Saturday, March 18, 2006

Goodbye and good riddance

Arsenal 3 Charlton Athletic 0

Charlton's final appearance at Highbury was not a happy one - another three goal defeat, and not much of a positive vein to write about.

Alan Curbishley made several changes from the eleven that started the previous match, recalling Jerome Thomas (left), Jon Spector, Jason Euell and fit again Dennis Rommedahl to the starting line up. Out went Jay Bothroyd and Darren Ambrose, while Chris Powell and Matt Holland were demoted to the substitutes bench. Gonzalo Sorondo was also fit enough to be a sub, along with Shaun Bartlett and goalie Stephan Andersson. It didn't seem to bother Arsenal though...

Charlton started on the back foot, and rarely left it over the next ninety minutes - Pires scored in under a quarter hour, and Adebayor made it two after 32 minutes (left), both after defensive mistakes. The Togo striker had already missed a couple of good chances following poor defending and the only surprise was that Charlton kept the scoreline down to two at halftime.

The second half started just as badly, even though Bartlett had replaced the almost weekly occurence of an ineffective Bryan Hughes. Luke Young was booked almost immediately after the restart, and Aleksander Hleb scored Arsenals third within five minutes of the resumption.

Limitation was the only option from now for Charlton, and Powell came on for Young, and Holland for Thomas as Curbs tried to keep the scoreline vaguely respectable. It succeeded as Arsenal took their collective foot off the gas, and the game slowly died out.

Charlton hardly had a shot, with only one late deflected effort from Rommedahl being worthy of a mention.

This will not go down as one of the worst displays of the season, but it was rather inept and poor. Charlton don't really expect anything from games at Highbury, Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, etc, but with the upturn in form recently, it was hoped that performances like this were behind the Addicks - unfortunately not.

Now it's a time to recoup and gather once more for the Cup quarter final on Thursday. Charlton will be at home in the last of the four quarter final matches, and if other results go well (how about West Ham, Birmingham, and Newcastle joining Charlton in the semi final draw?), then a victory could leave the fans in hope of a first FA Cup final appearance after more than fifty years. Another performance like todays though will leave the so near yet so far brigade making all the noises once more...

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