Without a win in their last 5 League games, languishing in 18th place out of 24 and a penchant for conceding last minute goals it looks like a good time to be visiting the boringly-named Recreation Ground in Chesterfield. But although their League form at home is a bit haphazard with 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats, they have been performing very well in the League Cup.
Enjoying a fair sluice of Lady Luck with their 4th sucessive home draw and in previous rounds they have made the most of this advantage. In their small ground of only 8,500 they have now beaten supposedly superior opposition three times and even come from behind to win in the last two rounds.
In the First Round they beat Wolves 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Then in the Second round they beat Man. City 2-1 with 2 second half goals after being behind at half-time. And in the Third Round they did exactly the same to West Ham scoring twice in the second half to win 2-1. Whatever they put in the tea at half-time obviously does the trick.
However, what fate gifts you with one hand it often takes away with the other and just when they need him most it seems that Chesterfield have been struck with an injury crisis with their own version of Darren Bent, one Caleb Folan, who scored in both wins over Man. City and West Ham, currently suffering from a reported hamstring from the weekend game and is not yet back in training.
Other reported injuries are striker Mark Hughes (knee problem) and captain Mark Allott (leg), while defender Phil Picken also remains sidelined. Paul Shaw, another forward, has also missed the past nine games with knee ligament damage.
It has been pointed out by several people that Monica is on the verge of making history by taking the Addicks into the draw for the 5th Round for the very first time. But our record against Chesterfield isn't so good. Despite their low standings we have managed to lose 5 of the 12 league games and only won 4 and perhaps it should be pointed out that Chesterfield have never reached the 5th Round either!
Man.City put out almost exactly the same team against Chesterfield as played on Saturday and still lost so we will need to be at our best to continue. But will Monica risk his entire first team? Probably not. With the first of three very important away games coming up on Saturday at Wigan, he may well decide to rest key players.
Whatever happens, you can bet that wee Brian Hughes will be in the starting lineup. Scotty Carson will get a well-earned rest giving Anderson (or Myhre) a chance to convince Monica that he needn't worry too much about Liverpools' goalkeeping problems.
As for the defence, Monica may decide to give our new star, glove-wearing Diawara, a rest and put Fortune out for a run. Midfield, alongside Hughes could be Ambrose and Thomas with Andy Reid or Matt Holland. Up front it'll be Marcus and Jimmy-Floyd with our own goal machine warming the bench, England style.
But its got to be a 0-0 after extra-time, with little Hughes netting the winning penalty, 9-8.....