Sunday, 21 January 2018

TLFG: 22-28 January 2018

Welcome one and all to this week's guide.

As usual there's plenty going on but at the top end, very few of our local Premier League or Championship teams are playing at home because of the next round of the FA Cup.

However, don't let that put you off as several of the ones that are in town are offering cheaper tickets than normal (Chelsea in particular) and there are a few other great deals around too.

For me, the most eye-catching prices are to be found at Dagenham & Redbridge who are hosting their annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day'. 

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Tickets for the National League match against Solihull Moors are just £2.50 if you want to stand or £9.99 if you'd prefer a seat. They're even cheaper for concessions and kids - however, you must buy them in advance to get those prices.

The club deserve a lot of credit for putting on this event in area which (in)famously elected 12 BNP councillors back in 2006 to make them the official opposition to the Labour Party. There was also some minor disorder at a previous anti-racism game back in 2012 but that, thankfully, that doesn't seem to have been repeated.

Looking ahead a couple of months, if the England v Italy game at Wembley isn't for you then you might prefer another international friendly which was announced this week (thanks a lot to TLFG reader Colin W for the tip-off).

Don't forget - prices increase on the day so BOOK NOW!

It has been the custom for many years now for Australia to play mid-season friendlies in London as most of their players are based in Europe and there's a large community of supporters based in the capital.

They started off using QPR's Loftus Road but now more frequently use Fulham's Craven Cottage which is where they'll be entertaining fellow World Cup qualifiers Colombia on 27 March at 8pm. Tickets go on sale for £25 on 29 January.

I'm a bit of a sucker for games like this and last went to the Nigeria v Senegal game at Barnet's ground back in March. It's quite possible other friendlies could be announced in London before the World Cup so let me know if you hear of anything.

Despite another hectic work schedule, I can actually say that I've got a game booked for this Saturday with my ticket already purchased for QPR's away game at Bristol City.

The main reason I'm going is to visit family and friends but thought I might as well look in on this too while I'm down there.

I've been to Ashton Gate quite a few times over the years but it's been a while and the ground has been developed a lot so it'll be interesting to see what it's like. Hopefully City will still be feeling the effects of their midweek EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City otherwise we could be in for a hiding!

THE WEEK AHEAD
There are over 80 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include an EFL Cup Semi-Final and the next round of the FA Cup.

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
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 22 January

Premier League Cup
Watford v Southampton @7pm - a decent looking U23 game being played at Wealdstone's ground in Ruislip gets the week underway. Tickets for adults are only £5 so it's pretty good value too

Bostik League North Division
Haringey Borough v Potters Bar Town @745pm - the best of the day's non-league action should be found at Coles Park where the clubs in seventh and sixth meet for a chance to break into the top five

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Tuesday 23 January

EFL Trophy Quarter-Final
Chelsea U21 v Oxford United @730pm - if you didn't already know, this competition pits U21 sides from a selection of Premier League and Championship clubs against first team squads from clubs in League One and League Two in an attempt to give the best youngsters the chance of some 'proper' football against some hardened pros. The concept hasn't really been embraced by anyone involved, particularly the lower league clubs and their fans, and crowds have been poor as a result. The best thing about this match is that it will give you the chance to see a match at Stamford Bridge for just £5

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Bayern Munich @7pm - if you want to take a look at some of the best up and coming talent in Europe then you'll probably do much better to make your way up to Boreham Wood to watch this U23 match - as always, check with Arsenal before you travel to make sure of all the details

Bostik League Premier Division
Dulwich Hamlet v Wingate & Finchley @745pm - Gavin Rose's side suffered an unexpected loss at home to Merstham on Saturday as they failed to take the opportunity to extend their lead over Billericay who had their game called off. Their five-point lead at the top looks good until you notice their Essex rivals have a whopping seven games in hand and it looks even more flimsy when you also bear in mind Glenn Tamplin's team have only lost one league game all season. On paper, Wingate are a better side than Merstham so could make life hard again

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Barking @745pm - the Urchins' four-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow promotion hopefuls Dereham. On Tuesday the leaders next welcome local rivals Barking who are also in with a chance of going up

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Bedfont Sports v Westfield @745pm - one of the games of the week at non-league level sees the top two in the CCL battle for supremacy. The visitors have been top for ages and seemed to be coasting to the title. However, with three of their last six games getting postponed, Bedfont have won eight of their last 10 to draw level. Although Westfield have far superior goal difference and four games in hand, it's made the title race interesting again and if the hosts win who knows what might happen?
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Wednesday 24 January

