London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, January 16

Premier League

West Ham United v Burnley

Declan Rice is looking forward to in-form West Ham United’s clash with a rapidly improving Burnley side at the London Stadium. 

“It’s a massive game,” the 22-year-old told www.whufc.com.

“It’s also our first three o’clock kick-off since before the first lockdown last March, so that’s going to be a weird one, but we’re coming off a great run with three clean sheets and the wins at Everton and Stockport so everything is looking positive and if we win we go to 29 points which is massive for us, so we want to win.

“A lot of people used to look at us and think we’ll concede easy goals and cave in, but that’s not the case under this manager now. We’re much more solid, we look a threat and we know what Burnley are like and we know what they do.

“We were unlucky to lose to them at home in July when we absolutely battered them, so we’ll go into the game positive and see what we can do. We shouldn’t fear anyone.”

Fulham v Chelsea 

Frank Lampard spoke of his concerns following a run of one win in five Premier League outings for the Blues.

“My concern has been training and the atmosphere around that because when you haven’t won for a few games it’s clear the players need to stay positive,” he told www.chelseafc.com.

“That starts from the staff. I have seen good reactions from the players. They have worked hard. We have had two pretty long weeks of training for pretty much the first time this season. 

“We have had a chance to work in training on bigger elements of our game. We have worked at a really physical level which is important if you want to improve as a team.”

Meanwhile, Fulham chief Scott Parker waxed lyrical of his charges after they return at short notice following COVID concerns and claimed a well-deserved point at Tottenham during the week: “We had players out there today who had one day’s training. What pleased me most was a desire and a passion and a real quality at times tonight.

“There’s a real determination and hard work from this group of players. They’ve never shied away from anything.”

Sky Bet Championship

Nottingham Forest v Millwall

Millwall has an opportunity to put further daylight between themselves and the bottom three when they head to Nottingham Forest. However, the Lions come up against a Forest side unbeaten in six. 

Substitute Matt Smith bagged Millwall a well-deserved point at high-flying Bournemouth during the week. But the draw was their eleventh of the season with only one win coming in their last fourteen outings.

Lions boss, Gary Rowett, insisted his side deserved their latest share of the spoils: “I did not think the substitution would work within one touch so I am not going to claim that as a genius decision,” he told BBC Sport.

“We had far better chances and more than twice the number of shots of Bournemouth.

“We had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, had one shot cleared off the line, hit the post and had numerous other chances.”

Queen’s Park Rangers v Wycombe Wanderers

R’s boss, Mark Warburton, enthused over Charlie Austin’s goalscoring return and will be looking for more of the same when Wycombe are the visitors.

The 31-year-old frontman rejoined the West Londoners on loan from West Bromwich Albon for the remainder of the season, making an immediate impact by scoring in a 2-0 victory at Luton during the week.

“Whenever you bring in an experienced pro like Charlie it always lifts the squad,” the R’s boss enthused.

“He’ll help all the players undoubtedly, but it’s a tough league and we’ve got to get him fit.

“Whenever you bring in an experienced pro like Charlie [Austin] it always lifts the squad.

“He’ll help all the players undoubtedly, but it’s a tough league and we’ve got to get him fit.”

Reading P-P Brentford

Brentford’s game at the Madejski Stadium has been postponed after the West Londoners reported positive COVID tests to the EFL.

Watford v Huddersfield Town

Hornets boss, Xisco Muñoz spoke about the impact Will Hughes could make after the midfielder returned to full match action against Manchester United last weekend.

“Will is an important player in our squad,” Muñoz told www.watfordfc.com ahead of Huddersfield Town’s visit to Vicarage Road.

“We have two games in the next week and we will see when his moment is. It’s important, we know exactly what he can give us and I’m sure we can see the best version of him.”

Troy Deeney and Tom Cleverley could return after being rested at Old Trafford. Nathaniel Chalobahis doubtful while both Christian Kabasele and Isaac Success will miss out.

Sky Bet League One

AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland

Former Colchester United goalkeeper, Sam Walker, could feature for AFC Wimbledon against Sunderland after joining the South Londoners on loan from Reading until the end of the current campaign.

The 29-year-old stopper has made 268 appearances during his career, most recently topping up that tally on an emergency loan with Blackpool.

Dons – without a win in six league outings – are embroiled in a relegation battle. However, a midweek Papa John’s Trophy success at Bristol Rovers will have lifted spirits. 

Bristol Rovers v Charlton Athletic

Lee Bowyer’s side head west looking to end a five-match winless sequence.

Despite twice recovering a two-goal deficit to earn a 4-4 draw against Rochdale at The Valley in midweek, the former midfielder was left largely frustrated as his side lost further ground on those occupying the automatic promotion places.

“I’m disappointed because we’re playing at home against a team in the lower half. It’s a game we expected to win so I’m disappointed.,” he told www.cafc.co.uk.

“We have to look at the positives though. We showed character and fight. We could’ve easily crumbled and gone the other way, but we didn’t. 

“We should’ve won it but their keeper made a great save. Everything they hit in the first half went in. I think they had four shots and everyone went in so it was one of those nights.”

Sky Bet League Two

Leyton Orient v Morecambe

Orient face a tough task in their bid to record a third-straight League Two victory when this season’s surprise package, Morecambe, visit E10. 

The Shrimps were amongst the pre-season favourites for the drop, but after an impressive opening half of the season, they stand on the cusp of the play-off places having won each of their last four – including a 2-1 success over the O’s at the Globe Arena in mid-December.

Sunday, January 17

Premier League

Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur 

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho expressed his frustration following the Liywhites midweek drwa with Fulham in N17.

“We have to kill a game and we didn’t – but you have to keep a clean sheet, not make mistakes, so it was a very avoidable goal,” he told BBBC Sport.

“The markers are there, there wasn’t even an advantage in terms of numbers.

Mourinho added: “We have bad results and we should – and we could have – avoided these results.”

Manchester City v Crystal Palace 

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson will demand more of the same following a resolute performance, a clean sheet and a share of the spoils at Arsenal during the week: “I’m more than satisfied,2 the former England boos enthused. 

“A hard-working performance, we defended well and maybe with a bit more composure we could have scored a goal. We were playing a team in excellent form and we go away with a deserved 0-0.

“I thought the game was end-to-end and we are happy we took something away from the game.”

Monday, January 18

Premier League

Arsenal v Newcastle United

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will want to see an altogether more ruthless Gunners side take on Newcastle on Monday evening.

The Gunners were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Crystal Palace last time out: “We created a lot of situations against the low block but lacked the final quality,” the Spaniard bemoaned.

“We probably didn’t do enough to win the game.

“We are playing a lot of games and you can see fatigue is paying a price, many players aren’t fresh.”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]