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Monday, December 31, 2007

Fizzies No. 26 - Colchester (h)

A New Year beckons and what better start can you expect to have than the gift of Colchester United calling at the Valley. Because you don't need me to tell you that they are rock bottom of the fizzies, 2 points adrift and with only 4 wins all season.
The score was 2-2 at Layer Road back in September, when we came back from 2 goals down, with Todorov and ZiZi getting the goals, although we had one more man for the last 35 minutes after defender Matthew Connolly was sent off and should perhaps have done more. And after 13 games, on-loan Connolly will unfortunately be enjoying his last game for Colchester tomorrow after being recalled from a year-long loan by the Arse. Must be Africa Cup time and obviously means that Arsene had decided to give us Alex Song back.
Anyway, Colchester's current form is not very good, in fact they're also bottom in that league with only 2 points from the last 6 games. But its their away form that is of interest to us and as befits a team at the bottom its pretty bad with only 2 wins, 4 draws and 6 defeats. They started the season well with 3 draws and a win in their first 4 away games but since then it's been pretty much all downhill. In the last 8 games away from Layer Road they've only taken home 4 points out of the 24 on offer with a win at Sheff. Wednesday 2-1 in early December and a 2-2 at Watford six weeks ago. Their only other away win was way back in August, 3-0 over Preston.
On the plus side - for us that is - they've got the worst defence in the fizzies having conceded 44 goals and it doesn't matter if you let them score first 'cause in the 9 games when they have, they've only won 3 of them, the worst figures in the Division. They've only kept one clean sheet all season, in that away win over Preston when Colchester were a bit on fire and unbeaten after their first three games of the season against Sheff. Uoo, Barnsley and Preston. Apart from that Preston win the only other result of note is their amazing 3-2 win over West Brom back in October.
In fact that win in game 11 over West Brom proved to the peak of the season as far as Colchester are concerned. Up to the dizzy heights of 12th place in the League, its all gone rather pear-shaped since then with only 1 win, 5 draws and 8 defeats in the last 14 games.
So exactly who they got to worry Pards? Well, Colchester manager Geraint Williams is refusing to curb his side's attacking instincts and despite being bottom they have somehow managed to score more goals than we have. But on the player front, the only one you want to hear about is our very own ex, Kevin Lisbie. Although he was on the bench last time out, he's made 21 starts in the Fizzies, with 2 sub appearances and has scored 6 goals.
And whilst we only have one striker in Big Chris scoring goals up front, they have 3 strikers over 6 goals each. Number 11, ex-Spurs, Dublin boy Mark Yeates is top scorer with 8 - not bad for a winger - and the giant number 9, 6' 4" Clive Platt, who was brought in the summer as Iwelumo's replacement, has 7. And if you're worried about Teddy, he's only started 10 games and scored a mere 3 goals, although he did start the last game and he may convince Williams to let him play against his old boss at West Ham.
And as if being bottom of the table is not bad enough, they've also got a host of injuries. Midfielder Izzet has missed the last two games after suffering a nasty hand injury, whilst 'experienced playmaker' Kevin Watson is also set to miss out again with the calf problem which has sidelined him over Christmas, while veteran goalkeeper Aidan Davison is still struggling with a shoulder injury.
On the history front, games have been a bit scarce with only 2 Third Division games at the Valley in the League. The first was exactly 33 years ago on January 1st 1975 and the addicks won 4-1. After our finishing bottom and relegation in the May of 1980, we meet them again in Sept 1980 and we duly lost 1-2 with Killer getting our goal.
As for the Addicks tomorrow, Pards has already made plain that Darren Ambrose should be fit too play. And the only worry, apart from that, is a possible injury to Fortune who limped off "in some discomfort" on Saturday against Leicester after 65 minutes.
We could also see a change at right-back after seeing Saturdays return from injury - on as a sub for Fortune - of Yassin Moutaouakil instead of Bougherra and Varney seems to have the vote over Lloyd Sam at the moment. So it's possible that we could see our favorite goal-machine Darren playing the hole again, after his recent 2 goal success in the home win over Ipswich, while Varney patrols the right wing but then Pards would have to choose between Semedo and Holland in midfield.
And that's exactly what he did do in the last home game against Hull, leaving the Portuguese on the bench, with Holland in midfield and putting Lloyd Sam on the right. But will Pards have noticed Colchester's attacking style and the fact that only Southampton and QPR in the bottom half of the table have outscored Colchester away from home this season with their 16 goals. Even the Addicks have only scored 17 times away from home remember. Perhaps a 4-5-1 would be better?
One man sure to be out there will be Big Chris. No injury is going to stop him trying to prove himself by playing against his old mates yet again.
Weaver; Moutaouakil, McCarthy, Fortune, Powell: Varney, Ambrose, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Iwelumo.
Sub: Randolph, Bougherra, Semedo, Sam and Dickson....
Prediction: An Addicks victory 2-0

Reaching Forty...

Reaching forty points has in the recent past been somewhat of a relief. It was always the first and main aim of most seasons and meant success to us, a small club in a big league. But right now it don't mean so much and has almost passed without notice and it has been reached with a bit of a splutter, to be honest.
Yet, we are - most of us anyway - happy with Pardew and the more attacking style than his predecessor, and the character and grill that we now seem to have. And with all the advice we never tire of giving, he does seems to listen to us. A few weeks ago we were all clamouring for a bit of consistency, so he comes us with just that, three 1-1 draws on the trot.
But its the previous topsy-turvyness of the season so far that we don't like, and it has dropped us down the table and we can only be thankful that because everybody else around us is so useless that total of 3 points from the last three games still leaves us in the same position as 4 games ago, eg 5th place.
And I still can't reconcile the fact that of our 25 games, we've scored first 16 times, a total that's only 2nd to the inevitable West Brom, yet manage to score more goals in the last 5 minutes than any other 5 minute period of the game.
But at least we can score goals this season. We've got 35 now, one more than the whole of last season and at least the end of season DVD will be a tad longer than usual. West Brom have scored the most, 56, and the only worrying stat I can find is that our next victims Colchester are the 5th highest scorers in the fizzies, with one more goal than we have.
And finally got to the bottom of the news from the Guardian last week that we were the Fizzies team with the most shots off-target. I've always thought that somebody over there just doesn't like us and at first I thought that they was making it all up. You know, taking a little kick at one of them 'Big Teams' fallen on hard times. And the way they said it sounded like we was sick or something, couldn't hit a barn door from a couple of yards.
Well, personally I take it differently, you got to get there to miss in the first place, so you'll all be pleased to learn that, after more misses on Saturday, that we have once again surged ahead in the embarrassing, or not, race for title of worst shots in the Fizzies. Its all in the football-league site.
We now have a total of 159 shots out of 327 altogether, off the target in our 25 games, edging out West Brom with only 158. West Brom, of course, have some reason to be pleased about that as they have a massive 226 shots actually on the target against our meagre 168 and they have scored a huge 56 times whilst we have just 35 goals to our name.
So in misses, that's just 6.36 per game. With our respectable total of 327 shots, 13 per game, and 159 missing, it means that every time we shoot, 48.6% of the time we miss the target. Upps..
But, like I said, you've got to be here to miss and it seems that we are the team with the fourth most shots On-Target in the Fizzies, after West Brom, of course, with 226, Cardiff 191 and Ipswich 188 and the Addicks with 168. And who do you think has had more shots that anybody else, why its our old friend Jimmy-Floyd with 67 shots and he appears to get most on the target too. And our hot-shot isn't Big Chris, its the little irish fella. Wow..
And there's lots of teams that miss more than not, 7 teams in fact including the currently hopeless Watford.
But the news is bright, or is it, for the team with the least shots on target is poor old Colchester with only 94, although you may remember that they have managed to score more goals than we have. Could it be that little Colchester are the most clinical of all the fizzy teams? Yes, they are, a meagre 94 shots on target and 36 goals, makes them better marksmen than we are. Must be down to hot-shot Kevin, I guess.
Oh, and by the by, don't look at the most-games-since-a-loss page, just don't, its not very pretty.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Leicester 1 Charlton 1

