London Soccer Shorts…

Sunday, July 26

Premier League

Arsenal v Watford

Mikel Arteta confirmed it will be business as usual when his Arsenal side face relegation-threatened Watford at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners head into the final game with little to play for in terms of a Premier League place, while Watford must better results elsewhere to stand a chance of remaining in the top flight.

 Nevertheless, Arteta ensued it would be a strong Arsenal line-up, with winning the game his main priority.

“I think it is our responsibility. A strong side doesn’t mean that players that have played less will not participate. 

“For me, it’s more about how we approach the game and how we go into that game to win the game. That is not 50/0, there is no lack of intensity, anything like that. We cannot do that.

Meanwhile, Hornets interim Head Coach, Hayden Mullins, told www.watforffc.com: “We need to be a threat to their goal, definitely, but I don’t think we can be all-out attack, gung-ho.

“I think we have to try to be as balanced as we can. There could be a number of different things happening on Sunday and I’m sure in one five minutes the table will look different to the other. We need to stay focused on the pitch, focused on what we’re trying to do.

“Once the players cross the line and the game starts, as a professional player a lot of the emotion and what’s going on outside of the game goes away, and you start to focus on your job professionally, both in and out of possession and your set plays. There’s so much going on on the pitch, it’s hard to focus on what might be going on off it.”

(Quotes courtesy of Arsenal Football Club – www.arsenal.com)

Chelsea v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Chelsea and Wolves play out a huge end of season finale at Stamford Bridge with both harbouring respective European aspirations.

A point will secure Champions League football for the Blues, while the West Midlanders will head into the Europa League if they claim all three points.

Speaking to www.chelseafc.com, Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard, explained: “No, we will approach the game to win it. There is no other way to approach a game of football. We will do that, prepare right, respect our opponent. 

“They are very good, we have seen that all season, we are aware of the situation but we will try to win.

‘The goal was to get in the top four and improve this squad and try and develop and be as good as we can be. Now we have the opportunity of top four and it’s a huge game. 

“I’ll approach it as I see right in terms of what I say to the players and how we set up on the day.”

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur

Out of sorts Crystal Palace could have Luka Milivojevic in contention to face Spurs at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

A return for the Serbian would be a boost for the Eagles who have lost seven on the bounce since the return.

Speaking to www.cpfc.co.uk, Palace boss Roy Hodgson, said: “The only one who may have a chance is Luka.

“He missed training yesterday and trained today. We’ll wait and see if there’s any reaction to the knee when we get together tomorrow.”

“Mamadou Sakho, of course, is out for a period of time so we’ll be without a large number of first-teamers. Hopefully, those who played against Wolves will be available.”

Tottenham can secure a Europa League spot by winning at Selhurst, coupled with a defeat for Wolves at Chelsea. Speaking ahead of the match, Lilywhites chief, Jose Mourinho, explained: “We have a couple of possibilities of playing Europe next season but we’re in the hands of others, so to finish sixth we need to win and we need Wolves not to win. 

“To finish seventh and qualify for Europe we need arsenal not to win the FA Cup. So we have options to be there but we depend on other results.

The only feeling that I can have is that we can beat Palace and add three more points to our total. And then I don’t know? Finish sixth, finish seventh, Arsenal wins, Arsenal loses, I don’t know? 

“Me and my players have only to focus n a good run, keep the performance, focus on the match, play really serious, big game for us but I don’t know?

West Ham United v Aston Villa

Although the pressure is off West Ham United, David Moyes expects his side to face a difficult afternoon when relegation-threatened Aston Villa arrive in East London, desperate to secure their place in the top flight.

The Hammers are safe following Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Manchester United. However, with Villa seeing off Arsenal, the West Midlanders will stay up by bettering the results of Bournemouth and Watford.

“No, it won’t (be easy),” Moyes confessed. 

“I never expected it to be, I expected us to be competing against them for one of us to stay up but the way our players have done a great job of getting ourselves in a safe position. 

“I have to credit the players and how they went about their job and we haven’t had to take it to the last game of the season.”

Moyes heaped praise on Michail Antonio, whose six goals in eight games played a pivotal role in the Hammers survival: “He’s been great – Really important.

“He is in his 30’s now, just turned into it and he has matured a lot. I think he has done much better – looked after himself in a way that has given him a better chance of performing well so all those things have helped him.

“The loss of Seb Haller meant we had to find another way of having a forward player for what was going to be a difficult period for us.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]