Monday 5 February 2018

TLFG: 5-11 February 2018

For most people the focus this week has been domestic football but not for me.

My sights have been more on upcoming international events and how this blog will cover them.

No sooner had I published last week's piece than one regular reader tipped me off that there could be yet another friendly taking place in London in the last week of March.

At the moment it's still to be confirmed but it's set to be another Africa v Europe clash so I'll let you know if I hear any more.

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Aside from that, Conifa announced who will be playing in the opening group games of the World Football Cup and where.

National League side Sutton United will play host to the opening two games on 31 May as Ellan Vannin (aka the Isle of Man) take on Cascadia (which is basically the area of North America around Seattle and Vancouver) before Padania (northern Italy) face Matabeleland (western Zimbabwe) later in the day.

Tickets go on sale on Monday and will cost from £10 - presumably for a doubleheader but that will need confirmation.

As I understand it, the next host venue and set of fixtures will be announced on Tuesday. 

Aside from some great results for a few of our local Premier League and EFL sides this weekend it was also a big few days in FA Trophy and FA Vase. 

Sadly we don't have any local interest in the Vase but I'm pleased to say that Leyton Orient and Wealdstone both made it through to the quarter-finals. Bromley might also join them but they have to get through a replay with Workington on Tuesday first.

Don't forget that tickets for Non-League Finals Day at Wembley on 20 May where the finals of both these competitions are played back-to-back are on sale now.

Regular readers might remember a couple of weeks ago this blog featured coverage of a match at the small stadium next to West Ham's ground which drew in quite a few groundhoppers.

I'm pleased to report that as of next season, Essex Senior League side Hackney Wick will be moving there so there'll be plenty more chances to pay it a visit.

Lastly, a very big thanks to Simon K from London who became the latest person to donate to TLFG's coffee drinking fund - it's hugely appreciated and keeps me going so cheers!

There are over 90 matches in the London area over the next seven days. The highlights include some big derbies in the Premier League and some huge matches in the National League.

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.

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 5 February

Premier League
Watford v Chelsea @8pm - the week gets underway with a derby at Vicarage Road. The Hornets are badly out of form at the moment and need to get something from this game. Chelsea come into this match on the back of their humbling 3-0 defeat by Bournemouth so boss Antonio Conte will be looking for a strong response

Premier League 2
Arsenal v Everton @7pm - there are a number of U23 games on Monday but this game between two of the top five sides in the country is the standout fixture. The match is being played at Boreham Wood's ground - as with all youth fixtures, please make sure you check all the details before you travel as venues and kick-off times can change at short notice

Essex Senior League
Tower Hamlets v Basildon United @745pm - the best non-league option is to be found at the Mile End Stadium where the hosts welcome the title-chasing Bees


Tuesday 6 February

FA Trophy Third Round Replay
Bromley v Workington AFC @745pm - with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs, a trip to Wembley in getting close for both teams. Although playing two divisions below their opponents, Workington gave a spirited display against Bromley on Saturday but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Whether they have enough to beat them in the replay remains to be seen - the 650-mile round trip on a Tuesday night probably won't help

Bostik League Premier Division
Wingate & Finchley v Tooting & Mitcham United @745pm - with the hosts pushing for a play-off place and the Terrors desperate to avoid the drop, this game is of equal importance at either end of the table

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Dulwich Hamlet v Harrow Borough @745pm - despite being one of the biggest sides in the competition and having won it five times, Dulwich haven't made the final since 2004. Currently the highest ranked side left in the competition, they should start as favourites here. However, they are likely to rest a few players and this would seem to be reflected in the admission price which has been cut to £6 for adults. Harrow are in the same division as Dulwich but are a much smaller club and have never made the final

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Great Wakering Rovers @745pm - the Motormen had another game postponed on Saturday but their nearest rivals failed to take advantage. Great Wakering won at Sporting Bengal to stay fourth but crucially they closed the gap on the leading trio. With a game in hand as well, a win here could put them firmly in contention


Wednesday 7 February

FA Cup Fourth Round Replay
Tottenham Hotspur v Newport County @745pm - Spurs should have seen off their League Two opponents at the first attempt but could only manage a 1-1 draw last weekend. Given the Premier League title is beyond them then I'd hope they'll go for it this time and make sure of their place in the next round. Tickets for this match are also only £10 or £15 depending on where you sit

Bostik League South Division
Thamesmead Town v VCD Athletic @745pm - both sides are in midtable so there's not a huge amount riding on it but with the pressure off, it could be a cracker

London Senior Cup Quarter-Final
Cray Valley PM v Croydon @745pm - CVPM shocked a number of bigger clubs to win the cup last year and continue the defence of their title against a fellow ninth-tier side

Friday 9 February

Millwall v Cardiff City @745pm - get the weekend underway with this intriguing looking match in the second tier as the Lions welcome the Bluebirds from Wales. Although 16 points apart in the table, when it comes to current form these two are neck-and-neck. With two of the fieriest sets of supporters in the division, it could get lively although the Friday night scheduling for TV could well see the attendance hit

Professional Development League
Watford v Coventry City @2pm - earlier in the day we have an U23 game which is currently scheduled to be played at Watford's training ground but check all the details before you travel

