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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.

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