Thursday, February 14, 2008

What is the Difference between a Hornet and a Bee?

A couple of divisions I guess?

Watford visit the Valley on Saturday in a must-win home game for Charlton. Although in the context of a whole season, one game does not matter too much, this one match is crucial because a loss will put Charlton ten points behind their top-of-the-table opponents, and therefore, realistically, unable to overhaul them before the end of the season. A win, however, would put Charlton right back in the automatic promotion mix, and set up the final fourteen games of a very inconsistent season.

The glumness that pervaded the clubs fans after the midweek draw at Hillsborough – Charlton’s first goalless draw of the season - must be dismissed, and Addicks fans must turn up for this match as they did the last home game. That, quite simply, means being noisy, supportive, loud, and passionate. We did it for the last London derby, and although it is arguable if Watford is in London, we must do the same again. Luke Varney admitted before last Friday’s game that the crowd noise was a key factor in the performance, and a repeat, with a full contingent of home fans expected, is paramount.

So who will Alan Pardew be wanting to select for this vital game? Well, he does not seem to have a full squad to choose from, as a few minor injuries are starting to creep into the squad.

In goal, we can expect to see Nicky Weaver keep his place, especially after Darren Randolph joined Bury on a month’s loan late last week. Weaver has been on top form recently, and made three very good saves in Yorkshire on Tuesday to keep a clean sheet. Let’s hope he can do so again.

The defence had to change in the match against Wednesday, as Madjid Bougherra succumbed to a foot injury from the previous game. He was replaced by the formidable Jon Fortune, and big Jon, if selected, will be key here in using his height to win the battle against the towering Henderson. Alongside side him, we can expect to see Greg Halford continue at right back after two reasonable games, his first for the club. Paddy McCarthy will play in the centre where he is becoming rock-like with massive performances in every game. Paddy has always given 100%, even when he was making error-strewn appearances early in the season, but now he has cut out the mistakes, he has a good chance of featuring in the player of the season awards. Kelly Youga will no doubt continue at left back, with his 5-booking suspension not taking effect until next week. He should be fresh enough after leaving the pitch before half time on Tuesday night.

In midfield, Matt Holland and Zheng Zhi continue to plough on in the central positions. They both run miles in every match, and you cannot fault either for effort. Holland was unlucky to hit the post on Tuesday, and ZiZi missed a chance late on too; both will be hoping for better finishing and I do fancy our Chinaman to score in this match. Out wide, the two places will be taken by a couple from the four wing men that Pards has to chose from. Lloyd Sam and Darren Ambrose are incumbent, but neither has been setting games alight over recent matches. That could give a chance to one or both of Jerome Thomas, apparently now back in training after injury and illness, and/or Lee Cook, also now fit, who could feature against his former club.

Of the forwards, only Luke Varney has been playing what could be described as well. Two goals in his last home game and a disallowed goal from midweek should be enough to keep him in the team, even if Pardew wants a larger overall presence in the side to combat Watford’s long ball game. That decision may influence who starts alongside Varney, though with Andy Gray and Chris Iwelumo both goalless for over two months, it is a close call. Gray hasn’t really done much wrong, but could do with a goal to boost his confidence, while Iwelumo is in much the same boat. Gray is more mobile while big Chris is better in the air – tough call this for Pards…

This is the side I think Alan Pardew will pick –

Nicky Weaver
Greg Halford
Jonathan Fortune
Paddy McCarthy
Kelly Youga
Zheng Zhi
Matt Holland
Darren Ambrose
Jerome Thomas
Andy Gray
Luke Varney

Subs from – Elliott, Moutaouakil, Sodje, Bougherra, Powell, Basey, Racon, Semedo, Sam, Cook, Iwelumo, McLeod.

Watford themselves have the best away record in division, with ten wins so far; they will be looking for legs eleven, and the chance to remove a big rival for a promotion place. If they can get rid of Charlton, then realistically, they can discount any other teams below them too, and that means they will be confident of finishing in the top four places in the league. Although Charlton had the better of the game a month ago at Vicarage Road, the Hornets will be boosted by the return from international duty of ex-Addick Danny Shittu (oh no, not another ex-player to score against us?), and by their other two recent defensive signings. They will also have O’Toole available after his midweek sending off was rescinded.

My one to watch in this key match will come from the heart of the team. The defence will need to play very well, and the attack will need to create and score goals, but the engine room is where this game could be won on the pitch. Zheng Zhi is due a big game, and I believe that he might just have it here. The skipper, alongside him, has done huge amounts of running, but Zizi is the classiest player in the squad, if not the division. In recent times, the couple of days rest he has had since his last game will seem like a between-season break, such has been the frequency of games he has played over the last few months. I’m banking on him having a stormer, and being the man to really fire up the Red Army.

Pedro45 is not going to sit on the fence this week – in my head, I think it will be a (1-1) draw, but this is one match that I will rule with my heart, and I’m going to predict a 1-0 win. Anything other than a victory is unthinkable to Addicks fans, so let me start the rallying call that should crescendo as the players take to the field. We can win. We must win. We will win.

Now go out and do it!

Come on you reds!

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does anyone know how to get cafc tv in england????

I think CAFC TV is now defunct; if you do a search through the official site news archive from last summer, you might find reference from Peter Varney confirming.
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