Combined Counties League Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v Colliers Wood United @745pm - if neither of the above take your fancy, there's also a decent ninth-tier match between two south London clubs at Gander Green Lane. With leaders Westfield looking increasingly uncatchable, SCR are very much in the race to finish as runners-up


Saturday 10 February

Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal @1230pm - without question the match of the week is this - the second North London Derby of the season. Taking place at Wembley, a huge crowd of 80,000+ is expected for what will hopefully be a great advert for the Premier League. Spurs are really starting to impress at their temporary home with Everton and Manchester United defeated with relative ease in recent games. The Gunners have been shaky this season but with the likes of Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott out and Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan in during the transfer window, the squad has been significantly freshened up. The results were instant with both new signings making their mark during a 5-1 thrashing of Everton on Saturday. Historically Arsenal have dominated the north London football landscape and they won the reverse fixture 2-0 back in November. With three of the last five games ending in a draw, I think we'll get another one here. As a side issue, the early kick-off should make it just about possible to combine this with another game - Barnet and Hendon would seem the best options
West Ham United v Watford @3pm - with tickets all but impossible to get for the match above, there are still quite a few available for this via the Hammers' re-sale site. A derby in its own right too and with both sides fighting to avoid the drop, this should be well worth a watch. As mentioned above, Watford are in terrible form but they did beat West Ham 2-0 earlier in the season so should have some belief in turning things around

Brentford v Preston North End @3pm - sitting just outside the play-off places, PNE are one of the teams the Bees simply have to beat if they are to mount a promotion challenge themselves. Things were looking promising for Dean Smith's side until back-to-back defeats left them eight points behind the top six. However, Brentford have an absolutely superb record against Preston winning eight, drawing one and losing just one of their last 10 games against them (home and away) with the last game at Deepdale ending in a 3-2 win - more of the same please

League One
AFC Wimbledon v Northampton Town @3pm - with three wins and a draw, January was an excellent month for the Dons who started to push away from the bottom four. Sadly, February began with defeat at Rotherham and defeat here to fellow strugglers Northampton could see them slide right back into the bottom four

League Two
Barnet v Notts County @3pm - the appointment of new manager Graham Westley in mid-January halted the run of defeats but the draws with Lincoln and Cheltenham appear to have been but a brief respite for the Bees. On Saturday they lost at Mansfield to stay rooted to the bottom and with promotion chasing Notts County next to visit, it's likely to stay that way

National League
Leyton Orient v Tranmere Rovers @3pm - two of the biggest clubs in non-league football meet at Brisbane Road for a match that could draw a bigger crowd than some of the games in League One. Both sides have seen far better days and it's still a shock to see either playing at this level. The O's made it through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals on Saturday after winning a thriller at Dover and are well on course to make it to Wembley. Tranmere's focus is more on the league which they could easily win - with only six points separating the top eight teams, it's anyone's!
Bromley v Maidstone United @3pm - the hosts are among the title-chasing pack and could edge into the top five if they win here. Although Maidstone will more than likely end up in midtable, they too are one of the biggest sides in the division and there should be a sizeable crowd for this too as it's a Kent derby
Dagenham & Redbridge v Aldershot Town @530pm - an absolute barnstormer of day in the National League concludes with this TV game at Victoria Road where the Daggers welcome another one of the title contenders. Although not a derby as such, Aldershot is close to London so a significant number of away fans should be expected to travel. Also, the late kick-off should enable you to combine this game with one of the earlier kick-offs in the Bostik League at either AFC Hornchurch or Barking

National League South
Dartford v Chelmsford City @3pm - despite intense competition in this division too, the Darts have managed to keep themselves at the top for quite a while now. Although they got stuffed at St Albans on Saturday, nearest rivals Hampton & Richmond also lost to Bath meaning they stayed three points clear. Chelmsford were contenders themselves but a poor run has seen them drop to eighth - they should still be tough opponents though

Bostik League Premier Division
Metropolitan Police v Billericay Town @3pm - the Met earned an excellent point at title-chasing Dulwich on Saturday. The result ensured leaders Billericay, who were playing in the FA Trophy, remained top. The big-spending Essex club are scoring an average of three goals a game this season and will start as overwhelming favourites at Imber Court

Bostik League North Division
AFC Hornchurch v Haringey Borough @3pm - the Urchins took another big stride towards the title with a 3-0 win at Hertford on Saturday. The result leaves them 13 points clear with 13 games to go - mathematically they could still blow it but given their current form it seems highly unlikely. Haringey beat Brentwood 1-0 to keep their place in the top seven and their promotion hopes alive

Essex Senior League
Redbridge v Basildon United @3pm - depending on midweek results these two could be the top two in the league by Saturday. It's possible that a win for Basildon here could see them end the day only a point behind the Motormen


Sunday 11 February

FA Women's Super League 1
Arsenal v Yeovil Town @2pm - currently fourth but miles off title pace, a bit like the men's team, the Gunners welcome the division's bottom club who have lost all seven of their matches this season

A bit further afield
There are several women's games on in London on Sunday but if that's not for you there are a couple of other matches you might want to consider within 70 miles of London. First off in the Premier League there is the big game between Southampton and Liverpool at 430pm. Tickets were still available when I last looked but a previous purchasing history with the Saints was a requirement. A more realistic option is the 1pm kick-off in the Evo-Stik League East Division between AFC Dunstable and Hartley Wintney - both are in the top four so it should be good

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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