London Soccer Shorts…

Friday, July 17

Premier League

West Ham United v Watford – London Stadium

David Moyes looked to redirect any anxiety surrounding his West Ham side ahead of their relegation six-pointer with Watford at the London Stadium on Friday evening.

A victory for either side should all but secure their Premier League status: “I think we are in a good place and think we are playing quite well,” Moyes explained.

“We are quite comfortable with what we are doing but obviously we know the importance of the game. The good thing is that I have been here before, the last time I was here.

“The last three games we won at Leicester, drew with Man Utd and beat Everton so if we take something similar in points this time around then I have no doubt we will remain a Premier League club.”

Meanwhile, Hornets chief, Nigel Pearson, told www.watfordcom: “We know we’ve got work to do; we’ve got three games left, we have respect for the other clubs who are fighting relegation, our job now is to see our own job through, and we have to pick up enough points ourselves.

Emirates FA Cup semi-final

Arsenal v Manchester City – Wembley Stadium

Arsenal warmed up for their semi-final showdown with Manchester City by seeing off Premier League champions, Liverpool, at the Emirates Stadium. However, boss Mikel Arteta, insisted allowing the Reds plenty of the ball wasn’t a draft drawn up ahead of facing Pep Guardiola’s charges at Wembley Stadium.

Arsenal had just over 30% of the ball against Jurgen Klopp’s men, but came out on top after seizing on defensive lapses by Liverpool skipper, Virgil van Dijk, and goalkeeper, Alisson.

“It wasn’t part of the game plan, obviously, but at the moment you can see in many areas the gap between the two teams, what we have to achieve and the areas we have to improve,” Arteta told www.arsenal.com

“Certainly, there is one area that we’ve caught them on and it’s the belief, the accountability, the passion – they play for every single ball. With that we can beat a lot of teams. 

“Against Tottenham, we had total dominance for several periods and we lost the game, so we will find the right balance but credit for them as well for what they have achieved.”

Arsenal beat City at the same stage to reach the 2017 final. Since then, the Gunners have played and lost on all seven occasions that they’ve met

Sky Bet Championship

Charlton Athletic v Wigan Athletic -The Valley

The Addicks face another huge task in their bid to avoid the drop when battling Wigan Athletic visit The Valley on Saturday.

Lee Bowyer’s men led at Birmingham during the week thanks to a Macauley Bonne goal but were frustratingly pegged back deep into stoppage-time as Lukas Jutkiewicz salvaged a point for the Blues. The result left Charlton a point above the relegation zone and facing the proverbial ‘wounded animal’ in the shape of a Latics outfit who put their financial worries to one side to wallop Hull City by eight unanswered goals during the week.

“We’ll move the ball, we’ll create chances and we’ll defend well,” Bowyer told ww.cafc.co.uk. 

“Yeah, Wigan are on a high, but it’s not like we’re playing badly. Again, we were the better side again tonight, we came away with a point and it could be a valuable point.” 

Fulham v Sheffield Wednesday – Craven Cottage

Fulham entertains Sheffield Wednesday, keen to keep the pressure on those above them, despite automatic promotion now being largely out of their hands.

The Cottagers looked resolute in picking up a share of the spoils from a 

goalless encounter at second-placed West Brom during the week, a performance which pleased boss, Scott Parker: “We need to be focused, we’re five unbeaten and it’s a fourth clean sheet, we need to stay focused on the journey,” the former midfielder explained.

“We came to win the game and keep the pressure on. Up until the drinks break was perfect.

“The longer the game goes on it becomes a little bit more end to end. We tried to change things around a little bit but it didn’t happen.

“The end goal that has been drummed into these players from day one is you’re fortunate enough to have the play-offs.”

Queen’s Park Rangers v Millwall – Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Mark Warburton was a little happier with his QPR side after they followed up a dismal display against Sheffield Wednesday by earning a share of the spoils at Luton during the week. “On Saturday, that was the first time in my career that I’d been so disheartened by a performance. We had clear words,” the former Brentford and Rangers chief explained.

“We knew what we had to do. It’s about personal pride and professionalism. Hard work underpins everything that you do. There is too much quality in the dressing room for that to happen. The boys responded really well.”

The R’s face a Millwall side still harbouring hopes of a play-off place after seeing off Blackburn Rovers at The Den.

Assistant Manager, Adam Barrett, faced the media, explaining: “Blackburn came here and they needed to win the game as well so we are extremely pleased.

“It is nice to back up Saturday’s result and get back-to-back wins and it builds a little bit of momentum.

“There are two games to go and we are in the mix and that is where we wanted to be.”

Stoke City v Brentford – Bet365 Stadium

Brentford head to the Potteries just a point outside the automatic promotion places after eight successive victories. Boss, Thomas Frank, remained pragmatic after the latest – a single-goal success over Preston at Griffin Park – explaining: “We have won eight on the bounce playing some top football and it is eight well-deserved wins.

“In a league which we call the most even league in the world, that is remarkable.

“We are in the play-offs, so why not give it a go for direct promotion? We are on a high but I am not thinking at all about the game after Saturday and seeing if we can win nine in a row.”

Sunday, July 19

Premier League

 Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Ten points from a possible twelve has lifted spirits in N17 as Tottenham’s quest for a Europa League place continues to mount.

But with games coming thick and fast for the Lilywhites, boss Jose Mourinho admitted he was unsure whether he’d make changes ahead of Sunday’s vital clash with Leicester City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

I don’t know – three days is different to two days, Leicester is different to Newcastle – Let me think, let me read the situation, read the players, communicate with them, get information from sports science, speak with the medicals – let’s see,” the Spurs chief confessed.

The important thing is the players are there to help the team. I know that Ndombele will not help us because his injury will keep him out for the next two matches.

“Maybe Dele can give us a hand in the last match or maybe this weekend. Eric Dier is coming in the last match as another option. Let’s see if we can end the season strong and get that Europa League position.”

Leicester appeared nailed on for a top-four finish ahead of the enforced break. However, one win in six outings ahs seen the hunting pack close in on the Foxes, with goal difference separating the East Midlanders from Manchester United in fifth.

Emirates FA Cup semi-final

Manchester United v Chelsea – Wembley Stadium

N’Golo Kante could be recalled by Frank Lampard after missing Chelsea’s last three matches with a hamstring injury.

Kante could replace teenage sensation Billy Gilmore, who is now ruled out for the remainder of the campaign following knee surgery.

The Blues have won the cup on eight occasions, most recently in 2018 when Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty saw off Sunday’s opponents, Manchester United, by a goal to nil at Wembley Stadium.

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]