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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Big Week - Part One - (Fulham)

So, like that unavoidable visit to the dentist that you always book weeks in advance, D-Day has finally, and inescapably, arrived. And for Monica himself, the exam results are waiting for you right there on the doorstep. It remains to be seen in the next 24 hours if we have passed or not. For us fans there's no escape, although I suppose that staying at home and watching on Sky is close.

With no away victory for nearly a year ( Portsmouth 2-1, October 22nd 2005) we now we expect the Addicks to raise from the ashes of bottom place in the table and perform a miracle. Well, it's only Fulham you say. But a Fulham in 12th spot and we haven't won there since 1986, 20 years ago. So not as easy as we might hope but belief is the main thing at the moment. And I suppose that for Monica, whose season starts today, an away draw might be seen as a victory.

I have to say I have no idea what's going to happen. With our opponents in 12th place, there's more at stake for ourselves than there is for Fulham. And perhaps they can afford a defeat, we cannot.

Everyone seems very optimistic about the game with nobody predicting a defeat. But that would be seen as defeatist, I suppose, and as I say belief is the most important thing at the moment. But I remember the same optimistic feeling against Portsmouth a few weeks back. Despite their unbeaten record, how were we going to lose to Pompey? And after an hour we were clearly on top, but we couldn't break them down.

But Fulham are no Portsmouth at the moment. In fact they are a bit topsy-turby. While only scoring twice at home in the league they have managed 6 away! And while they have conceded more goals in the first 20 minutes of Premiership matches this season than any other club they have scored more in the last 10 minutes than any other. So clearly a fit bunch, high on confidence. The Addicks, on the other hand, are clearly better in the first half, for of the 13 goals we have conceded, 10 goals have been conceded in the second half - that's more than any other club.
So obviously the plan will be to hit them hard from the word go, score a couple, bring on Diawara and shut up shop.

The Opposition
Fulham have obviously got a few problems at home. After drawing with Bolton with a Bulland penalty in the last minute, they then managed to beat Sheff.Utd 1-0, again with a single Bulland goal. They then managed to lose against Wycombe Wanderers 2-1 in the League Cup ( no advertising here), before losing to Chelski 2-0. So four games in all and only 3 goals scored, and 4 league points, to show for it. And tonight here's no Bulland! But as far as points on the board are concerned, Coleman is probably happy with 4 from the vists of Sheffield Utd, Bolton and Chelski.

Their away form is, however, much better as far as scoring is concerned with late combacks being the style. After a howler of an opening game 1-5 at Old Trafford, they beat Newcastle 2-1 with both goals coming in the last 8 minutes and then managed a 3-3 at Watford after being 2 goals down.

Talk The Talk

Monica says: "We have had patches showing what we are capable of - and that has not been done enough. Now everyone should be embracing the new ideas and they all know what I am about, what we are trying to achieve. We have had a period where we have had some difficulties, but now we all have to kick on."

Our record against Fulham is about equal with a total of: Fulham 18 wins, Charlton 17 wins, Draws 17
At Fulham the record reads: Fulham 12 wins, Charlton 6, Draws 8
Whilst in our 10 games against them in the Premiership we have only won 2, so recent history is not all that bright.

The Addicks
The injuries, at long last, seem to be improving with Diawara, Pouso and Jerome Thomas all making a comeback in the closed-doors friendly against Arsenal last Tuesday. Is it too early for them to take a part? That's the first question for Monica. He would like to include the experience of Diawara in his defence but it may be too early for him as well as Pouso. Thomas should earn at least a place on the bench and the rest really pick themselves.

Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara ( or Fortune), Hreidarsson, Rommedahl, Reid, Faye, Hughes, Hasselbaink, D. Bent.

Our own Frankie has us down for a win while armchair-cynic Lawrenson gives us no hope with a 2-1 home forecast. Wyn goes for a draw (but points out that the Times rates a home at 58%, an away win at only 20%) and Pedro45 also hopes for a draw.
But a Defeat! Well, I'll take it on the cheek and get ready for Saturday. Rome wasn't built ( or even rebuilt) in a day....

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