a result the Bees have cut ticket prices. However, with adult tickets still costing at least £20 it's not exactly the deal of the century
Millwall v Middlesbrough @3pm - the other Championship option is probably a better one for the neutral as the Lions entertain promotion-chasing Boro for a 'Category A' match at the New Den

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Wigan Athletic @3pm - after enjoying a morale-boosting win over Charlton in the FA Cup last weekend, the Dons must now face leaders Wigan. Really struggling for points at the wrong end of the table, Wimbledon badly need to win a league game soon

League Two
Barnet v Morecambe @3pm - if things look bad for Wimbledon they're far worse for Barnet. Three points adrift at the bottom of the EFL after losing the crucial match against fellow strugglers Chestefield on Saturday, Mark McGhee's side have another important game against a side just a few points above them

FA Trophy First Round - my focus this week for the fifth to eighth tiers will be this national knockout cup competition for sides at those levels which has its final at Wembley. With the qualifying rounds out of the way, the National League sides enter the draw and things start to really hot up. The winner of each tie receives £6,000
Sutton United v Truro City @3pm - currently second in the National League, Sutton should be one of the favourites to win this competition. A lot will depend on whether they want to concentrate more on the league than this cup. Whatever they decide, this game probably won't be easy as their Cornish opponents are title contenders in the division below and gave Charlton a decent game in the First Round of the FA Cup
Dartford v Boreham Wood @3pm - in almost a reversal of the match above, the leaders of the National League South (NLS) welcome the team from seventh in the division above. Not only are the Wood doing well in the league, they also made it to the Second Round of the FA Cup and might well be up for another cup run here
Hampton & Richmond Borough v Heybridge Swifts @3pm - as joint leaders of the NLS, Hampton should start as overwhelming favourites against a side from two divisions below them. However, Heybridge have been excellent this season and because of their cup exploits they've only played 11 league games (others in the Bostik North have played 23!) and are still comfortably in midtable
Wealdstone v Wingate & Finchley @3pm - former rivals in the then Ryman League, Wingate used to pull off the odd shock result against the Stones. One of the smallest clubs in the seventh tier, W&F continue to punch above their weight and Wealdstone will need to be careful
Hendon v Bath City @3pm - I can't quite put my finger on why but this tie really appeals to me. The Greens play within sight of Wembley so it would be great if they could somehow get close to the final. However, Bath should provide a really stiff test. Hailing from the division above, they made the semi-finals in 2015 and a play-off spot in the NLS is also well within their grasp this year
Haringey Borough v Leyton Orient @3pm - saving the best for last we have arguably the tie of the round. This time last year, very few people would've thought these two would be meeting in a competitive game but that is how fate has conspired. A real David v Goliath tie, this has everything. Playing in the eighth tier, Haringey are one of the lowest-ranked teams left in the competition. Less than four years ago, the O's were a penalty shoot-out away from a place in the Championship but off-field drama has seen them plummet down the pyramid and they find themselves heading to White Hart Lane for what I believe is their first ever FA Trophy tie. You are advised to buy in advance if you can as a sell out is possible - contact the club for the latest situation

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont Sports v Sutton Common Rovers @3pm - at the time of writing this is second against third. Midweek results could change things but it's still going to feature a couple of the division's heavy hitters whatever happens

Combined Counties League Division 1
Cobham v Worcester Park @3pm - the hosts in third badly need a win over the visiting divisional leaders if they are to have any chance of mounting a title challenge

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
Harefield United v Southall @3pm - I've highlighted this as it gives you the chance to have a look at Southall. Usually one of our local clubs, Southall dropped off TLFG's radar earlier in the season when their groundshare with Hayes & Yeading fell through and they had to move outside London to share with Burnham instead. Despite playing 10th tier football 12 miles from their supporter base, the team have excelled and currently top the division after stringing together a 17-game unbeaten run. They're also averaging nearly four goals a game so Harefield face a very tough afternoon indeed
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Sunday 17 December

FA Women's Premier League Southern
West Ham United v Portsmouth @2pm - the only match I know of in the London area on Sunday is this midtable women's game at West Ham's Rush Green training facility

UPDATE (16/12/17): There are now also FA Women's Super League Cup games taking place at Arsenal and Chelsea on Sunday - see match map for full details

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 in the London area for this blog then get in touch. I also very much welcome photos of your football travels.

NEED HELP?
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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