Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Posh Spice

Watching Charlton has become rather predictable, even if the results remain unpredictable.

You can show up confident that we will be outplayed in midfield, but set up to be 'bloody hard to beat' and ordered to give absolutely everything for the shirt.

It's not pretty but you can't deny it's been successful. 

Somewhat remarkably given how we all felt just three weeks ago, we sit just five points off the play-offs.

On a chilly South-East London night, it was clear from Powell's team selection that we would revert firmly to type.

Unusually playing two target men together signalled we intended to 'go direct', whilst at the same time cementing the view that Bradley Wright-Phillips is at best a fringe player nowadays.

Although Kermogant enjoys a cult status at The Valley, seeing him alongside Fuller emphasised for me at least the difference in quality, with the Jamaican showing a good deal more guile along with the same terrific upper body strength that his partner also displays.

An early volleyed effort by Kermogant from a Fuller knock-down boded well, but there wasn't much chemistry between the pair.  A pacier partner like Haynes would suit both better.

As we know the Charlton midfield is ponderous on good days, but it was set up to be particularly so with Jackson and the surprisingly ineffective Frimpong unable to do much more than 'hold' in the centre.

Pritchard's workrate and athleticism is really astonishing and his defensive contribution is probably underappreciated, but he is really just that ie. an athlete, not a footballer. 

Kerkar meanwhile is just frustrating, even more so when he gets into dangerous positions as he did on a couple of occasions in the first half.

However the back four was rock solid, and whilst Posh regularly and impressively bypassed our static midfield, they never really threatened to score except from the deflected shot which rebounded off Hamer's post.

George Boyd and the less-than-svelte Lee Tomlin were technically the most impressive players on the pitch, but it's telling that they have contributed nearly half of their side's goals this season.

On this performance, a 15 goals per season type of striker would have seen them sitting somewhere in midtable.  Instead they rely on the midfield for their goals.

Chris Solly in particular was terrific at the back, winning tackles and bombing forward where he could - two pinpoint early second half crosses for Kermogant and Pritchard particularly noteworthy.

The late introduction of Danny Green changed the dynamic, and whilst Powell presumably considers him rather 'unreliable', he does at least pass and move with a degree of competence. 

Fuller's goal shortly thereafter was a wonder strike but the space he found himself in was actually created by one of the few episodes of neat interchange through the midfield.  A lesson perhaps?

The second goal was also well-worked, Hulse and Kermogant both involved in the move at the beginning as well as at the end, finishing off Green's perfect low cross to put the game beyond the visitors.

As my last post suggested, if our away form to date can be explained by more than just mediocre opposition, then this season could really surpass all reasonable expectations. 

As the quality of opposition at The Valley degrades as the League table suggests it will, then even average performances may be enough to pick up wins. 

Last night provided supporting evidence.

Here are my player ratings:

Hamer 7 - flapped a couple of times, but distribution was good and handling generally secure;
Solly 8 - the team's outstanding player; so much more effective on the right
Seabourne 6 - a solid unspectacular short-term answer; Nigel Adkins can safely delete his mobile no. though
Morrison 7 - the team's on-pitch leader even if he isn't wearing the armband
Cort 6 - causes nervous moments when the ball is on the floor, but wins vital headers
Pritchard 6 - helps Solly immensely by tracking back, but lack of quality is painful to watch
Jackson 6 - one of his better games but the opposition midfield highlighted his limitations
Frimpong 5 - on this performance Cazorla and Arteta need not fear for their places
Kerkar 6 - never stops trying and occasionally got into good positions, but no end product
Fuller 7 - service was poor so he had to take matters into his own hands; a quality act
Kermogant 6 - struggled to get involved; realistically should be 3rd choice target man
Green 7 - Powell's natural conservativeness will see Pritchard usually preferred; shame
Hulse 7 - added some energy upfront; more mobile than Kermogant


At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sense you are playing Devil's Advocate once again, NYA! I could bite...but I won't!


At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Great report, as ever. When I saw the result I thought you'd got lucky and seen a decent performance for once. Clearly not!!

Where was Dale Stephens? I assume he was injured. Surely Chris Powell didn't prefer Jackson?


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