Friday, August 29, 2008

Preston preview

After the ecstasy of last Saturday's stunning televised performance, we return to the far more mundane business of an away fixture in deepest Lancashire.

The Reading performance proved we potentially have the class to succeed this season, but fixtures like Preston away will determine whether we also have the bottle.

Although we won at Deepdale last season, all too often we headed north and underperformed as our play-off hopes withered away (think Scunthorpe, Blackpool, Burnley etc.).

We obviously can't perform as we did on Saturday every time we take to the field. Reading were presumably surprised by the extent to which we used the flanks to 'make the pitch big', but our forthcoming opponents will be more prepared. They will also become increasingly aware that Nicky Bailey is the most important player in the team, and seek to nullify his presence.

It is important therefore that Pards has a 'plan B' if last weekend's classic 4-4-2 approach is not working. The return to fitness of Darren Ambrose is thus timely given his flexibility, particularly if utilised in the 'hole' in a 4-4-1-1. Meanwhile, although Pards has shown no prior inclination to opt for so-called 'wing-backs', each of Moutaouakil, Basey and Youga would appear to have the requisite energy to operate as such if required.

The likely arrival of Linvoy Primus provides some much-needed defensive cover, but I can't deny it underwhelms me. I'm disappointed that we've had to resort to an ageing defender who missed all of last season with a serious knee injury; I hope that there is another younger version coming. From a selfish perspective however, it's always nice when my favourite team still has at least one player older than I am, so thanks for that alone Linvoy.

Primus' off-field activities threaten to give Premiership footballers a good name, and his faith is welcome in a side whose defending certainly needed some divine inspiration last season. None of this is relevant though, whilst Pardew's claim that "..he's loved by the fans here.." is odd given he played just four games for the Addicks, and left in 1994.

I'd have preferred us to have taken say a £200,000 punt on a promising lower-league defender, or at least to have loaned a young Premiership player that we'd have a chance of signing. Perhaps Sunderland's Paul McShane fits this latter bill at least, though it remains a rumour, albeit one confirmed by Pards.

Lloyd Sam is carrying a knock which would be a shame as he was a vital contributor to last weekend's performance; Ambrose however would be a natural replacement. Pards could opt for Varney on the right flank, but this is unlikely given his own outstanding last outing upfront.

In defence, Kelly Youga is available again, and with Grant Basey's performance on Saturday decidedly questionable, I would expect him to return at left-back. The rest of the team will surely remain unchanged and thus I expect Pards to line them up as follows: Weaver, Moutaouakil, Youga, Hudson, Fortune, Bailey, Holland, Ambrose, Bouazza, Gray, Varney. Subs: Elliot, Semedo, Shelvey, Dickson, Basey.

Preston have begun the season unbeaten, so this will be a genuine examination of the realism of our promotion hopes. Charlton fans have learnt from bitter experience that short-term bouts of optimism can suddenly be dashed, so a point at Deepdale ought to be viewed as a decent result.

NY Addick predicts: Preston 2 (Chaplow, Mellor), Charlton 2 (Bailey, Gray). Attn: 13, 890.


At 5:05 PM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

With the departure of Chris Powell I fear that there will never again be an outfield player at The Valley that is older than I am. At 37 (now) I was at University when Carl Leaburn and Scott Minto were in the first team. Sadly they are now both very much retired.

Enjoy it while you can NYA as it will not be long before even your best friends will stop believing that you could still change your career and make a couple of first team appearances.

At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Pardews post match comments about Parkin - he makes him sound like Ronaldinho.

At 6:34 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

He was our nemesis last season as well when he tore Paddy McCarthy apart away to Stoke.


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