Friday, August 21, 2009

Going for a Nap

It is quite some time since Charlton won five league games on the trot, yet that is the prospect this weekend, as Walsall are the latest tier three team to line up against The Addicks. The win in the last game of last season, plus a 100% start this August made it four on the bounce, and home fans will be hoping for a nap hand come 5pm on Saturday.

Even the most optimistic Charlton fan would probably not have expected to have won all three initial matches this season - including two tough games away - but with the midfield still untroubled by transfer activity, the new-look defence settling in well, and the attack starting to cause problems for opposition defences and score goals, all is very rosy-red in SE7. Charlton don’t even have to worry about injuries too much, with Dean Sinclair the only long term absentee, and recent minor knocks to Miguel Llera (pic below, sporting his latest headgear), Christian Dailly, Lloyd Sam, Jonjo Shelvey and Fraser Richardson all failing to keep them from playing. Thus, manager Phil Parkinson has been able to field an unchanged side in the league games, and the likelihood is that we will se the same starting eleven come this Saturday too.

The options for change are there, but why would, or should, Parky dabble with his team - He is no Alan Pardew (spit!) as we well know! If Parky was of a mind to think about any changes, it would not involve the goalkeeper, where Rob Elliot has had a very good start to the season and made crucial saves at times in each match.

Nor would the defence seem to be ripe for changing, with few options at centre back, and Chris Solly able to cover any position (with Kelly Youga’s help) from the bench. In midfield, Matt Spring can count himself to be really unlucky not to have played much game time yet, but his chance will undoubtedly come, as tiredness, injuries and suspensions become reality in months to come. At present though, the midfield is simply playing too well and any change could disrupt the positivity we are seeing from Charlton in each game currently.

With Jonjo Shelvey starting to get to grips with the season, he is a shoe-in to play one of the forward roles, and the only reason to switch Deon Burton for one of the other forwards at the club is if he is a bit tired. All of Andy Gray, Stuart Fleetwood, and Izale McLeod will be hoping to get game time this weekend, but that may simply be from the bench, as Deon Burton is keeping up the tone of a great week for Jamaicans by scoring in his last two matches. Unless another forward gets injured, it does seem like Chris Dickson will miss out once more for a bench place.

This therefore is the unchanged side that I think Parky will send out on Saturday –

Rob Elliot
Fraser Richardson
Miguel Llera
Christian Dailly
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Therry Racon
Lloyd Sam
Nicky Bailey
Jonjo Shelvey
Deon Burton

Subs from Randolph, Solly, Mambo, Basey, Clark, Spring, Stavrinou, Wagstaff, Small, McLeod, Fleetwood, Dickson, Gray, Tuna.

As for Walsall, they’ve had a reasonable start to the new season, and currently sit in 10th position in the table, after a win, a draw, and one defeat (at home to Leeds in midweek). As with most of the other teams we have played so far, few of their players will be well known to Addicks fans, though thankfully, some may be better known to Mark Kinsella who was at the club a few years back. Kins may have updated his boss on the talents of some of the younger squad members, though Walsall have had a high turnover of senior players and few are still there from Kinsella’s time just three years back. The nippy Steve Jones (once of Crewe) and the big lump that is Sam Parkin (formerly Swindon and Ipswich) are fairly recent signings, and will probably form the strike force at The Valley, while big central defender Mark Hughes (no, not that one) will try to hold the defence together in the face of plenty of Charlton pressure. The manager is old hand Chris Hutchins, he of Bradford and Wigan fame.

Pedro45 can only be confident of the outcome of this match, and predicts a 3-1 victory; I would add that I hope the team is not over-confident as that could be their downfall in some games this year. Walsall will be hard to break down, and swift on the counter attack (they scored in midweek from a fast break resulting in a penalty), and no easy push-over. Charlton’s winning streak has to come to an end at some stage, but hopefully it will not be until after we have tasted some time at the head of the division. It is manager Parkinson's job to make sure they do not go to sleep during games, and maintain the edge that they currently have over rivals.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Lloyd Sam (left). Our right winger is really causing opponent full backs problems this year, and he looks dangerous and likely to go past his full back and deliver a cross each time he receives the ball. Getting more confidence into Lloyd is something that the club has struggled to do over recent years, but if there was ever a time for him to finally score after a long barren spell, and add his name to the goals column alongside his multiple assists then it could be Saturday. Sam is a key and integral part of the tactical formation, and much as some people are frustrated by him on occasion, there are few options to take over his role should he not be in the team.

You know the story about never having everything going really well at once – your love life, work life, and play life; well, I don’t have a job at present (though I do have an interview next week!) but the other two areas are going pretty nicely thank you! I love my wife and if we can get another three points at the weekend, and see a decent bowling display by England, I’ll be a very happy Pedro45!

Come on you reds!

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