London Soccer Shorts…

Friday, July 3

Sky Bet Championship

Charlton Athletic v Millwall – The Valley

Charlton and Millwall go head to head in a match of importance at both ends on the table. 

The home side has returned to action with two wins and a draw, aiding their bod to scramble away from the dropzone. However, the Addicks haven’t beaten the Lions in any of their last eleven meetings, a run stretching back to March 1996.

Following their single goal victory over QPR, Lee Bowyer made seven changes for the midweek draw at Cardiff, with the Addicks chief suggesting he could ring the changes again on Friday night: “Everyone that came in, the seven that started, they all did well,” the former midfielder told www.cafc.co.uk.

“I understand that it is competition for places and they are all going to be used at some stage. On Friday, things might change again, so people that haven’t even started yet might start on Friday. Jake [Forster-Caskey] and George [Lapslie] weren’t even in the squad for Saturday’s game [and started against Cardiff]. 

“At the end of the day, I trust them all and I’m going to use them. It’s good when you have that many bodies to choose from and that was the problem before when we had all those injuries.”

Two points from nine available have hindered Millwall’s play-off aspirations. Speaking after Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Swansea, boss, Gary Rowett, said: “At the moment my thought process is we are tinged with still trying to get something out of this season and also learning some things for next season. That will be a real challenge because we want both.

“We’ve done everything we could to win the game and, until we’re out of it, we’ll keep fighting.

Saturday, July 4

Premier League

Leicester City v Crystal Palace – The King Power Stadium

Roy Hodgson insisted that Palace won’t throw the towel in on their bid to secure a Europa League berth. 

Speaking to www.cpfc.co.uk  after their frustrating midweek setback at home to Burnley, the former England chief explained: “Europe depends a lot on our personnel. We’re certainly not giving anything up.

“The matches are coming thick and fast these days. There will be strange results along the way but this was a great opportunity for us.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Arsenal – Molineux

Arsenal – unbeaten in three – face a tough task at Molineux against a Wolves side rivalling the North Londoners for a European berth next season.

The Gunners warmed up for their trip to the Black Country with a resounding four-goal success over Norwich City.

Mesut Ozil will be assessed following a back problem, while Lucas Torreira is available. Speaking to www.arsenal.com about the challenge in hand, Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta, said: “The manager (Nuno Espírito Santo) has created the perfect environment for the players. 

“I think they didn’t have very big expectations but with their performances and their consistency, they have gained respect from all the teams in the league. 

“They compete really well, a really clear gameplan of how they want to expose their opponent, very solid defensively and with some really good talent in forward positions that can win the game at any moment. A very complicated side.”

Chelsea v Watford – Stamford Bridge

Frank Lampard will demand a response from his Chelsea charges after they slipped to a shock defeat at West Ham on Thursday evening.

“I wouldn’t call it a wake-up call. Every game is different. We have six games ahead of us now and this wasn’t a huge surprise,” Lampard explained to www.chelseafc.com. 

“If you play in the Premier League and make mistakes if you boss possession but don’t do quite enough with it at the top of the pitch, then it can happen. That’s something we already knew.”

While Chelsea require points to boost their top-four aspirations, visitors Watford remain in a relegation dog-fight, impeded further by a midweek defeat at the hands “We were second best for too long,” Boss, Nigel Pearson, told Sky Sports News.

“You can’t concede goals like we have, give gifts to the opponents. It makes the job harder.

“We have to go back to showing a cohesion as a group of people. At the moment it is frustrating because we are not achieving the performances we know we are capable of.

“We have games left in which it is in our own hands to make sure we secure our future in the Premier League. No-one is going to do it for us.”

Sky Bet Championship

Brentford v Wigan Athletic – Griffin Park

Brentford look to keep the pressure on the top-two when troubled Wigan Athletic visits Griffin Park.

Despite the Latics well-documented financial issues, the North-West outfit head to West London in sparkling form having not lost in eight outings.

Nevertheless, Brentford’s confidence remains high after three wins on the bounce. Speaking after their emphatic 3-0 success at Reading during the week, Bees boss, Thomas Frank, enthused: “This was a very good performance going away from home. We maintained another high level, especially on the defensive side of our game.

“That is a most important side of the game to be focused on. You have to be disciplined and stick to your structure.

“You can always talk about putting the pressure on them (promotion rivals) but the only thing that we can do is focus on our training and our games – and make sure that we win the next one.

“It’s then up the other teams to either win or fail – and then put more pressure on themselves. But we can’t look too far ahead.”

Fulham v Birmingham City – Craven Cottage 

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic misses out, serving the second of his three-match ban after admitting a charge of violent following a clash with Leeds United’s Ben White

Fulham boss, Scott Parker, explained: “While it’s disappointing to lose Aleksandar, other players are going to have to step up. He’s definitely going to be a big loss for us in the next few games. How we work, everything is around him. So to the players coming in, it’s a big responsibility now.

“We had to shuffle things around a bit here and obviously the result was key. But I don’t think my team have deserved what we’ve got out of the first two games.”

Having returned to winning ways at Queen’s Park Rangers, Parker added: “The performance and the way we’ve played in the last two games, I’ve been really pleased with. We showed real character. To go a goal down as early as we did was very disappointing. It was poor on our behalf and sloppy.

“But not to drop our heads and be the team to really take it to QPR, get control of the game and have real impetus was pleasing.

Sunday, July 5

Premier League

Newcastle United v West Ham United – St James Park

David Moyes will be looking for another big performance from Michail Antonio after the 30-year-old played a pivotal role in West Ham’s stunning 3-2 Premier League success over Chelsea.

“He has been great for us at the moment but being without Seb at the moment we are short of options and alternatives to Mic. I have to say, Mic stuck to the task,” Moyes enthused.

“When I came in he was still recovering from hamstring injuries and we were worried if we could get ninety minutes out of him but he’s doing a great job for the team.

“Against the better teams it’s hard to have two forwards as they can play through you, he is doing a great job for us and gets his reward with a goal tonight and he had a great chance in the first half when I thought ‘here we go.”

Hosts, Newcastle thumped Bournemouth last time out. Steve Bruce’s side are unbeaten in five Premier League outings.

Sky Bet Championship

Middlesbrough v Queen’s Park Rangers 

Three successive defeats have all but ended QPR’s already slim hopes of booking a play-off berth. 

Rangers’ latest setback a 2-1 loss to West London rivals, Fulham, at the Kiyan Prince Stadium, drew a stinging response from boss, Mark Warburton: “We’ve given away three points. It was a very, very strong display – intensity, desire, quality,” he explained. 

“We had to maintain it in the second half and did that but we didn’t get the rewards.

“There’s one team in it in the second half, we’ve hit the bar and gone close, but we’ve let in two soft goals shot from distance. I have huge respect for Scott Parker and Fulham, but I don’t see how that has happened.

“We should have saved both goals, simple as that, and I’m trying to think of when Liam Kelly had another save to make.

“When you play like that, the more you play like that, the belief has got to grow. And if we play like that week in week out, we’ll be in a good place come the end of the season.”

The R’s will face a Boro side now under the guidance of Neil Warnock and smarting after a late defeat at Hull City, leaving them just a point above the relegation zone.   

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]