London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, July 11

Premier League

Norwich City v West Ham United – Carrow Road

West Ham United goalkeeper, Lukasz Fabianski, reflected upon Wednesday’s frustrating defeat at the hands of Burnley and has urged his teammates not to waste another opportunity to claw their themselves away from the relegation zone when they face bottom of the table Norwich at Carrow Road.

The Hammers had taken four points from matches with Chelsea and Newcastle but failed to breach a resolute Clarets outfit, leaving themselves hovering three points above the dropzone. 

“We realise our situation and there is no point being negative and thinking today’s game was just bad luck,” the Polish stopper told www.whufc.com.

“When you put all the things together, we were unlucky when it came to taking some of our chances today.

“There were some good moments, there were some bad moments, but we have to see Norwich as another great opportunity to get to a strong position in the table and further away from the bottom three, and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Watford v Newcastle United – Vicarage Road

Watford are in search of back-to-back victories to pep up their escape bid from the wrong end of the Premier League

Following the Hornets 2-1 success over Norwich at Vicarage Road, boss Nigel Pearson remained focused on the job in hand, telling www.watfordfc.com: “Whenever you win a game, it’s bound to bring some positive aspects, but we know our situation, we know we’re in a difficult situation. 

“Teams are fighting for their lives, we’ve got to make sure our own performances give us the best chance of winning games, and that’s the bottom line.”

Watford take on a Newcastle side smarting from Wednesday’s five-goal drubbing at Manchester City, the Magpie’s first defeat in seven Premier League outings.

Sheffield United v Chelsea – Bramall Lane

Frank Lampard will be looking for more of the same from Christian Pulisic at Bramall Lane following a series of eyecatching displayed from the USA attacker.

“Christian is hugely important,” Lampard told www.chelseafc.com 

“He has great talent, we know that. At the start, he came here in difficult conditions in terms of him not really having had a break, but he started to play really well and now he has moved his game on another level, not just in how he is going by people but there is real end-product. 

“You look at the top attacking players in the world and they score goals and make assists regularly that win games and at the moment he is doing that, so I am delighted with him.”

The Blues will face a tough test against a Sheffield United side boosted by a stoppage-time victory over Wolves on Thursday evening.

Sky Bet Championship

Charlton Athletic v Reading – The Valley

Back-to-back defeats and a series of results going against them has plunged the Addicks back towards the relegation zone, although boss, Lee Bowyer, insisted his side will prevail if they show the same spirit evident during their 2-1 loss at Brentford during the week.

“I’m proud of the players tonight, there are not many times you’ll hear me say that when we lose a game,” the former midfielder explained.

“But tonight you’re playing against a top, top Brentford side who have been hammering teams left, right and centre, before the lockdown and after the lockdown, they’re the in-form team in our division and we’ve just given them a right scare.

“On another day we might have come away with something, but we’ve just got to keep showing that fight and I’m sure we’ll be OK. “

Derby County v Brentford – Pride Park

Brentford continue to hunt down the top two and head to the East Midlands off the back of six straight victories, the most recent a 2-1 triumph over Charlton – the Bees coming from behind late on thanks to a Said Benrahma penalty and Ethan Pinnock’s header five minutes from time

“This is a massive win. I’ll not stand here and say this didn’t mean anything, it was a big win,” Bees Head Coach, Thomas Frank enthused.

“We know every game is a big win, but I just had a feeling because of all the circumstances, that this game would be very, very difficult.

Brentford faces a Derby side that was beaten at West Brom last time out, leaving them three points shy of the play-off places. 

Fulham v Cardiff City – Craven Cottage

Three successive victories have ensured that Fulham remains in touch with teh automatic promotion places. 

Speaking after the most recent – a 1-0 triumph at Nottingham Forest – Cottagers boss, Scott Parker, heaped praise on his battling charges.

“I am very proud of my team. It’s a big result for us but there’s a bigger picture,” Parker explained.

