Thursday, October 18, 2007

Back to the Day Job

A two-week break between Charlton games that has been way, way too long will finally come to an end on Saturday, when Wolves provide the opposition.

The international break hasn’t been without news, as other South London clubs have fired their managers, Charlton players have excelled out on loan at Gillingham, Cheltenham and Barnet, and plaudits have rained in for a couple of our Irish lads heroic international efforts. Cory Gibbs started another reserve game and got injured, and Izale McLeod scored his first goal in a Charlton shirt in the same match, and one of our directors resigned.

Oh, and our shirt sponsor has gone bust again! I’ll refrain from adding a spoof blog that means we are going to be subject to a 10-point deduction because of this, as it did upset a number of readers last time round (all:sports)!

So back to the league, and what can we expect from this Championship match? Wolves have started this season like they have so many others in recent times – upper mid-table, failing to fire, but not easy to beat. They sit in seventh position four points behind the Addicks and will be another club looking to close the gap at the top of the table. They are yet another side with an ex-Charlton connection, as striker Jay Bothroyd, he of the thunderous left foot shot and equally thunderous high tackles, is desperate it seems for a starting place. What us Addicks are hoping is that he doesn’t do a Lisbie and score against us…They also have Freddie Eastwood, one time reserve team player and a mooted target in the close season transfer scramble.

Alan Pardew has plenty of options on who he picks in this game, and a couple of injuries may mean he has to change to settled make up and balance of the side. Both Darren Randolph and Andy Reid picked up injuries during their time with Ireland, and both could be doubtful for Saturday. Reid injured his ankle prior to the game with Germany but was still man-of-the-match, and he also started against Cyprus last night, while Randolph it seems may have broken a rib, but he also still played on Tuesday against England under-21’s. Matt Holland is also injured and out with a calf strain - what is is with the Irish this week?!?

The goalkeeper starting position is unlikely to change though, with Nicky Weaver playing well, but we may see a first sub appearance at Charlton for Robert Elliott if Randolph does not recover sufficiently.

The defence may well be at full compliment, and Pards will need to chose four from all those available – Mills or Moutaouakil, Powell or Thatcher, Bougherra and Fortune or Sodje and McCarthy; who knows who will play except Pardew!

The midfield may throw up more conundrums – it is probable that Zheng Zhi will start, as will Jose Semedo. Then it depends if Reid is fit, if Pardew prefers Ambrose to Thomas (Lloyd Sam is still suspended), and if, now that Holland is injured, Therry Racon can force his way in to the team.

In attack, it was good to see McLeod get off the mark for Charlton in the reserve game earlier this week, although he did flunk a couple of other good chances. With Chris Dickson also banging them in while on loan at Gillingham, the future looks bright! The likelihood for this game through is that Pards will chose Chris Iwelumo and either Todorov or (more likely) Varney.

All of the above presumes that our manager hasn’t been working on a fanciful 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 formation over the last couple of weeks in order to surprise the opposition!

This is the side I think Pardew will pick –

Nicky Weaver
Danny Mills
Madjid Bougherra
Jonathan Fortune
Chris Powell
Jose Semedo
Zheng Zhi
Therry Racon
Darren Ambrose
Chris Iwelumo
Luke Varney

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, Sodje, J Thomas, Todorov, McLeod.

The last time Charlton returned from an international break, a slow start led to Colchester being two goals up before a Charlton fight back brought the scores level. Andy Reid didn’t start that game, so even without his injury he may have been “rested” on Saturday. With the squad Pardew has available, this will be a key part of the season – how and when he rotates the squad.

Pedro45’s score prediction is going to be the sane as we saw at Layer Road – a 2-2 draw. Wolves, as Colchester did, will see it as an opportunity to get up with the promotion front runners, while Charlton need to maintain that gap (and extend it if possible). A win would be a great result and further cement our opinion that we are too good for this league; a defeat though would bring doubt to Addicks minds, and belief to those other teams who harbour Premiership dreams.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Jose Semedo. A star in the making, he has had a bit of a rest recently and should be fully charged to repeat the excellent midfield controller role that he has filled over the first couple of months of the season. We will need him to be at his best and protect the back-line in this game. And don’t be afraid to shoot Jose!

This week is a big week with Wolves, Plymouth, and QPR all providing interesting opposition to Charlton; if we can walk away with seven points, I’ll be a happy man. We do have an 8-game unbeaten run to protect, and getting that into double figures would be great for the club.

Come on you Addicks!

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