Friday, March 16, 2007

Newcastle preview

I am currently enjoying a brief trip to London but the UEFA Cup-inspired decision to move the Newcastle game to Sunday ensured that I cannot double the matches seen live this season to two. Having said that, the unseasonal snowstorm currently dumping six inches of snow in New York (before making its way over here) may see my flight conveniently cancelled. "Sorry darling, all flights cancelled....I might just be able to get on the Sunday flight at 8.30pm."

Newcastle's surprise exit from the UEFA Cup will hopefully work in our favour. With their season effectively over, heads may drop and minds may wander to summer holidays in warm climes. Despite having some exciting attacking options in Duff and Martins, their defence is notoriously porous and presents us with a good opportunity to close the gap on our rivals.

Talking of rivals, whilst we can hopefully assume a defeat for Sheff Utd at Chelsea, both Wigan (especially) and Man City have winnable games. Worryingly 'Boro have more important business to attend to on Monday than a meaningless (for them) Premiership fixture, and hence I fear that the gap will be at least seven points implying anything other than a win for Charlton will leave us in a horrendous position.

The absence of Ben Thatcher will probably see a return at left-back for Hermann Hreidarsson, whilst Jon Fortune's return to the Championship (where he belongs) will likely see Bougherra's second outing. The cautionary withdrawal of Darren Bent is a huge blow, and potentially a fatal one for our chances but at least the return of his namesake Marcus ensures we can continue with a 4-4-2. The long-term injury to Andy Reid (who is rapidly earning the nickname 'the new Gary Rowett') will surely ensure no change to a midfield that has created six goals in two games.

Pards must be cursing his luck given his never-ending injury problems, and with nine players now out on loan, he is clearly trying to patch together a team for the remainder of this campaign, whilst with one eye firmly upon rebuilding for next season. Our failure to defeat a very beatable Watford side two weeks ago has sucked out some of the belief generated by the West Ham result, but I will continue to predict a Pards-inspired victory to keep us in the race. NY Addick predicts: Charlton 2 (Ambrose, Song), Newcastle 0. Att: 26,210.

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