Friday, March 17, 2006

Highbury showdown

Charlton travel to Highbury for the last time this Saturday, to meet a resurgent Arsenal team. The Gunners are anxious to avoid Liverpool's mistake of last season, and are desperate to finish inside the top four of the Premiership this season, while maintaining an outside chance of Champions League success. Can Charlton damage Arsene Wenger's pride once more? Hopefully, yes!

The official match report is here.

Charlton are on a good run themselves, with only one goal conceded in the last four matches. Away draws at Liverpool, Newcastle, and Chelsea recently are evidence of solid defensive capability. If it can be maintained, then a good result is possible. A lot will depend obviously on the profligacy of the Arsenal forward line; if they are on target, Thomas Myrhe will need to be on top form to prevent a defeat. Occasionally though, Henry, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Pires, Reyes, Adebayor, and van Persie have off days, when nothing will hit the back of the net. Freddie the Swede, plus van Persie and Reyes are all apparently injured and will miss the game which is a good sign. This is Arsenal's most inconsistent season for many a year, and they may just be ripe for a home defeat.

Alan Curbishley will probably make a few changes, after having a settled team over the last month or so. The introductions of Thomas and Euell at halftime last weekend brought the team to life after almost 350 minutes of goalless play. I would not be surprised to see both start at Highbury, and Curbs maintain a 4-5-1 formation. The only other possible change is whether Jon Spector or Chris Powell plays at full back - I've a hunch that Spector will play this weekend, keeping Powell fresh for the cup quarter final. I think it unlikely that Sorondo, Rommedahl, or Sam will be brought back from injury for this match.

This is the side I expect to see run out of the tunnel -

Myrhe, Young, Hreidersson, Perry, Spector, Holland, Kishishev, Ambrose, Euell, Thomas, Bent (D).
Subs - Anderson, Powell, Hughes, Bothroyd, Bartlett.

My one to watch for the last time that Charlton play at Highbury before Arsenal move to Ashburton Grove is Jerome Thomas. Our left winger failed to get much of a chance when he played for Arsenal as a youngster, so he will probably be all out to impress Arsene Wenger.

Pedro45's score forecast is a 2-0 defeat, though hopefully I will be proved wrong. Charlton have won five times at Highbury over the years, and it would be great to make this a round half a dozen victories and move the Addicks up the league table again.

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