London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, October 24

Premier League

West Ham United v Manchester City  – London Stadium

David Moyes insisted it’s too early in the season to boldly predict against the Premier League’s elite. Nevertheless, the Scotsman thinks his ever-improving West Ham side might be better placed to upset Saturday’s visitors’, Manchester City, than in recent times.

City has made a habit of scoring bucket loads of goals whenever they arrive at the London Stadium: “This time of the season we are not really sure where results are going just yet,” the Hammers chief explained. 

“We saw Leicester get a really good result against City but they counterattacked, had three penalties, so it is the way football is.

Manchester City are improving from their start to the season but then so are we, our games have shown improvement from the start to where we are now, maybe even before lockdown, so we hope to give them a pretty good game. 

“They make it difficult for you but I hope we can give them more problems than what we have done in the past.”

Fulham v Crystal Palace – Craven Cottage

Struggling Fulham will be without Josh Onomah, Kenny Tete, Joachim Andersen and Terence Kongolo for the visit of London rivals Crystal Palace. However, Harrison Reed has returned to training and could be available for Scott Parker’s side.

Meanwhile, Palace will be without goalkeeper, Jack Butland, after the new signing tested positive for Coronavirus. 

“We needed to bring somebody in but no sooner did Jack sign, did he test positive for coronavirus,” Roy Hodgson.bemoaned to www.cpfc.co.uk 

“We needed to bring somebody in but no sooner did Jack sign, did he test positive for coronavirus. 

He’s stuck in a hotel room in London with a very boring existence. He’s self-isolating to take another test, hopefully, be cleared and then I can answer the question a bit more about what it’s like that he’s with us.

“The good news is he’s feeling good, good but disappointed and frustrated that he’s seeing four walls and nothing else.”

Palace will also be without defender, Gary Cahill: “Gary’s not very good I’m afraid,” Hodgson added. 

“It was a nasty injury, so we’re still assessing it. He won’t be able to play tomorrow unless something miraculous happens tonight, but I’m hopeful it won’t keep him out for weeks on end. But it’s too soon after the kick he took.”

Manchester United v Chelsea – Old Trafford

Thiago Silva and Christian Pulisic are both available for Chelsea’s visit to Old Trafford. 

“Both are fine,” Blues boss, Frank Lampard told BBC Sport. 

“We have a clean bill of health apart from Kepa who has a shoulder issue so won’t travel to Manchester, only other player out is Billy Gilmour who is long-term.” 

Sky Bet Championship

Watford v AFC Bournemouth – Vicarage Road

Watford can put daylight between themselves and fourth-placed AFC Bournemouth when the pair go head-to-head at Vicarage Road.

The Hornets warmed up for the Cherries visit with an impressive 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers during the week. Nevertheless, 

manager Vladimir Ivic insisted there is more to come from his side.

“We can be satisfied with three points but we know that we have to improve a lot of things, like when we have possession,” he told BBC Sport.

“We have to learn to win because when you are relegated from the Premier League to the Championship you have a different goal.

“It is a good start from six games but the Championship is long. We are waiting for injured players to come back and help us.”

Millwall v Barnsley – The Den 

Millwall boss Gary Rowett will demand more of the same from his side when struggling Barnsley arrive at The Den.

Speaking to BBC Sport after their 2-0 win over Luton Town in midweek, Rowett enthused: “I thought it was an excellent performance. When you’ve played so well as we did in the second half on Saturday, you’ve got to back it up.

“Good teams do that, they put back-to-back performances together and that’s what I asked the players to do.

“We’re six games in – we went to fourth but could have gone to 14th if we’d lost.

“It’s about us building, we’ve been defensively excellent for the 12 months, now it’s about translating that good play into more attacking moments in games.

Queen’s Park Rangers v Birmingham City – Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium

Rangers remain winless since the opening day but will fancy their chances of ending that sequence against a Birmingham side sporting a similarly troublesome sequence of results.

The R’s when down by two unanswered spot-kicks from Preston’s Daniel Johnson and Scott Sinclar last time out, drawing an aggravated response from Mark Warburton.

“What was disappointing was the fact that we gave a really soft penalty away and didn’t respond well to it,” the West Londoners boss told BBC Radio London:

“It looked like the wind was out of the sails and suddenly the shoulders dropped a little bit and we looked a very average team after that.

“We got to half-time and we questioned why we’d changed, why the body language was a bit negative. We gave another soft goal away – we let the ball bounce after eighty yards in the air, just head the ball and pick up the second ball and we didn’t do it.

“Albert’s through at the end there and hits the pos. If we came away one-all and go ‘we were poor tonight for the large majority of the game but we got a point’ – but we don’t deserve it. We didn’t do enough.”