So, what have Paddy McCarthy and Paolo Di Canio have in common? Well, not a awful lot except for the ability to score late equalisers at Leicester. Just over 4 long years ago it was Paolo Di Canio, in our best season in the Prem, scoring the equaliser with an 84th minute penalty in a 1-1 draw and this time round it was the reborn McCarthy doing the same to retain our unbeaten run at the oddly named Crisp Bowl.
Annoyingly, there's nothing in the Telegraph or Observer this morning so the next place to look is the posh_murdoch and there's our first report complete with their player scores. Apparently "doing it all the time in training,” Paddy McCarthy not only proved to be the MOM with "a rousing performance" but scored the late, late equaliser with an overhead kick into the bottom corner in the 89th minute.
Painfully, whilst musing on Palarse's 12 game unbeaten run, its perhaps not pleasant to read "it was an equaliser the promotion chasers just about deserved, having been stretched for most of the second half ."
And on a day that saw the first appearance of Moutaouakil for years, well Southampton actually, the independent also turned up for the first in ages and tells us that "but for a shot by Matt Holland that flashed narrowly wide, Alan Pardew's team had not looked like scoring, even though for the first half they dominated possession."
And a quick look at the stats in the sportinglife tells you all you need to know about our wayward shooting as we attempt to regain the title of worst shots in the fizzies (which we have done...) with a pathetic total of 6 shots off-target but it does at least show that our main attribute was in efficiency as the one goal scored was from our only attempt that was on target...
So it's perhaps not surprising then that Pards laments that there was a bit of magic missing in an ugly game but will surely upset a few people by saying "We tried to change it at half-time but we are lacking some real technical players like Darren Ambrose, Svetoslav Todorov and Andy Reid," and then rubbed salt in the wound by adding "I'm hoping to have Ambrose available for Tuesday, and when the window opens I may have to bring in a player to improve us in that area."
He also confirmed that "we had quite a lot of the ball but we couldn't hurt them in the final third of the pitch." And for the third game running, and its getting a bit monotonous now, "we showed character ( and grit) and dug in and got a point in the end."
And if you're desperate for more, then the opposition can provide it and it confirms what Pardew had previously hinted, by saying that Big Chris "was lucky to stay on the pitch in the 12th minute when he was booked after catching Stearman in the face with a loose elbow."
Charlton: Weaver; Bougherra, McCarthy, Fortune (Moutaouakil 65), Powell; Varney, Semedo (Sam 80), Holland, Zheng, J Thomas; Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, Racon, McLeod.
Goals: McCarthy 90
Booked: Iwelumo 13 (foul on Stearman)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Must Win Game?

Just thought I'd tell everyone that we're slap bang in the middle of an easy run. Not so you'd know it really after 4 points dropped in two sucessive 1-1 draws but then both games saw the Addicks down to 10 men because of the 2 red cards and having to hold on for the point.
Anyway, in case you hadn't noticed we're on game 3 out of 5 against 'easy' opposition. Hull, Norwich, Leicester, Colchester, Blackpool - you couldn't ask for better fodder to face during a three week spell that also includes the cup game against West Brom. But once we get that 6 game in 3 week run out of the way, it really starts to get a bit difficult again.
Starting with Watford away on January 19th until the return of Watford at home on February 16th, we've got ourselves a 5 game run where only Sheff. Wednesday away could be termed 'easy'. Apart from the two games against Watford, there's also the home derby against Palarse, currently surging painfully up the table, and another home fixture against 3rd placed Stoke that beat us 2-1 earlier in the season.
It all means that today and the next games against Colchester and Blackpool have to be won if you are not to lose touch with the top two altogether.
So what's the thoughts about today's game?
First to go was Dave over at drinkingduringthegame with a 1-1 draw forecast closely followed by Wyn Grant with another 1-1. And not to disappoint Killer himself also forsees a 1-1.
So its been left to Pedro45 to show some spirit and plump for an Addicks 2-1 win. And finally its our very own newyorkaddick who also sees a 2-1 away win.
So nobody anticipates a defeat today and its not surprising when you consider the history. We haven't lost in a game played on 29th December since 1982 against QPR, 25 years ago. And in the 4 games we've played since then on that date we've scored no less that 13 goals and it surely has to be one of the most prolific days in Charlton's history with 30 goals scored in the 12 games and 9 wins out of the 12 games.
All this combined with our unbeaten record at the Crisp Bowl after one game played there and Leicester's inability to win consecutive games at home since August 2006, that's 32 home games ago, should mean that a defeat is out of the question. And its a 1-0 win for me with Lloyd Sam getting his second goal of the season and his first since the game at Coventry exactly 3 months ago.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fizzy No 24 - Leicester(a)

In stark contrast to life over here in Spain, where Christmas has only just started and there's another 9 days of shopping left, the English just carry on playing football.
The winter break has started in Spain and sadly there's no more football over here till the 6th, the day when all the presents are given out and until then its shop, shop, shop with some shops open till 10 at night. Even the sports pages are crap with just a couple of pages full of nothing and it somehow seems appropriate that today is April Fools Day in Spain.
So while enjoying the strange English limbo between Boxing Day and the New Year party think yourself lucky that in the UK things are still done properly and you can in fact enjoy a game tomorrow. And the FA have got into the Christmas spirit and given us a nice easy game that the team can enjoy even though a couple of suspensions and a load of injuries will give Pardew a couple of headaches.
What can we say about Leicester City? Down there in 18th place, 13 points away, but with a nice little home record of 3-4-5, thats 3 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats, and only 12 goals scored at home - only QPR and Coventry have managed less - so surely there's not much to fear at the Crisp Bowl. They won their last home game in midweek 2-0 over those hapless away boys Ipswich Town, but the good news is that they have failed to win 2 home games in a row since August 2006. That result last Wednesday was only new manager Ian Holloway's 2nd win in 9 games and was their first win in 8 games.
But, and perhaps not unexpected after 3 managers since the start of the season, their season has been up and down with some surprising results. They've already played the 4 teams above us and the 3 below us and have beaten 3 of them ( Ipswich, Bristol City and Watford) and only lost once...with 3 draws against Stoke, Plymouth and Wolves, so their record against the Big Boys is pretty impressive. Their only loss in fact was in early December when they only lost 1-2 at home to West Brom with the winner only coming 2 minutes from the end. They've also beaten Barnsley 2-0 at home but the pick of their results was obviously their 4-1 win over Watford back in August....
But they are a pretty mean bunch when it comes to putting the ball in the net and whilst only one team, Norwich, has scored less goals in the fizzies this year, only one team, Wolves, has conceded less. They've had 8 clean sheets, and not surprising with so few goals, they're also the Fizzies draw specialists with a total of 11 in 24 games, with 4 0-0 draws and 6 1-1 draws. Could be our first 0-0 of the season, then.
Our record in Leicester is not bad with 6 wins and 6 draws in our 21 games there. But with 4 of the last 5 games at Filbert Street and the Crisp Bowl ending as 1-1 draws, its possible that we'll see another draw, our third in a row. And in addition we'll be going to a ground where we've never lost, as our only game there was a 1-1 draw in Nov 2003 in the year when Leicester were relegated.
With Mills, Sodje and Reid all definitely unavailable and injury talk hovering over the unlucky Darren Ambrose, just when he thought he'd found his best position, the team bus for tomorrow is not hard to predict and it'll surely be a return to the 4-5-1 that worked so well a few games ago:
Weaver; Bougherra, McCarthy, Fortune, Powell; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Iwelumo.
Subs, Randolph, Sanfoka, Racon, Varney, Dickson.
And the result: ..............a low scoring game and 1-0 to the Addicks.
And, although there's no time for joking around, if anyone can spot todays deliberate mistake, please let me know and a Christmas present will be winging your way, not.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Norwich City 1 Charlton 1

Another draw against a team in form and gained after another red card, this time for Sodje, meaning another resuffle and an hour of playing with only 10 men. Well, Pards at least was pleased with the result, "The players worked extremely hard to keep Norwich out for such a long time, they showed a lot of character and deserved credit for the way they performed. It was a backs-to-the-wall effort and they performed their job superbly."
Lots of character again then for the second game running and Weaver, Thomas and Holland all had good games, although there was obviously very good reasons for Matty H to put himself about in the heart of East Anglia.
The guardian and the telegraph are about the only ones to report on the game yesterday and the Guardian, forgetting the bit about the accumulation of red cards, includes the worrying statistic that we are the team with the most shots off-target.
Obviously, Pards and his men have been concentrating on that aspect of our play for at Norwich we only had 6 shots with 5 on target. But he now has to turn his attention to the teams discipline, however, as this continues to let us down and with 5 red cards this season we are apparently, according to Wyn Grant, not only the worst in the Fizzies but the worst behaved team in the country.
It all means more selection problems for Pardew come Leicester on Saturday although the defence will be re-inforced by the return of Fortune and he was always likely to give McCarthy the chance to prove himself against his old team so now it just means a straight swap, Fortune for Sodje with Bougherra at right-back. But as well as Mills and Sodje being out, Semedo will be missing though having collected 5 yellows.... Step forward, Therry Racon.
But at times it good to read what the opposition has to say about us. Yesterday it was Glen Roeder's turn in the sportinglife, "We let them get away with a point when they should be going home with absolutely nothing because we totally dominated the game from start to finish. Our goalkeeper has had one thing to do and that's to pick the ball out of the back of the net. It's hugely frustrating to have so much of the play, have that many chances, half chances, and only score one and only take a point from a team that I feel will probably be back in the Premiership next year." Well, thats alright, then. Although perhaps he should be more upset with the accuracy of his strikers, who had a total of 21 shots but only 10 on the target.
Charlton: Weaver; Bougherra, McCarthy, Sodje, Powell; Varney (Racon 90), Semedo, Holland, Zheng, J Thomas; Iwelumo (McLeod 46) (Sam 83).
Subs (not used): Randolph, Dickson.
Goals: Zheng 21
Booked: Semedo 85 (unsporting behaviour)
Sent off: Sodje 30 (foul on Russell)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fizzies No. 24 - Norwich (a)

