Monday, August 13, 2007

Cup of Glory?

After missing Saturdays home league opener, the season starts properly for this blog-espondent with Tuesday's league cup encounter away at Swindon.

After the home draw with Scunthorpe, Charlton will be looking to get their first win of the new season against the Division One newcomers at the County Ground.

Alan Pardew has plenty of players available to chose from, but the main issue is whether to give those who played on Saturday another run out - in the hope that they might gel quicker - or give a game to more of his squad - who might otherwise not play for a few weeks. The likelihood is that we will see a sort of combination of both options.

In goal, the choice is clear beteen Nicky Weaver - now confirmed as the season's number one - or Darren Randolph. Previous years competitions have seen the reserve goalie given a workout, and I would not be surprised if this was the case once more.

In defence, more options are available, but I think Pards will pretty much stick with three of the players who started on Saturday. Yassin Moutaouakil, Paddy McCarthy, and Madjid Bougherra could all do with some more playing time in order to get a better understanding, and I expect Chris Powell (left) to play left back instead of Ben Thatcher. Jon Fortune will have to bide his time I believe.

In midfield, the formation seemed right on Saturday by all accounts, but the players may be changed for this game. Dean Sinclair may get a start, as he is more accustomed to playing lower league teams, in place of Jose Semedo, while Darren Ambrose and Andy Reid should play too. Lloyd Sam may also get another start on the right, especially if Jerome Thomas is not to be risked after injury.

Up front, I expect all the fit choices to get some sort of run out, but Marcus Bent may not start the game. Chris Iwelumo could start with Izale McLeod, with Saturdays starters Bent and Todorov on the bench.

This is the team I think Pards may pick (but don't be surprised if I am totally wrong!) -

Darren Randolph
Yassin Moutaouakil
Paddy McCarthy
Madjid Bougherra
Chris Powell
Dean Sinclair
Darren Ambrose
Lloyd Sam
Andy Reid
Chris Iwelumo
Izale McLeod

Subs: Nicky Weaver, Jon Fortune, Amdy Faye, Marcus Bent, Svetoslav Todorov.

Other options are few and far between unless new signings Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon are given a chance to play.

Swindon will obviously be looking for a major scalp, and will prove tough opposition if taken lightly. Promoted last year, they will be organised and hard to break down, and no doubt cheered on by a vociferous home crowd. They could be as tough to score against as Scunthorpe proved on Saturday, but hopefully if the same number of chances are created, enough will be taken to confirm a match in the second round.

My one to watch in this game is right back, Yassin Moutaouakil. His name may be really tough to spit out, but his play seems to be as smooth as silk, both in attack and defence. Provided he settles during this early part of the season and is not bogged down when the pitches become heavier, I expect him to be a major factor in a successful Charlton season.

Pedro45's score forecast is an arrogant 3-0 victory. I know that it is dangerous to predict relatively easy Charlton wins, especially against lower league opposition in this cup competition, but I have a feeling that we will win fairly comfortably. The fact that we got to the quarter finals last year will count for nothing tomorrow. The players seem up for it though, and the manager is certainly saying the right things - all we need now is a kick-start and the campaign should start to look like a good one. If we do mess up, an away game at Stoke on Saturday will suddenly look like a very tough match, and the nerves of a poor start to the season will start to jangle. I just don't think that this team will worry about that though, and they will be looking to kill the game very early and hopefully cement a place in the side for themselves on Saturday when they will be TV showcased (and no doubt ZiZi will be in the starting line up!).

Up the Addicks!

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