London Soccer Shorts…

Saturday, February 6

Premier League

Aston Villa v Arsenal – Villa Park 

Mikel Arteta expects to see a different Aston Villa to the one which slipped to defeat against in-form West Ham on Wednesday evening.

Speaking to after the Gunners 2-1 defeat at Wolves, the Spaniard explained; “I am not here to judge their performance. 

“They have been fantastic through the season, they have beaten some top teams, they have been on a really strong run and they beat us when he played them at home so we have to make sure that we go there and win the game.”

Fulham v West Ham United – Craven Cottage

Fulham boss Scott Parker remained defiant after the relegation-haunted Cottagers slipped to defeat against Leicester during the week: There’s still 17 games left. I understand what the perception will be, but we have a team here that have been in games,” he told BBC Match of the Day.

“We know what we need to do and there needs to be a clear focus on that.”

Meanwhile, David Moyes can be fairly happy with life after the in-form East Londoners recorded their sixth win in seven matches at Villa Park; “We didn’t play well on Sunday (against Liverpool) and we knew that and we thought we should have played better, but if anybody questioned us, we certainly did tonight against a really good team in Aston Villa.

“It keeps us moving along, so I’m really pleased.

It’s a really difficult period we’re in and we’ve got another game on Saturday at Fulham.

I’m sure we’d like to enjoy this performance and this result, but it’s back to work on Thursday morning and we have to go again.”

Sky Bet Championship

Coventry City v Watford – St Andrews

Watford manager Xisco Munoz, held his hands up after the Hornets were beaten bt QPR at Vicarage Road; “I am responsible for today’s game. I don’t know why but we played without intensity. It was my mistake. We knew today was an important game for us but we were not at our best level.

“We can only say we will continue and we have another game soon. We need to improve and work harder – and we need to learn from the mistakes of today.”

Middlesbrough v Brentford – The Riverside Stadium

Thomas Frank is raking it all in his stride as Brentford continue to challenge for a place in the top-flight.

Speaking after the Bees midweek win over Bristol City, the Dane said: “We are always together and we have desire and that’s important in a league that is relentless. 

“We look only to the next game against Middlesbrough who have a way of playing that makes it difficult for you.”

Millwall v Sheffield Wednesday – The Den

Millwall boss Gary Rowett was satisfied with his sides toil in claiming a point from a goalless draw with high-flying Norwich on Tuesday evening; “I thought it was an excellent performance and as well as we’ve played for a while.

“We were playing against such a difficult side in Norwich, who are really technical and move the ball around so well.

Queen’s Park Rangers v Blackburn Rovers – Loftus Road

QPR boss Mark Warburton will be calling for more of the same after overseeing his sides’ win at Watford: “I thought it was a strong second-half performance, especially after going down to a penalty. We were masters of our own downfall, in terms of giving the ball away led to the penalty.

“It was very similar to Norwich away – we responded very well and got the rewards.

“It was their reaction that was so pleasing – they didn’t sit back and accept the draw, they were on the front foot and it was a well-deserved victory in the end.”

Sky Bet League One

Rochdale v Charlton Athletic – The Crown Oil Arena

Addicks chief, Lee Bowyer, was encouraged by his side’s comeback the last time they met Rochdale.

Charlton trailed 2-0 and 4-2 before earning a thrilling 4-4 draw at The Valley a month ago: “We have to pick up where we left off against Rochdale at home,” he told 

“We played really well in that second half and that wasn’t just luck, it was hard work, from back to front.

“We did the basics really well in that second half, so we have to do the same. Not just in this game, but in every game. If we do that, we’ll win more games.”

Wigan Athletic v AFC Wimbledon – DW Stadium

Interim Dons chief Mark Robinson has been handed a boost with several key players available again for their trip to fellow strugglers, Wigan Athletic.

Darnell Johnson, George Dobson, Ben Heneghan, Dan Csoka, Nesta Guinness-Walker and skipper Will Nightingale could ll come into contention.

Alex Woodyard faces a late fitness test, while Ollie Palmer remains sidelined.

Sky Bet League Two

Leyton Orient v Colchester United – Breyer Group Stadium

The O’s will be without Hector Kyprianou who starts the first of a three-match ban following his dismissal at Crawley during the week.

Nevertheless, Orient should be confident against a Colchester side without a win in nine Sky Bet League Two outings.

Sunday, February 7

Premier League

Tottenham West Bromwich Albion – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Three successive defeat have heaped pressure on Jose Mourinho – a run Sam Allardyce and West Brom will look to expose further when they vsit N17 on Sunday.

Speaking to after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea, the Lilywhites boss said: “The first half wasn’t easy. 

“They were dominating us, they created some imbalance in our left side, it wasn’t easy. 

“But the reality is that they scored on that penalty. After that, no problems, no panic, no big chances. The game was more in their hands in the first half, but nothing coming out of that.

“In the second half, completely different. We were the best team, we pressed higher, recovered the ball faster, getting more players into attacking areas and in the second half, I believe we deserved more than what we got.

“So, the negative feeling of a defeat doesn’t change, but you can take some positives, you can work at the training ground as a player and a coach with the feeling that we are together. 

“The players gave what they had to give in the second half, and at least there is that positivity.”

Sheffield United v Chelsea – Bramall Lane

Thomas Tuchel’s continued his unbeaten sart to life at Chelsea and will be expecting a further three points when the Blues head to Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Chelsea saw off Spurs on Thursday evening, the performance a lot more comfortable than the single-goal scoreline would suggest 

“It was a deserved win,” the German explained.

“We were very, very good in the first half, counter-pressing and didn’t allow counter-attacks so that was very strong. We lacked a little bit of precision in the box, composure to make it even 2-0 or to score more goals and decide the match.”

Monday, February 8

Premier League

Leeds United v Crystal Palace – Elland Road

Palace head to Elland Road looking for a third successive Premier League victory.

The injury-hit Eagles have seen off Wolves and Newcastle recently, edging them further clear of the dropzone.


Brian Jeeves