We begin the second half of the campaign against one of the form teams of the fizzies, Norwich City. They've won their last three home games, beating Sheff. Uoo 1-0, Plymouth 2-1 and Coventry 2-0, all under new manager Glenn Roeder, and will fancy themselves to get another win over an injury-ridden Addicks.
And while we may be thankful that Norwich are a passing team and play in a style that may suit Pardew, recent Boxing Day's has been rather an indifferent affair for the Addicks, although Pardew will like to mark his first year in charge with a return to winning ways after just 1 point from the last two games. Just one year ago Pardew's first game in charge was the home fixture against Fulham on Dec 27th, an unlucky 2-2 draw when a first important win looked on the cards till that controversial 90th minute Fulham equaliser.
The season before in 2005, Boxing Day saw a 0-1 defeat live on Sky to the Wengers Arse with Reyes scoring on the hour mark. Christmas 2004 also saw us goalless but getting a point in a 0-0 at Southampton, in the year that they finished bottom of the Premier. But by far our best result, and our last Boxing Day win, with our best performance probably since the one in 2001 at Highbury, was the 2003 demolition of Chelsea 4-2 at the Valley. Our highest crowd for 26 years saw us go ahead after just 42 seconds with a HH goal. Terry, of course, equalised on 10 minutes but further goals from Matt Holland, JJ and Jason Euell till us to an unassailable 4-1 lead before Gudjohnsen got their second. Those were the days of Fortune and Perry, Kish and Stuart, Di Canio and Parker. And 7th in the Table. Just about our finest hour really.
So only one man remains from the starting eleven from that win 4 years ago, current captain, Matt Holland, although Sir Chris did come on for the last 3 minutes. It would have been 2 but for Fortune's unfortunate red mist against Ipswich.
The team tomorrow will be another patched-up affair with doubts over the fitness of Sodje, Sam and Iwelumo, as well as ZiZi and Ambrose seeming to carry injuries. How many of these are fit enough to play is anyone's guess and its possible, with Sodje likely to return to Reading at the turn of the year, that Pardew will give another chance to Paddy McCarthy at centre-back.
As for the full-backs, we finished the Hull game with Holland on the right and Semedo taking over from Sir Chris on the left, but this time around it seems likely that, as against West Brom, and despite all those crosses coming in from the left, Semedo will start at right-back with Sir on the left.
The midfield will surely be a mixture of Holland, ZiZi and Thomas with Ambrose thrown in, leaving just one question mark or is it two?
Will it be two up front in a 4-4-2 or another midfielder in a defensive 4-5-1, with the only option to a missing Sam in the midfield appearing to be either Therry Racon or a young debutant. Is this the time and place to see the intoduction of a youngster? There's two possibles, Harry Arter, whose 18th birthday it'll be this Friday or maybe the just turned 18 Josh Wright, back from three months at Barnet. Both Racon and Arter played for the Reserves in the 5-2 win over Millwall at the beginning of the month, while Wright was the only one of the three to play in the last Reserve game, a 1-3 defeat at Worthing, where he scored the only goal.
As for the strike force, there's news of Luke Varney non-fitness from a virus that kept him away from the Hull game, while Izzy McLeod continues to impress no-one. Leaving Big Chris up front on his own again with his ankle well strapped up would seem to be the best option, if he's fit.
But perhaps Pardew will really get into the Christmas spirit and give the planners at Norwich something to really get worried about? Come on Pards, Dickson to start, with Racon and Arter in midfield and Holland in the holding role. No. it doesn't make a lot of sense, but are we going to cruise to a Play-Off place taking no chances or go all out for a top two spot. Perhaps today is the time to check out who's up for it, before we reach the January window and decide exactly who we do need.
And the score - a 1-1 draw.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Half Way To Heaven Knows Where..

It's the half-way point in the 46 game fizzy season and time to see where we are. Thirty-eight points from 23 games with 11 victories, a situation that'll give us a total of 76 come May if we carry on as we have done. And you don't need much intelligence to figure out that at the current rate we'll only be due a Play-off place. Last season saw both 4th and 5th placed teams, West Brom and Wolves, end up on 76 points and both managed 22 wins, exactly double what we have now.
Pardew has made his excuses, "we've a new team that will get better" and on Saturday he was very unlucky with injuries, suspensions and flu all taking their toll.
But what of the season so far? Consistency will be the key to success in the Fizzies and we still havn't achieved it. To illustrate you only have to look at our monthly progress. We didn't start off too brightly back in August with a 1-1 draw against Scunthorpe, then a defeat at Stoke and only the second-half recovery against Sheff. Wed giving us our first three points. In September we raced to three victories and 2 draws and in that month we were the 2nd best in the League and up to second in the Table in a month only spoiled by the League Cup defeat at Luton.
October dawned therefore with us secure in that automatic promotion place but, after the Hull victory and the Barnsley draw which kept up the pressure on Watford, came the dreaded International break which preceded our disastrous run of three defeats in 8 days starting first at Wolves, and then quickly followed by our first home defeats of the season to both Plymouth and QPR. Second to 7th in a week was the result.
But, in true Jekyll and Hyde fashion, we bounced back in November with no less than 4 impressive wins in a row, all of them clean sheets and 3 away from home, in which we gave Bristol City their first home defeat, stopped Southampton scoring for the first time since April, welcomed Cardiff in our biggest win 3-0 of the season and then saw off Preston in a 2-0 away win. Up to 2nd again and the season well and truly back on course.
But before we had finished with November, a month in which we were the best team in the fizzies, a sting in the tail. Sheff. Uoo arrived, stopped us from scoring for only the third time this season in 20 games, and cooly departed with a stunning 3-0 victory.
The cards were on the table, as it were, and December did not disappoint. Another home defeat followed 4 days later, our 4th now, with a 3-1 loss to Burnley and we slipped to 4th in the table. All doom and gloom it seemed but no, our heroes raised themselves once more with a 2-0 win at Cardiff where Matt Holland put us on course with his first goal since the heady heights of Anfield. More followed with 3 goals in 25 minutes to see off Ipswich and we were off to West Brom knowing that a win would take us to top place in the League.
It was not to be of course, and we let in 4 goals for the first time since the alarm bells really tolled for us back at Blackburn in April. And our 1-1 draw against pub side Hull City has just completed the 23 game mark.
All in all, we are where we deserve to be, no more no less. Five away from 1st placed Watford, three points away from 2nd spot and another three above 7th placed Wolves. Despite the worries about our defence, we've kept the most clean sheets in the fizzies, 8 in all, but then again we've 7th in the list of goals conceded, 27 in total now.
In games against the top half, crucial if we do make the Play-offs, we've down in 10th place with only 4 wins in 11 games, whereas the three best teams are West Brom, Stoke and Burnley, all three potential opponents come May.
We've stronger in the second half than the first, scoring 7 of our 33 goals in the last 5 minutes. But we give away points too easily. After going in front we havn't been strong enough to keep a lead and have dropped 12 points with 3 draws, against Scunthorpe, Coventry and Barnsley, and 2 defeats, Stoke and Plymouth, the 18th worst record in the fizzies. OK, that's easily answered, perhaps, as we are the best team for scoring first, along with West Brom, having done so 15 times in our 23 games.
But, in typical Jekyll and Hyde fashion, we havn't fought back after going behind either. Only once have we won a game after going behind - Sheff. Wednesday - and only twice have we drawn games from a losing position - Hull and Colchester - and to made a simple comparison, Palarse have now done it 4 times, winning that is, and are the best fighters in the League. Must be that Warnock affect, lets hope the little irish fella is back by February 9th.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Charlton 1 Hull City 1

