Friday, November 13, 2009

MK Tax

Four away games, only a draw to show, and a lucky one at that – not the best form from the Addicks recently then…but now we are back at The Valley, and hopefully, hopefully, things will change.

Charlton will play their first ever game against MK Dons on Saturday, and if things had turned out differently, it could have been an MK Athletic team playing Wimbledon: Way back in the early seventies, it was rumoured that Charlton were looking to up sticks and move to the new town with concrete cows and lots of roundabouts themselves; luckily for us, it never happened. Wimbledon themselves followed Charlton into ground-sharing, and sadly for south London, they found it as unbearable as we did but left for pastures new instead of returning home. It is a moot point if the team now billed as MK Dons are in fact Wimbledon, or if that moniker still belongs with AFC Wimbledon, a team just two divisions below having worked their way upwards consistently over the last fifteen years or so. Whatever they are called, they are the next team we have to try to beat, so let’s move on.

Out of the cups, but still second in the league doesn’t look like a gloomy situation, but if you said we were out of the cups and 18th in the table (as we are form-wise) then not many would be happy. Charlton really do need to start to win again, and a victory against the team in third-place in the table would be a welcome boost.

At least manager Phil Parkinson has a pretty full squad to choose from, but this in itself will cause him headaches I’m sure as he looks for that winning combination.

His first problem is who to play in goal, with Rob Elliot still some weeks short of fitness. On-loan Carl Ikeme got the nod at Carlisle, saved a penalty but was beaten by a couple of long range thunderbolts; then Darren Randolph played in the FA Cup reverse at Northwich, made a couple of outstanding saves, but hesitated on the goal that separated the teams; Ikeme returned at Southampton but had a 40% success rate on crosses (one which he should have come for resulting in a goal) and let the second goal slip under his hand. A tough call this, but I hope that Parky reverts back to Randolph and gives him the opportunity for a run of games that he has craved for over the last few years.

At right back, we now know that we can rely on Kelly Youga to switch and do a good job if necessary, but the choice is likely to be between Frazer Richardson, who could be fit, and on-loan Elliot Omozusi; I do think if Richardson is fit he will play, and if Grant Basey is included as a substitute, then we have cover (with Youga switching) if Richardson cannot last the full match. If Richardson has to miss out again, then Omozusi will play.

Sam Sodje is available having turned down a chance to play (or more likely travel but be left out of the match day squad) for Nigeria so I expect him to start at The Valley, with Miguel Llera making the bench against his former club.

The rest of the team really depends on how Parky views the last couple of weeks, but I do suspect that Nicky Bailey and Therry Racon will return after their midweek rests, with Jose Semedo and Lloyd Sam also starting. Then we get to the million dollar question – do we start Jonjo Shelvey and play 4-5-1 or play with two attackers? I suspect that such is Shelvey’s form at present that he may well be left out once more, and we see Dave Mooney (who ran his heart out and put in a very good 90 minutes on Wednesday) and Deon Burton play from the beginning. With Leon McKenzie and Shelvey, plus maybe Tamer Tuna on the bench, we have options when either of these get tired or we need to bolster or reduce our forward line. Izale McLeod is of course banned for three games as a result of his elbow use last week, so the dilemma of whether to play him or not disappears.

This is the side I would like Parky to pick to start the match tomorrow –

Darren Randolph
Frazer Richardson
Sam Sodje
Christian Dailly
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Therry Racon
Nicky Bailey
Lloyd Sam
Dave Mooney
Deon Burton

Subs from Ikeme, Basey, Omuzusi, Llera, Stavrinou, Spring, Wagstaff, Holden, Tuna, McKenzie, Shelvey.

MK Dons have Jermaine Easter, scorer of the Wycombe goal that knocked Charlton out of the league cup quarter final four years ago, missing due to his involvement with Wales, and could also be without other key players due to injury. One time Charlton triallist Darren Powell could start in defence, and Charlton summer target Jason Puncheon is the obvious threat from the wing. Hopefully, having tried to sign him, Parky knows all about how he plays and how to counter him.

Pedro45 really hopes that Charlton have hit a low point, and can start to get back to playing some of their better football from now on. The confidence that the side exuded early in the season seems to have disappeared, and maybe some of that came from missed chances (by McLeod?) or mistakes at the back (by Omozusi and Ikeme?); by leaving out those three players and committing to Charlton registered players (bar Mooney), the team should be committed once more and work together. I think this may take time though, and against a good side, the best we can hope for is my prediction of a 1-1 draw.

My one-to-watch this week is going to be Nicky Bailey (left). Our skipper has had a bit of a torrid time recently and hasn’t scored for a while, so he is due. It is difficult for him to be playing out on the left wing, but he showed that he is more than capable during the early part of the season when he was taking on and beating full backs at will. When Sam had the ball, Bailey’s runs into the box to support Burton also had much goal-threat. Bailey needs to roll his sleeves up and find his form, and soon.

It has been all doom and gloom over the last few weeks, but the sun does always rise, and maybe it is Charlton’s turn to rise out of the November haze? The team need our support at this tough time, and they will get it if they show determination, team work, and skill; with that, we can get a positive result and hang on in there near the top of this league.

Come on you reds!

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Pretty much agree with your selection, but Parkinson hinted on the official site he might try bailey in anouther position. id move him to centre, dropping Racon who's been off recently and try either Holden or Basey on the left to give us some balance. Hopefully with the curse of the tv cameras off we might hae a chance!
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