Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fitness battles the key...

It will be nice to finally see Charlton play once more when Newcastle arrive at The Valley tomorrow for another crucial Premiership match; The last time I watched our heroes live was back in January aganist Chelsea - a long time ago! Since then, Charlton have beaten West Ham at home, and picked up an away point at Watford, their two main relegation rivals, while I was away on honeymoon. Defeats to Manchester United are expected, and the lack of other matches (due to not being in the cup competitions) has been a relief bearing in mind the injury situation that the Addicks have had over recent weeks.

This weekend, it was hoped that many of the injured stars would have been ready for battle once more, but sadly the news is not so good.

Darren Bent is hurt once more, and it looks like we will be praying each week between now and the end of the season that his knee will hold out.

Hermann Hreidarsson is back from his knee problem, as is Madjid Bougherra, and with Diawara returning from suspension, at least the central defence looks well covered for once. Ben Thatcher is still out though, so our Icelander may need to play left back this weekend.

Rumours abound that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is also injured, and with Marcus Bent just recovered from his hamstring injury, Kevin Lisbie may end up playing in attack (at least at some point in the game).

This is the side I think Alan Pardew will cobble together to take on the Magpies -

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Madjid Bougherra
Hermann Hreidarsson
Alexandre Song
Matt Holland
Darren Ambrose
Jerome Thomas
Zheng Zhi
Marcus Bent

Subs from: Randolph, Sankofa, Diawara, Rommedahl, Faye, Lisbie, Hughes.

Newcastle arrive having been dumped out of the UEFA cup on away goals last Thursday, a very disappointing result for them. They will either be down and bounce back, or be down and stay there. Scott Parker arrives as their Captain, and will get a reception of a kind. We all loved Scotty when he played for us but his career has moved on now. He is now ensconced in the England squad, along with Scott Carson and Darren Bent, and how he plays and how Charlton cope with him will determine the outcome of the game.

My one-to-watch tomorrow is going to be Zheng Zhi. After a few cameo appearances, we are starting to see how good he really is, and hopefully he will start knocking in the goals rather than hitting the woodwork.

Pedro45's score prediction is going to be a 2-0 defeat; it is tough to see where Charlton will score from regularly without Dazza in the team; I hope I am wrong of course, but I do see a Parker inspired Geordie team bouncing back at our expense sadly.

Last years similar fixture was a great 3-2 win for Charlton, with all the goals coming from players with Charlton links - Parker (with a fantastic 30-yard strike) and Lee Bowyer (with an own goal) were on the scoresheet that day. If we get the same result, nearly everyone in SE7 will be happy!

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