Although never renowned for the accuracy of their player scorings, the posh_murdoch just about summed up yesterday's Addicks performance by giving little old Brian Hughes more points (7 from 10) than any of the Charlton line-up, with the odd exception of Izzy McLeod! If you want more realistic scores, try blackheathaddicted or for a slighty more biased report read it on hullcity.
Meanwhile, the sportinglife will give you some more quotes from both managers and confirms that we're now, officially, the dirtiest team in the Fizzies having moved to the top of the naughty boys Table yesterday thanks to Mills' seeing another red, the 7th of his career, apparently. And while Phil Brown claims its three points lost, the Sporting Life Match Day Live section shows that he's almost right with Hull winning on shots on target 11 to 5, fouls 15-11 ( no change there), corners 7-4 and yellow cards shown.
In fact, the only place we came out on top yesterday was, apart from our character as Pardew put it, was the red card count. He blamed the ref "unfortunately for us, the referee didn't help us one iota" and the opposition, "today we had a team that came here to be ugly" but admits "we were very disjointed."
But, as you feel pleased with yourself at finally splashing out on the wife's expensive gift on Saturday morning and now thinking that all your troubles are far away, perhaps you should think again, because after sending Norwich packing back in September with a 2-0 home win, the Canaries have got themselves a new manager and are quietly setting East Anglia alight.
That's right, yesterday our Boxing Day opponents, Norwich City, enjoyed another win, away at Scunthorpe, their 4th in the last 6 games and on current form they're the 4th best team in the Fizzies. In the 10 games since he took over a team at the bottom of the table, Glenn Roeder, has got them 5 wins, a couple of draws with just 3 defeats away at Stoke and Plymouth and at home to Watford. And in their last 3 home games they've beaten Sheff. U, Plymouth and Coventry....
And lastly there's the unconvincing Danny Mills excuse, with the mitigating fact that all the Hull yellow cards - at least all that the CAFC report noticed - that is Folan 45 (foul on Mills), Hughes 45 (foul on Mills) and Campbell 64 (foul on Mills) were all falling on his shoulders. After so much recent targetting of Sir Chris, it seems that this week it was his turn to get the opposition's attention but with his loan period up in 8 days, maybe it's the last excuse he'll be able to give us..
The Addicks: Weaver; Mills, Sodje (McCarthy 23), Bougherra, Powell (Semedo 75); Sam (McLeod 46), Holland, Zheng, Ambrose, J Thomas; Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, Dickson.
Goals: Bougherra 57
Booked: Mills 64 (dissent)
Sent off: Mills 72 (foul and abusive language)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fizzies No. 23 - Hull City(h)

After todays news of more injuries affecting ZiZi and possibly Therry Racon, as well as Reid and Ambrose, guessing the team for tomorrow becomes doubly difficult. In the not too distant past it would be simply a case of bitting the bullet and drafting in the old regulars Kish and Hughes.
Unfortunately, or maybe not, both have departed and it would appear that the second one is due to return tomorrow, but for the opposition. Remembering the enthusiatic mood that overcame Kish when he played at the Valley for Leicester back in September, I wonder if we'll witness the same from Brian Hughes tomorrow? He's played 18 times for Hull this season, including the last two, after his move away from the Addicks and has yet to score!
In fact, it seems he's quite looking forward to returning to the Valley. After admitting that he's a bit disappointed not to have opened his scoring account for Hull, he says he aims to do something about it in the near future. "It would be nice to get my first goal. I've had a few chances, I know that. But as long as I keep getting in there, one will drop for me sooner rather than later." Oh, dear, looks like trouble ahead.
Thankfully, as mentioned yesterday, Hull are not so bright on scoring goals away from home with only 7 in 11 games. But while the Addicks only trail Stoke City in the number of yellows shown, 44 to 39, in the fizzies this season, Hull, meanwhile, can also enjoy themselves when the game gets dirty. Last time we meet in October, Hull managed the enormous number of 22 fouls and I'm afraid it seems to be a speciality of theirs. In the 13 games played since we played them they have outscored their opponents in the foul count on 10 occasions.
Meanwhile, manager Phil Brown, another of those odd-ball coaches after wildly displaying himself stark naked in the club mag last April, also seems strangely confident after their 3 previous winless trips to the capital this season. "We've got a squad full of quality players, some of whom have played at the top level. We should be going there with confidence. We don't fear anybody, blah, blah, blah." Well, the only one we fear Mr. Brown is your number 11 Hughsy. Oh, and that huge Folan bloke.
As for the Addicks team, it doesn't bear thinking too deeply about, so a very quick guess, and fingers crossed, gives the following permation:
Weaver; Mills, Sodje, Bougherra, Powell; Sam, Semedo, Holland, Racon, Thomas; McLeod.
As for a prediction, well, with Ipswich just below us enjoying another home game, we've got to win or we'll drop outside the top 6 and nobodys going to be willing, come the January window, to join a team struggling outside the Play-Offs. Least of all anyone from the Prem.
So, Addicks 1 Hull City 0

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cheer Up, Here Come the Tigers....

While we're suffering from the suggested 3 to 6 week lay-off for Reidie - depending on who you reid - and the suggestion from Richard Murray that although we may see one or two new faces, they'll not be a big spending spry come January, today we need to look elsewhere for some consolation.
And it appears to come with the weekend arrival of Hull City who bring with them the worst away-from-home attacking force in the fizzies. With just 7 goals scored in 11 games, they would appear to be just the job to provide us with 3 nice size presents just before Christmas.
However, things are never as straight-forward as they seem and although they've received comprehensive hammerings in their last two away games, at Southampton by 4-0 and before that a 3-0 one at lowly Preston, they have managed to win three games on the road this season. Just prior to the Preston game was the highlight of their season, the eagerly awaited local derby against Scunny. This one, an away game for Hull, finished in a 2-1 win, thanks to 2 goals from 38 year old local boy Dean Windass.
And while an derby win at Scunthorpe is always going to be the highlight of their season, their other 2 wins, from here anyway, look a bit impressive when compared with our own exploits. Back in November they won 1-0 at Burnley, recent 3-1 winners over the Addicks at the Valley and before that they had a 1-0 win at Wolves, where we could only draw.
However, their prior visits to the capital have not gone down too well this season with defeats at Watford 1-0 ( if you can call that London) and QPR by 2-0 and a 1-1 draw at Palarse with a last minute equaliser.
The important thing, Pards, is to score first as they are the worst team in the League after going behind. After seeing their opponents score first, they have managed just collect 4 points, all from draws, this season, eg they have never come back from being behind to win a game, not even at the Scunny.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Just One Defeat"....

Strange how little irrelevant things that people have said to you over the years stays in your memory and refuses to be forgotten. So it was with Derek Hales, when he remembered recently Allan Simonsen's words from years ago, "its just one defeat". Because thats just what European Player of the Year Allan had said after our 7-1 hammering by Burnley back in February 1983. And that's probably exactly what Pardew is now telling himself. One defeat, thats all it is, who's next?
Well, Hull City are next and after beating them once already this season Pards will be keen to chalk up another double. He can welcome back Danny Mills and Lloyd Sam after their one match suspensions, despite a possible repeat of the flare-up in October with the Hull captain and full-back Ian Ashlee, when both Sam and the Hull player were, of course, sent off.
And we'll continue with Sodje and Bougherra at centre-back, and probably Sir Chris on the left, because despite the sad appearance of a few question marks, there's not a lot of choice at the moment.
So the defence, then, is probably sorted because the only alternative seems to be unavailable. A mysterious injury, as mentioned in the West Brom official match notes, to French right-back Yassin Moutaouakil kept him out of the West Brom game and there's no way of knowing if he'll be available this weekend. And there's more injuries now to talisman Andy Reid, Big Chris and probably Darren Ambrose. So with selection issues mainly concerning the midfield and the strike force, as well as what formation to play, it'll be a busy few days for Pardew.
And with the probable use of two wingers in Thomas and Sam, there's no room for 2 strikers, so expect Izzy McLeod to continue from where he left off on Saturday, especially after scoring his first goal for the Addicks. Three in midfield then, will see ZiZi, Semedo and Holland try to create something in the forced absence of the little irish fella. And if it all looks a bit lightweight, it would seem that there's no real alternative.
And as if a few problems on the playing side were not enough, Pards now has to address the forthcoming "Window". Its already being quoted that Pardew will use the January sales ( or rather loans/buys hopefully) to boost a flagging squad, although its a little worrying that he feels that "we need (only ) a couple to make us strong for the second part of the season". With Basey having presumably had his hernia op on Dec 10, it'll be "several weeks before he's seen again", and with Sir Chris suffering last weekend after being targeted by the opposition once again, it may not be impossible that Pards will see yet another left-back as badly needed.
Perhaps its worth noting that last years surprise loan deal who made 12 appearances for us, Alex Song, is not getting a lot of footballing done and has only played 18 minutes of Premier football this season in 4 substitute appearances, although he did play the full 90 in League Cup games against Sheff. Uoo and Newcastle. Meanwhile, another rumoured possible, Leroy Lita, has started just 4 games for Reading with another 3 run-outs as sub but has still failed to score...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

