Wednesday, December 23, 2009

After the Lord Mayors Show

You certainly couldn’t have asked for a more exciting game than the one at the Valley last Saturday, and the fact that it was a local derby to boot, made it even more special. Whether you are in the glass half full brigade (a point gained from being two goals down) or the half empty clan (not winning against ten men despite leading twice), I’m sure that the entertainment was full and appreciated. Is it too much to expect more of the same in Charlton’s next match against Swindon on Boxing Day? Well, maybe not…

Supporters with memories that go back over quite a few years (like mine) will recall a 5-0 victory on Boxing Day’s past (over Manchester City in the late eighties) and also a 5-0 defeat (to West Ham about six years ago). Those who have supported the club even longer than me may remember the famous 6-4 win on Xmas Day that was followed by a 6-4 loss on Boxing Day back in the fifties (I think), with both games against Plymouth. So it is possible that we could see another plethora of goals on Saturday.

I’m sure manager Phil Parkinson would prefer not to see his defence conceding quite so many, especially as the Addicks have seen a few clean sheets recently, and his want will be to get back to a zero in the goals against column quite soon. That may be tough against a Swindon side sitting just inside the play-off positions, and who are in a decent vein of form themselves.

The first thing Parky will do this week will be see who is fit, and then decide who going to take the place of the suspended Lloyd Sam. It seems unlikely that Kelly Youga will be back after his knee injury, but there is a chance that Frazer Richardson could be fit after several weeks out. Dave Mooney looked to have picked up quite a serious knee injury in the Millwall game, and even though he was keen to carry on in that match, the wise words of the manager – who suggested it was OK to be substituted - have probably saved him from more serious and/or longer term injury; Mooney will not be fit and will need replacing in this game though.

The options at the back are in situe, and Elliot Omozusi will continue at right back unless Richardson is preferred (though I would be tempted to save him for Monday’s away game at Brentford if he is close to fitness…), while Grant Basey is certain to remain as left back while Youga is out. The replacement for Mooney is a little more complicated to call, and options include a revert to a 4-5-1 formation (which is unlikely, though not impossible), or a start for either Akpo Sodje or Leon McKenzie, or both. Playing either forward should free up a place on the substitutes bench, so it is possible that, with Izale McLeod’s future clouded by rumours of a trial at Hearts next week (postponed from this week by the snow), we could see the prodigal son that is Chris Dickson back in the squad after his loan spell at Bristol Rovers.

Who plays instead of Sam on the right is another tough call, as his ready made squad replacement, Scott Wagstaff, is already playing (on the left wing), so maybe this could be the breakthrough that Luke Holden needs? I certainly think he will make the bench after spending quite a bit of time on the verge of the eighteen-man squad. Therry Racon is another possibility to play on the left, though he has already displayed his preference not to be considered for that role in recent weeks, and may now have no choice or to be left out of the squad completely (as he was last week).

The rest of the team, goalkeeper Rob Elliot, centre backs Sam Sodje and Christian Dailly, plus central midfielders Nicky Bailey and Jose Semedo should be certain to play, along with top scorer Deon Burton.

This is the team I think Parky will send out to bring us Christmas cheer –

Rob Elliot

Elliot Omozusi

Sam Sodje

Christian Dailly

Grant Basey

Jose Semedo

Nicky Bailey

Scott Wagstaff

Leon McKenzie

Deon Burton

Akpo Sodje

Subs from Randolph, Richardson, Llera, Spring, Shelvey, Racon, Holden, Dickson, Tuna, McLeod, Perkins.

Swindon come into the game with little to lose; in a decent run at home, they have unearthed a goal-scoring gem it seems in the form of Charlie Austin, who has struck five times in seven appearances since being plucked from non-league football a few months back. He will need to be closely watched, but the problem at the Wiltshire club is their defence, which leaks goals more often than Eurostar trains break down (which is a lot!), with just one clean sheet since early September. Even though I would not be in the least bit surprised to see Swindon score in this game, I do think that their problems at the back may see them concede more than they can get past Rob Elliot and the flaky Addicks defence.

Sadly, my wife’s broken elbow is going to prevent Pedro45’s attendance at this particular match (though compensation comes from our re-arranged and delayed holiday next month during which I will miss only one home game instead of the original foreseen two), but I am confident that the Addicks have enough to just about come away with the win, and I am forecasting a 2-1 victory, and no repeat of the goal-fest from the last match.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Scott Wagstaff, on whose young shoulders the ability to supply the forwards rests. Waggy has had his moments so far this season, some good (scoring his goals) and some bad (missing sitters and messing up for Millwall’s opener last week). He may be young, but he has to appreciate his role in the side, and how doing his duties compliment the team; if he continues to track back, is available for passes, and attacks his marker when he gets the chance, plus supplies the ball accurately and at the right time, then the loss of Sam may be one we can cope with without too much concern (for one game at least).

The unbeaten record at The Valley that stretches back to before the last lot of snow and the record is one that is precious but it will go some day; gladly it was maintained in our derby match, and it would be great to take it into the new year too. Come on lads, you know you can do it!

I am just left with task of wishing everyone a very happy Xmas – to the club and its staff; the players; the supporters who turn out in hot and cold weather; to other bloggers and also to the readers of this blog. Looking at it as a whole, 2009 hasn’t been a bad year results-wise, but let us wish for Santa to improve our form in 2010, and get us back up at least one division.

Come on you reds!

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Another excellent blog this year many thanks!
A real shame Mooney is out injured, he has scored a fwew for us, but it's his run and awareness that have been a real bonus, for the penalties against Millwall, the header back to Bailey, the pass to Wagstaff against Stockport etc...but as usual our striker injury hoodoo rises again...

Did think Mckenize looked a real threat on the left against Millwall when he came on, but I think Wyn pointed out this may leave Basey exposed at left back.

Fingers crossed we can go into 2010 unbeaten at home, happy christmas!
Also think it will be a 2-1 win, could be very close this one.
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