Monday, January 01, 2007

To A Bigger, Better, Library

Pardew vesus Wenger, seconds out, round two. Ding Ding!

How we all laughed when West Ham beat Arsenal with a last minute goal a couple of months back, and Pardew's goal celebrations took him very close to the Arsenal dug out where the Frenchman took exception, and a small bout of handbag throwing resulted.

With Pard's now installed as the Charlton boss, a quick re-match has resulted, though I'm sure the pair will be on their best behaviour. I cannot imagine Wenger dancing a jig down the Emirates Stadium touchline as van Persie gives Arsenal the lead, turning to the crowd behind Pardew and flexing his biceps aggressively, giving it large - would he? Maybe Pard's had better not get too close if by chance Charlton do score, as the police and stewards may be wanting a chance at revenge of their own...deep inside though, he (and us) would love to stick it to Wenger again!

What is apparent, is that the new man in charge has brought belief back to the club - belief that we can win games; belief that the club can avoid relegation; belief that if they fall behind they can score twice and get wins. None of this was apparent before Pardew took over, and it is the most welcome Xmas present I think Charlton fans have had for many a year...

Obviously the run of four games in eleven games is tough on the players, but Charlton have had a little extra time to refresh themselves over the weekend, and hopefully those who played on Saturday will be fit to resume.

Darren Bent (left) will be on a consecutive matches hat-trick, having scored against Fulham and Villa last week. It would be great for him to make it three goals in three games. Marcus Bent needs to contunue to show the effort that he has in the last two matches, and he could be the one to cause the Arsenal defence problems if he decides to get involved.

Rommedahl and Ambrose need to continue to cause threat from out wide, and Jerome Thomas will no doubt also be involved at some stage. A winger cannot beat his man and supply a great cross on every occasion he gets the ball, so we should not expect that, but we do need to see some consistent results and decent ball played into the middle on a more regular basis from all three players. They all also need to fight back when not in possession; that has been lacking this season until recently, and it is good to see Rommedahl and Ambrose making (or trying to make) tackles.

The middle of the park is crucial when playing Arsenal, so I would retain Kishishev rather than Villa match-winner Bryan Hughes from the start. Hughes-ie can come on later if required.

The defence is also unlikely to be changed, with Sankofa getting better with each start, but El Karkouri, Hreidersson, and Traore need to keep the errors to a bare minimum if a rout is to be avoided. Hopefully, the lack of apparent Arsenal fire-power (no Henry or Adebayor) will help?

This is the side I think Pard's will pick -

Scott Carson
Osei Sankofa
Talal El Karkouri
Hermann Hreidersson
Djimi Traore
Radostin Kishishev
Matt Holland
Darren Ambrose
Dennis Rommedahl
Marcus Bent
Darren Bent

Subs from Myrhe, Fortune, Hughes, Thomas, Hasselbaink, Sam, Ashton.

My one-to-watch in this match is Matty Holland. Evere since he joined the club, he has struggled to fit in completely. First, he upset the central midfield balance between Scott Parker and Claus Jensen; initially Jensen moved out left, but eventually it was Matt who played wide right during the clubs best Premiership spell just prior to Parker leaving. Then a knee injury slowed Matt down, and he has not been at his best in the last two seasons. This year, we are seeing an older, wiser, Matty, who runs and runs all game, and recently has been getting stuck in and making tackles in a manner we have not seen before at The Valley. Pardew has obviously revitalised Holland and made him aware that he is key to the clubs Premiership survival chances (saying he would still play to win even if he inherited £40m!). If Charlton are to get anything from the Emirates stadium, then another big game from Holland is crucial. Holland has the respect of other players, the fans (whom he acknowledges after every game), and the manager. He is a leader by example. If the rest of the side put in as much effort as Matty, we should be OK by May.

Pedro45's score prediction in his Online game was a 6-0 thumping; but that was before Pardew arrived, and the clubs fortunes appeared to change. On this site, I will revise that to a 3-0 loss. I still think Pardew will invoke more effort than we have seen in recent away matches, but unless we get lucky, very lucky (and I guess we are due?), I cannnot see Charlton troubling the Gunners too much.

Of course, if the will-to-win and fighting spirit have returned, and Arsenal have a bad game in front of goal, and the ref is not home-biased, and Wenger is now scared of upsetting Pardew and tells his team not to score, and Charlton play better and with more confidence at this stadium than they did at Highbury, and 2007 really is going to be a whole lot better than 2006, then we have a chance. Wouldn't that be a great way to start the New year!

Come on you reds!

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