Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ding Ding – Round Two

The games are coming thick and fast during August, and all against teams starting with S for some strange reason. Tonight it’s the turn of Stockport County to visit The Valley for the second round League Cup tie. It’s also the first time I’ll be able to see the team play in the flesh this season due to holidays etc.

The late league win on Saturday will have boosted confidence no-end, and I think Charlton should go into tonight’s game expecting a comfortable run out. Hopefully the players will not be too over-confident, as a number of other lower league teams have embarrassed the Addicks in this very same competition in recent years.

Alan Pardew has plenty of choices available to him in midfield, out wide, and up front, but the defensive options are severely limited through injuries to Yassin Moutaouakil, Ben Thatcher, and Osei Sankofa.

In goal, the choice is to continue with Nicky Weaver, or to give Darren Randolph a home debut and a run out. I do think that Pards should let home fans see a glimpse of Randolph in action, as he may be needed at some stage this season and it would be good experience for him to play in front of some sort of crowd at The Valley before then. However, I am not sure Pards sees it like that, and therefore I expect Weaver to carry on between the posts.

The defence will probably consist of anyone who is fit! Bougherra and Fortune will probably carry on in the middle, and Chris Powell should come in at left back. Maybe tonight is the chance to see Jose Semedo at right back, as he will not be so sorely missed in midfield against Stockport. That would leave Paddy McCarthy, hardly setting the SE7 part of the world alight, on the bench.

In midfield, Zheng Zhi (above) will almost certainly start (especially if Semedo is used at right back), and Dean Sinclair may also get close to the first team. Ambrose, Thomas, Sam, and Faye could also feature, but it may be a little too soon to see Therry Raccon in the home strip.

Up front, Izale McLeod will get some sort of game, as will Todorov, probably as sub. That leaves either Marcus Bent or Saturday’s double goal-scorer Chris Iwelumo to lead the line.

This is the side I think Pards will start with –

Nicky Weaver
Jose Semedo
Madjid Bougherra
Jonathan Fortune
Chris Powell
Dean Sinclair
Zheng Zhi
Lloyd Sam
Jerome Thomas
Chris Iwelumo
Izale McLeod

Subs from Randolph, McCarthy, Ambrose, Faye, Bent, and Todorov.

Whatever side Pardew picks, it should be too strong for Stockport, even though they are unbeaten this season. They will be keen early on but I expect the superior quality to show through well before half-time. With places in the league side up for grabs, the competition amongst those starting tonight will be good, and all will be keen to make a positive impression. The Pedro45 score forecast is a 3-0 win.

My one-to-watch in this game has to be Zheng Zhi. Back in the team following his permanent signing, he is a class player, and should relay stand out at this (and Championship) level. With more time to play than he found last season, he could be the catalyst to push Charlton up the league, and possibly a long way in this competition too.

Come on you reds!

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