London Soccer Shorts…

Friday, October 30

Premier League

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crystal Palace – Molineux 

Palace should have a clutch of stars available for their Friday night trip to Molineux.

James McCarthy returned to training, having been injured on international duty. Jordan Ayew and Jack Butland could feature after completing a period of self-isolation, while Gary Cahill and James Tomkins are both fit and in contention.

Saturday, October 31

Premier League

Burnley v Chelsea – Turf Moor

Frank Lampard could turn to Thiago Silva at Burnley after the player didn’t travel to Wednesday’s 4-0 Champions League victory in Krasnodar.

“Thiago is fit,” Lampard told www.chelseafc.com.

“Taking him out of the trip to Russia was more of a maintenance issue for him and I spoke to him about it.”

Liverpool v West Ham United – Anfield

Jarrod Bowen believes West Ham United can give champions, Liverpool, something to think about at Anfield on Saturday evening.

The Hammers head to Merseyside unbeaten in four Premier League outings: “I think so. I think we know how strong the Liverpool team is, but on the back of our performances against Tottenham and Man City, we feel we can take it and go there hoping to achieve as much as we can,” the former Hull City man told www.whufc.com.

“We know they’re going to have a lot of the ball and try to hurt us in different ways, but as long as we defend well and stay compact, which we always need to do away from home and especially at Liverpool, we can give ourselves a great chance.”

Sky Bet Championship

Barnsley v Watford – Oakwell

Watford will be looking for a return to winning ways at Oakwell following back-to-back draws.

Tuesday’s statement with Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park drew an honest assessment from Head Coach, Vladimir Ivic.

“(It was a) tough night, we expected something like that before the game. Today we didn’t do our job to the best we can,” he told BBC Three Counties Radio.

“We cannot be satisfied with the way we played and it’s something we’re not satisfied with for the first time in a while.

“We had a lot of problems with our defensive shape. When we had the ball we couldn’t create things. This is something we have to work on.”

Luton Town v Brentford – Kenilworth Road

Brentford faces a particularly tricky trip to Luton, still looking to replicate the form which carried them to the cusp of the Premier League last season.

The Bees were frustrated by a late deflected effort from Norwich’s Kenny McLean during the week: “I think we performed well, played a very good game and I’m pleased with how we pressed Norwich in the second half,” Head Coach, Thomas Frank, told BBC Sport.

“We had the chances. But it was decisive that we couldn’t score the 2-0 goal. And a goal like theirs is very random. I’d rather they’d put one into the top corner.

“But the positive is it was a good performance, played with good intensity, a game of two teams who like to dominate on the ball – and I think we came out slightly on top.”

Millwall v Huddersfield Town – The Den

Millwall are aiming for a fifth league outing without defeat when Huddersfield Town are the visitors to South-East London on Saturday.

The Lions occupy fourth place following Wednesday’s impressive 2-0 victory over Preston at Deepdale: “We’re all really happy and really pleased with the result,” Captain, Alex Pearce, told BBC Sport.

Under-23s manager Kevin Nugent, player-coach Shaun Williams and Pearce took charge in the North-West after boss, Gary Rowett, tested positive for coronavirus, while assistant, Adam Barret was also forced to self-isolate.

“As for me, I’m proud of the lads tonight,” Pearce added. 

It’s been a really difficult 48 hours or so for them, and it can be a bit unsettling for some players, but they’ve just got on with their jobs and they’ve come through this game with flying colours.

“The gaffer (Rowett) was right there behind them; he set everything up beforehand, and he’s been in touch throughout the game, directing on tactics, asking opinions on substitutions and pretty much everything else.

“The gaffer has been behind it all, but it’s also been a terrific team effort overall.”

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

Rangers miserable run continued at Barnsley during the week and they now face another tough test when draw specialists, Cardiff City visit Loftus Road.

Speaking to BBC Sport after their 3-0 defeat at Oakwell, QPR boss Mark Warburton, said: “I thought we were very good for the first 25 minutes or so. I thought we started really well, and we were camped in their half.

“You’ve got to score in those periods and take advantage of that dominance. If you don’t do it the game is on a knife-edge still.

Sky Bet League One

Milton Keynes Dons v AFC Wimbledon – StadiumMK

There’ll be little love lost at StadiumMK on Saturday, although Wimbledon chief, Glyn Hodges, would probably concede his side need to up it in all areas following their single-goal success over nine-man Blackpool during the week.

“We just needed to work the ball better, to simplify our game,” Hodges told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk.

“That’s the name of the game, just moving the ball with passes. I think the best save their keeper made, to his bottom right corner, was from Joe Pigott after we put together three passes and he was in on goal. 

“They are trying to do eye of the needle stuff, it’s just about moving the ball and something will happen. We didn’t do that well and we probably made a few poor decisions. It was disappointing that against nine men we didn’t capitalise on that.”

Portsmouth v Charlton Athletic – Fratton Park

Charlton’s recent run will be put to the test at fifth-placed Portsmouth. 

The Addicks have won four on the spin, moving them into the play-off places – their most recent success a 2-0 win over Oxford United at The Valley which impressed boss, Lee Bowyer.

“The players I said to them they were excellent, outstanding,” the Charlton chief told www.cafc.co.uk. 

“They [Oxford] are not a bad side, they are a good side, they were in the playoff final last season. To keep them limited, like they did, and going to 10, I think they should be proud of that because I am proud of them.”

Sky Bet League Two

Leyton Orient v Bolton Wanderers – Breyer Group Stadium

Leyton Orient look likely to be without injured trio Ruel Sotiriou, Lee Angol and Myles Judd for the visit of Bolton.

Sunday, November 1

Premier League

Manchester United v Arsenal – Old Trafford

Mikel Arteta will revert to an altogether more familiar line-up after ringing the changes for Thursday’s Europa League clash with Dundalk. 

The Spaniard touched on the importance of rotating the squad, explaining: “We had everybody involved because we know how these games can turn around but obviously, there are a lot of games coming up. 

“It’s not because they don’t deserve to play, it’s because there are a lot of players who needed minutes and opportunities. 

“We used them, they’ve done well, so now let’s prepare for Old Trafford.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Jose Mourinho expects far better from his side – whichever eleven fill the starting places.

The Lilywhites surrendered their ten-match unbeaten sequence in Antwerp on Thursday. But despite a number of changes, the Spurs chief insisted the players – regardless as to whether they’ve played regularly on not – should be ready for whatever challenge lies ahead.

Of course. That’s what I want from the players, that’s what I expect from the players, especially when you’re a player with ambitions to be the first choice, play in the most important matches and start every match, especially now in the Premier League. You have to show – that’s an obvious thing,” Mourinho explained.

“Everybody works the same, trains the same, learns the same. We prepare every match with the same care, the same tactical work we did yesterday is the same we did before Burnley, before Manchester, before every match. So of course, I expect.

“But again I go back to the beginning and it’s my responsibility to chose the players to play.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]