London Soccer Shorts…

Premier League

Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea – Amex Stadium

Chelsea head to Brighton looking to enhance their impressive away record further after staging a late fightback to win at Arsenal.

Leading marksman, Tammy Abrahams, netted the winning goal at the Emirates and his manager, Frank Lampard, was clearly delighted with what he was getting from his powerful frontman.

“That is the beauty of Tammy – that he will never hide or shirk trying to get in there again,” the boss told www.chelseafc.com.

“He is constantly wanting to get in the box and be hungry.

“He does not get his shot away quickly enough on the first chance when David Luiz blocks it but is happy to get there again and have a second, and when he swivelled and shot it was a good bit of skill.”

Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur – St Mary’s Stadium

Spurs head to Southampton looking to improve defensively after conceding seventeen goals in all competitions since Jose Mourinho took charge at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Mourinho again spoke of his side’s frailties following last weekends 2-2 draw at bottom of the table Norwich, “I think the same defensive mistakes we made in the first half, we made in the second half. This is being a little bit of our history,” he told www.tottenhamhotspur.com.

“We conceded two very bad goals. Our defensive mistakes are match after match.

“I have lots of work to do but it has been difficult because I always say you have to try and hide your fragilities. We have to improve defensively because there are too many individual mistakes. That’s very frustrating because we play well and cannot be more offensive than we were in the second half.”

Meanwhile, Southampton will be confident following a run of three without defeat – carrying them out of the dropzone and within touching distance of midtable.

Watford v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Vicarage Road

Watford manager, Nigel Pearson, did his utmost to take the pressure off his improving side after they extended their unbeaten sequence to three matches with an impressive 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at Vicarage Road.

Despite losing Adrian Mariappa to a red card – Try Deeney’s brace and one from Ismaila Sarr proved decisive.

“We couldn’t afford to lose,” Pearson explained.

“Must-win is something I’m not overly keen on putting into the players yet. The important thing is to get the performance right. We showed good intensity. We showed incredible unity on the pitch and bench. We have to make sure that remains high on our agenda – to keep the players together.

“I thought in the first half we were pretty dominant. We expected Villa to improve in the second half and to a certain extent they did. To extend the lead with 10 men is something positive.”

Norwich City v Crystal Palace – Carrow Road

Victory over West Ham followed by a draw with Southampton has ensured Crystal Palace enhanced a position in the top half of the table.

And despite their continued injury crisis, boss Roy Hodgson praised his squad ahead of their trip to Carrow Road.

 “I know one thing: whatever team we put out – however well we succeed in patching them up or maybe in one or two instances not patching them up, those players who go out there with a Crystal Palace shirt on will definitely give their all,” he told www.cpfc.co.uk.

West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth – London Stadium

David Moyes spoke about his immediate aims following his reappointment at the London Stadium.

Speaking to www.whufc.com ahead of the visit of fellow strugglers, AFC Bournemouth, the Scotsman explained: “The job first and foremost is to make sure we get away from this position. But I do believe that the squad of players I’ve got here is a better squad of players than when I took over before, so I am looking forward to working with them and I am looking forward to meeting them as I’ve not met them yet. 

“I want to hear what they’ve got to say and I want to see what fits best for the Club, but ultimately I want to play good football, I want to play exciting football and I want to give everybody something to cheer about and shout about.”

Arsenal v Manchester United -Emirates Stadium

Mikel Arteta could hide his disappointment after his Arsenal side surrendered an early Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to late strikes from Jorginho and Tammy Abrahams as Chelsea plundered the points at the Emirates Stadium.

“We’re really disappointed because I think we played very well in the first half, and 20 minutes in the second half we played really well as well, but we pushed back and they got on top,” he told www.arsenal.com.

“We need to win. Everyone knows we’re not at the best time that we’ve been in, but I feel as though if we get a win and we continue to work hard, we can push on from there. It all starts with a win and like today, if we play like we did in the first half any team will have a problem facing us.”

The Gunners face another difficult test against a Manchester United side that have honed in on the top four places of late following back-to-back victories over Newcastle United and Burnley.

Sky Bet Championship

Millwall v Luton Town – The Den

Millwall impressively returned to winning ways against high-flying Brentford and will now look to push on when struggling Luton Town visit the Den.

Aiden O’Brien’s early strike was enough to sink the Bees, although boss Gary Rowett, was complimentary towards his opposite number, Thomas Frank. 

“They are a good side, Brentford. For them to be so free-scoring – probably the form team in the division, I’d say – he’s done a brilliant, brilliant job.

“I know they had a slow start to the season but they have really kicked into gear so they’re a difficult side to stop and it causes you one or two problems in terms of how you structure your own team.”

