Friday, September 28, 2007

Sent To Coventry

A week of fluctuating fortunes, with one team losing their unbeaten run and the other pulling off a terrific away win at a major Premiership ground, sees Charlton visit Coventry. How the midweek antics effect this weekends league game at the Ricoh Arena, we will have to wait and see.

Coventry certainly pulled off the biggest League Cup coup of the week when they won at Old Trafford on Wednesday. Their two goals came from the small round Malteser who plays in sky blue, called Michael Mifsud. Young Mifsud has knocked in a few goals for the sky blues this season, and is a dangerous player that Alan Pardew’s charges will have to watch closely.

For the Addicks, it was the opposite League Cup emotion; after going ahead at Luton, a great goal and excellent goalkeeping pegged them back, and the legs were stronger for the home team who ran in two goals in extra time to win 3-1. Luckily, we all know that Pardew made ten changes for the cup game, and that this weekends league team will look very different.

So who will the Charlton boss (above) pick in an attempt to extend the unbeaten League run - Did anyone press for inclusion in the game against the Hatters? Are any of the “first team” in danger of losing their places?

The answers are no and probably not, and the same eleven that played in the home games against Norwich and Leicester will probably take the field on Saturday!

In goal, Nicky Weaver and Darren Randolph will switch places, with Weaver playing and Randolph sitting on the bench.

The defence, after two clean sheets, got into a bit of a mess at times on Tuesday, and maybe some of this is down to Paddy McCarthy’s inclusion. I expect Danny Mills to edge out Yassin Moutaouakil at right back; the hopefully rejuvenated Chris Powell is certain to displace Osei Sankofa at left back; Jon Fortune will come in for McCarthy; and Madjid Bougherra should retain his place despite his colossal error in the lead up to the third goal in midweek. Sam Sodje may be pushing for a starting role, but unless Pards wants to drop Magic, then he’ll have to settle for the bench once more.

The midfield has been bolstered by the availability of Matt Holland, Dean Sinclair, and Therry Racon, but I cannot see any of them getting the nod over Jose Semedo, Zheng Zhi, or Andy Reid, based on Tuesdays form. They are pretty good reserves to have though! Out wide, Lloyd Sam will feel extremely unlucky if he does not retain his place at the expense of Darren Ambrose, who will no doubt be on the bench.

In attack, Luke Varney had another good 50 minutes or so at Luton after his recent ankle injury, and he will come back into the starting eleven alongside Chris Iwelumo. The only other option is to include the more defensive looking Svetislav Todorov, or Izale McLeod; Toddy is playing well but was marked out of the game on Tuesday by ex-Addick Chris Perry, while McLeod missed numerous chances and desperately needs a goal to compliment his reasonable outfield play.

This is the side I expect Alan Pardew to start with at Coventry –

Nicky Weaver
Danny Mills
Madjid Bougherra
Jon Fortune
Chris Powell
Jose Semedo
Zheng Zhi
Andy Reid
Lloyd Sam
Chris Iwelumo
Luke Varney

Subs from – Randolph, Sodje, Moutaouakil, Sankofa, McCarthy, Holland, Sinclair, Racon, Ambrose, Todorov, McLeod, J Thomas.

The only players unlikely to be travelling are youngsters Harry Arter (who made a good debut as a substitute in the cup), and Aswad Thomas, who is pushing hard for a squad place. I do think that Jerome Thomas may have leant his lesson by now, but only Pards can answer that…

Coventry started the season well, and had a couple of thumping wins that took them to the top of the table in the early part of the season; they were exposed in their last home game against at-that-time league leaders Bristol City, and Charlton will be hoping to do the same. With the home team boosted by the Old Trafford win, and urged on by a big-ish crowd, Charlton may do well to weather the early storm though. There is, of course, also a little matter of who the Coventry manager is nowadays, but he is someone who I, as a Charlton fan, wish to forget about as quickly as I can. If I do think of Iain Dowie, it is of him as a loser - when manager of some Croydon-based team that Charlton relegated, and also a loser when spending Murray’s millions this time last year.

My one-to-watch in this game is going to be Nicky Weaver (left); our custodian is in good form (apart from maybe some of his distribution…), and has made crucial saves in recent games. He has not been busy though, and that may change this week, especially early on, as the home side seek to continue their form. Nicky is starting to show us, the fans, how good he really is, and it would be great if he could keep a few more clean sheets over coming weeks.

Pedro45’s score forecast is going to be a 2-1 defeat. Having witnessed quite a few (40-odd) seasons of Addicks play, I think that you tend to get a few games when things don’t go quite right, and the odd series of defeats arrive – even when you are a good team in an average division (as we are). Hopefully it will be a short period of reverses, but the fact is we will lose some games during this season, and this, I think, may be one of them. Early in our 1999/2000 Championship season, we had a 4-2 defeat at Ipswich, where we played well, but they got the goals. This may be similar? We will bounce back though; we have to! But then again, what do I know about score forecasting…

Up the Addicks!

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