Stoke City v Brentford – Bet365 Stadium

Brentford are starting to fire on all cylinders and will be confident of honing in further on the top six when they head to Stoke.

The Bees won by the odd goal in three at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek with Ivan Toney taking his tally to seven in four games with a brace.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the Hillsborough triumph, Brentford Head Coach, Thomas Frank, outlined: “I was very pleased with the performance. I liked very much the way we handled the ball. We found some good solutions and had some dangerous counters throughout the game.

“I was very pleased with how we defended, except for that spell for around five to 10 minutes around their equaliser. Apart from that, I thought we did very well and gave no chances away.

“We knew that Ivan was a goalscorer and that he’d suit the way we played. To score seven goals in four games speaks for itself. I’m very pleased with that but him and I want even more. We know that there are things we need to work on to make him even better.

“The link-up play and the runs around him were superb and the effort was also up there. I’m very pleased and it is on to the next one.”

Sky Bet League One

Burton Albion v AFC Wimbledon – Pirelli Stadium

Back-to-back single-goal defeats have put a spanner in AFC Wimbledon’s early-season works. 

The Dons head to bottom of the table Burton looking to remain in touch with the play-off places after Shrewsbury, and most recently, Hull City snaffled the points from the south-west Londoners.

Speaking to www.afcwimbledon.co.uk after the setback at the KCOM Stadium, Dons chief, Glyn Hodges explained: “I am pleased as we took the game to them and some of our football was excellent. 

“We carved out the two best chances in the first half, but you have to take them. We played against a team who are experts at set-pieces. When you are attacking them they grapple you to the floor and when George Honeyman got hold of Steve Seddon that should have been a penalty, but referees are not giving them. We are nice boys, probably too nice, and we need to take that ugly side of what they throw at it.

“Apart from that corner, I can’t remember Connal making any particular saves. We asked them questions, but they defended well at the end. I thought it was a good game and it was one that we’re scratching our heads about because we didn’t get anything from it. We are close as they were a Championship club and they were hanging on and they couldn’t wait for the referee to blow the whistle.

“It leaves a horrible taste in your mouth because in the last two games we’ve been beaten in our keeper has barely had a shot to save and we’ve conceded two goals from set-pieces. We’ve had a conversation in there, everybody contributed, and hopefully, we’ve got a solution to how we are going to defend.”

Northampton Town v Charlton Athletic – Sixfields Stadium

Charlton continues to motor up the Sky Bet League One table but will find the going tough against a Cobblers side that returned to winning ways against Swindon Town during the week.

The Addicks themselves managed to pick up three points, winning by a goal to nil at Blackpool – Chuks Aneke with the late winning in a match which saw Blackpool’s James Husband and Charlton’s Ben Purrington given their marching orders.

“We made hard work of it,” Charlton boss, Lee Bowyer, told www.cafc.co.uk.

“They went down to ten men early. I’d rather him go through, score and play eleven v eleven, it might have been a much better game.

“I was a bit disappointed we didn’t take advantage of that, we didn’t move the ball. We didn’t really hurt them when they went down to ten. The most important thing on a Tuesday night, when you come to places like Blackpool, the most important thing is three points.

“I’ve said to them that we are much better than we showed tonight. We showed some good bits here and there, what we can do and what we are capable of doing but we didn’t show it enough tonight. We will get better, we made a few changes, people gelling into the squad, so we will get better.”

Sky Bet League Two

Stevenage v Leyton Orient – Lamex Stadium

After a picking up a vital win on the road against Tranmere, Midfielder, Ouss Cisse outlined the importance of Leyton Orient continuing the winning habit at Stevenage on Saturday.

The O’s ended their recent winless sequence at Tranmere during the week: “

“We have to take the positives from today,” Cisse told www.leytonorient.com. 

“Just like I said, we need to keep working. Just because we won, we still need to keep working. We’re going to be a machine!”

Sunday, October 25

Premier League

Arsenal v Leicester City – Emirates Stadium 

Mikel Arteta is fully aware his Arsenal side face a tough test when Leicester City visit the Emirates Stadium on Sunday: “Well, they’re a really difficult team,” the Spaniard told www.arsenal.com. 

“I think Brendan and his team have done a great job. They dramatically changed the philosophy and the way of playing, since they arrived and I think they had an incredible season last season. 

“This season, ups and downs, like almost every team in the Premier League and some incredible results, like when they played against City. They can adapt and play different ways and sometimes they are really dominant, sometimes they can defend with a low block but overall they’re a really, really good team.”

Monday, October 26

Premier League

Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur – Turf Moor

Jose Mourinho will ring the changes when Spurs head to struggling Burnley on Monday.

The Lilywhites chief made eight changes from the side which faced West Ham to take on LASK in the Europa League on Thursday evening, with Gareth Bale coming in for his second full debut.

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]