Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's Christmas time - no need to be afraid...

As tomorrow is most people's last day at work, I thought I'd do the Christmas preview a little early. Alan Curbishley (left) probably won't be feeling in a very giving mood this week, and nor should he! His team have been giving away goals and points way too easily recently. He will definitely want a scrooge-like defence, a without-frills midfield, and a dazzling display up front by the star of the Christmas tree formation - Darren Bent!

Not much is likely to change between now and Monday, when Charlton play their first game of four seasonal matches.

Arsenal - Monday 26th December

Tough game, even for anyone who hasn't lost six out of their last seven matches like Charlton. Mind you, Wenger's boys aren't exactly on a roll at present, having lost their last three Premiership matches, and scraped a win on penalties against Doncaster, courtesy of an injury time equaliser. The big news though, is that Thierry Henry is injured, and likely to be out for months. Whether this is true, or just paper talk, or that he's signed a contract at Barcelona or Real Madrid and doesn't want to jeopardise it is all open to debate. Arsenal without Henry are like Charlton without Darren Bent - a different class, and I don't mean higher!

Reallistically, any kind of result will be good news for Charlton fans based on the feeble fare served up last week against Wigan, and in previous recent games.

Up until this season, when playing the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, etc, I'd always say to my girlfriend when asked what I thought the score would be that we'd lose five nil, and anything better (i.e. less) would be great. The thing is, we haven't ever lost 5-0 to these teams - four maybe, but not five! (I'm ignoring the Leeds (1-6) and Massives (2-5) results, as they weren't against really big clubs...) The scary thing is that unless our defence cuts out the silly mistakes it's been making, we could ship double that! The Premiershp record is 9-0 don't forget - I think jointly held by Ipswich (versus Man Utd) and Croydon (Perry Suckling's Liverpool game). I would hate us to join those two teams in the record books...

Newcastle - Wednesday 28th December

Another tough game, following just 54 hours after we play Arsenal and we've got to travel up North too!

This is another "point will be good" game - we may get away without having to face Henry, but Owen and Shearer are back playing together and both seem fit at present. Shearer took ages to score his first goal against Charlton (Maybe ten games?), but since then, he hasn't really stopped. He scored his 200th Premiership goal against us, and now stands on 199 for Newcastle, one short of equaling their all time record (Jackie Milburn). The timing seems good here for him to equal and/or break the record against us next week. Owen has a pretty good record against us too, and don't forget that both Lee Bowyer and Scott Parker (a pair of ex-Addicks) could be playing against Charlton; Bowyer maybe for the last time before he re-joins in January and Parker for the first time since his acrimonious move to Chelsea. He will be boo-ed all the game by the Valley faithful who make the journey, but I doubt they will be heard too often over 50,000 screaming Geordies!

West Ham United - Saturday 31st December

The New Years Eve game pits us against our near neighbours from across the river. In years gone past, we could always almost guarantee six points a season when playing the Hammers, but this season it doesn't look so cushy. Of course, if drawn together in the cup, West Ham would always beat us, so things kind of evened themselves out over the seasons. This year, Pardew and Konchesky (left, with Luke Young) are coming up against their former team for the first time. Konch will definitely be up for it, so it would be good to have a right winger who could keep him busy rather than the other way around. Step forward Dennis Rommedahl, the player that Konch will fear most! Luckily, new Isreali signing Yanav Katan, and anyone else they try to get (Andy Johnson bid turned down today...Louis Saha being linked also) will not be allowed to play at The Valley. A good way to end the year, with a win, please Curbs!

Everton - Monday 2nd January

Another tough away game just after a local derby home match. Everton are so hot and cold at the moment - they can beat almost anyone on their day (Well, Brummies, Boro, Blackburn and Newcastle), but get stuffed big time when they get it wrong (Bolton, Baggies, West Ham). Who knows which team will turn up to play Charlton? Oh, that's right - David Moyes after match speech is already written - "It's the best we've played this season!" A point would again be a reasonable return for Charlton.

So it's a pretty tough four matches that we've got coming along, anything like the six points I've hoped for would be a wonderful return.

There's no point in guessing the team, as Curbs has said that changes will be made against Arsenal, and injuries, squad rotation, dropping the donkeys, will all come into play in the other games.

This is my first eleven:

Andersen, Young, Perry, El Karkouri, Hriedersson, Kishishev, Smertin, Murphy, Rommedahl (left), Ambrose, Bent.

I expect that all these players may get a game or three or four over Xmas, and also be joined either in the team or on the bench by Kiely, Myrhe, Powell, Sorondo, Fortune, Johansson, Hughes, Holland, Euell, Thomas, Bothroyd, Bartlett, Lisbie, and maybe even Fuller, Sam, and Varney if we get any injuries.

My ones to watch are the Charlton fans this Christmas; we've taken a lot over recent months, and it's time that we got a reward of some sort. Please Curbs, make our Christmas wishes come true and give us something to cheer. It is Euell-time (left) after all!

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