Monday, January 28, 2008

Stoke preview

I'm currently going through one of those annoyingly frequent 'half full/half empty' moments with regard to Charlton.

I am suitably encouraged by the form shown since Pards accidentally stumbled upon our best line-up during the Cup tie with WBA. Meanwhile, the recent addition of Andy Gray should be beneficial, even if his valuation at first sight appears toppy.

Then again, with Burnley having somehow crept to within just one point of us, £1.5million might turn out to be a small price to pay if it keeps one of our promotion rivals at bay, and ensures us at least a play-off berth.

Moreover, the signing has encouraging echoes of 1985/86 when another Scot (Jim Melrose) arrived similarly during mid-season, and scored valuable goals to keep our promotion momentum alive.

However, one should not be blinded either from the simple truth that 7 wins in 24 in all competitions (or more recently, 1 in 9) is form which if not reversed swiftly, will see our season deteriorate into midtable mediocrity.

Nevertheless, with WBA, Watford and Palace facing tricky away games this week, a two-goal win by the Addicks would see us not only leapfrog the Potters, but also hopefully make up ground on one or more of our key promotion contenders. There you go again you see, the glass is half-full.

Mistakes have clearly been made tactically, and in terms of team selection, whilst my overwhelming criticism of our performance at Watford (which presumably typifies many recent matches), is that we lack a killer instinct.

One senses that the likes of Varney, Sam, Ambrose and Thomas for example are fine natural talents, but not exactly born winners. Chris Iwelumo meanwhile tends to jump for headers as if he's worried about hurting his marker, let alone himself; let's hope his fellow countryman Gray is more of a battering ram.

The Stoke fixture in August was an early and deflating reminder that this season might not be the cakewalk that some of us had hoped for. They have bullied they way into the play-off places, but if brute force is all it takes to get out of this division (as some like to suggest that it is), then the likes of Stoke (and Hull etc..) would not be looking up wistfully at the more refined likes of WBA and Bristol City.

Pards looks likely to pick the same team that dominated the Watford game, except that Iwelumo will surely make way for Gray to make his full debut. I've lost track to be honest of whether Sam Sodje remains a Charlton player at this point, but Paddy McCarthy and Madjid Bougherra were solid enough again to continue in defence. Thus I expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Moutaouakil, Youga, McCarthy, Bougherra, Sam, Zheng, Holland, Ambrose, Gray, Varney. Subs: Randolph, Fortune, Semedo, Iwelumo, McLeod.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 1 (Gray), Stoke 1 (Fuller). Att: 19,211.


At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope you're wrong about McCleod's presence on the bench (apparently he has declined a loan move to Leeds) Dickson seems a better option.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Sorry, it was an oversight on my part; I'd also rather see Dickson on the bench.

I would have thought a loan deal with Leeds would be perfect for McLeod (and Charlton) to be honest.

At 1:08 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

Clearly, with hindsight, it was always half full. Keep that in mind as your confidence in our potential this season has been very reassuring.


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