Friday, November 21, 2008

Sheffield United preview

A vital seven days for the Addicks begin on Saturday, with the visit of 5th placed Sheffield United to The Valley. Omens from this fixture over the past two seasons are not good.

Almost exactly a year ago, the Blades arrived in South-East London for a Tuesday night fixture against a Charlton side smarting from four consecutive wins and clean sheets.

With 31 points from 17 games, arguably it marked the high point of Alan Pardew's managerial reign. It certainly compares well to the 16 points accumulated from the same number of games this time around.

A comfortable 3-0 away win brought us swiftly back to earth, and suggested Charlton were somewhat more fragile than recent results would have predicted. As mentioned in my previous post, we have picked up just 49 points from the 46 games since.

Just a few months earlier, the points were shared in a desperate relegation six-pointer with the Addicks unable to capitalise on Talal El Karkouri's flukey opener. A diabolical late error by Ben Thatcher secured the visitors a point, and virtually sealed Charlton's fate.

It wasn't enough to save Sheffield United meanwhile, despite the administrative shenanigans going on a few miles north of The Valley, caused by players ironically both signed by Pards.

Unlike fellow relegated sides Charlton and Watford, the Blades have shown some solidity this season under the stewardship of Kevin Blackwell. Indeed it merely reflects a continuation of solid late 2007/8 form which almost secured them a surprise play-off spot. His record in far from ideal circumstances reflects well on him, and poorly on Pards by comparison.

In James Beattie, the visitors have one of the division's most potent goal threats, and he will likely be accompanied upfront by former Addicks target, Anthony Stokes. Meanwhile, if Chris Morgan's recent diabolical assault of Barnsley's Iain Hume is anything to go by in defence, then we can expect the type of physical challenge which we have not always relished.

Although the 4-5-1 formation seemed to serve us somewhat well on our recent travels, it is hard to see Pards opting for it in a home game we need to win, particularly if Andy Gray's personal problems prevent him starting against his former club. Instead I would expect Svetoslav Todorov's mercurial talents to offer a foil to debutant Martyn Waghorn.

In central midfield, one of the recently-utilised trio will need to be sacrificed with Matt Holland perhaps the most likely, given positive comments pertaining to Jose Semedo's recent contribution. On the flanks Bouazza will surely start on the left, with either Luke Varney or more likely Lloyd Sam on the right.

Thus I expect Pards to line them up as follows: Weaver, Moutaouakil, Youga, Hudson, Primus, Bailey, Semedo, Bouazza, Sam, Todorov, Waghorn. Subs: Elliot, Cranie, Holland, Varney, Dickson.

NY Addick predicts Charlton 1 (Waghorn), Sheff Utd 1 (Beattie). Att: 19, 222.


At 7:07 PM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

That's at least three bloggers who have predicted 1-1! It can't happen now.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

Your logic and conclusions appear infallible, so tomorrow we know what to expect......well, let's just wait and see, shall we? ;-)

At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Ketts said...

Is your attendance prediction an estimate of ticket sales or the number of people in the ground?

Look forward to seeing you again in the New Year.

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Tickets sold: 19,222
Seats occupied: 17,834


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