Friday, March 06, 2009

Drop In Pressure

So if we presume that Tuesday’s result almost certainly relegated Charlton this season, the pressure should be off, right? Well, let’s hope so, because part two of this weeks must-win games is upon us.

Watford come to The Valley and they are not exactly clear of the dreaded drop zone themselves. Sitting on 39 points, they too will have hopes of reaching fifty points this season, but will that be enough? Each week, the expected "safe" total seems to rise – just a couple of weeks ago, this blog predicted that 47 or 48 points might be enough, but since then, it seems that all the teams in the bottom half of the table have started to win! Now, even 52 or 53 points is being talked about as possible relegation candidates.

Charlton, of course, would need a minor miracle (or actually a major one!) to reach that points total.

Phil Parkinson (above) also has a few issues to resolve, especially after Doncaster outplayed the Addicks on Tuesday night. The main problems resolve around Jonjo Shelvey, and Tresor Kandol. With 17-year old Shelvey, it seems that Parky doesn’t quite think that he is up to the task of playing in a four-man midfield, and he prefers to relinquish him of that responsibility and see him pushed more forward just behind a front-man. With Kandol having family problems recently, that has worked out in terms of team selection, but not tactics. I think that Shelvey may be asked to drop to the bench, for this game, with Kandol coming back in to play with Chris Dickson. Dickson tried manfully to lead the line on his own in the last two games, and he was far from a failure, but his play was generally poor on Tuesday, and he will relish a true frontline partner once more.

Barring injuries, of which none were apparent in midweek, the defence will probably stay the same, and the midfield possibly too; here, the return to reserve team duty of Zheng Zhi could see him make the bench, or even possibly the starting line up (to play for up to an hour), with Matt Spring the obvious choice to step aside.

This is the side I think Parky will pick –

Rob Elliott
Danny Butterfield
Darren Ward
Mark Hudson
Kelly Youga
Tom Soares
Therry Racon
Zheng Zhi
Nicky Bailey
Tresor Kandol
Chris Dickson

Subs from Randolph, Weaver. Moutaouakil, Holland, Basey, Spring, Shelvey, Wright, Ambrose, Sam, Fleetwood, Todorov.

The sad thing is that if Charlton do play well enough to win this game, then hopes may be raised; this would not be good as all and sundry have to now admit that Charlton are going down to Tier Three in May. I do still hope that the team play to win though, and that any results from now to the end of the season at least are used for a bearing of where we will need to be next year.

Pedro45 thinks this may be a very close game, with few goals; Watford, from what I have seen, seem to like to play a counter-attacking game. That may not suit against a Charlton team who usually have much less possession than the opposition. I am going to plump for a 1-0 home defeat, though I sincerely hope that the return of ZiZi (either to the team or as sub) will inspire us to a victory of some sorts.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Chris Dickson. Pilloried after the Doncaster game, he needs to bounce back and show that it was a blip, and not a reflection of his future form. Nobody minds strikers who shoot on sight (Killer was the best example of that…), but you have to temper that instinct with knowing who is around you, and if they are better placed. If you have a player free alongside you, then a pass is better than any old whack on goal from 25 yards. Too many times on Tuesday, Dicko (and Shelvey) seemed to just shoot because they could see the goal posts when a slight delay and knowledge of what else might be on would have been a better choice. It didn't help that all the shots from distance were poor, wide, or scuffed.

I really just hope that Charlton play well in this game, whatever the score; we - the fans – have been shorn of a really decent display since August, and it’s about time we saw one. The pressure is off to a large extent, but it would be so much better to go down free of mind and winning than with despondency and countless additional defeats.

Come on you reds!

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