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.