West Brom 4 Charlton 2

So, a changed suspension-hit team was then forced to adjust itself further due to injuries to Iwelumo, Reid and Ambrose. After getting back to 2-2 on 73 minutes, two late goals in the last 10 killed us off and saw West Brom, instead of the Addicks, climb to the head of the table. Sir Chris comes in for some stick and Izzy McLeod gets his first goal for the club but its those injuries that may affect us most.
From the guardian-cum-observer we have the compliment of being involved in "90 minutes of Premier League-class football", although we apparently "have a bit to go" before we get there.
The telegraph saw an "entertaining spectacle, the delivery and the crossing a joy to watch", but points out that the loss of "our main predator" Chris Iwelumo made it difficult for us and "just as crucially, they lost Andy Reid, their talisman, 20 minutes from time". But there was Pards again with a clue for next month, "Sometimes you have to accept being the loser in a fantastic game but we'll need to strengthen in the transfer window to give us a boost."
In the posh_murdoch, Barry Flatman, taking the lead from West Brom, is another one that destroys our defence, and sad to say, accusingly points the finger at Sir Chris. And after some previous strange markings, this week for once the player scores serve to tell it all. Defense nothing, strikers lots, with a strange symmetry affecting Varney 7, Thomas 7, Iwelumo 7 and McLeod 7. And while we were previously anxious about the Transfer window affecting our little irishman, its perhaps encouraging to see that other people have the same problem with the reporter pointing out "that it is imperative Gera, who is a known January transfer-window target of Middlesbrough among others, remains at the club"
But, as Pardew helpfully points out, there's a long way to go and while we only rate an inclusion in the independent Fizzies round-up, its perhaps worth noting that they considered Watford's performance against Plymouth as "poor".
And with Pardew confirming that as well as Iwelumo twisting his ankle, Reid has hurt his knee, and Darren Ambrose is suffering a groin injury it looks like more changes for next weekend. Iwelumo appears doubtful and it seems that those asking for a rest for Reidie will get their wish as his knee injury looks like keeping him out as well.
The Addicks: Weaver; Semedo, Sodje, Bougherra, Powell; Ambrose (Varney 65), Holland, Zheng, Reid, J Thomas; Iwelumo (McLeod 45).
Subs (not used): Randolph, McCarthy, Sankofa.
Goals: Iwelumo 36, McLeod 73
Booked: Bougherra 49 (foul on Bednar), Sodje 77 (foul on Phillips), Holland 79 (foul on Koren)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fizzies No.22 - WBA

If you want the usual abc of reviews for tomorrow the official CAFC is the best place to start. If you didn't already know, they'll tell you about the bad run of form, especially at home, that West Brom are having since both the 19 goal striking dou of Phillips and Miller have been injured. The 4-2 defeat by Coventry is also mentioned as is the recent good history that we have when playing there.
But, what you really wanted to know was; how are Chrissie Powell and Jerry Thomas? Well, of that theres nothing. So it seems that in roughly equal fashion, while Mowbray tries to convince everyone that Kevin Phillips will have a part to play, Pardew meanwhile is not telling anyone exactly what his options are for tomorrow. In fact he goes one better by trying to convince everyone that he's going to use 2 strikers. After last weeks report of him changing the formation just to keep Ipswich guessing, I can't believe that he's going to tell Mowbray what his formation for tomorrow is going to be.
So, until tomorrow we'll just have to make a guess as to who's playing, for us anyway.
While the Addicks have the most clean sheets, eight, West Brom are the Fizzies' highest scorers with 42 goals whilst the Addicks have notched up only 30. But, they've conceded one more goal than we have and you could argue than the Addicks are a more efficient team as we've only needed to score 13 goals to get 6 away victories while their home record is the same 6 wins but 21 goals.
In fact, their home record is only good against the low teams. Four victories against teams in the bottom 8 have been meet by only 2 wins in their other 6 home games. And those two wins were against Ipswich 4-0 and Barnsley 2-0. As we know everyone beats Ipswich at home and Barnsley were obviously still suffering from the 7-0 hammering they received at the Hawthorns last year. So West Brom have so far failed to beat any of Sheff. Wed, Coventry, Stoke and Wolves at home.
So is a win possible? Checking the forecasts, the best place to start is with the bad ones and drinkingduringthegame has a bad feeling about the game and has it down as 0-3 defeat. Is he going to watch the TV I wonder? Pedro45 feels a bit better but a 0-2 defeat is his guess. There's nothing yet from anybody else I can trace and not even Killer has raised his head just yet.
OK, it seems a given that we are expected to lose, but that's what we thought going to Liverpool in May and I think that the game tomorrow is going to bring out the best in Pards and the team. So at worst its a 1-1 and I will not be surprised to see us nick the game 1-0.
Top at 5? No, we can't wait that long, and a 2-0 will see us top at three. Go for it, Pards.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Saturdays Key Man - Jerome Thomas

Midweek, and while the Big Boys enjoy a bit of continental fun, the Addicks are more concerned with other important things and can only see one Big Game on offer and that's at the Hawthorns, on Saturday.
And for some reason, I cannot help but be reminded of a game 9 years ago at Wembley when a certain Kevin Phillips was a nuisance all afternoon and claimed his 35th goal of the season by scoring Sunderlands first equaliser before being strangely replaced by Dichio with the score at 2-1 to the Addicks.
Well, its reported on the beeb that after getting a knee injury against Sheff. Wed 5 weeks ago Phillips is due to return against us on Saturday. "We'll decide at the end of the week but if Kevin is feeling strong, then I don't see why he won't play a part," Tony Mowbray told the club's website. Sounds a bit more hopeful that true as Mowbray tries to put the shivers up Pards. Phillips, who's already scored 10 this season, is now 34, and may need a little longer before returning to the starting eleven.
Meanwhile, his strike partner the 9 goal 'big, quick, powerful' Ismael Miller has also been out injured. Miller is, unlike Phillips, a youngster of 20, and is on a season long loan from Man. City. There's more news on the West Brom site about the injuries but with his inclusion in training not starting till the end of the week it seems that we needn't worry about facing him on Saturday. Their formation last weekend was a strange 4-4-1-1 with their very own roman, the Czech Roman Bednar leading the line.
As for the Addicks the key to the team that Pardew puts out is the enigmatic Jerry Thomas. He's been missing for three games now after suffering a dead leg against Sheff.U and with Lloyd Sam missing through his suspension, Thomas is badly needed to keep the shape of the team that did so well, sublime in fact, against Ipswich.
The Addicks defence for the weekends game is also dependent on injuries. Is Chrissie Powell's head injury going to keep him out? Or will Pards bring back Semedo to fill in at left-back? Sammy Sodje is definitely in the team after getting a place in the Fizzy team-of-the-week and it'll be a return for Magic Bougherra after losing his place to Sodje for the QPR game back in October. Exactly why Sodje should be in the team-of-the-week with no sign of two-goal machine Darren Ambrose perhaps shows the relevance of the thing.
In midfield will be ZiZi and Andy Reid, both currently fighting it out in the actim fizzy index for bragging rights as to the best Addicks player. Interesting, and perhaps a pointer to best team in the fizzies - but personally I wouldn't believe it - is that the Addicks only have 5 players in the top 100 whereas our next opponents have 6 in the top 30, and a total of 11, a full team in fact, in the top 100. Game over, then. But then Ipswich have 8 in the list and we know what happened to them.
Which only goes to show that, despite all the numbers banded about - and I'm a bigger culprit that most - , statistics don't really matter in football, and reminds us that, as Mark Twain told us, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Homing in On West Bromwich

So how would you forecast the result of a game between a team in 2nd place that hasn't won at home for 3 games - and 7 weeks now - and the 3rd placed team that has won their last 4 away games without conceding a goal and who haven't tasted an away defeat for 8 weeks?
Well, I suppose you can check the bookies who despite the stats are sitting on the fence and seem to favour a draw come the weekend.
How about the effect of missing players through injuries or suspensions? Full of excuses last weekend, West Brom claimed a 2-1 away win over Leicester without 9 (!) regular first team players - Bostjan Cesar and Paul Robinson both suspended, Dean Kiely (broken toe), Carl Hoefkens (hamstring) and Kevin Phillips, Ishmael Miller, James Morrison, Martin Albrechtsen and Neil Clement ( all out with knee problems). How many will make a return this Saturday is unknown but Deano is definitely out and the 19 goal strike duo of Phillips and Miller are also very doubtful with Phillips just returned to training this week.
The Addicks also face a few selection problems of their own. As Wyn Grant outlined yesterday, the left-back position remains a bit of a concern with Sir Chris hopefully not suffering any concussion from the Ipswich game.
There's also no Lloyd Sam and no Danny Mills both after collecting 5 yellows and perhaps more important, no Jonathan Fortune because of his very late punch last Saturday. Bougherra will no doubt fill-in at centre-back with Moutaouakil coming in at right-back but unless Thomas is fit to play on the right it means Darren Ambrose, just when he's found his best position, moving back out to the wing.
But back to the forecasts. Some people favour the current form to see who's giving their manager a hard time. Charlton are 3rd with 12 points from the last 18 while West Brom are 6th with 11 points from the last 6 games which illustrates their failure to win at home....
Others like to look at the history. And for all their 129 years, one Championship - Tier 1 that is - and despite their impressive 71 seasons in the top flight/Tier, our record against them is quite good with the Addicks winning 7 and gaining 6 draws in the 23 League games played and just 10 defeats in our games there. And our last win at the Hawthorns was the last time we travelled there, a 2-1 win in Sept 2005 - in the Prem, of course. In fact we've won our last 4 games there, including a League Cup win in 2001, conceding only 1 goal in the process.
Can we make it 3 wins in a row in the fizzies with win number 12? In a game of the Fizzies highest scorers against the third best defence, I'm just waiting for Killers' bet.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Only 49 Points To Go.....

