Monday, December 31, 2007

Start as you mean to go on…

It seems strange writing this in 2007, when Charlton’s first game of 2008 is tomorrow, but it has to be done. Colchester provide the first Valley opposition of the New Year, just as they did once before many years ago. I seem to recall that in 1974/5, the Essex team came along after a night out celebrating and got thumped 4-1. That year ended in promotion for the Addicks and, hopefully, this will be the outcome from this 2007/2008 season too.

If that is to happen, games against the bottom teams, and Colchester are currently 24th and last, must be won. So must games against teams in the top half of the table, which is where Charlton have struggled a little so far this campaign.

Alan Pardew will see in his second new year as Charlton boss, and he must be hoping for an easier start than he had last year – a 4-0 thumping at Arsenal was following by a cup exit at Forest and a painful home defeat to Middlesboro. This year, we have three home games to look forward to – Colchester, then WBA in the cup on Saturday, and then Blackpool in another league game the following week. What Pards wouldn’t give for three wins!

So who can he pick for the first of the tri-series?

In goal, Nicky Weaver is starting to show the form we need from him, and he is making important saves at last. He tried desperately to keep out Clemence’s header on Saturday, but couldn’t quite get enough of a hand on it to prevent it creeping in. He did make other good saves, and while the front players are not scoring many, he needs to be at his best.

The defence is changing every game at the moment: With Danny Mills now gone back up north to swear at another games referee, we have just got Yassin Moutaouakil back from injury in time to replace him. In central defence, Sam Sodje is still suspended, and Jon Fortune (just back from suspension) went off injured in Saturday so may be doubtful. The only options therefore seems to be Paddy McCarthy and Madjid Bougherra rekindling the early season centre back pairing with hopefully better results. Chris Powell will plod on at left back, simply because he is fit, and there is nobody else to replace him, even though, at his age, he could do with a rest!

The midfield is just about coping with a lack of bodies, but then again, Pards has plenty of options to choose from normally. Matt Holland will continue to lead from the front and will be captain; Zheng Zhi seems to have played through the calf injury he picked up just before Xmas; and Jose Semedo has had his little rest and looks raring to go again. Therry Racon continues to wait for his chance. On the wings, Jerome Thomas is in good form at last, and Lloyd Sam is just about fit after a few batterings. Darren Ambrose is also close to fitness after his problems and could feature.

The forwards all seem fit – Chris Iwelumo will no doubt lead the line against his former club, and if Pards does go with a 4-4-2 formation, he could have any one of Luke Varney, Izale McLeod, or Chris Dickson starting alongside him.

This is the team I would like Alan Pardew to start 2008 with tomorrow –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Madjid Bougherra
Paddy McCarthy
Chris Powell
Matt Holland
Zheng Zhi
Jerome Thomas
Lloyd Sam
Chris Iwelumo
Chris Dickson

Subs from Randolph, Sankofa, Semedo, Ambrose, Racon, Varney, McLeod.

This is pretty much a must win game, if ever there is one, for the Addicks, and as such, I really do believe that Pards will start with two forwards. Ambrose did the job during our last win against Ipswich, but now would be just about the right time to play Chris Dickson. Both Luke Varney and Izale McLeod have had chances this season - although both could claim not to have had much of a run – but both have yet to show the right sort of oomph and ruthlessness that the Addicks need right now. Dickson, desperate for his chance and buoyed by his 11-goal spell on loan at Gillingham, would be a bright and positive pick if chosen to start, and that would leave both Varney and McLeod as substitute options for later in the game when their pace can be lethal. Keeping Semedo back in reserve also provides cover across the defence.

Colchester have had a wretched run of late, but they are still capable of scoring and usually do. The key for Charlton (and the fans!) is not to get too worried if (or when) they do, because their defence is awful! Key to their scoring seem to be three players – two of whom are well known in this part of London. Teddy Sheringham has decided to see out his career in Essex, but he will view this match as one where he can make a name for himself one last time. He has scored a hat-trick against Charlton in the past! Kevin Lisbie, who seemed forever to be the bright young thing just waiting to break into the Charlton first team, until he scored that hat-trick, will also relish the chance to play at The Valley once more, and perhaps silence some of those who gave him plenty of stick during his eleven years at the club. The key, for me though, is trying to keep Mark Yeates quiet; the ex-Spurs youngster looked a fine player in the reverse fixture at Layer Road, playing wide right, and has scored and made plenty of goals this season so far.

This is a game that Charlton must attack, and should be looking to win comfortably. Starting the new year in emphatic style would be great for the players and fans alike. Pedro45’s score prediction is therefore a mirror of that from 33 years ago, a 4-1 win. If we attack, we will score; if we sit back, we could be punished. If we are positive but disciplined, we will win, if not, expect plenty of boo-ing! I do think that most Charlton fans would prefer to go into this game on a 4-4-2 footing and look to score more through the front players than we have recently (where the breaking midfielder - Reid, Ambrose, Zhi - is the focus). It is important though that the wide players do their defensive work too.

My one-to-watch in this game is going to be Chris Iwelumo. Big Chris has a little bit of a love/hate relationship with Addicks supporters. Most see him as committed, and passionate, but some add that he is one-dimensional and lacks finesse. He has skill and is better on the ground than most fans originally thought, but he needs to link better with the rest of his team. Provided Pards plays someone alongside him (even if it is Varney, Ambrose, McLeod, instead of Dickson), then he needs to communicate to and play with that person, rather than just on his own. With a bit of pressure off him, he may actually start to score even more goals!

2007 has been a strange year for us Charlton fans; now the players have a chance to put the smile back on our Addicks faces, starting tomorrow.
To all those who read and contribute to my blog, I thank you! May the next twelve months bring you happiness and joy, with a large chunk of it coming through the players we follow every week.

Happy New Year, and come on you reds!

Labels: , ,

As usual, an highly articulate and probing analysis (wonder if I can say that at midnight..)

Pedro its been a pleasure reading you. Have a good new year

Pembury Addick
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