Friday, September 21, 2007

Leicester preview

Watford's win at Cardiff has robbed us of the possibility of moving top of the Championship this weekend, but nonetheless we have another excellent chance to consolidate our position as one of the early front runners.

Fresh from providing Nottingham Forest with a 'free goal' during Tuesday's replayed Carling Cup tie, Leicester arrive at The Valley with two former favourites in tow, Radostin Kishishev and Shaun Newton.

Now without wishing to be demeaning to Kish, he's been known to give away the odd 'free goal' himself from time to time, but he will deserve (and receive) a warm welcome back to the club which he left as one of its longest-serving players. It was a slight surprise that Pards let him go given that he ought to have had something to offer in the Championship, but then again he would have struggled to win a place ahead of the likes of Zheng, Semedo and Racon. He was never technically good enough to become a true 'hero', but he eventually won even the most ardent unbelievers in the end.

Newton meanwhile has seen his career stutter since leaving Charlton for Wolves, and it is hard to believe that the fresh-faced youngster who made his debut in 1993, is now 32-years old and fully in the twilight of his career. His drugs ban (which occurred whilst playing under Pards), had done him few favours, and it is fair to assume that his fondest career memories exist firmly at Charlton. To name just a couple, that goal against Ipswich in the play-off semi-final, and the reluctant way he cheekily converted a penalty in the ensuing final, warrant a similarly warm reception.

Leicester have started poorly, not helped by the somewhat inexplicable sacking of Martin Allen, apparently due to an unwillingness to sign Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink (what were you thinking Martin?). They now have Gary Megson in charge, a manager who has done the rounds, without fully convincing of his ability, except perhaps during his spell at WBA. If nothing else, they will be fired up to prove a point to their new gaffer.

We do not have a fantastic recent record against Leicester, especially away from home, although this particular fixture does tend to generate some memorable moments, for example Shaun Bartlett's stunning 'Goal of the Season' volley, or Steve Brown's ridiculous dismissal for handball whilst falling over. Unfortunately we also lost a vital FA Cup tie in 2004/5, having been gift-wrapped a route to the quarter-finals.

Those with longer memories will recall the game at Upton Park in 1991/92, when an unusually large crowd (boosted by several thousand Foxes), saw a David Whyte-inspired Charlton side play magnificently to win, and dent Leicester's automatic promotion hopes (they eventually lost in the play-off final).

Unlike most of the other teams we have faced so far this season, Leicester will arrive with plenty of recognisable players, even excluding those without a Charlton connection. The likes of Bruno N'Gotty, Stephen Clemence, Carl Cort, DJ Campbell, and Elvis Hammond will be familiar to many, although that's not to say Leicester will be any better for that.

Pards appeared satisfied with Tuesday's performance, and thus his main selection headache would seem to concern whether McLeod impressed enough, and Todorov is fit enough, to shift either Iwelumo or Varney from their starting berths. Unfortunately for the two protagonists, they are beginning to appear to offer the biggest threat when emerging from the bench, although I must confess to a soft spot for Toddy.

A fit Yassin Moutouakil would surely win back his place from Danny Mills, but there seems little upside to rushing him back with a capable replacement comfortable enough. At the back, it is hard to imagine that either Sodje, or McCarthy (against his former club) will threaten Tuesday's clean sheet partnership. In midfield proud new Dad, Darren Ambrose may start in place of Lloyd Sam, whilst do not be surprised if Jerome Thomas fails to make the 16 again.

When all is said and done, I would expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Mills, Powell, Fortune, Bougherra, Zheng, Semedo, Reid, Ambrose, Iwelumo, Varney. Subs: Randolph, McCarthy, Todorov, McLeod, Racon.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 2 (Varney, Reid), Leicester 0. Att: 22, 109.


At 4:23 AM, Anonymous SLC Addick said...

Before I got to the end of your piece, it occurred that McLeod is the classic substitute that should be brought on with 15 or 20 minutes to go. I can't think of any Charlton player in the last 15 years that that could be said of. McDonald against Newcastle still raises a grin though!

At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Charlton would be well advised to keep a close eye on a hard-nosed, pluckly little 23 year old striker named Iain Hume, Leicester's leading scorer last season and a regular international for the Canadian side.

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Make that "plucky" above. Sorry. No spell check on blogs!


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