Saturday, February 03, 2007

It Takes Two

Today was unlikely to be an especially productive one for Charlton, so I am not particularly despondent, but I had perhaps not anticipated how (relatively) medicore Chelsea would be and thus a small part of me feels the game was an opportunity lost.

Wigan's not unexpected home win over rapidly deteriorating Pompey was a disappointment, but likewise defeats for West Ham and Sheffield United against midtable opposition ensured that we did not lose too much ground today even if the Premiership table looks a little uglier for us. Wigan will have harder afternoons than today's, and we will have easier ones.

To use a golfing analogy, our season has become a matchplay tournament and is no longer a strokeplay one ie. it is the points we gain relative to the teams around us that matter, not so much the total points accumulated. Unfortunately to take the analogy a step further, we are currently the equivalent of about three holes down with nine to play, and hence we cannot really afford not to win the vital home games against the three teams directly above us. I believe that anything less than seven points would probably seal our fate, and moreover any defeats, particularly against Wigan or Sheffield United would leave us with an insurmountable mountain to climb.

Yesterday I suggested that Pards should revert back to 4-4-2, and not necessarily be blindly loyal to the eleven that picked up four points on the road. By the time he realised at half-time that I was probably correct, we were already one down to an avoidable goal. The strike was typical of Lampard who was afforded too much space firstly when Faye conceded possession, and then when Hreidarsson inexplicably chose to back off him instead of closing him down. However despite their superiority of first-half possession, they did little else to trouble us which in itself makes me wonder what might have been had we matched their formation from the start.

As soon as Hasselbaink replaced Rommedahl, we looked far more likely to retain the ball now that we had two outlets up front, and it was from some neat interplay that we created the outstanding chance for Faye. Although he forced a good save from Cech, in truth he should have scored and a simpler sidefooted finish would have ensured such an outcome. A second chance later in the game for the same player was less clear-cut, but again he showed all the conviction of a player with one lifetime Premiership goal to his name.

Admittedly Chelsea now looked more dangerous on the break as we pushed forward, and Carson produced a wonderful low save from Wright-Phillips, whilst Kalou shaved the post. Indeed Carson was excellent again throughout, and it's a shame that he will miss our final game at Liverpool because their fans deserve to see the rapturous send-off he will get from the visiting fans, regardless of whether we are already relegated. Let's hope he goes on to make a name for himself on a bigger stage than The Valley because he deserves to.

Having watched the Villa vs West Ham game, it is clear that they are in desperate trouble too and the body language of Curbs suggests he well knows it. What odds he spends 15 years at Charlton and less than 15 months at the Hammers? However we may run the risk of focusing too much on our East London neighbours, and despite the pressure cooker atmosphere that will no doubt exist on Feb 24, in truth the bigger games are the Wigan and Sheffield United ones.

Next stop: Old Trafford.


At 4:00 AM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

No matter the outcome at Old Trafford this Saturday, the attitude that must be taken over the balance of the season is to simply take one game at a time, look after business and don't be too concerned about what the other guys are doing, as you have no control over any of those outcomes in any event. Earn sufficient points and it is game-on in the Premiership next season.


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