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Friday, April 20, 2007

35 of 38 - Sheff. U (home)

Another Must-Win game then. And this time everybody's saying it. There's no time left now for maybe's or Plan B's, this one we've gotta win. Well, we're not talking maths just yet but the chances open to us are rapidly diminishing and time for that last-minute reprieve is running out.

We just have to get the goal or goals that give us the three points, its as simple as that. And we couldn't, apparently, ask for better opponents. They've lost 13 games away from home, more than anybody else, and now their away record stands at eight defeats in a row, so really there's no excuses..... To call ourselves a Premiership club we now have to prove it.

Although they've lost loads, and not scored more than once in an away game all season, our opponents tomorrow do specialize in 1-0 away victories, three so far, at Newcastle, Watford and the last being at Wigan on December 16th. Since then they've lost at Portsmouth (1-3), Middlesbrough (1-3), Reading (1-3), Blackburn (1-2), Liverpool (0-4), Chelski (0-3), Bolton (0-1) and lastly manure (0-2).

Another bad record of theirs is that they've conceded five goals in the first five minutes of top flight games this term - more than any other club, but unfortunately for us the Addicks are also bad starters at the other end and have failed to score in any game in the first 10 minutes. In fact, the only Charlton goals in the first quarter of an hour of a game have been Darren's penalty at Upton Park on the opening day and the Elk free-kick at Bolton in January.

Winless at the Valley since 1971

There's only two Premiership teams that the Addicks have the "sign" over and Sheff U are not one of them. To date, after 51 games, the record reads Charlton 18 wins, Sheff United 20 and with 13 draws.

With our appalling record of only 3 Charlton wins at 26 games at Bramall Lane, its comforting that exactly the same is true of our opponents. They also have won only 3 times at the Valley, the last time being 36 years ago and the last time they beat us in top-flight football at the Valley was on Sept. 21st 1946, in other words, a very long time ago.

The Opponents

The last time we played them at the Valley, Feb 2000, it finished 1-0 to the Addicks with a John Robinson goal in the first half. I'll settle for that tomorrow. Its a game I can't remember, but there's three Sheff U players that will as they'll probably be around tomorrow. Phil Jagielka, Robert Kozluk and Alan Quinn as well as one Marcus bent all played in that defeat. On that day we were well clear at the top of Division One and Sheffield came to defend. No change there then!

Defender Phil Jagielka is still one of their key men and after the injured Rob Hulse is their leading scorer with 4 goals. Probably one of their most prominent men wouldn't be on the pitch however, but will be busy ranting and rageing from the touchline. And just when we assumed they would come for the draw, he tries to upset us all by saying "It’s an intriguing game. Everybody is nervous and excited about it. But we have to play to win. I don’t think we can go for a draw. The good thing is that I can see us scoring in away games now. We’ve got to go for it in every one of our last four matches."

The Addicks
Wingers and Width

There's talk now that Hreidarsson and Jerry T have recovered from injuries and will be available for the game but unfortunately not so for Marcus Bent. So he'll remain on his 99 league goals for a bit longer - its now over 5 months - and we'll not get to see if the ex-player curse would have helped our cause.

And just to cheer us up, and maybe prepare us for the worst, Pards has come out and told us that litttle Darren is also suffering from that most mundane of injuries, "a knock" - sorry, its now a thigh problem - , thus making team selection even less complicated although the thought of Kevin Lisbie leading the line does give me the shivers.
In fact, due to our recent good form, Pards has got it easy regarding selection as it could be the same eleven that played against Everton but with one change - Rommedahl!...'cause we need width to stretch 'em and get behind their mean defence.

In midfield, he could bring in captain-nice Matty Holland for Amdy Faye and if he's got the chance of a fully fit Jerry Thomas then he'll be on at the start in place of Ambrose.

So its; Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Thatcher, Rommedahl, Zheng Zhi, Song, Holland, Thomas, D. Bent.


There's only in W that can follow Winless, Warnock and Wingers and its...WIN. It wouldn't be the same hammering as we dished out to the Hamsters and a single goal may well be enough to get the 3 points. The infamous Lawro goes for a 2-1 home win. But it'll be tough, well that's what they said about West Ham, but this time......

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