London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, June 20

Premier League

Watford v Leicester City – Vicarage Road

Boss Nigel Pearson spoke about the difficulties adapting to an empty Vicarage Road but insisted the relegation-threatened Hornets would handle the situation as best they could.

Speaking to www,watfordfc.com, ahead of Watford’s clash with Pearson’s former club, Leicester, he explained: “It’s going to be difficult without our fans, to rekindle the atmosphere. We can’t rekindle that atmosphere.

“We don’t really intend to be trying to create some sort of environment where there is a forced atmosphere. We have to deal with our own situation and know that our fans are actually very much behind us. We know that anyway, we’re a club that has an identity in the community.

“We just have to deal with the situation as it transpires and develops. Every club is in the same situation and we’ve just got to try and win as many games as possible and deal with what is an unusual set of circumstances.”

Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal – AMEX Stadium

Mikel Arteta admitted the Arsenal job had offed a few conundrums. However, the Spaniard insisted he is more than capable of dealing with the task in hand at the Emirates Stadium.

Speaking ahead of the Gunners trip to Brighton, Arteta said: “I cannot deny that there have been some big challenges along the way but as well I feel so privileged. 

“It’s an honour to be in the position that I am. Every decision that I’m going to make is to defend the club in the best possible way, and then get the players on board, get their trust, get them behind me to believe in what I’m trying to do. They seem very convinced. 

“We have a lot of rocks at the moment in our way. Last night we had a few more (3-0 defeat at Manchester City) but I am more convinced than ever. We had something against us and that is time. In football, time is difficult to buy and patience is a little bit difficult to do. But I am convinced because I’ve seen it with my eyes on a daily basis, a process that takes time and time and time. 

“At the moment, they look like they’re going to be flying but we need a little bit of time because a lot of things have happened, more than we expected, in this process. I’ve been here five months. Time in football is difficult to buy.”

On the job his opposite number, Graham Potter is doing at the Amex, Arteta added: “I think he’s changed completely the way Brighton plays. He sounds very convincing and I think the players are buying into what he’s doing as well. 

“They are a threat, they showed at the Emirates that if you’re not at it on the day, they’re going to create a lot of issues. We better be ready because it’s going to be a really tough game for us.”

West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers – London Stadium

David Moyes confessed it would have been a better scenario to face Wolverhampton Wanderers prior to the pandemic, but insisted his side would be ready for Saturday’s rescheduled fixture.

The Hammers were due to face Nuno Espírito Santo’s side the weekend of the Premier League’s deferral, shortly after the Black Country outfit had travelled back from their Europa League tie with Olympiacos. 

“They’ve done remarkably well, but we’d have rather played them after they’d been to Greece and it would probably have been a better situation for us,” the Scotsman told www.whufc.com.

“Ultimately, you have to play every team twice. We have a lot to play for, we’re at home and we have to focus on what we need to do at West Ham.”

Moyes believes his side can haul themselves away from the dropzone and insisted they have a potential match-winner in Jarrod Bowen.

“The way he has played and trained, we know he is capable,” Moyes added. 

“He has not got a lot of Premier League experience and his form could go up and down a bit, but we know he has got the quality to make a difference.”

West Ham are currently outside the relegation zone on goal difference but had shown encouraging signs before te enforced lay-off.

AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace – Vitality Stadium

Wilfried Zaha spoke to www.cpfc.co.uk about the downtime brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sitting at home thinking: ‘Are we going to play football again?’ is the maddest feeling. I’ve never had that in my whole career. It’s given us time to sit down and reflect and now we’re back doing what we love. We’re raring to go, man.

“It’s just like: everyone, get out of this mindset, put everything aside. Because people are moaning about so many different things: social distancing and this and that. Forget all about that. Everything starts on Saturday.”

A victory for Palace will all but end any fears of relegation. Meanwhile, visitors, AFC Bournemouth arrive in South London in the bottom three by virtue of goal difference.

Sky Bet Championship

Fulham v Brentford – Craven Cottage

Fulham boss, Scott Parker, should have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal for the Cottagers big derby with fellow play-off contenders, Brentford.

Alfie Mawson, Maxime Le Marchand, Joe Bryan and Josh Onomah have all returned to training following the enforced break as Fulham look to extend their unbeaten sequence to five.

Brentford too are back to full strength with Sergi Canos, Pontus Jansson and Mathias Jensen now back in contention for Thomas Frank’s side.

Millwall v Derby County – The Den

Gary Rowett’s Lions will have to do without loanee Mason Bennett, who is ineligible to feature against his parent club.

Millwall are just two points outside the play-off places and are unbeaten in three. Wayne Rooney is expected to start for Derby. Despite back to back Championship victories, they sit in twelfth.

Hull City v Charlton Athletic – KCOM Stadium

Relegation-haunted Charlton head to Humberside with boss, Lee Bowyer, insisting it is now all down to his team to pull themselves clear of danger.

“This is in the players’ hands now,” the former midfielder told www.cafc.com. 

“Everything that has gone on behind the scenes this season, that is nothing to do with what is going to happen now. 

“We have had to come even closer and I know the players will have given me one hundred per cent per cent.”

The ‘Addicks will be without Lyle Taylor, Chris Solly and loanee David Davis after the trio refused to continue for the last nine league fixtures. However, Sam Field Lewis Page and Chuks Aneke are all in contention. 

Queen’s Park Rangers v Barnsley – Kiyan Prince Stadium

Jordan Hugill is expected to feature for the R’s after an agreement was reached with West Ham United to extend his loan until the conclusion of the season. 

Mark Warburton’s side are currently six points off the play-off places in thirteenth having cobbled together a five-match unbeaten run.

Sunday, June 21

Premier League

Aston Villa v Chelsea – Villa Park

Chelsea chief, Frank Lampard, spoke about the challenge ahead of his side at struggling Aston Villa and insisted there is only one way to approach the game.

“I think we have to go full throttle, we have the ability to use more subs. I mean give the game everything we can. We have to start well,” he explained.

“There are a lot of challenges, the players were out for a long time. Making the players as aware as I can of the challenges are coming up. The focus is just the performance.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]