Monday, January 30, 2006

Bouncing in to The Valley

Charlton return to Premiership action, after their recent cup exploits, on Tuesday night with a home match against West Brom. The Baggies are down at the bottom part of the table and once more in a relegation battle; could Charlton's resurgent form - four wins in six matches, and only one defeat - bring another home win? Let's hope so.

The official match report is here.

The team our manager picks may well be different to that which started and finished Saturdays Cup game versus Orient.

The mistake by Thomas Myrhe that led to Orients goal, coupled with the one at Chelsea in the last league game, is unlikely to effect his position in goal. However, Curbs does not like to see mistakes being made, and any further blips could lead to a recall for Stephan Andersen.

In defence, barring injuries, it is safe to assume that Young, Fortune, Hreidersson and Powell will all feature. Jon Spector is pushing for a place, but Fortune - playing possibly the best football of his career - and the "old stager" Chris Powell (left) are playing much too well to lose their places. Luke Young is the one player not performing to his usual high standrads, and it would be good to see Englands right full back return to his customary solid displays.

The midfield is one area that we could see changes - Hughes and Kishishev both had poor first hours on Saturday that led to them being substituted. Does Curbs stick with replacements Smertin and Thomas, or with the two who have been playing during the better recent form? Matt Holland had another good game on Saturday, although he did pick up an injury just after the triple substitutions. If he is doubtful, then Smertin will play in his place and Kish will keep his place too. Thomas for Hughes is one I'd like to see for this match, as I think our winger could be reeady to put in some good performances after a few months of not being in the starting line up. Darren Ambrose should also keep his place, on the other wing to Thomas/Hughes.

Up front, it looks like a double bender! Yes, our two Bent's - Marcus and Darren look set to make their partnership home debut, and it is likely that they will both play up-front in a 4-4-2 formation. Both Shaun Bartlett and Saturdays match-winner Jay Bothroyd (see top pic) are in contention, but the signing from Everton is probably a more likely starting choice for Curbs.

This is the team I expect to see take the field against West Brom -

Myrhe, Young, Hreidersson, Fortune, Powell, Thomas, Holland (or Smertin), Kishishev, Ambrose, Bent D., Bent M. Subs will be from Andersen, Spector, Bothroyd, Thomas, Bartlett, Hughes, Perry.

I think it unlikely that Euell, Jeffers, Johansson or Lisbie will make the squad, although as yet, no definite movement has occured with any of the forwards. Hopefully we will be shot of one or all of them by the time kick-off comes tomorrow night!

Tonight, a player linked with Charlton quite a few times in the past handed in a transfer request, but I expect Joey Barton to set his sights on another north-west club if he is allowed to leave Manchester City. He would certainly fit the bill at The Valley though...

It is uncertain if Charlton will make any late moves in the transfer market; Curbs has stated that someone must go before anyone comes in, so unless we wave goodbye to a forward, or Holland (left) who's being linked with Southampton, or Murphy if there is any truth in the rumours...then I doubt we will see anyone new.

For the Baggies, Nigel Quashie is likely to make his debut after signing from Southampton, while long-time defensive stalwart Darren Moore has now left the club for Derby. Ronnie Wallwork is suspended, and Steve Watson doubtful through injury.

Pedro45's score prediction is another positive one - a 3-1 win. It's just got to come right sooner rather than later in front of goal, and Marcus Bent will be looking to make an immediate impression.

The one-to-watch is Darren Bent (left) though, as eyes will be focused on Marcus, and our Dazza could well cash-in after a couple of fruitless games.

As long as nobody makes a rash challenge like Talal El Karkouri did last season, a repeat of the 4-1 thrashing Charlton received last season is out of the question. Let's hope that we finally hit some form in time for a few weeeks of tough games.

That run will include a visit from Brentford, as Charlton's luck with home Cup ties continued. The fifth round tie takes place on the weekend of 18th February; with Liverpool getting Man Utd, plus Chelsea (or doubtfully Everton) hosting Colchester, West Ham meeting Bolton, and Villa playing Man City, I doubt that our game will make it onto the live TV section again. Martin "Mad Dog" Allen has a good side, with some good players at his disposal, including former Addick Michael Turner. Charlton though will see this as a more than potential route into the last eight clubs of the sixth round. We've yet to see if Peter Varney will allow Brentford the 6,000 away fans tickets that he handed over to Orient in the fourth round...After quite a few complaints, I doubt he will be so generous this time.

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