London Soccer Shorts…

Brian Jeeves

Saturday, April 20

Premier League

Luton Town v Brentford – Kenilworth Road 

Brentford boss Thomas Frank will be without Aaron Hickey, Rico Henry, Ben Mee and Josh Dasilva for their huge relegation battle with Luton Town.

However, the Bees could be boosted by the return of Christian Norgaard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ivan Toney from the Kenilworth Road six-pointer

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal – Molineux

Arsenal will need to pick themselves off the canvas following their Champions League exit in Munich.

The Gunners head to the Black Country having also suffered a damaging Premier League defeat at teh hands of Aston Villa last time out. Nevertheless, Mikel Arteta has no fresh injury concerns, with only Jurrien Timber unavailable for the Molineux clash.

Sky Bet Championship

Sunderland v Millwall – The Stadium of Light

Millwall can ensure their Championship status with a win at the Stadium of Light.

The Lions recorded back-to-back victories over Leicester and Cardiff to calm fears of the drop. Speaking to BBC Sport after the 3-1 success over the Bluebirds, Millwall boss, Neil Harris, said: “Tuesday night against Leicester City was mega, it was a mega performance, today was slightly different.

“In some ways today was more important. It was a powerful message from the players.

“Every man and his dog wanted to tell me that this lot didn’t know how to play at The Den.

“It was a big thing for me, I keep saying, galvanising the football club, bringing the terrace and the pitch together, and yes I’ve played my part… but it’s down to the players when they go on the pitch so they take the credit, they take the praise.”

Watford v Hull City – Vicarage Road

Watford’s recent unbeaten sequence under the guidance of interim boss, Tom Cleverley, was ended by Southampton last time out. HOwever, the Hornets have an opportunity to bounce back when Hull City visits the Old Vic.

Speaking to BBC Three Counties Radio after going down by the odd goal in five to the Saints, Cleverley said: “It doesn’t feel like a great comeback because we’ve not won or taken any points. It’s devastating that our second-half performance doesn’t get any rewards.

“I thought we were off it in the first half. The start was poor. We changed to a back four and looked a little bit too open.

“In the second half, we came back strongly and had the better chances. The boys showed a lot of character and I never doubted that we could create chances.

“We can get better but the heart and desire has been A1. The squad’s desire can’t be questioned.”

Queen’s Park Rangers v Preston North End – Loftus Road

QPR still has work to do to avoid relegation but will fancy their chances of ending a three-match winless run when a Preston side, hading to West London off the back of two straight defeats, provides the opposition at Loftus Road.

Boss, Marti Cifuentes, was left frustrated by the R’s 3-0 defeat at Hull last time out. Speaking to BBC Sport, he said: “I was really disappointed with the result. We played against a very good team and they showed their quality after we made a good start to the game.

“I am now not thinking about the narrative of this game – now it is time to move on. Now is the time to stay calm. We have three games to go – two of them at home – so it is up to us.

“I have been saying it could be until the last minute of the season.

“Five months ago, perhaps even one month ago, we could only dream. People thought this would be a walk in the park but that is not the case.

“It’s up to us. We need to remain together and keep pushing.”

Sky Bet League One

Charlton Athletic v Shrewsbury Town – The Valley

Charlton will fancy their chances against a Shrewsbury side without a win in five. However, boss, Nathan Jones will demand better from his charges following a disappointing performance and a frustrating draw with Cambridge United last time out.

Nevertheless, the draw ensured Charlton’s League One status. Speaking to www.charltonafc.com, Jones said: “That was the goal, but I never had any doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t (be safe), with the squad and how we work and how we do stuff,” he said. 

“What I would really like us to do is really get some momentum pushing into next season.”

Leyton Orient v Fleetwood Town – Brisbane Road

Orient conclude their home League One programme against relegation-haunted Fleetwood Town at Brisbane Road.

However, the O’s have injury issues, with Brandon Cooper, Darren Pratley, Theo Archibald, Dan Happe and Ruel Sotiriou unlikely to feature

Sky Bet League Two

Sutton United v Crawley Town – VBS Community Stadium

Only a victory will do for Sutton United if they are to carry their brave battle against relegation until the final day of the season.

United forced a draw at Harrogate last time out and now face a Crawley Town side desperate to enhance their play-off credentials.

Tranmere Rovers v AFC Wimbledon – Prenton Park

Johnnie Jackson sent out a battle cry ahead of play-off chasing AFC Wimbledon’s trip to Tranmere Rovers.

Speaking to www.afcwimbledon.co.uk, the Dons chief said: “There’s two games and madly, there’s still something resting on them. If we can get to 68 points, that asks questions of other teams. 

“There’s still a lot to play for and that will help with our preparations for Tranmere. I’ve told the players that they have two games to show they want to be a part of what we’re doing.”

Jackson added: “If we miss out this season, we need to be putting together a squad that is capable of mixing it with the teams vying for automatic promotion spots and play-off places. With that in mind, the players have got to be on it every game.

“We’ve progressed the football club hugely this season but we want to get promoted and get this club back to League One. If it doesn’t happen this season, it has to happen next season. We’ve got a good group of lads who give everything but sometimes that isn’t enough.”

Sunday, April 21

Premier League

Crystal Palace v West Ham United – Selhurst Park

Palace took a sizable step towards safety with an eye-catching single goal success at title-chasing Liverpool last time out and will be confident of repeating the dose against wobbling West Ham at Selhurst Park.

Eberechi Eze bagged the all-important strike. Speaking to Sky Sport, Palace boss, Oliver Glasner, said: “We defended as a team and that’s what it needs to have a clean sheet here. It was a great afternoon for us. Second half we didn’t have the ball for many minutes. We had a great mentality.

“In some situations, you need the luck, but you don’t get it as a gift, you have to deserve it. And today the players deserved it because of their spirit and passion. I was proud to be the manager of this team.”

Meanwhile, West Ham have slipped from the European qualification places of late and desperately need to bounce back at Selhurst Park.

Speaking to Sky Sports about Lucas Paqueta’s disappointing performance against Fulham, Hammers boss, David Moyes said: “Now and then you get players like this – I have not had many of them – and you have to give them license. We really like him, he has done a great job for us and today it just did not happen.”

Fulham v Liverpool – Craven Cottage

Fulham can put a sizable dent in Liverpool’s lingering title asperation with a win over the Reds at Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers ended their three-match winless sequence with a comfortable 2-0 triumph at West Ham United last weekend.

Andreas Pereira scored twice for the West Londoners. Boss, Marcoi Silva, told Sky Sports: “A great win for us. To be honest we deserved the three points. West Ham started better. They had a good chance to score. But after that, we started to control the game in a different way.

“We know the quality we have, the way we play. We were solid and most of our transitions were good. We were more clinical and with more killer instinct.”

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk