London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, March 2

Premier League

Brentford v Chelsea – Gtech Community Stadium

Thomas Frank will be looking for a marked improvement from his relegation-threatened side following their defeat at out-of-sorts West Ham last Monday night.

“The frustration is we performed badly overall,” Frank explained.

“It seems after a very good performance against Manchester City, it’s two steps back again. It’s an inconsistent season so far.

“These players have a fantastic mentality and work ethic but we didn’t have a high enough performance today.”

Derby opponents Chelsea have had a rough time of it lately as well. Despite making Emirates FA Cup progress at the expense of Leeds United, the fallout from last weekend’s Carabao Cup defeat at the hands of an inexperienced Liverpool side is still reverberating around Stamford Bridge with the pressure ramped up on boss, Mauricio Pochettino.

The Argentine is still without several of his squad due to injury. Wesley Fofana, Christopher Nkunku, Reece James, Benoit Badiashile Mukinayi Baya, Carney Chukwuemeka, Romeo Lavia and Lesley Ugochukwu remained sidelined, while the game could also come too soon for Marc Cucurella who is being assessed.

Everton v West Ham United – Goodison Park

David Moyes was relieved to see his West Ham United side return to winning ways against Brentford earlier in the weeks but admitted they need to be on their metal when they take on under-siege Everton at Goodison Park

“We will need to be better to come away with a result from Everton on Saturday,” the Scotsman told www.whufc.com.

“We will have to manage the game better and be more organised defensively. I’m disappointed we lost two goals tonight, particularly the second one, and there are areas we need to improve.

“Overall though, it’s a really good result. Brentford have become a bit of a bogey team for us over the last couple of years, so it’s good to end that run and get back to winning ways.”

Moyes can call upon Kalvin Phillips after the player served his one-match ban, while Lucas Paqueta came through Monday’s victory unscathed and is likely to retain his place in the starting line-up.

Fulham v Brighton & Hove Albion – Crave Cottage

Willian and Harrison Reed are both rated fifty-fifty ahead of Fulham’s Premier League clash with Brighton at Craven Cottage.

Meanwhile, Marco Silva will once again have to do without Raul Jimenez

and Joao Palhinha through injury and suspension respectively.

The Cottagers will be confident of backing up last weekend’s victory over Manchester United, their first at Old Trafford in more than two decades.

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie could be available for Tottenham after missing the defeat to Wolves a fortnight ago through injury.

However, Ange Postecoglou is without Fraser Forster, Manor Solomon and Ryan Sessegnon – the latter looking likely to miss the remainder of the season with a serious hamstring issue.

Palace head to North London without central defender Marc Guehi, who has been ruled out for up to two months. He joins Michael Olise, Rob Holding, Jesurun Rak-Sakyi and Cheick Doucoure in the Selhurst Park casualty ward.

Joachim Andersen should feature, while Eberechi Eze and Will Hughes could give the South Londoners a further boost.

Sky Bet Championship

Leicester City v Queen’s Park Rangers – King Power Stadium

Battling QPR might fancy their chances of shocking leaders Leicester at the King Power Stadium after the East Midlanders suffered back-to-back defeats.

Meanwhile, Rangers came from behind to secure a priceless victory over fellow strugglers Rotherham United at Loftus Road – a result that saw them climb out of the dropzone. Speaking to BBC Radio London, Head Coach Marti Cifuentes enthused: “We knew it would be a difficult game. It is a relegation battle, we saw against Ipswich, Rotherham were battling until the last minute and they had a good performance.

“We didn’t start well and conceded, but credit to the guys. We deserved the win in the second half. At this stage of the season, it will be moments in games that decide them.

“The season is a marathon, I know everyone suffers when you are down there; today we need to enjoy, but we need to be humble and keep working.”

Millwall v Watford – The Den

Neil Harris’s return to Millwall resulted in a stunning victory over Southampton at St Mary’s and he will demand more of the same from his relegation-threatened side when Watford comes calling.

Speaking to BBC Radio London following that 2-1 win on the south coast, Harris said: “I certainly can’t say we battered them from start to finish. I would say that is a very Millwall-like performance against a top, top side at this level with unbelievable individual ability.

“Credit to my players for delivering the game plan, credit to the fans for getting behind us from the start and carrying us through the second half.

“We’d like to have a bit more of the ball, we’d like to be a bit higher up the pitch and have more efforts on goal but you have to pay so much respect to teams like this. We had to do what we had to do to get a result. I asked the players to buy in. Fair play to the group.

“I left Cambridge with a heavy heart after a short tenure but that’s why I have come back today – it’s the only club I would have left to go to. It’s a positive start but it’s only a start.”

Meanwhile, Watford has slipped away from play-off contention following four defeats from their last five, including a 2-1 loss to Huddersfield Town last time out. 

Watford Head Coach Valerien Ismael felt the full force of the Hornets fan’s criticism. Speaking to BBC Radio London, he said: “We cannot explain why we struggle like that at home. I am accountable as a coach for the performance but the players are responsible for their own performance.

“I expected more, the fans expected more, I think the players themselves expected more. Today we accept all the criticism we get from the fans.”

Sky Bet League One

Leyton Orient v Bristol Rovers – Brisbane Road

In-form Leyton Orient will be looking for a third successive victory as they look to close the gap of the Sky Bet League One play-off places.

Back-to-back wins over Oxford United and Blackpool have moved the East Londoners within five points of the top six.

Northampton Town v Charlton Athletic – Sixfields Stadium

Having ended their nightmare run with a surprise win at Derby County, boss, Nathan Jones will be looking for his Charlton side to double their money against Northampton Town at Sixfields.

The win at Derby backed up three draws but ended a winless run stretching back to November: “We just played four of the form teams in the league,” Jones told www.charltonafc.com.

“Lincoln are flying, they’re doing really, really well. And we dominated the game – should have won that but we didn’t. Then we played the top three, and haven’t lost. I’d have taken that absolutely all day long.

“Now we’ve got to keep that going, keep maintaining that, because we’ve got some big games coming up.”

Sky Bet League Two

AFC Wimbledon v Milton Keynes Dons – Plough Lane

Johnnie Jackson wants to see a marked improvement from his AFC Wimbledon side for their huge clash with Milton Keynes Dons at Plough Lane.

Jackson was left frustrated following their defeat at Doncaster Rovers last time out. Speaking to www.afcwimbledon.co.uk ahead of Saturday’s match, he said: “We have to keep working hard on the training pitch. I know that wasn’t good enough today and the supporters rightly showed their frustrations. 

“I have no issue with it at all. The reality is we’re in an okay position but if we had won today we’d be right on the tails of the top seven. We have to remember the situation we’re in, it’s not all doom and gloom.

“We have a week to get things right. We have big decisions to make this week. There’s a big game coming up that we have to be bang up for. We’ll be doing everything we can to attack that game next week and to give the supporters a team that they can get behind. We need to give something to get behind and they’ll do the rest.”

Tranmere Rovers v Sutton United – Prenton Park

Sutton United have given themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop after ending their ten-match winless run with a stunning 4-3 triumph at Notts County.

The gap between them and third from bottom Grimsby Town is now only four points. Meanwhile, hosts Tranmere aren’t out of the woods after winning just one of their last six.

Monday, March 4

Premier League

Sheffield United v Arsenal – Bramall Lane

Oleksandr Zinchenko and Takehiro Tomiyasu will be assessed before the Gunners trip to Bramall Lane with the pair currently rated fifty-fifty for a return.

The game could come too soon for Thomas Partey, while Jurrien Timber remains sidelined, although he has returned to the grass for some light training.

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk