Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hamming it up

At last, after what seems like months, we are at the start of a new Premiership season.

Charlton's first game of the new campaign is away at Upton Park versus West Ham United. It is Iain Dowie's first game as the Head Coach of Charlton, and he will be out to impress the Addicks faithful.

So what can we expect?

In goal, new loanee signing Scott Carson will alomost certanly start, ahead of Thomas Myrhe, Stephan Andersen, and Darren Randolph, who all saw game play action in the pre-season friendlies.

The defence opens up a number of options; Luke Young will almost certainly start at right back, having turned down the chance to jump ship and sign for West Ham during the summer. The other defenders on show are more difficult to predict. I expect Hemann Hreidersson to play, but he could be pushed out wide to left back depending who else Dowie favours. Djime Traore will probably play, and if so, he could also be used wide left, with Hermann in the middle. The other centre half could be any one of Sorondo (who has recently been injured), Fortune, or El Karkouri.

The midfield is the one area that has been thoroughly strengthened in the last two weeks - Andy Reid should play, and so will Amady Faye. But will Matt Holland, Bryan Hughes, Radistan Kishishev or Jason Euell also be in there? Will Reid play wide or through the middle? Has Cristian Bolanos returned from Costa Rica in time to play, or did the recent Heathrow security situation effect his return, that's if he gets a work permit. Will Rommedahl, Ambrose, or Sam feature out wide?

Up front, expect Darren Bent to play alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Marcus Bent will probably be on the bench, in front of Kevin Lisbie.

This is the line up I expect to see start the 2006/2007 season in the red shirts of Charlton -

El Karkouri
Bent (D)

Subs - Myrhe, Fortune, Hughes, Kishishev, Bent (M)

West Ham have had a fairly quiet pre-season, but lost Dean Ashton in midweek with a broken ankle. They do have Harewood and ex-Addick Carlton Cole to play up front with Bobby Zamora in reserve, so are not short of attacking options. The defence looks young, with Gabbidon and Ferdinand looking reasonably solid, and in midfield they have Reo-Coker and Lee Bowyer adding bite.

My one to watch in this match just has to be Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. If Jimmy is to be as good as his word, then expect some fireworks while he stays fit and healthy. He will be a good foil for Darren Bent, and Andy Reid could provide enough ammo for them to fire if he is fit enough for 90 minutes.

Pedro45's score prediction is tough. We have a very good record aginst the Hammers in recent years; my Iron friends always recognised that we would win the league encounters as long as they had the cup wins, and that has proved fairly true apart from the odd hiccup. I'm therefore going for a hard-fought 2-2 draw, to give the season a kick-start.

The Addicks start to the season is tough, and it would be really good to come away with something from this game. Last season we started with five consecutive away wins, and topped the table in the early weeks. Dowie's record aginst West Ham is 100% wins we are told - wouldn't it be great to go into next Wednesday's game against Manchester United on top of the league after a resounding victory!

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