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Saturday, January 13, 2007

23 of 38 - Middlesbro (home)

Pards has already called the game against Middlesbrough a Massive Game and with the Addicks 6 points away from the safety of 17th place ( and with an inferior goal difference) every home game is a must-win Cup Final especially when you have away-form like we have.

Middlesbrough arrive here without a win away from home all season but are currently 8 points in front of Charlton in the table. With only 2 wins in their last 11 league and cup games, including their 2-0 win against us in December, they're not in great form at the moment and its vital that we win today to drag them even more into relegation worries.

They are a "second-half" team that take their time to get going. Two thirds of their goals have come in the 2nd half and there's only one team, West Ham, that are worst than them on first-half results. So Pards, hit 'em hard in the first 45 and put the game beyond them. But watch out for stoppage time as the Addicks have scored more goals then (3) than anybody else in the league BUT have also conceded more (4) than anybody else in added time. Work that one out.

Close Encounters
Middlesbrough are the team that the Addicks have scored most victories against of all the 93 league teams played and are also one of the very few Premiership teams that we have a "plus" record over although it's very close - ( by a hugh coincidence Watford and West Ham are the others ) - In total its Charlton 34 wins, Middlesbrough 33, and draws 18.

Last season saw us win 2-1 in the Premiership with the two goals coming from Darren B after the inevitable Viduka have scored, again. The total in the Premiership shows we're also in front with Charlton 5 wins to their 3 with no less than 7 drawn games.

At the Valley we are way in front with 24 wins to their 11 with 7 draws.

The Opponents
Zero Away Wins
After two promising away results in September with draws at Arsenal and Bolton, Middlesbro have not enjoyed themselves on their travels since then. Three successive defeats at Sheffield 1-2, Man.City 0-1, and Watford 0-2 were repaired a bit at Villa with another draw 1-1, before more defeats at Spurs 1-2 and Fulham 1-2. A goalless draw at Everton was then followed by their 6th away defeat at Blackburn 1-2. So just 2 points in their last 8 away games and only 4 draws in total away from home.

Of the player front don't expect to see Jason Euell but lets hope 9 goal Yakubu and his fellow striker 4 goal Viduka are equally quiet although Mr V always seems to enjoy coming to the Valley.

The Addicks
Who's Fit?
Despite all the speculation there's currently only one new arrival - Ben Thatcher - and he'll go straight into the team replacing Traore. Although ZZ has also arrived and despite Pards encouraging words about the fitness levels of Asian players it's another case of "acclimatization to the Premiership" scenario just like one Omar Pouso. Lets hope we get more that the 57 mins that we have got out of him so far.

There's reports on the official site that HH and Andy Reid will also be available after their injuries but will Pards chance them both? Is Faye's 27 minutes last Saturday the last we'll see of him? Will Sam return?

The one certainty it seems is that Scott Carson will return in goal but with the mistake of appealing Sankofa's sending-off, we'll be without him for another game and therefore missing our two first choice right-backs. There's been no clues from Pards other than the fact that he started with Kish there last week but ended up with the Elk who always seems to have the sulks when he plays out of position. Whatever, the defence should be El Karkouri, Diawara, HH and the Thatch.

The Midfield? Always the heart of a team, this is the area where the Addicks have struggled and it still hasn't improved. Kish will be there along with Holland and we can only hope that Andy Reid joins them to add some missing creativity. Rommers will be out wide again and there's no real choice in attack with Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent up front with the hope that Lloyd Sam will feature at some point. We can only hope that Jimmy-F will try harder against his former club and that someone has told Marcus that he's sitting on 99 league goals scored.


The Addicks to Win?
The good news is "Lets move on" has us down as 2-1 home winners and we all know he's always right. Pedro45 obviously has the cup game last March in his mind and sees another boring but tough 0-0 but has dreams of Dennis scoring at the Valley. How bizarre is that?
But if we can stop Viduka scoring, I see a 1-0 home win.

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