Friday, February 22, 2008

Blackpool preview

The beauty of the Championship is that with nearly three-quarters of the season complete, every single team still has something to play for.

Norwich City are objectively the closest to seeing their motivations fade (9 points from play-offs; 10 points from relegation), but Blackpool are not far behind (12 points from play-offs; 7 points from relegation). This type of situation is a double-edge sword of course; the teams we play remain 'up for it', but the same applies to those playing against our immediate promotion rivals.

Our thumping 4-1 win over Blackpool at The Valley led to a renewed wave of optimism amongst Addicks fans, because Pards had seemingly stumbled upon an exciting new look line-up, and one that has remained very stable. Indeed a midfield of Sam, Ambrose, Holland and Zheng has been a fixture in every game since, whilst the likes especially of McCarthy, Moutaouakil and Youga (plus now Gray and Halford), have become increasingly influential.

Therefore one's relative optimism or pessimism is likely to be dictated by whether they viewed the new-style side as something of a 'fresh start' or not, with what came before able to be partly erased from the slate. Just 1 defeat in 7 League games since that Blackpool win would be cause for considerable optimism, yet push the analysis just slightly further back and you realise we've won just 3 of our last 12, and have not had an away win since Cardiff on 4th Dec. It really has been an odd season.

In a post earlier this week, I suggested that we perhaps needed to drop some of our footballing beliefs, especially for matches precisely such as this forthcoming one. Moreover I think I have identified a very simple way to do so, requiring just one change to the line-up. By shifting Zheng to either the left or right side of midfield, and pushing Jose Semedo back into the holding role alongside Holland, then in an instant you have hardened up the centre of the park, at the expense of one of our rather flaky wide midfielders.

Pards would then have the choice of one of Ambrose, Sam, Thomas or Cook to provide some flair and service to the front men. Alternatively one could play Andy Gray as a sole striker, push Luke Varney to an attacking right midfield slot, and again push Semedo back into the fold. Either way, 4 points from our last 6 away games is proof enough that we are currently an easy touch on the road, and that type of form needs to be addressed quickly if our play-off battle is not to die a slow painful death.

Tomorrow however, Pards has an additional selection headache given Youga's suspension, with Grant Basey set to start, and rightly so give he did little wrong on his fleeting appearances last year. Likewise Sam Sodje is pushing for a starting berth again, and ought to be preferred to Jonathan Fortune, not least given his ability at set-pieces, often a deciding factor on days like this.

Thus I would urge Pards to line up as follows: Weaver, Halford, Basey, McCarthy, Sodje, Zheng, Cook, Holland, Semedo, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliott, Fortune, Ambrose, Thomas, Iwelumo.

NY Addick predicts: Blackpool 1 (Burgess), Charlton 2 (Varney, Cook). Att: 8, 901.

ps - did you know Charlton have scored fully 14 of their 46 League goals in the five minutes at the end of each half? Meanwhile, we have not scored any goals between the 46th and 50th minutes, and just 7 in total between the 46th and 70th minutes? It does beg the question, what does Pards say to them at half-time (or give to them)?


At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's exactly what i said to my mate at halt time at the Watford game.

I said I hope SAP gives the boys a lift and tell them he wants to see every man in the face of every Watford for the first ten minutes or so as they are going to come out with all guns blazing.

Evidently I was wrong, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it's almost like they were told to put their feet up for a siesta.

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

That was a truly shocking result today NYA. Starting to lose the faith.


Post a Comment

<< Home