EFL Cup Semi-Final second leg
Arsenal v Chelsea @8pm - the match of the week is this big London derby where a place in a Wembley cup final is up for grabs. After the first leg ended goalless, the Gunners should start as marginal favourites. Both sides enjoyed emphatic victories in the league on Saturday but given this is Arsenal's only realistic chance of silverware this season, you'd hope Arsene Wenger will pick a full-strength side

Spartan South Midlands League Division 1
London Lions v Baldock Town @8pm - if you can't get a ticket for the match above, then this one elsewhere in north London could be your next best alternative. Although way down in the 10th tier, this match between two of the division's top three also has plenty riding on it
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Friday 26 January

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Barkingside @745pm - there's not a huge amount riding on this game, although being down in 17th the visitors could do with the points, but it's a game and it should keep you entertained. The ground is a few minutes walk from Mile End Tube station so is pretty easy to get to

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Saturday 27 January

Championship
Brentford v Norwich City @3pm - it's FA Cup Fourth Round which means all our local Premier League clubs are either playing away on or not playing at all on Saturday. As a result, this second-tier game becomes the best one on offer. The Bees, as one of the smallest clubs in the division, are defying all the odds again and pushing for a play-off place. With four wins from five they've moved to within touching distance of the top six - if they win this and results go their way then they'll be in it. Norwich have been inconsistent and are sitting snugly in midtable which will almost certainly be seen as disappointing by their fans. Brentford are winless in three against the Canaries at Griffin Park so they'll want to put that right

FA Cup Fourth Round
Millwall v Rochdale @3pm - given some of the ties that could have come out of the FA's velvet bag of fate, this is possibly one of the most uninspiring possible. With all due respect, a match between a midtable Championship side and one towards the bottom of League One doesn't get the pulse racing (a bit like QPR v MK Dons in the previous round). It also seems ambitious to be charging £15 for a ticket but that's the going rate

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Solihull Moors @3pm - if it's value you're after then the deal of the day is to be found way out east where it's the annual 'Daggers Against Racism Day' and tickets to stand are only £2.50 while seats are just £9.99 - however these prices only apply if you buy in advance. As for the game itself, Dagenham seem to be losing their mojo and have slipped to 10th but the table is tight and a win over a struggling but resurgent Moors side could put them right back among the leading pack
Leyton Orient v Aldershot Town @3pm - a bigger crowd will almost certainly be found at Brisbane Road where two of the biggest clubs in the division do battle. The O's are fighting relegation and with only one loss in five games they seem to be turning things around. The Shots, on the other hand, could go top if they win

National League South
Dartford v Whitehawk @3pm - top plays bottom at Princes Park but the game might not be as one sided as the league table suggests. The visitors are one of the form teams of the division who are showing good signs of recovery after a dreadful start. Still a whopping 12 points adrift of safety, they've got an almost impossible task to avoid the drop but a win here could work wonders

Bostik League Premier Divsion
Hendon v Folkestone Invicta @3pm - two of the top five meet at Silver Jubilee Park for what will hopefully be an entertaining encounter chock full of goals. As two of the division's highest scoring clubs with 60 goals apiece, the clubs produced a five-goal thriller the last time they met back in September
Tooting & Mitcham United v Billericay Town @3pm - a match of big importance at either end of the table as the relegation threatened hosts look to fend off a powerful raiding party from the east

Evo-Stik League East Division
Hayes & Yeading United v AFC Dunstable @3pm - six wins on the trot, culminating in a 9-1 win over Arlesey Town on Saturday, have powered United to fourth in the table. Only four points behind third placed AFC Dunstable and with two games in hand, a crack at the title is still very much on the cards if they win here

FA Women's Super League 2
London Bees v Watford @2pm - with many of the local men's pro clubs away from home or without a game, the hosts will be hoping for a decent turnout for this derby match being played at The Hive which is close to Canons Park Tube station. Tickets for the match are also only £4
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Sunday 28 January

FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Newcastle United @130pm - one of the best ties of the round is being held over until Sunday lunchtime. Tickets for the all-Premier League match-up are also on sale to non-members at a flat rate of £30 so fill your boots as there probably won't be many other opportunities this season

FA Women's Super League 1

Chelsea v Everton @1230pm - in an unfortunate bit of scheduling, the best of the day's women's action is taking place at Kingsmeadow where the Blues host the struggling Toffees knowing a win could put them top


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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