Friday, February 02, 2007

Chelsea Preview

Jose Mourinho brings his miserable bunch of overpaid, overhyped underperformers to The Valley tomorrow. For me, they sum up everything that is wrong with the Premiership, and perhaps I wouldn't mind so much if they were good to watch like Man Utd, Arsenal or Liverpool.

Whilst our Premiership survival will be dictated by fixtures other than this one, it is imperative that we do not go onto the field either here or at Old Trafford next weekend with one eye on the six-pointer with West Ham, because we can't discount the possiblity we'll be six points behind them by then. The Hammers themselves have proved that the big teams are beatable, and we should have that attitude too.

Interestingly Pards seems to concur, declaring that "We have worked hard on certain individuals to try to get them in the right frame of mind and convince them that our target is achievable - and that all the games are winnable, regardless of the opposition." Who is he referring to I wonder?

Pards is most likely to stick with the same starting eleven that took four points from two tough away games, though whether this loyalty is necessarily the optimal strategy is a debatable point. The 4-5-1 formation is ideal for awaydays, but his preference for 4-4-2 might be displayed tomorrow in my view, perhaps with Kevin Lisbie returning to provide a pacier foil for Marcus Bent than JFH. It would be harsh to consider dropping either El Karkouri or Hreidarsson after Wednesday's heroics, but Pards might be tempted (and be advised in my view) to shift El Karkouri to right-back and slot Bougherra (if fit) or Diawara into the centre.

The return of John Terry has received much fanfare, but they will be without the likes of A Cole, J Cole and Robben which is reassuring for those playing on the right side for Charlton. It is in the centre of midfield however where most games are won and lost, and it is here where the greatest cause for pessimism exists such is the depth of their options here.

Derek 'Killer' Hales (KillerWatch© -£571), fresh from a rare success on Wednesday, is again predicting a draw at the more generous odds of 10/3. Whilst I'm confident that we will approach the game in the right manner and not simply roll over as we did versus Liverpool, I cannot see us having the quality to hold out for 90 minutes for that precious point. NY Addick predicts: Charlton 0, Chelsea 2 (Lampard, Drogba); Attendance: 26,991


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