Sunday, December 27, 2009

Higher than Cloud Nine

In some ways, I’m really upset that I missed such a dramatic Charlton game at The Valley on Saturday, and I wish it had been postponed so I could have attended. I bet Phil Parkinson wishes the game hadn’t happened either, though for different reasons…

Parky will certainly earn his corn over the next few matches, as he has done over the first half of the season, but possibly more so as he tries to pull together enough available players starting with the game at Griffin Park against Brentford. Without his first choice defence and attack, somehow he has to cobble together enough skill and experience to ensure the points are won. He also has to decide on a midfield, as this is the only area that he has sufficient bodies, but also because he may need to use some of those additional bodies to fill gaps elsewhere.

When you look at the squad, and who is available, about the only player guaranteed to be playing in a easily determined position is goalkeeper Rob Elliot; I’ve probably put the mockers on him by saying as much, but he should be OK to line up between the posts.

The defence will consist of any and all of the senior players who are fit; providing there were no unseen injuries from the Swindon game, Elliot Omozusi will line up at right back, Grant Basey at left back, and Saturday’s hero Miguel Llera in central defence. With Christian Dailly still ill, Sam Sodje suspended, Kelly Youga still out injured, and Basey required elsewhere, the only option is to play Jose Semedo alongside Llera. Communication may be an issue, but Charlton have no alternative other than bringing in youngster Yado Mambo, and I doubt that will happen.

The shifting of Semedo leaves a gap in midfield, and it was a shame that Parky’s tactic of playing a narrow diamond shape on Saturday did not get the chance to work, given that the team played 90 minutes (81 minutes of normal time taking into account the ten minutes Sodje was off being stitched up, plus the nine minutes of additional time allowed for by the referee) with less than eleven men. With Lloyd Sam back after suspension, and with Semedo moved back, I doubt that Parky will want to try that formation with the personnel he has available in this match, but he could decide to switch back to 4-5-1 bearing in mind that Jonjo Shelvey made a goal scoring return to the team. The alternative of maintaining a 4-4-2 is to play an unbalanced side, and I’m not sure Parky will want that.

Up front, Akpo Sodje put in a sterling effort for over an hour on his own, but hopefully his tired legs have recovered enough to do something similar in this match, with squad strikers Leon McKenzie, Chris Dickson, and Izale McLeod (if he is still around) able to bring relief or add additional firepower later in the game as is required.

This is the team I suspect Parky may have to suit up at Griffin Park -

Rob Elliot

Elliot Omozusi

Miguel Llera

Jose Semedo

Grant Basey

Matt Spring

Nicky Bailey

Scott Wagstaff

Lloyd Sam

Jonjo Shelvey

Akpo Sodje

Subs from Randolph, Solly, Mambo, Pell, Jenkinson, Perkins, McKenzie, Tuna, Dickson, McLeod.

It’s horrible to contemplate that four of the potential subs above have yet to start a league game for the Addicks, and three other have just a handful of league games under their collective belts, but such is the availability situation for this match.

Brentford are on little roll themselves, but sadly, for them, ex-Addick Charlie McDonald will be missing after being a referee victim on Saturday when he was unlucky to pick up a red card. The bees gave Charlton a tough game at The Valley (where Charlton won 2-1) earlier in the season, and played some good football, but since then they have settled into a middle of the league team, who are unlikely to get in either the play-off or relegation zones this season. The main danger on paper is on-loan Spurs man and future “star” John Bostock, though he was left out of the side at Gillingham this weekend.

Pedro45 is travelling up form Somerset for the game, and is confident that the Addicks will get back to winning ways with a1-0 victory. The defence may be our reserves, but for this match I am hoping they can perfom heroically once more and see the Addicks home with a clean sheet.

My one-to-watch is going to be Jose Semedo. With a stop-gap defence for this match, our Portu-geezer will need to show us that he can play in the position that he was originally bought for, and he hasn’t forgotten all he knows about playing centre half while he’s been stuck in midfield. He will have to be careful and understand that he cannot foul his man if they get past him, as that could lead to a red card (as it did at Cardiff a couple of years back), but if he remains confident that his covering defenders will help him he should be OK.

I think it is eleven games since defeat in the league for the Addicks currently, and it would be great to carry the round dozen into 2010. Charlton started this year with a draw, but they can go one better here; the first game of the second half of the season needs to be won, and I think we can do it!

Up the Addicks!

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Agree with your probable starting eleven, but surely Racon will make the bench.
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