Sunday, November 25, 2007

No Time Like Injury Time

Four wins, four clean sheets, seven goals. Charlton are in the midst of a fantastic spell of form, but if you are the type of person that sees the fourth official's board as the cue to have a pee/beat the traffic* (*delete as appropriate), then you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

It really is a remarkable statistic that six of our seven goals have occurred during the injury time added on at the end of each half. From my perspective, it could signal superior fitness and concentration levels, both vital attributes in a 46-game season.

The bar chart above shows the distribution of our 24 goals so far this season across the six 15-minute periods. If one assumed goals were scored in a linear fashion during games, then one would 'expect' us to have scored 4 goals in the final quarter-hour (perhaps slightly more given the injury time). Infact we've scored 9.

Despite having plenty of attacking options, we are far from being the leading scorers in the Championship. We sit behind Watford, WBA, Ipswich, Coventry, Southampton and perhaps most bizarrely, 19th placed Colchester, in the scoring stakes. However I doubt if any team has scored as many goals in the final fifteen minutes (and most certainly not the injury time at the end of that period).

Today's win was especially welcome given that earlier results could not realistically have gone much better for us. Defeats for Watford, Bristol City and Ipswich returned us not only to 2nd place, but also to within just five points of the stuttering leaders. So what explains the sudden improved and consistent form? Here are a few obvious factors:

Sam Sodje: The cheerful defender actually made his debut against QPR, but his partnership with Jonathan Fortune is clearly bearing fruit (378 minutes without a goal). Just as importantly, Sodje offers a prodiguous leap at set pieces. At the right price, he would surely be a valuable permanent addition.

Grant Basey and the Balance: If young Basey ever becomes a musician, I think I've just come up with a great name for his band. But whilst he remains a footballer, he is surely proof that despite any concerns some fans may have had about his lack of experience, it is greatly preferred to maintain the balance offered by a left-footed left-back. Surely after flawed attempts to play Luke Young, Osei Sankofa and Danny Mills at left-back, the message is now clear.....maintain the balance.

4-5-1: We may conceivably have stumbled on 4-5-1 by virtue of Todorov's injury, but it suits our best players perfectly and four wins prove it. No more Andy Reid exposed on the left; Zheng Zhi freed up to ghost into the box seeking goals; Jose Semedo relieved of most attacking responsibilities; the pace of Lloyd Sam and Jerome Thomas freed up to a greater degree etc.. It feels a lot like the perfect balance we found in 1999/2000, although that one required a 4-4-2. Moreover, as much as they may resent it, Luke Varney or Izale McLeod are probably best used as pacy late substitutes. If Chris Iwelumo picks up an injury, we may have to revert back, but for now it suits us just fine.

With two straightforward-looking home games coming up, we are surely entitled to feel as optimistic as we ever have about this season. After the QPR game, our odds to win the Championship were as long as 14/1, but now they're a worst-priced 11/2. Did those three defeats really signal that our season was falling apart? Not for me they didn't....I trust you also climbed aboard.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger StoneMuse said...

Fully agreed about Sodje and Basey. We do seem to have a good balance about the team recently.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Confidential Rick said...

Well said NY (SAP don't change a thing). Re the above graph. Can you re-present it as a pie-chart pls?

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Kappacino Kid said...

This is a funny league and just as there appears to be no hope (after Plymouth) it al turns round, so we must be wary of too much optimism and keep knuckling under, 4 home games out of the next 6 should see us through to a strong position by the New Year. That said, I reckon that our home games could well be harder than away, as teams come to the valley and park themselves in their six yard box. Despite their position in the table Sheff U will be a real test tomorrow.


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