“We were without Tom Cairney today and players have had to step up. Harry has done that, he was fantastic today in terms of the goal and it was a fantastic strike.

“That’s two in three now for Harry. We lost Mitrovic three games ago and we have had to find another way.

“It’s at this stage where seasons peter away or we go for it. We move on to Friday night and Cardiff and the way we are at the moment anything can happen. Hopefully, we can keep producing results.”

Fulham received a boost with the news that winger, Anthony Knockaert, has signed a three-year deal at Craven Cottage following a successful loan spell from Brighton.

Hull City v Millwall -KCOM Stadium

Millwall’s play-off aspirations are hanging by a thread following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat against Middlesbrough at The Den.

Boss, Gary Rowett, was critical of the officials following Britt Assombalonga’s opening goal for Boro. However, the Lions chief confessed that the performance wasn’t good enough as his side slipped to tenth.

“What looked like a trip, what felt like a trip, was a trip,” Rowett bemoaned.

“In a tight game, very physical, very direct, it always felt as though one moment would decide the game.

“I think I could have given that with my eyes closed. I’ve watched it about five times, it’s a blatant foul.

“We’re still in the mix for the play-offs but we’re running out of games. And if we play like that we won’t get there anyway.”

Hosts, Hull currently occupy a pace in the relegation zone following defeats at the hands of West Brom and Bristol City.

Queen’s Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday – Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Mark Warburton was left cursing missed opportunities after witnessing his out of sorts R’s slip by a goal to nil at troubled Wigan Athletic on Wednesday evening.

“They probably wanted it more than us in the first half,” the Rangers boss confessed. 

They’ve had some shocking news, appalling news and we knew they’d be united and together and angry, and they were.

“But then the second half we came out much better and controlled the first fifteen minutes, and then we have to score. We can’t miss from four yards out, basically into the middle of the goal, we can’t miss those chances.”

Sheffield Wednesday arrive in West London having lost each of their last three Championship outings.

Sunday, July 12

Premier League

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace – Villa Park

Crystal Palace heads to the Second City buoyed by their display against Chelsea, despite going down by the odd goal in five. 

Palace now faces a Villa side embroiled in a relegation battle. However, Wilfried Zaha, insisted the South Londoners are more than capable of bouncing back at Villa Park: “I’m disappointed with the loss because we shouldn’t have lost today,” he told www.cpfc.co.uk. 

“We deserved a point at least. Or all three. That’s how the game goes, but I’m very happy with how we played today, I’m happy with the team. Going forward, if we play like that we’ll win more than we lose.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Spurs head into the North London derby with criticism ringing in their ears following a series of unconvincing performances since the resumption of the Premier League.

The Lilywhites failed to muster a shot on target during Thursday’s goalless draw at Bournemouth drawing an underwhelming response from Jose Mourinho.

“I felt that some of the boys were really tired. I made a couple of changes, especially in midfield because I felt some of the boys there were in trouble by playing two days before,” the Portuguese chief told www.tottenhamhotspur.com

“In attacking areas, we lacked a bit of sharpness. We had a lot of situations in the last third, but not really, apart from the last minutes, not really shots, not attacking the ball with so many crosses, other crosses we had the positions but not the technical quality to execute the assist with efficiency. 

“In the end, it’s quite frustrating, but that’s the way it is.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal – unbeaten in five in all competitions – might have to do without Eddie Nketiah after the in-form frontman begins a three-match ban following his dismissal against Leicester on Tuesday evening.

The Gunners have appealed the decision: “He’s disappointed, he’s said sorry and he doesn’t need to do that,” boss Mikel Arteta told www.arsenal.com.

“I know when he goes for every single ball it’s because he’s so willing to win every challenge, be on the front foot in every action, he didn’t see the player coming up and obviously, he doesn’t want to hurt anybody.

“It’s part of the process. They are really young, they need to learn from these situations and hopefully, it won’t happen again.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]