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Thursday, April 05, 2007

32 of 38 - Man. City (away)

Our visits to Maine Rd always used to give us something to cheer about with a defeat seemingly rare. In fact we only had 1 defeat there since 1987 and only lost 11 times in 23 games altogether. Trouble is its not Maine Rd anymore 'cause being called the Massives meant a move to a modern venue back in 2003. So now its the City of Manchester Stadium ( see you later, doll, just off the City of Manchester Stadium to see City ) and our form there has not been so good.

Fortunately for the Addicks, City's home form has not been too good either. Two wins on the road ( and without a goal conceded) in their last 2 games against an under-strength Middlesbrough and then a-drifting-down-the-table Newcastle can't hide the fact that they've lost 4 successive games at home - to Blackburn, Reading, Wigan and most recently, Chelski - and more importantly after scorelines of 0-1, 0-1, 0-2, 0-3 with not a single goal scored either.

So after 6 hours and 18 minutes of football dating back to Jan. 1st without a goal scored, and particularly since they have failed to score in a total of nine home League games all season, I expect their fans will be bringing some soft cushions to sit on. Not a lot to get excited about, but I suppose they've got to do the opposite to manure fans anyway who stand up as a matter of course. And in complete contrast to manure who couldn't care less when we come visiting, City are already calling the game their biggest of the season and trying to hide their nerves by no doubt sitting on their hands.

But for a team sitting in 13th place, they have the strange record of holding a 100% record when scoring first in a Premiership game this term (won 10 of 10) but then that's probably because this match pits the second weakest attack, ie City's - so they don't actually score very often - with the second weakest defence (thats us) in the Premiership. At the other end of the pitch, and thanks to Darren, the Addicks have scored more away League goals than Manchester City have managed at home (11 on the road to the Massives 10 at Eastlands) and now after breaking our 64 match run of no consecutive wins we have a chance of the Addicks first double of the season. But take note Pards, its obviously not a good idea to concede first..

Honours Even

Completely different from our last opponents Wigan, we've played City 53 times, with honours even at 20 wins with 13 draws.

Last time we won in Manchester ( at any Stadium!) was our very last visit to Maine Rd in 2002 with Shawn Bartlett getting the goal in a 1-0 win. However, 3 seasons on and our 3 games at the the City of Manchester Stadium ( OK, Eastlands) have seen 1 draw and 2 defeats. Our record season, 2003/04 where we finished in 7th spot, saw a 1-1 draw with Di Canio getting the equaliser. 2004/05 started strangely with 2 heavy away defeats, 4-0 at Bolton and 4-1 at Eastlands, sandwiching home wins over Portsmouth and Aston Villa (remember Francis Jeffers?). 2005/06 was better, the Addicks going down 3-2, a game that was the first and only time that both Bents have been on the same scoresheet.

So at Man City its been 13 wins for City, Charlton 8, and 5 draws.

The Opponents

Dunne and Distin

With 29 and 28 starts each Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin are the mainstay of City. Add in Joey's Barton's 6 goals from midfield and you'll see the strengths of their team. What's more a cursory look at Garth Crooks team of the week on the Beeb site shows that apart from the usual fawning with gaudy manure shirts, he appears to have included 3 players in light-blue outfits. Namely Dunne, Mpenza and someone called Onuoha - its appears they all play for Man. City and were chosen for their performances against Newcastle. And its unfortunate that they appear to have solved their striker problem with the inclusion of "brian" Emile Mpenza signed from Al Rayyan (!) in January who has now got 2 goals in his last two games.

Their team against Newcastle was: Isaksson; Onuoha (Trabelsi 85), Dunne, Distin, Ball; Jihai, Barton, Hamann (Samaras 46), Johnson, Vassell; Mpenza. Subs were Weaver (g), Corradi, Miller.

Injuries are affecting the team though and Micah Richards is still out with an ankle problem and Addicks old boy Danny Mills is recovering from his stress fracture and Didi Hamann is also doubtful with another ankle problem.

The Addicks
Thatcher to Start?

For a player as controversial as Ben Thatcher its surprising that after 5 yellows with City this season, in only 10 games, he has yet to receive one for the Addicks. And from glowing remarks from Pards regarding the importance of Thatcher to the dressing room and the chances of showing his old club how wrong they were to let him go, its odds-on that he will start tomorrow. Regarding defence, the Beeb reckon that the Elk will give way to allow the Herminator to move inside but its more likely to be Diawara who sits out the game. After all it was Hreidarsson in the box on Saturday winning our penalty.

With everyone hopefully fit, except Hasselbaink and sadly the little Irishman, it only leaves Pards to decide who to pick. With fellow chinese Sun Jihai playing a rare game for City last weekend could he be forced into playing ZiZi to demonstate his boast that he's the best Chinese player? And he also has to bear in mind that there's an important home game on Monday, just 3 days away so he wants everyone ready for that game.

But it's time to be brave - his own words - and a draw isn't really good enough, so it'll be his beloved 4-4-2 - none of this defensive 4-4-1-1 of some other teams:

Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Thatcher - ZiZi, Song, Holland, Thomas - Marcus Bent, Darren Bent.

On the bench probably: Randolph, Diawara, Faye, Rommedahl and Lisbie.


Fortunately there's no Lawrenson this week - he was wrong last weekend, of course, but Pedro45 has it down as a 0-0 and checking out cafcpicks, on pre-season forecasts nevertheless, the leading experts, New York Addick and Angela Morris (who appears to have got herself married as she's changed her name to Risebro - congratulations if its in order) both also had it down as a Draw. A draw then it has to be, goalless or otherwise we don't mind, and it'll be a result that'll keep everyone happy, maybe even Warnock.

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