Thursday, November 22, 2007

In at the Deepdale End

A week of sorrow and disappointment can be salvaged for Charlton fans, if the Addicks can continue their winning streak at get a result at Deepdale against Preston this weekend.
Sure, England failing to qualify for the European Championships next summer hurts, but nearly every football supporter in the land is actually more bothered about their own clubs fortunes, than that of the media circus that follows the international eleven when they play. Maybe if the media didn't build up the hopes of every household that this might, just might, be the year that Alf/Sven/Turnip/El-Tel/Second-choice Steve's team (delete as applicable) do the business because they are paid lots so must be good. The red tops love to knock them down, but actually it is their own promotion of expectation that provides them with the fodder which the seek to exploit. A vicious circle that they are very apt at maintaining...
None of this should matter to Alan Pardew; it is very unlikely that he will be mentioned (more than just in passing) in despatches as a possible next England manager, so thankfully he can concentrate on getting Charlton promoted this season!
Team-wise, I doubt we'll see much change from the 4-5-1 starting formation that has been apparent over the last three victories, unless there are any injuries that we haven't been made aware of.
In goal, Nicky Weaver will play, but with Darren Randolph carrying a knock, the reserve position may go to Robert Elliott.
Danny Mills will play at right back, and with Chris Powell still not yet playing after injury, Grant Basey will start at left back. Centrally in defence, it is highly unlikely that either Sam Sodje and Jonathan Fortune will be left out, especially after three clean sheets on the trot.
In midfield, Matt Holland is almost back to full fitness, and he may squeeze onto the bench (where he is a pretty good option), but Semedo, Reid, and Zhi are starting shoe-ins. Out wide, Jerome Thomas is at last starting to show some form, and Lloyd Sam is an excellent, skillful, workhorse who doesn't mind being taken off if Pards thinks it will benefit the team.
Big Chris Iwelumo will be bandaged up and start (or maybe have the cotton wool bandages removed and start?) on his own through the middle.
On the bench, Bougherra, Racon, Moutaouakil, Ambrose, Varney and McLeod will all be hoping to join Holland and Elliott or Randolph.
This is who I think Pards will pick -
Nicky Weaver
Danny Mills
Jonathan Fortune
Sam Sodje
Grant Basey
Jose Semedo
Zheng Zhi
Andy Reid
Lloyd Sam
Chris Iwelumo

Subs – Elliott, Bougherra, Holland, Ambrose, Varney.
Preston have a new manager - Alan Irvine - after sacking Paul Simpson last week. Hopefully, this boost will have come a little too late to influence their team too much, and we can all wish Irvine well after this game. The ex-Addick of the week in the Preston ranks is one time Lee Bowyer-clone, Kevin Nicholls. As a youngster, Kev scored on his home debut within a minute of kick off. Sadly, appearances were restricted after that, and Charlton soon accepted a very good offer from Wigan for the tough midfielder. He has subsequently played with honour for Luton, and had a short spell at Leeds where he didn't settle. Please no goals from an ex-Addick this week!
Pedro45 is looking forward to the game, as he will be there (and also trying to get his voucher for the negotiated ticket discount - well done Ben!); this is number 83 in league teams that I have seen Charlton play away at, and with luck, I'll be up to 85 after February (if I negotiate the Scunthorpe and Blackpool trips succesfully). I'll also get a chance to see the Blackpool illuminations for the first time, as I'm staying there for the weekend, and will hopefully survive the big dipper thing too. It may be 53 years since Charlton won at Deepdale, but I'm confident that the TV camera jinx can be broken, and three points will be won through a 2-1 scoreline.
My one-to-watch in this match is going to Chris Iwelumo; three goals in his last three games in an Addicks shirt have thrust big Chris into the spotlight. If he has now settled down, and his confidence is high (and why not following his Scotland B call up?), then we could yet see more from the big man. Wouldn't it be lovely if he could set his sights on over 20 goals this season? Another one or two on Saturday evening would be a good start to this stage of the season.
Charlton lost the first three games after the previous international break in the season, but let's all forget about McLaren and Hamilton, and McLaren and England, and concentrate on a victorious period with win number four on the trot on Saturday!
Up the Addicks!

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