Sunday, 24 November 2019

TLFG: 25 November - 1 December 2019

This time last week I had no idea that we'd be welcoming Jose Mourinho back into the Premier League as Tottenham's new boss.

For me, it wasn't a huge surprise that Mauricio Pochettino was fired, Spurs' season has been a huge disappointment, but not many foresaw the appointment of the Portuguese.

In fact most fans and correspondents were staggered or even horrified in some cases.

Despite being probably the most famous and successful Chelsea manager of my lifetime, I have always rather liked him and the persona he brings as part of the package.

Tickets for West Ham's derby against Arsenal are on general sale
Yes he has lost his winning touch in recent years but I'm glad to see him back in the top flight again.

If he gets the results then most people in N17 will no doubt embrace him.

A relatively comfortable win at West Ham got his reign off to the perfect start and very winnable games against Olympiakos and AFC Bournemouth follow which could give him an enjoyable honeymoon period.

With those out of the way, huge games against former clubs Manchester United and Chelsea loom large in December and those could go a long way to defining how successful the 2019/20 season will be for him.

In other news, things continue to look decidedly dodgy for Arsenal and their manager Unai Emery.

Only a 96th-minute goal earned them a 2-2 draw against a poor Southampton side who conceded nine goals against Leicester a few weeks ago.

All in all, bar Spurs, it was a pretty miserable weekend for London's top sides with Chelsea, Crystal Palace, the aforementioned West Ham and Watford all losing.

In the Championship, Fulham won the derby against QPR to go fourth whilst there were also wins for Brentford and Millwall.

AFC Wimbledon got back to winning ways to move three points clear of the relegation zone in League One whilst Leyton Orient lost again to slide to 18th in League Two.

Bromley won the derby at Sutton United to stay level on points with leaders Barrow in the National League to remain as London's top non-league side.

'Two Men In Search...' pay a visit to Kingstonian

I've worked some very unsociable hours this week meaning football attendance has been a non-starter so I've had to follow from afar like many others.

It's been great to hear from those of you who have emailed or messaged me with various questions and observations - thanks as always.

Although I have next weekend off, my wife is going to a hen do so I'm babysitting for a lot of it.

Taking my six-year-old to a game isn't an issue but with a one-year-old also in tow it could be quite a challenge but let me know if you have any suggestions for where I could take them bearing in mind I'll be travelling by public transport and don't want too much walking at either end - this could actually make for quite an interesting feature in itself - 'Groundhop Dad'!

Anyway, that's enough from me - enjoy your football watching.


THE WEEK AHEAD
The highlights of the next few days include a full programme in the Premier League, EFL, National League, FA Cup, Women's Super League and loads of other matches in our local non-league competitions. 

As always, please make sure you check with clubs before you travel just in case a game has been called off or the venue or kick-off time has changed - this is highly possible for some of the lower non-league clubs. 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 25 November

Professional Developement League
As usual, the week gets underway with some U23 action. Sadly it's all happening at club training grounds so check with Crystal Palace and QPR to see what admission policy is in place for their matches on Monday lunchtime. It's usually fine to go along but always check or you could get caught out

CCL Premier Division
Sutton Common Rovers v CB Hounslow United @745pm - the only senior football of the day takes place at Gander Green Lane where the hosts will break into the top three with a win over their struggling opponents
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Tuesday 26 November

Champions League
Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiakos @8pm - after his triumphant start at West Ham on Saturday, new boss Jose Mourinho will go in search of his third Champions League title with Spurs. Their opponents are currently top of the league in Greece but only managed a draw against struggling Panionios on Saturday. In the reciprocal fixture back in September, Tottenham blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 but you'd have to fancy them to win here. Tickets are not on general sale but if you know a member or season-ticket holder they can buy for you

Uefa Youth League
Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiakos @2pm - earlier in the day, the two clubs' U19 teams will do battle at Spurs' training ground. Tickets are free but must be pre-booked on 0344 844 0102, Option 2. They could well be gone by now but give them a call and see