Despite our stirring performance and three points gained against Ipswich, Watford's goalless draw in a difficult game at Stoke yesterday and West Brom's last minute winner at Leicester, have both proved that it's becoming extremely difficult to dislodge the top two. Watford, in particular, have struggled of late but after 21 games are now on the magic 40 points and can now put any relegation fears behind them.
The Addicks, meanwhile, have 37 points but it's worth remembering that at this point in 1999/2000 after 21 games we had the same as Watford now, 40 points, and that was before our 12 game winning run. Early in the season Pardew gave us his goal of 26 wins with probably 8 draws to give us 86 points, the same as 2nd placed Birmingham last season and to be on that schedule we need to win the next two!
So who's next? Well, its more good news for Watford fans as the two teams behind them battle it out at the Hawthorns, while they have a home game against Plymouth.
Despite our very good away record you never can tell with Charlton and with only 1 home defeat and 21 goals scored at the Hawthorns it looks like being a home win but then things have not gone so well for West Brom at home recently. After easily winning their first 4 games at home, they've only managed 2 wins in the last 6 games and that against strugglers Norwich and Blackpool. Stoke, Sheff. Wed and Wolves have all got draws there and its not getting better as they suffered their first home defeat in their last home game 2-4 to Coventry.
And just to prove that in the fizzies anyone can beat anyone on their day, that reverse was just 3 weeks after an impressive 4-0 win at Coventry. Strange indeed. Maybe like the Addicks they prefer, at the moment, to be playing away.
So with Saturdays game in mind, I checked out their record against their peers. Well, the bad news is that they've only lost once out of 5 games against the current top 7 clubs. And they've managed 6 points with a win against Watford(a) on the first day of the season and draws with Stoke(h), Wolves (h) and Bristol City (a) and that single defeat at Burnley (a).
Watford, by comparison, are even worse against the top teams and also have only won once in 5 games with a win at Molineux and 3 disappointing home defeats against West Brom, Bristol City and Burnley and then that draw at Stoke giving them 4 points.
In fact Burnley, currently in 7th spot, are the pick of the bunch against the 6 teams above them and have yet to suffer a defeat with no less than 4 wins and 2 draws in their 6 games.
But what of the Addicks? Well, not very good with only 1 win, at Bristol city, to show for our 4 games against the top 7, with defeats against Burnley, Stoke and Wolves. So the morale of the story is that obviously we have either got to get into the top 2 automatic places come May or drastically improve our performance against the very best that the fizzy can provide to stand any chance in the Play-offs come May.
Or maybe hope that Burnley go up as Champions...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Charlton 3 Ipswich 1

Optimists like Pards sometimes have an absolute belief that what they have is quite good enough thank you and he therefore gave us no surprises when he chose an unchanged team from the win in Cardiff to face Ipswich Town. The only slight change displayed his awareness of the opponents tactics by moving Reid out to the more peaceful zones on the left and using Darren Ambrose as a second striker behind Iwelumo. The result was 2 goals for Ambrose and an expected three points against a team yet to win away from home this season and with a run of 13 games since March without a win on the road.
So its 37 points and 11 wins now for the Addicks but, if he's anything like Steve Coppell who only enjoys a win for 20 minutes, Pards will already be looking at the next fixture and wondering how he's going to face West Brom without Mills, Fortune and Sam.
The result means that until Watford's game at Stoke today there's only three points that now cover the top three, with the leaders now only 2 points in front of us and Watford will not feel too confident when they see that Stoke are, after Burnley, the form team at the moment with 13 points from the last 18. And to give Pards a further boost before next weekend, we're also 3rd on current form with 12 points from the last 6 games while West Brom, despite their last minute winner at Leicester, haven't won at home in their last three games at the Hawthorns with 2 draws and a 2-4 defeat to Coventry.
As for the papers, the telegraph reminds us, despite the emergence of Ambrose as a striker, of the importance of our little irish fella, commenting on the third all-important goal with "a sublime lay-off from skipper Andy Reid."
But top marks go to the famous Paul Newman for his report in the independent. "Travel sick Ipswich are beaten by Ambrose's spark (that) sets the home fires burning" thats the stuff we want. And perhaps the best summing-up comes with "Matt Holland and Andy Reid took immediate command of the midfield, while Darren Ambrose and Chris Iwelumo were always a threat in attack."
Meanwhile, over at the posh_murdoch George Davis points out that two important Ipswich ex's were on hand to guide the Addicks to victory. Player scores give 8 marks to Weaver, Reid and the born-again Ambrose, with MOM, despite Holland's masterly performance, going to 2 goal Darren.
In fact the word sublime seems to be in fashion with Pards calling our performance just that as reported in the sportinglife.
The Addicks: Weaver; Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Powell (Bougherra 88); Sam (Semedo 73), Holland, Zheng, Ambrose, Reid (Varney 84); Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, McLeod.
Goals: Ambrose 6, 39 Iwelumo 31
Booked: Fortune 76 (foul on Counago), Mills 86 (foul on Walters)
Sent off: Fortune 90 (violent conduct)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Fizzy No. 20 - Cardiff City (away)

OK, now that the difficult ones are out of the way we've finally got round to the easy ones - Cardiff away and then 4 days later, Ipswich at home. What better combination to set things right, steady the boat, etc, etc...Cardiff, down there in 20th place with a meagre 20 points and more to the point they've only won 2 games at home out of 9 played.
Cardiff are also one of a very small handful of clubs ( I make it four, the Hamsters, Sheff. Wed, Stockport and Cardiff ) that we've managed to score more than twice against in the last 12 months. Exactly why we're playing them again after so recent a meeting as the one just 24 days ago is anyones guess but beggars can't be choosers. In fact not only did we score a massive three (3) goals but they are actually the ONLY team that we've managed to beat in the last 6 home games. So they must be pretty awful.
Since that game, however, things down there in Wales have improved somewhat and in fact that 3-0 at the Valley seems to have done them some good.
An unbeaten run, now stretching to three matches, doesn't sound much, although sitting where we are after two home defeats by 3-0 and 3-1, its sounds remarkably good. Its been achieved by 2 away draws at Leicester and Hull and a win at home over Ipswich. And they are showing some spirit again which was completely missing in the game at the Valley. In the last match at Hull over the weekend, they twice came from behind in a 2-2 draw with their second equaliser coming from a full-back in the 90th minute. Watch out Pards..
And their two wins at home have come against what you might term, top-teams with Ipswich being beaten 1-0 and the other one being against those formidable foes, Burnley 2-1..... Draws against Palarse, Scunthorpe and Preston and defeats by Coventry, Stoke Watford and Wolves.
Who They Got?
On the playing front there's another ex-factor to consider, although judging from his Valley performance there's nothing to fear. Of course, its JFH we're talking about and he's on a bit of a lean run and hasn't scored for 7 games now. And in fact its Paul Parry that now joins Robbie Fowler as joint top goalscorer with 4 goals. JFH only has 3 to his name.

Looking Back
The history expectations of recent games has gone all to shot with the Addicks winning at Preston for the first time in 53 years, Sheff. Utd's first win at the Valley in 37 years and Burnley winning only their 4th game away against us at the Valley. So maybe we shouldn't be too happy about our good record in our games at Cardiff. We've actually won 10 and lost 14 out of 29 League games with 5 draws, so not a bad record. Our last trip there was 22 years ago and we won 3-0 in the first game of the 1984/85 season with Killer getting a hat-trick.

The Addicks
Some explanation regarding Saturdays team changes appears with the news that both Sam and Thomas were not dropped as first thought but were carrying injuries. Thomas' seems to be more serious so its unlikely that he and Basey will make the team bus today.

Pardew's first question will therefore concern his full-backs. Danny Mills was instrumental in our defeat on Saturday while Sir Chris seemed to tire over the full 90. As we only appear to have 3 fit full-backs we can't drop both so perhaps the game would seem right to bring back Mouta0uakil and move Mills to left-back.

At centre-back expect Pards to continue with a partnership that, before last weeks catastrophes, gave us 4 clean sheets in a row.

In midfield, several people have stressed the need to give the little Irish fella a rest and an away game in mid-week would seem an ideal time to do it. We need the three points but there's other ways of doing it than relying on Andy Reid all the time. Bring back Semedo, Sam on the right, ZiZi and Holland in the centre and Ambrose on the left. Award-winning Championship Big Chris will once again be alone up front.

