Friday, August 17, 2007

Stoking the Fires

The Championship season just gets tougher. Saturdays away game at Stoke City is one of the hardest games Charlton will feature in this season (on paper anyway), and Alan Pardew will be hoping that he can pick out his best eleven in the hope of getting a first league win of the season at the second attempt.

Unlike Charlton, Stoke had a winning start to the campaign, and they will be confident of getting three more points from their first Brittannia Stadium match of the season.

What Pards needs to do is counter that belief, and pick the right blend of size, experience, and skill, in order to get Charlton's season rolling with enough forward momentum to take us back to where we feel we belong - the Premiership!

In goal, Nicky Weaver will be looking to build on his midweek league cup clean sheet, and to his right, Yassin Moutaouakil will continue at full back. After being rested to give Chrissy Powell an outing, I expect Ben Thatcher to resume left back duties in the league.

Centrally, Pards will have to pick between Paddy McCarthy, Jon Fortune (who spent much of last season on loan at Stoke), and Madjid Bougherra. With a tall forward line likely to be facing them (Sidibe and Cresswell amongst others), I would not be surprised to see McCarthy and Fortune given a chance in this match, with Bougherra on the bench.

In midfield, the options have now been increased after a week of training for Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon. I fully expect ZiZi to feature (as it's live on TV and the Chinese do seem to pick the sides in these games!), but he may not start unless Pards changes the formation to a more fluent 4-5-1 line up. Jose Semedo seems to be a shoe-in after his good start to the season, so it's really a case of who plays across the middle with him - Darren Ambrose, fresh from his midweek goal, Andy Reid, now back in the Ireland squad, and Dean Sinclair, after his debut as a sub at Swindon, all provide options in that central area, and out wide, Jerome Thomas is fit again, and Lloyd Sam has done very well in the first two games and does provide a threat.

Up front, Big Marcus Bent has had plenty of plaudits so far this season, having scored one goal and made two others. Todorov, Iwelumo, and McLeod are also pushing for a starting place, though Chris Dickson has now gone out on loan to Crewe for a month.

This is the team I think Pards will pick -

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Paddy McCarthy
Jonathan Fortune
Ben Thatcher
Jose Semedo
Darren Ambrose
Andy Reid
Lloyd Sam
Jerome Thomas
Marcus Bent

Subs from - Randolph, Powell, Bougherra, Zhi, Racon, Sinclair, Iwelumo, Todorov, McLeod.

When you think about it, this could be the toughest selection decision that Pards has to make all year, as any number of combinations could be picked!

My one to watch in this game has to be man-of-the-moment Marcus Bent. An opening day goal - his hundreth in the professional game - will have given him confidence, and he was too unselfish apparently in midweek when he could have added to that total but chose to create rather than score himself. Hopefully the big man will continue his fine start to the season and win back the minds of the Valley faithful who haven't been his fans over recent months.

Pedro45's score forecast is an apprehensive 1-1 draw. I know in my heart that if we play well we will win this game, but the atmosphere and physical nature may mean playing backs to the wall at times, and a point may be a good return.

With most of the team fit, formation and personnel are vital for every game now, and the crucial question is can Pards get it right. Let's hope so.

Up the Addicks!


Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search