Sunday, April 08, 2007

Haring after Easter Bunnies

The next Charlton fixture on this roller-coaster season is the Monday night Sky fixture versus Reading. At least Charlton currently, after the Saturday matches, reside outside the bottom three, but that will still be the case come kick-off time.

Saturdays results were not all bad, but certainly not all good!

We all wanted and needed Wigan to lose at home to Bolton, and Sheffield United to lose at home to Newcastle, and thankfully they both did! The Bramall Lane result keeps us above the Blades in 16th spot. Sadly, West Ham upset the apple-cart and turned over Arsenal 1-0 at Ashburton Grove, thus bringing the Hammers back into the mix and raising their expectations of survival. Four teams now within four points of each other, and Fulham looking over their worried shoulder too, just two points ahead of the group.

Another blog site (Frankie, was it you?) mentioned the hunter and the hunted, and was it better to be the hunter, chasing down the 16th spot club, rather than being hunted, always looking over the shoulder. Well, strangely it may have been more comfortable for us Addicks fans to be trying to get points to catch Sheffield United than it is staying ahead of them and West Ham. And actually, that may well be the case (i.e. chasing) after next weekend (when Curbs and Warnock go head-to-head) unless we can pick up points from the Reading match.

It needs to be said that Charlton’s last two matches haven’t been very good; after the high and jubilation of thrashing West Ham, plus the second half turnarounds against Watford and Newcastle, the Wigan and Manchester City games were pretty dour, and little was created.

Alan Pardew still seems unsure of his best team; this is almost certainly down to the fact that some of the players are so inconsistent themselves! One week, world-beaters; the next, useless so-and-so’s hauled off at half-time! Luckily, it seems that he is able to call on a near fully fit squad, and keep the options open from the bench.

One of the recent problems has actually been Zheng Zhi. Now I’m not being harsh on the China Captain here, as I do think he has been one of our better players over the last couple of months. But where should he be played? He is obviously capable of playing in a whole number of different positions – wide-right, centre midfield, up-front supporting Dazza, even left-back apparently! But where is best?

Of course, if Dennis is having one of his “moments” then Zhi can slot in there, and if big Benty is hamstrung, he can be switched forwards, but where to start him?

Personally, I think he is a little lightweight (nothing wrong with that though!) and goes to ground too easily to be played up front where he will probably be out-muscled too much. He is more likely to win free kicks (for falling over) in midfield I believe. So that’s where I would play him. But Pards may (and probably does) have different ideas!

This is the team I think may take the field against Reading, where we need at least one point, and preferably three –

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

Subs from Randolph, Sankofa, Thatcher, Bougherra, Faye, Rommedahl, Ambrose, Lisbie.

If Holland isn’t fit (there didn’t seem to be a reason given why he was left out against City…), I would play Ambrose wide right and Zhi centrally.

Reading come to The Valley on the back of a defeat at home by Liverpool; a close game, but one where they were eventually out-classed. Hopefully, it will have taken its toll on their legs, and Charlton will be fitter from the extra days rest. We know Reading will be combative, but Pards will not want to lose to one of his former teams!

My one-to-watch tomorrow is going to be Zheng Zhi, wherever he plays! He has been on good form, seems to have developed a liking for SE7, and if we fans could come up with a song that he could understand, he may become a Valley Hero! After missing that chance at Eastlands, let’s hope he can score his second goal for the Addicks tomorrow night.

Pedro45 is not too optimistic about our chances once more; I have a bad feeling similar to when we played Middlesboro back in January. With the games becoming ever more important, we will suffer setbacks, although I hope it’s not in this match. My forecast is going to be another 0-0 draw, and I know I always leave myself open to a goal from either side in doing that…

This season has been oh-so-much more interesting than the previous mid-table mediocrity we had under Curbs, but I just have a strange feeling in my stomach that I cannot shift, and it’s all down to the team I love. And no, it’s not too much Easter chocolate! I know it will go away in the summer, but I don’t know if it will be replaced by mental elation or despondency; a win tomorrow would tip the balance in the smiley direction!

Come on you reds!

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