London Soccer Shorts…

Friday, January 22
Sky Bet Championship
Stoke City v Watford – Bet365 Stadium
Watford head to the Potteries looking to make ground on the automatic promotion places.

A single-goal midweek victory over Barnsley at Vicarage Road helped the cause.

“I’m very happy because in front of us we had a difficult team – For me, it was a good performance,” Hornets chief, Xisco Munoz, told BBC Three Counties Radio.

“We need to understand we need to improve more and work harder – it doesn’t matter what happens now with the table.

“Every time we have the chance Troy is a special man for me – he’s also helped me in the dressing room because he is the big story here – it’s important I have a good relationship with him because he’s a special man and every time he gives 200% for the team.”

Saturday, January 23
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Southampton v Arsenal – St Mary’s Stadium
Mikel Arteta suggested that a top-four finish is more important than FA Cup success.

Holders Arsenal head to St Mary’s for an all-Premier League tie on Saturday: “I wouldn’t like to choose, I would like both,” the Spaniard explained to www.arsenal.com.

“We want to win every competition we’re involved in, obviously, the next step for us is to be competing in the Champions League again.

“Arsene Wenger mentioned that just a few years again and I agree with that because the competition was getting bigger and bigger and in the last three years that level has gone to another dimension.

“This is the level that we need to achieve, and we need to get closer and closer to that each year.”

Millwall v Bristol City – The Den
Millwall will be hoping Wednesday evenings 1-0 success at Huddersfield Town can be replicated when they turn their attention to the FA Cup.

Fellow Championship outfit, Bristol City visit The Den: “We were on a poor run of form and it’s been disappointing after doing well last season and starting well this one and maybe we had gone away a bit from what we are good at to try to be a better team,” Lions boss, Gary Rowett, explained after their trip to the John Smith’s Stadium.

“Huddersfield’s home form has been fantastic and they have really unpredictable patterns of play.

“I think the penalty was a bit soft, but I can see why the ref gave it and you’re then thinking this could spoil all the hard work, but we got fortunate and they only had one shot on target all game because our discipline was superb and the determination phenomenal.”

West Ham United v Doncaster Rovers – London Stadium
David Moyes is refusing to get carried away with West Ham’s good form.

The Hammers are unbeaten in five matches and will start favourites to progress against League One promotion-hopefuls, Doncaster Rovers, at the London Stadium.

“I’d like to dream a lot but we’re very humble and understand we’re West Ham, we’re not going to start shouting things too soon because history has shown we haven’t always backed it up and I want to be the one to back it up,” the Scotsman explained after Tuesday’s Premier League win over West Brom at the London Stadium.

“We’re going step by step and making good progress picking up points. I want us to be competing at the top end and to do that we have to keep winning.”

Sky Bet Championship
Queen’s Park Rangers v Derby County – Loftus Road
Mark Warburton and his QPR charges are eyeing up a third-successive Championship victory when Wayne Rooney’s Derby come to town on Saturday.

The R’s won by a goal to nil at Cardiff City during the week: “I’m really, really pleased. It’s a tough place to come,” Warburton enthused
“They’re a good team and are very good at what they do. We knew they’d had a rough run of late.

“We knew we had to meet the challenge and the longer the game went on we knew we had a good chance of the three points.

“To come here against a team like this means, of course, we have to keep building. In this division, any run of form means you can move up the table pretty quickly.”

Sky Bet League One
Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town – The Valley
Inconsistent Charlton risk slipping our of the play-off places unless they pick up the three points against struggling Swindon at The Valley.

The Addicks were beaten by the odd goal in three at Peterborough during the week. Boss, Lee Bowyer, will demand an improvement defensively: “It was two poor goals, we were in control of the game, they weren’t hurting us at all,” the former midfielder told www.cafc.co.uk.

“Like as of late, we’ve given stupid goals away. I’ve said that to the players ‘we can’t keep giving stupid goals away’.”

Sky Bet League Two
Leyton Orient v Forest Green Rovers – Breyer Group Stadium

In-form Orient are eying up a fourth-successive League Two victory when fellow promotion-hopefuls, Forest Green are the visitors to E10 on Saturday.

Head Coach, Ross Embleton, was satisfied with last weekends 2-0 success over Morecambe: “I’m delighted, it was a massive win and Morecambe – after showing us a lot of respect in the first-half – had the better chances before we scored,” he enthused.

“Overall, we deserved to win and I’m pleased for Lawrence Vigouroux keeping a clean sheet. It’s our third in a row. Defender Dan Happe got into some good advanced positions, in the first half and consequently, Tunji Akinola showed that initiative to supply the cross that led to our goal.”

Embleton added: “Whilst Morecambe showed us a lot of respect today, I’m expecting a very attacking Forest Green next Saturday.

Sunday, January 24
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Chelsea v Luton Town – Stamford Bridge
Erratic Chelsea will seek solace in the cup following their midweek Premier League defeat at Leicester City.

“There are players who are not playing as well as they should be, that’s a simple fact.,” Blues boss, Frank Lampard, bemoaned.

“I’m disappointed with both the goals. We know we can compete with Leicester when we are playing well but when you go 2-0 down and you are in a difficult period of form it affects the game hugely.

“The players know they were beaten by a better team, a team we are behind and one we want to catch. The general theme of our performance was slow and sluggish.”

Brentford v Leicester City – Brentford Community Stadium
Brentford will relish the opportunity to pit their wits with Premier League little contenders, Leicester City.

Domestically, The Bees continue to press for automatic promotion. Wednesday’s hard-fought win over Luton Town – Brentford’s fourth win on the spin – elevated then into third place in the table.

“We were extremely good in the first 35 minutes as we pressed aggressively and created chances,” Head Coach, Thomas Frank, told BBC Radio London.

“We got too passive in the last 10 minutes of the half and that carried on into the second half. Maybe that is because of the break, but I need to give a lot of credit to Luton.

“They caused us a lot of problems. But sometimes in this league, you need to dig deep to get wins.”

Fulham v Burnley – Craven Cottage
Fulham will face a tough task looking to end their winless run when Burnley visits Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The Turf Moor club won at champions Liverpool on Thursday evening. However, Fulham boss, Scott Parker, saw good signs despite his own side slipping to defeat against leaders Manchester United during the week.

“I’m really pleased but I’m disappointed at the same time, which shows how far we’ve come,” Parker told BBC Sport.

“I saw a team today that looked threatening and tried their hardest to get back into the game, but we go again. The next challenge is to maintain where we are and don’t let defeat sink us.

“No doubt we can win and operate in this division and we just need to push on and keep improving.”

Monday, January 25
Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Wycombe Wanderers v Tottenham Hotspur – Adams Park

Jose Mourinho is likely to ring the changes for the Lilywhites trip to Adams Park.

With Spurs still fighting for honours on four fronts, the likes of Carlos Vinicius, Joe Hart and Gareth Bale could all come into contention for the North Londoners.

Advertisement

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]