London Soccer Shorts…

Friday, April 9 

Premier League

Fulham v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Craven Cottage

There’s no room for error for Fulham when Wolves visit the Cottage on Friday evening.

The West Londoners are three points adrift of safety following last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Villa Park. Fulham boss Scott Parker told BBC Sport:: “I thought we were pretty solid for much of the game but the last 15 minutes I didn’t like at all and it is something we will need to address.

“We need to be brutally honest, the last 15 minutes is not one we can brush under the carpet. If we do that again, we will not win football matches.

“The games are coming thick and fast with only seven remaining now.”

Sky Bet Championship

Watford v Reading – Vicarage Road

Watford were held at Middlesbrough last time out but will be confident of taking another step towards the Premier League when play-off hopefuls, Reading visit Vicarage Road on Friday.

Speaking to BBC3CR after the Riverside Stadium stalemate, 

Watford head coach Xisco Munoz said: “We fought today, we gave our best, sometimes when you play against good teams it’s difficult and the most important thing is we took a point and we need to prepare for the next game.”

Saturday, April 10

Premier League

Crystal Palace v Chelsea – Selhurst Park

Roy Hodgson was satisfied with his sides’ toil against Everton last time out and will call for more of the same when capital rivals Chelsea visit Selhurst Park on Saturday. 

Speaking to BBC Sport after the Toffees draw, the former England chief said: “I think it was a point that we deserved,” added Hodgson. “There were never any occasions where we were inferior to our opponents.

“With 38 points we’ve got a tremendous base with eight games to go.

“The way we’ve played tonight that’s basically the way we’ve tried to play football and will always try to play football.”

A shock defeat and a dressing room fracas offered Tomas Tuchel his first conundrum since taking charge at Stamford Bridge. Nevertheless, an impressive Champions League victory in Porto suggested a swift resolution: “It was important to bounce back from the last match,” the Blues chief told www.chelseafc.com. 

“We’ve had some excellent results together but we needed to show that we can improve from the defeat to West Brom. 

“I was really pleased with the performance and also with the clean sheet from the guys, which is very important.”

Sky Bet Championship

Millwall v Swansea City – The Den

Millwall manager Gary Rowett will be calling for more of the same when Swansea City visit The Den.

The Lions picked up all three points at Stoke City last time out: “I’m really pleased, it’s a difficult place to come. Stoke are not only a very physical side, but they’ve got some really good players as well,” Rowett enthused after the Bet365 Stadium triumph.

Preston North End v Brentford – Deepdale

Brentford’s automatic promotion hopes continue to flounder – only three points at Deepdale will do if they are to maintain a slender challenge to Norwich and Watford, occupying the top two paces.

A resolute Birmingham City side earned a goalless draw in West London on Tuesday evening. Frustrated Bees boss, Thomas Frank, told BBC Radio London: “I’m always down when we’re not winning games and I’m very rarely pleased with a draw.

“I think we created enough chances and opportunities to win the game and we’ve played on a higher level offensively than we did today. We have dominated the ball more in other games.

“We need to be better at that, but if you look at the last three games, I think we’ve done more than enough to win each one.

“In games like this, you need to have that cutting edge in the final third and I think we lack that at this moment in time.”

Queen’s Park Rangers v Sheffield Wednesday – Loftus Road

Defeat at Nottingham Forest on Easter Monday has piled pressure on QPR manager Mark Warburton. 

The former Brentford and Rangers boss will be looking for a response when struggling Sheffield Wednesday visit Loftus Road. Speaking to BBC London 94.9 after the City Ground setback, Warburton said: “There’s no shouting and screaming upstairs. They’ve been very good of late, they’ve worked hard and had a good run, but we were below our best and we have to recognise it.

“When we’re good, we can be very good, but today we didn’t deserve much out of that game.”

Sky Bet League One

Accrington Stanley v AFC Wimbledon – Wham Stadium

Mark Robinson realises time is running short if AFC Wimbledon are to avoid relegation. However, he insisted his charges are fully committed to the cause.

Speaking to www.afcwimbledon.co.uk after Monday’s home defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town, the Dons boss said: “Every day it’s a pleasure to come in and work with the players. They are fully behind what we are trying to do, but I fully realise that we need points. 

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic – Stadium of Light

Addicks defender, Ryan Inniss return to the fray following injury and starred as the south-east Londoners won at Doncaster on Good Friday.

The 25-year-old defender is relishing the prospect of a play-off place battle, telling wwwcafc.co.uk: “We know we’re going into a big game. Every game is a cup final. I know it’s a cliché but they’re the games we want to play in. Which then, if we do make it into the play-offs, we’ve had that calibre of games if we do get there. But we’re taking one at a time and we’re steadily improving, hopefully, come the end of the season we’re up there.”

Sky Bet League Two

Cheltenham Town v Leyton Orient – Jonny-Rocks Stadium

The O’s will be looking to extend a seven-match unbeaten run at high-flying Cheltenham Town on Saturday.

The O’s have kept clean sheets in four of their last five but will need to take all three points against the Robins to sustain their play-off aspirations.

Sunday, April 11

Premier League

West Ham United v Leicester City – London Stadium

David Moyes remained grounded despite talk of Champions League football at the London Stadium.

The Hammers won a thrilling clash at Wolves on Monday to move into the top-four: “I am hearing pundits talking about West Ham having a chance of Champions League,” the Scotsman told www.whufc.com.

“Nobody would have envisaged or mentioned that last season. Can we keep it going? We are going to try and compete with the big teams right until the end.”

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

A disappointing draw at struggling Newcastle left Tottenham treading water in their bid for a top-four finish and heaped further pressure on Jose Mourinho ahead of Manchester United’s visit to N17.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live after the St James Park draw, Mourinho said: “I am frustrated. We needed to win the match and we came to win. We were not far from winning it but, at the same time, we created some instability on the game with so many individual defensive mistakes that we made. We always gave Newcastle a chance to be in the game.

Sheffield United v Arsenal – Bramall Lane 

Arsenal are under pressure to perform at bottom of the table Sheffield United following a disappointing defeat to Liverpool followed up by Europa League frustration as Slavia Prague netted a stoppage-time equaliser at the Emirates.

Speaking after Liverpool’s 3-0 win in North London, Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta said: “They were better in every department. I take the blame, it’s my responsibility. They were the best team by far. They won by three goals and it could have been more.

Brian Jeeves

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