Championship
Fulham v Derby County @745pm - if you can't get a ticket for any of the above, then why not spend the evening on the banks of the Thames at Craven Cottage? Fulham continued their good record of results against QPR with a 2-1 win over their west London rivals on Friday night. The three points lifted them to fourth. After a dodgy start, perennial promotion chasers Derby are now moving back into contention thanks in part to a fine win over Preston on Saturday. It will be quite something if the visitors do win - they haven't picked up a league victory here since 1969! Tickets
Millwall v Wigan Athletic @745pm - with all due respect, this is one of the unsexiest midweek fixtures you could hope to find at any point during the season let alone on what is predicted to be a wet Tuesday in November. To their credit, the Lions have done well since Gary Rowett came in as manager and they're now five points off the play-offs. The Latics, however, have picked up only one point from their last five games and are really struggling for form. Tickets

National League
Dagenham & Redbridge v Sutton United @745pm - the pick of the NL action can be found at Victoria Road where we have a derby to enjoy. The Daggers are slap bang in midtable but are on a very sticky run of four defeats in five. Sutton have had a stinker of a season and unsurprisingly lost Saturday's derby against title challenging Bromley. Peter Taylor's side won at Gander Green Lane in September and should come out on top here

FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round Replays
Dartford v Maidstone United @745pm - after fighting out an entertaining 2-2 draw in front of over 1,200 fans in the original tie on Saturday, these two Kent rivals will have another go at Princes Park on Tuesday. With only three points separating them in the league, it should be close again
Hornchurch v Oxford City @745pm - the Urchins have been having a fine season in the Isthmian League so it wasn't a huge surprise to see them get a draw at NLS also-rans Oxford City. Back on home turf, the Essex club could well have enough about them to progress

Isthmian League Premier Division
Enfield Town v Carshalton Athletic @745pm - talking of the Isthmian League, two of the promotion contenders meet at Donkey Lane on Tuesday. Both sides have games in hand on the clubs above them thanks to their good cup runs, so a win for either could well be significant
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Wednesday 27 November

Championship

Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest @745pm - QPR are currently the only side in the top four divisions in England who have yet to keep a clean sheet. It's all about scoring for Rangers and with their games producing a total of 59 goals (for and against) this season, you shouldn't be short of entertainment. Despite all this action, they're on a pretty sticky run and are now winless in five. The stats would suggest that run could get extended here as Forest are fifth and have won on three of their last five visits. Tickets

Premier League International Cup
Arsenal v Villarreal @7pm - if that's not for you, there's a bit of U23 European action at Boreham Wood where the Gunners' development team take on Spanish opposition

ECL Division 1 South
Lopes Tavares v Hackney Wick @745pm - there's an east London derby in the 10th tier where two clubs in very different form meet at the Terence McMillan Stadium in Newham. The hosts have been top pretty much all season but haven't played a lot of late so their lead is just one point. The Wickers, despite their big media profile, have had a tough season. Having to play their home games in Haringey and with only one win from nine, they're down in the bottom three

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Thursday 28 November

Europa League

Arsenal v Eintracht Frankfurt @8pm - much has been written about the Gunners' struggles in the Premier League this season but in Europe it's been a different story. After four games, Arsenal are unbeaten and top of Group F. When they travelled to Germany to play Frankfurt in September, the north London club won 3-0 but morale has plummeted since then and it could be a different story. Tickets are not available to non-members

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Friday 29 November

Premier League Cup
Fulham v Plymouth Argyle @7pm - get your weekend underway with some U23 action at Fulham's training ground in Motspur Park. Admission details haven't been published yet but it's usually £3 for adults on the gate - check with the club on the day

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Saturday 30 November

Premier League
Chelsea v West Ham United @3pm - the Blues were a little unlucky to lose at Manchester City on Saturday and they face a midweek trip to Spain for a Champions League game before this. On current form there can surely only be one winner here as the Hammers are in trouble and are now only three points above the relegation zone. Tickets are not available to non-members
Tottenham Hotspur v AFC Bournemouth @3pm - if Spurs hadn't changed their manager last week, then you'd have to fancy the Cherries' chances of getting something. However, with Mourinho now in charge it could be very different. Tottenham won with relative ease against West Ham and should beat Olympiakos and you'd expect them to pick up three points here as the players continue to try and impress their new boss. Since joining the Premier League in 2015, Eddie Howe's side have lost all four of their away games against the north London club, scoring none and conceding 13 so the omens don't look good. Tickets are not available to non-members