So its: Weaver; Moutaouakil, Sodje, Fortune, Mills; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Holland, Ambrose; Iwelumo.
Subs: Randolph, Bougherra, Racon, Reid, Varney.

After our recent 6 goal calamities the very idea of keeping a clean sheet seems a very distant hope and any confidence that the 3-0 win just three weeks ago could have given us is surely now all but evaporated. Lets hope that Pardew had the foresight to have someone at Hull at Saturday to watch Cardiff and that can advise Pards about their new found spirit and give him some forewarning of what to expect tonight. Contrary to Cardiff's lowly League position, this won't be an easy game and although Pards will as always be demanding a win from the players just about everyone else is praying for a just a single point to ease our anxieties, so its a 1-1 draw for me.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Searching for Monday Excuses...

Over the weekend I was watching the televised 1-1 draw between Espanol and Barcelona on Saturday. Espanol are the 'other' team from Barcelona and it occurred to me that I'd never seen them play so well...It was a derby, of course, but then I remembered the pathetic way they had surrendered to lowly Valladolid 0-1 on the first day of the season. So I checked out their other results and some surprising things seemed to have happened in the last 3 months.
How can it be that a team that has beaten Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla this season, can fail to topple the relative fodder such as Valladolid, Murcia, Recreativo and Betis?
Rather like Man. City, Espanol are always looked at as being the poor half of their town, the team that are always considered second best. So is it that the inferior tag gives their team a fighting spirit? Is that why they seem to raise their game and try harder against the Big Teams. So it occurred to me that maybe there's some kind of special perverse relationship between some teams and their more illustrious rivals? And with all of us anxiously searching for the reasons of our topsy-turvy season, perhaps some of the blame should be directed at our opponents as well as the usual Pards, the players and the ref.
So investigating further and turning nearer to home, I had a look at the stats for Burnley, the latest team to win at the Valley. Of their 10 away games the only ones they have lost were the two against Scunthorpe in 18th place and Cardiff in 20th and of the 5 games against top half opposition they haven't lost a single one.
Plymouth's another one. Of their 5 games away against top half teams they have won 3 and narrowly lost the other two by 3-2. Of the 4 away games against clubs in the bottom 6, they have only won 1, with 2 draws and a defeat.
Sheffield United also perform better against top teams. Four home games this time against teams in the top 8 and 3 wins and a narrow 0-1 defeat. Five games against the rest and not a single victory..
So what of Cardiff, tomorrows opponents? More bad news for Pards it appears, as in the 5 games against top half opposition in front of their Welsh fans, they've won twice and lost the others but only by a single goal in all three games. The other four home games against the lower half and they haven't won a single game.....
However, their most frequent result is a draw with 8 out of 18 games ending all square and after 5 fizzy games during midweek they have yet to win...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Charlton 1 Burnley 3

The Ostrich is famous for hiding its head in the sand at the first sign of danger and has become a commonplace symbol for someone who ignores bad news. And that's exactly how I felt as I slowly trawled the papers this morning seeking to minimise my depression by simply looking elsewhere.
Trying to understand the Balkans has occupied years of many peoples determined efforts and its hardly surprising that they fail to comprehend the region when you read articles like the one from the renowned Ed Vulliamy in the Guardian today. With the news that the the UN are still searching for Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for their crimes against humanity and for the genocide at Srebrenica after 12 years of looking, comes the news that now the farce of the hunt for Karadzic is the subject of a Hollywood movie, The Hunting Party, in which Richard Gere plays a reporter. If you want to get a view on ignorant racism, start here.
While over at the posh_thingy there's the story about the 27 year old English teacher in Sudan whose seven-year-old pupils decided to name the class teddy bear Mohammed. As expected you can't go doing that sort of thing in a Muslim country and while its been suggested that 40 lashes would have been fair punishment for showing a lack of respect for another culture perhaps we need to remember the interfering, imperialistic part played in Sudan's history by ourselves and by one of our very own in particular, Woolwich-born Charles Gordon, better known as Gordon of Khartoum.

OK, OK, I suppose the football can't be ignored any longer, so here goes but you can't say I didn't warn you of the possible consequences of Burnleys handsome away record and even Pardew was at lengths, before the game, to make a case for missing out yet again, as we finally did, of course.
We've got our own match report in the guardian whereas both the telegraph and the independent only bother to give a place in their roundups - and the Independent, perhaps rightly, place us right down in mid-article in its fizzy round-up.
Lastly it's the posh_murdoch with a report, from the aptly named Rob Maul, and carrying a title that says it all really, "Charlton Give It Away".
And as we re-adjust our sights onto the Play-Offs come May, its perhaps worth noting that only 1 single point now separates us from 7th placed Stoke City....
The Addicks: Weaver; Mills, Fortune, Sodje (Bougherra 78), Powell; Ambrose, Holland, Zheng (Sam 78), Reid; Varney (McLeod 85), Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, Semedo.
Goals: Reid 36
Booked: Varney 18 (handball), Mills 69 (handball), Reid 88 (foul on Gudjonsson)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Revenge for a Distant 1-7 Mauling..?

After a 3-0 defeat at home, you'd expect a little pessimism maybe, but you won't get any from Pardew, "We're in decent shape for Saturday's game and the league table might be looking prettier on Saturday night than in midweek.”
Fighting talk and that's exactly what will be needed today against a team on a high after winning at Watford last weekend.
There's been a bit of talk about the 7-1 away defeat against Burnley back in 1983, even Killer recalls being sent off in the game. And as quoted by Alan Simonsen that its only one defeat, the Addicks confirmed that and bounced straight back and won the next game, at home to Chelsea, by 5-2! That was the season of Simonsen's 9 goals in 16 games, the second half fight-back against Wolves to earn a 3-3 draw after being 3-0 down and of course, another come-back in the last home game against Bolton when we had to won to avoid relegation. We won 4-1 after going behind in the 61st minute.
So there was lots of singing going on that year and it also saw the arrival of legend Lennie Lawrence. So anyway, I just wanted to remember fight-backs really and that year there were many but can we do it today, that's the question?
Burnley arrive with a new manager Owen Coyle and an impressive away record of 4 wins in the fizzies. There's a top goalscorer, Andy Gray, with 11 goals altogether this season and golden oldies like David Unsworth, ex-Everton, in defence and Gabor Kiraly, ex-Palarse in goal. There's Robbie Blake also up front and the iceman famous for his spectaclar goals including the winner over Watford, Joey Gudjonsson in midfield.
So what's going to happen? Our Wyn confidently sees a 2-1 win, while newyorkaddick thinks 21,019 people will witness a clean sheet and another 2-0 victory and both stonemuse and Pedro45 are a 3-1 Addicks win men. Even Killer despite the 7-1 mauling back in 1983 thinks it'll be a 2-1 win and so it seems that everyone's full of confidence. Me, I just hope for a 1-0 win from a 90th minute penalty to get us up to 34 points, the same as we managed all last season..

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fizzy No. 19 - Burnley(h)

In a post a couple of weeks ago I said how important it was to get to 12 wins under our belt before we travel to 2nd placed West Brom on Dec 15 for Game 22, so that now means once again winning three in a row. In the same post I also said that Preston could give us problems after only losing once at home and Sheff U was going to be easy owing to their 4 away defeats. So, after getting both wrong, you'll be pleased to know that I also forecast that tomorrows game against Burnley would also be a difficult one.
Because working along the same lines, I had noticed that their away record was very good and now, a week on, its even better after their 2-1 win at Watford. All in all they've won 4 away from home at Colchester, Sheff. Wed, Leicester and Watford, drawn at Bristol City and Barnsley and lost at both Scunthorpe and Cardiff. So a record that makes you wonder why they sacked their manager, although a record of only 2 home wins may be the reason. Anyway, with an away record that is the best in the fizzies outside the top 3, it'll give Pards, if he needs it, a stiff challenge to get the team back on course. Oh, and they've also beaten West Brom at home so having beaten the top 2 already in the League they'll be keen to get the scalp of the 3rd best.....
Their recent record reads that they haven't lost in their last 4 away from home and to emphasize their potential they are one of the few teams to have scored more times on their travels than they've conceded.
A little piece of good news is that the history of games between us at the Valley, if you believe in such nonsense, looks very favorable with 14 wins, 7 draws and just 3 defeats although the last loss at home was the last season we were together, so to speak, in 94/95 when they did the double in a relegation season for them, with a 2-1 win at the Valley and 2-0 at their place, wherever that is.