Rowett was particularly pleased with the way his side negotiated an unfamiliar system, adding: “I thought the first half had some really good stuff. It’s the first time we’ve played a five system at home – we’ve obviously played it very effectively away, and I felt as though we nullified their clear chances very well.

Bristol City v Brentford – Ashton Gate

Thomas Frank moved quickly to defend goalkeeper, David Raya, after his error proved costly, handing Millwall a late Christmas gift at the Den on Saturday.

“We gave them the goal. It’s no secret that David made a mistake but I think he’s been absolutely amazing this season.

“For me, he’s potentially the best keeper in the division. Football is a game of mistakes, that happens, we’ll move on.”

The Bees now face a Bristol City side containing former goalkeeper, Daniel Bentley and who return to winning ways with a 3-0 triumph over Luton Town last time out.

Fulham v Reading – Craven Cottage

Promotion-chasing Fulham face in-form Reading it what should be a New Year’s Day cracker at Craven Cottage.

A single Bobby Decordove-Reid goal midway through the first half was enough to see the Cottagers home against Stoke City last time out, drawing an enthusiastic response from Head Coach, Scott Parker.

“The be-all and end-all was to get the three points and the first forty-five minutes was the best I have seen us play all year,” he explained.

“The only negative I had was that we didn’t go in more than one up. At half-time, we knew Stoke would put us under pressure and we spoke about showing another side to us.

“We knew it might turn into a bit of a slugfest and it proved that way. What was most pleasing was that we did show that other side – sometimes I have doubted that this year.”

Reading currently sit in midtable but have won each of their last three league fixtures and will be looking to mount a challenge for a play-off berth during the second half of the season.

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

Mark Warburton was again left frustrated after his Queen’s Park Rangers side suffered a late defeat against Hull City last time out.

Ilias Chair handed Rangers the lead. However, George Honeyman levelled before the break, then Jackson Irvine netted in the last minute to see the Tigers home.

“Today’s result is a massive hammer blow, I can’t deny it,” Warburton explained to www.qpr.co.uk.

“We have dominated a game of football from start to finish, we have had chance after chance but then give away two very soft and needless goals.

“We need to be better, we are better than that but it’s about results and putting the ball in the back of the net and defending your own goal. Today we didn’t do that well enough.”

The R’s now face a Cardiff City side unbeaten in four and having stunned Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough last weekend – goals from Robert Glatzel and Junior Hoilett handing the Bluebirds victory by the odd goal in three.

Sky Bet League One

AFC Wimbledon v Southend United – Kingsmeadow Stadium

Glynn Hodges heaped praise on the AFC Wimbledon support for the efforts lifting the side, despite the Dons eventually slipping to defeat against Oxford United last Saturday.

“They are proud to wear the shirt and we have a great crowd here that really get behind us,” Hodges told www.afcwimbledon.co.uk.

“We want to make sure that we give them something to shout about. The effort that the players put in is a given and we are representing the club, so we put those demands upon ourselves. 

“Unfortunately, we came up short today, but credit to them, and we will just go again. The challenge in these three games over Christmas was to play at an intensity with high numbers in terms of distances covered and it would give us a chance to win games.”

The Dons now have an opportunity to pull further away from the dropzone against a Southend United side with just a single victory to their name all season and whom they thrashed 4-1 in the corresponding fixture at Roots Hall Stadium back in October.

Sky Bet League Two

Walsall v Leyton Orient – The Bescot Stadium

Leyton Orient head to Walsall having picked up six points from their last five matches but altogether looking stronger as a unit as they look to pull clear of those towards the bottom of League Two. 

A recent success story has been the forme of teenage striker, Ruel Sotiriou, who has netted two in two after making his league debut against Colchester United on Boxing Day.

Thursday, January 2

Sky Bet Championship

Charlton’s mini-revival was brought to its conclusion by ten-man Derby County. However, boss Lee Bowyer refused to use an ever-growing injury list as an excuse for their Pride Park setback.

Striker, Macauley Bonne, limped out of the game at half-time with a troublesome hamstring – extending the ‘Addicks sick list to twelve. 

The Addicks are currently in the middle of an injury crisis that saw Bowyer without 12 first-team players for this evening’s game and the injury woes were added to when Macauley Bonne was substituted at half-time.

“Does it come back to the amount of games we play at this time and we have no-one to rotate? Maybe, but don’t get outbattled, don’t get out-fought,” the former midfielder told www.cafc.co.uk. 

“I thought we were second to everything tonight against a good side that can play, then you are going to lose the game against a good side that can play. If anything is our strength it is our fight and our togetherness, maybe the Christmas period is catch up with us? 

“It might be but I don’t like seeing my teams do that. We’ll have to dust them down and we’ve got another game in three days’ time, we can’t let that happen again.”

Bowyer’s side now face a Swansea City side just a point outside the play-off places having suffered defeat just once in four outings.

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]