This weekend saw a slightly improved set of results for clubs around London, with wins for Brentford, Fulham and Chelsea. These were somewhat mitigated by poor performances and results by other Premier League clubs across the capital, as well as a shock defeat in the FA cup first round. All-in-all then, a mixed bag, and it is with the Premier League that we begin our round up.
The weekend began with an all London-clash between high-flying Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Frank Lampard named the youngest ever Chelsea side, which really is a testament to the philosophy which he is trying to implement in West-London. As expected, the Eagles were difficult to break down and it wasn’t until the second half that Tammy Abraham opened the scoring after Willian’s cute touch. The impressive Christian Pulisic added a second with a close range header to put the game to bed and give Chelsea their sixth league win in a row. For Palace, the biggest worry will be a seeming injury to Wilfried Zaha, which left him limping in the final stages of the encounter.
Final Score: Chelsea 2-0 Crystal Palace.
After dismantling Red-Star Belgrade 4-0 in midweek, Tottenham Hotspur looked to carry some momentum into the league as they hosted Sheffield United. The Blades, only promoted last season, had already claimed the scalp of Arsenal as well as taking points from Chelsea. No easy task then on paper, and so it proved as Spurs laboured throughout the match. Heung-Min Son, fresh from his red card being overturned, fired Spurs ahead in the 58th minute.
Sheffield United thought that they had equalised less than two minutes later through David McGoldrick, only for VAR to rule it out for the smallest margin of offside. The decision took over 3 minutes to make, and I am still unsure as to whether it was the right one. Like many football fans, I am left questioning the system’s value. Fortunately, it proved inconsequential as the Blades found a deserved equaliser, which means that Tottenham’s search for league form continues.
Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Sheffield United.
After a bright start to their season, West Ham United have faltered, their last win coming in mid-September against Manchester United. They travelled to fellow strugglers Burnley, but in truth they would have been better remaining in London. A lacklustre performance was epitomised by an error-strewn outing by stand-in goalkeeper Roberto. Arguably at fault for 2 of Burnley’s 3 goals, it is clear how much the Irons rely on Fabianski, and just how good the Polish shot-stopper is. To make matters worse, creative outlet Manuel Lanzini was stretchered off with what appeared to be a serious injury. A day to forget for the Hammers.
Final Score: Burnley 3-0 West Ham United.
Saturday evening’s entertainment came in the form of Arsenal’s trip to the King Power Stadium to take on Leicester City. Having conceded three in each of their last two trips to the Midlands outfit, and on the back of one win in their last six games, it is safe to say that confidence was low, even more so after a tepid midweek performance. Despite some flashes of quality from the Gunners, it was a game which Leicester dominated and goals from Jamie Vardy and James Maddison ensured that they walked away with the three points that they thoroughly deserved. In truth, it could have been a harsher scoreline on the London outfit, with only some last ditch defending and wasteful finishing keeping the deficit at two. Another night to wipe from the memory of Arsenal fans – surely an occurrence which is becoming far too regular for their liking. Something will have to change.
Final Score: Leicester City 2-0 Arsenal.
The second all-London affair of the weekend took place at The Den, where Millwall hosted Lee Bowyer’s Charlton Athletic. Millwall went a goal up in the opening minutes through a Shaun Hutchinson header, in a half when both sides missed glaring opportunities. The Addick’s equalised early in the second half, but were cruelly denied a deserved point when Millwall substitute Matt Smith nodded a Jed Wallace corner into the Charlton net. Despite being separated by a solitary point, the close-nature of the Championship means that Charlton remain in 11th, four places ahead of Gary Rowett’s Millwall.
Final Score: Millwall 2-1 Charlton.
Having lost their previous two games, Queens Park Rangers had a fantastic opportunity to get back to winning ways as they hosted relegation-threatened Middlesbrough. However, Britt Assombalonga put the away side in front, in the process grabbing their first goal since 4th October. To their dismay, the lead lasted for just two minutes before Nakhi Wells leveled the score. An own goal just before half-time added to their misery, before a second goal from Assombalonga, as well as several key saves from Darren Randolph, ensured that the spoils were shared. An important point for Middlesbrough,
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Middlesbrough.
Brentford travelled to Wigan Athletic with confidence having won 3 of their last 4 games, a confidence which translated onto the pitch. An early goal from Bryan Mbueno surely settled the nerves, but the Lactics came close to levelling the game on several occasions. Mokotjo doubled Brentford’s advantage with a goal from the edge of the box, before Wigan were reduced to ten men in the latter stages of the game- Cedric Kipre sent-off for a second bookable offence. To rub salt into the Wigan wounds, Brentford added a further late goal to kill the tie, before they too were reduced to ten men in the dying seconds. The result lifts Brentford into ninth place, just 2 points off the play-off places, and the Bees must surely believe that they can sustain this promotion push on current viewing.
Final Score: Wigan Athletic 0-3 Brentford.
Fulham continued their topsy-turvy form with a somewhat fortuitous victory over midlands outfit Birmingham City. A routine cross into the blues’ box was dropped by goalkeeper Lee Camp, allowing Aleksander Mitrovic to sweep in his twelfth goal of the season early in the second half. Camp was under pressure claiming the cross, but not enough to warrant a foul. Birmingham City had their chances, but on the balance of play Fulham probably deserved to edge the game, hitting the post late-on and also having a goal disallowed for offside. It leaves the London club lying in 7th place, just two points outside the playoff places ahead of their game against Queens Park Rangers after the international break.
Final Score: Birmingham City 0-1 Fulham.
AFC Wimbledon were spared the rigours of league football this week as they entered the FA cup in the first round stage with a fixture against fellow League One side Doncaster Rovers. Somewhat against the run of play, the side from the Capital opened the scoring just before half-time, as Joe Pigott nodded a deep cross past the Rovers’ goalkeeper. The game remained even however, and in a game of few clear chances, the result was decided as Tom Anderson headed Doncaster level just after the hour-mark. On the balance of play, it was probably a fair result, as neither side were clinical enough to put the tie to bed, meaning that a replay will be thrown into an already congested fixture list.
Final Score: AFC Wimbledon 1-1 Doncaster Rovers.
Also in FA cup first round action were Leyton Orient, who welcomed Isthmian North Division side Maldon and Tiptree to Brisbane Road. Despite the leagues between them, they had reason to be worried; the visitors have a 100% record so far this season, and had conceded just 4 goals. Indeed, in a hard-fought contest, it was the non-league side who emerged victorious, racing into a two goal lead after half-time thanks to goals from Danny Parish and Jorome Slew. The O’s pulled one back two minutes later, but even Parish’s late red card for simulation could not prevent Maldon and Tiptree from completing a big upset and progressing to the second round of the competition for the first time in their history. A fantastic story for them! As for Orient, this offers them a chance to work on their indifferent league form, but a defeat like this surely hurt.
Final Score: Leyton Orient 1-2 Maldon and Tiptree.