Who They Got?
Well, a new manager for starters. Owen Coyle, ex of St. Johnston, joined just a week ago after the sacking of Steve Cotterill on November 8th after a run of only 1 win in 10 games. Unfortunately for us, they're another team that we meet at apparently the wrong time because since Cotterill left there has been improvement and they have gone the 3 games without losing and only conceded one goal in the process and will no doubt be on a high after winning at Watford. And, of course, the new manager remains unbeaten after the win at Watford and the previous home draw with Stoke City.
On the playing front, Number 10 Andy Gray seems to be the man to watch. Related to the famous Grays of Leeds, he's 6 ft nothing and the top goalscorer with 9 goals in the fizzies, he's started all 17 games and played the most minutes. But he's an old mate of Andy Reid from their Nottingham days so maybe he can give some pointers as to how to stop him. Second highest scorer with 3 goals is the much travelled Nigerian Ade Akinbiyi, now on his 11th club. There's also the winger-cum-midfielder and 34 times-capped Icelander Joey Gudjonsson, who scored what proved to be the winner at Watford on Saturday. Captain of the team is the Scot Steven Caldwell but he will miss the game as he is expected to be out for another month with a thigh injury.

Who's Talking?
Well, lot's of people actually and Killer for one, and he gives us all a dose of football logic, if there is such a thing, by recalling Alan Simonsen's words after a 7-1 defeat at Burnley some years ago. "After the match (he said) I can remember Simonsen saying "1-0, 7-0, all it is is one defeat, that is all it is,' and he was so right. It doesn't matter how much you get beaten by, you have time to correct it, and if you've got a good enough manager and players, you can sort it out."

But on the other side of the coin was a comment by Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock after his teams 2-1 defeat to West Brom on Wednesday, "I would think West Brom are nailed-on certainties to go up." while conversely Adrian Boothroyd was apparently furious with Watfords' tepid display against Burnley last weekend, that followed a bad run of only 4 points from 4 games, "It was an awful spectacle, it was absolutely shocking. I thought that when we lost at Barnsley on Saturday that although the result wasn't good there were some aspects of the game which I could be pleased with but not tonight. We were lacklustre and it was like looking at a team of clones."

The Addicks

The adopted 4-5-1 set-up was meet with a similar formation by Sheffield on Tuesday and proved ineffective so Pards reverted at half-time to his beloved 4-4-2 with the introduction of Luke Varney. Things improved and it's perhaps an obvious indication of the team to be used come the weekend.

The defence is also sure to alter with Basey getting a groin strain on Tuesday so its up to Pards to choose beween Mills, Moutaouakil and Powell as the two full-backs. He did include the comment that there was a lack of left-wing attacking play after Mills switched across so perhaps we will see Chrissie Powell's return to the team with Mills at right-back.
Midfield will be choice between Semedo and Holland alongside Reid, ZiZi and Thomas although, and it seems sacrilege to suggest it, there may come a time when our skipper may be asked to have a rest but probably not now. Varney seemed to shine last Tuesday after coming on for the second half so Pards may feel that he earned his place alongside Iwelumo but ultimately it may all depend on what knowledge Pards has of how Burnley will play.

A 1-1 is always the standard cop-out when you haven't got any idea which way a games going to go, but with the absolute need to win games and remove the memory of Tuesday its vital that we get the three points so I'm going for a 1-0 home win.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Charlton 0 Sheff. Utd 3

B***ocks! That was not supposed to happen. The Addicks steam-roller was just going to move on and add another defeat to Sheffield's already large away total. Win number 10 was due. All we had to do was turn up. But... it somehow does seem typical of the miserable Brian Robson to spoil our day and in the process prove us all wrong. And it's at times like this that a real effort has to be made to find any vocabulary, apart from a number of unprintable 4 letter words.
Anyway, a chance to close the gap to Watford to a more manageable size missed and in a bit of a physical battle we were clearly not good enough, although Inspector Sands was an eye witness and remains pretty upbeat about it, even putting some of the blame in the refs direction. Blackheathaddicted has no 4 letter words and instead gives us his usual clinical analysis and some player scores and, tellingly it seems to be a constant factor when we lose, calls Reid "lacklustre".
Meanwhile, Pards is very forthright and can tell you clearly why we lost and obviously wants to move on with a "It's a disappointing night and we have to wash it away quickly".
And not surprisingly as it was the biggest home defeat of his reign at the Valley and our worst since the 3-0 against Liverpool last December - which was said to be the worst ever performance by a Premier side, I do remember - and seems to have been a shock to all of us punters.
And unfortunately, on a night when you hoped that we could keep it quiet and hope that nobody noticed, it seems that the papers were out in force.
The independent offers a little advice to Pards that has been evident previously, "on this evidence they (Sheffield) look better equipped than Charlton to cope with the physical demands of Championship football".
The telegraph simply tells us "Charlton were poor" and even the dailymail gets in on the act and points out both teams situation and planning by reminding us that "There were just two survivors in Charlton's line-up last night from the side that played out a 1-1 draw against United in April. By contrast, Robson fielded six players who featured..that night"
And lastly, there's nothing in the posh_murdoch that you didn't already know.
But if after all that you're still desperate to find out what went wrong, there's more completely neutral views from the sheff U site if needed. Their fans obviously enjoyed the encounter, not least because of the fact that our very own Nicky Weaver is of course a Wednesday fan since childhood. And not surprisingly they lost no time in reminding him.
The Addicks: Weaver; Mills, Fortune, Sodje, Basey (Bougherra 66); Sam (Varney 46), Semedo (Holland 46), Zheng, Reid, J Thomas; Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, Ambrose.
Booked: Mills 76 (dissent)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fizzy No. 18 - Sheff. U (h)

Its tough at the top and that was pointed out to me yesterday by Mrs Nelson. "How are Charlton doing?" was the Monday morning question, to which I proudly replied "Oh, 4 wins in a row....", (with a smile creasing the face). But women have that subtle way of puncturing any visible sign of male pride and the response quickly came.
"So they're top now are they?". "No, 3rd......", (the smile slowly disappearing).
So, a clear example of the fact that life at the top of the tree needs constant success and despite our very good recent run there's still two teams above us in the cursed Table.
And we continue our tight schedule of 5 games in 14 days with a game against one of last seasons gremlins, Sheffield United.
After 53 years of not winning at Deepdale finally despatched last Saturday we now face a team that has not won at the Valley since 1971, a gap of 36 years. There's been 14 games since then and we've won exactly half, with the rest being draws. But Pards won't care about all that, and I don't think he'll be worried about getting revenge for last season for, as Thierry Henry says in the TV ad, he doesn't care about the past, its today that's important.
So What Chance We Got?
Sheff U are currently 15th with 21 points, 10 less than the Addicks and like Preston before them have a decent home record but have proved not so good away from Bramall Lane. While the Addicks have now won 5 on the road, the Blades have suffered 4 defeats, losing at Palarse, Scunthorpe, Watford and Bristol City with a couple of wins and 2 draws.
But, before we get too carried away and look forward to our 10th win of the season, there have been recent improvements for the Blades and on Current Form they have 11 points from the last 18, are 5th in the Current Table, and after losing 4 of their first 5 away games have not lost away from home in their last three, with 1-0 wins at both Stoke and Leicester and a 1-1 draw at Hull.
It was an unexpected defeat, therefore to managerless Plymouth at the weekend, a first loss in 7 games. And Sheffield United boss Bryan Robson blamed his side's poor start for failing to take anything of note from the game.
"There are no excuses," he said. "It was the way we started. You can't start at half pace and think you can take it up. There was no urgency or desire from us for the first 25 minutes. It is the most disappointing performance since I've been here."
So some encouragement there then if a team with 4 straight wins and no goals conceded needs such things.
The Addicks
As we said before the Cardiff game, we needed to win 4 of the 6 games before travelling to West Brom in Game 22 to get back on target for 26 wins this season. We've won 2 already and after a summer of changes, Pards will be very pleased that he has hit upon a settled team and with no injuries to trouble him that he can name the same 11 for another game. The building of a perfect team is a slow and never-ending project but the pieces are beginning to take shape.
The move away from 4-4-2 after the QPR game has worked wonders, and it could prove that the three defeats in a row was a blessing in disguise. A 4-5-1 has given a chance to Thomas to shine and he appears to have taken it and the formation also allows ZiZi to get forward and he's now scored in the last two games.
But perhaps its the defence that has improved most of all with the arrival of Sammy Sodje. After a month on the sidelines, he finally forced his way into the first eleven for the game against QPR and he has remained there for the last 5 games, 4 of which we have kept a clean sheet and we are now the 2nd best defence in the Fizzies after, surprisingly, Leicester.
And there seems no clearer pointer to tonight's result than the fact the Nicky Weaver, rightly proud of his 7 clean sheets - all of which have been games that we have won - , has only conceded twice in his last 5 games against Sheff. U....
Haven't got a clue, but after getting Saturdays result right newyorkaddick sees another win, 3-0 this time. Shame on me for thinking 1-1 again. And after forecasting spot-on with a 2-0 win over Preston, our frankie has a worrying 2-2 in mind. Perhaps I'll ask the wife, she'll know.