Championship
Charlton Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday @1230pm - the Addicks are on TV again on Saturday. At the time this was selected it might have looked like a pretty decent game but both sides' form has slipped badly in recent weeks with only one win between them from their last five games. Tickets
Brentford v Luton Town @3pm - after beating local rivals Reading on Saturday, the Bees' next home match sees them take on another club from just outside London. With four wins from five, Brentford are now the Championship's form team so a match against the side in the worst form should yield another three points. With Griffin Park closing at the end of the season, tickets for matches are becoming increasingly hard to get hold of and this one is on restricted sale too

FA Cup Second Round
Kingstonian v AFC Fylde @3pm - with AFC Wimbledon and Leyton Orient already out of the FA Cup, there's only one tie in the London area all weekend and it's the Isthmian League K's who host. After thrashing crisis club Macclesfield in the last round, Kingstonian have drawn a National League side in this round. Lancashire club Fylde made the National League play-off final and won the FA Trophy last season but begun this season poorly. However, with a new manager in charge, their form has improved significantly and should still start as strong favourites. A potential tie against one of the giants of the Premier League awaits the winners so there's a huge amount at stake. Tickets

National League
Bromley v Yeovil Town @3pm - there's a huge game in the fifth tier where two of the top five meet at Hayes Lane. The Ravens are joint top and desperate for a crack at the big time whereas Yeovil are back in non-league football just five years after being a Championship side and are just as desperate to get back in the EFL. The south-east London club have seen a 37% increase in attendance this season as their average has now gone past the 2,000 mark and this is likely to boost it even further. Tickets are cheaper if booked online in advance and there's a free pint if you arrive before 1pm

National League South
Wealdstone v Concord Rangers @3pm - there's only one game in the sixth tier but it's an important one as the Stones look to strengthen their grip on top spot. Having dominated for the opening months of the season, Dean Brennan's side are starting to wobble. With only two wins from five in the league and booted out of the FA Trophy by Royston Town in one of the cupsets of the round on Saturday, they need to win here. Essex club Concord are slap bang in the middle of the table so should be beaten but they've given Wealdstone trouble in some big games in the past

Isthmian League Premier Division
Carshalton Athletic v Cray Wanderers @3pm - if the Robins win in midweek then this could be a top-six clash. Cray, London's oldest club, enjoyed promotion last season and have hit the ground running. Not only are they in the top five but they're the division's joint top scorers
Haringey Borough v Worthing @3pm - as a result of their extended run in the FA Cup, Haringey have several games in hand on the clubs above them. In fact if they won them they'd be above third placed Worthing so this could well end up being a match between two play-off contenders

Isthmian League South Central
Chertsey Town v Hanwell Town @3pm - this should have been a blockbuster clash between the top two but both suffered surprising defeats on Saturday to leave Hanwell top but Chertsey down in fifth. Nonetheless, it should still be a great game

Essex Senior League
Walthamstow v Hashtag United @3pm - on the subject of blockbuster games, we've definitely got one in the ninth tier where the top two, at the time of writing, meet. Takeley have a midweek game which could see them leapfrog both into top spot but they will have played four games more than either of them by that stage so it will be a slightly false lead. The Stow and Hashtag are only a point apart but it's the hosts who are banging them in for fun at the moment with seven on Saturday taking their total to 43 goals from 14 games.

MCFL Premier Division
London Samurai Rovers v Clapton CFC @2pm - nothing really floats my boat in the 10th tier so give this 11th tier match your consideration. LSR are, as their name might suggest, a team with their roots in London's Japanese community. They enjoyed promotion with the Tons last season and they both look like challenging for honours this season too. LSR are currently second but the visitors have the games in hand to put them right up there as well. This match is being played at Northwood's ground and could easily draw a crowd of 200+

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Sunday 1 December

FA Women's Super League
Arsenal v Bristol City @1230pm - there are a number of women's games on Sunday but this match featuring the reigning league champions Arsenal tops the bill. The Gunners kept up the pressure on leaders Manchester City with a 1-0 win over Liverpool on Sunday. They could go top with a win here and they should win as they beat the Robins 7-0 in the League Cup last week. Tickets are cheaper if bought online in advance
West Ham United v Manchester United @3pm - if you're on the east side of town, you might find this midtable contest more to your liking. The Hammers made it to the FA Cup Final last season but are struggling to really assert themselves in the league. In midtable and in no real danger of going down, it's probably quite easy to coast along and wait for the big cup games but a visit from this newly promoted Man Utd side should hopefully make things a bit more interesting. Tickets


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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