A New Year beckons and what better start can you expect to have than the gift of Colchester United calling at the Valley. Because you don't need me to tell you that they are rock bottom of the fizzies, 2 points adrift and with only 4 wins all season.
The score was 2-2 at Layer Road back in September, when we came back from 2 goals down, with Todorov and ZiZi getting the goals, although we had one more man for the last 35 minutes after defender Matthew Connolly was sent off and should perhaps have done more. And after 13 games, on-loan Connolly will unfortunately be enjoying his last game for Colchester tomorrow after being recalled from a year-long loan by the Arse. Must be Africa Cup time and obviously means that Arsene had decided to give us Alex Song back.
Anyway, Colchester's current form is not very good, in fact they're also bottom in that league with only 2 points from the last 6 games. But its their away form that is of interest to us and as befits a team at the bottom its pretty bad with only 2 wins, 4 draws and 6 defeats. They started the season well with 3 draws and a win in their first 4 away games but since then it's been pretty much all downhill. In the last 8 games away from Layer Road they've only taken home 4 points out of the 24 on offer with a win at Sheff. Wednesday 2-1 in early December and a 2-2 at Watford six weeks ago. Their only other away win was way back in August, 3-0 over Preston.
On the plus side - for us that is - they've got the worst defence in the fizzies having conceded 44 goals and it doesn't matter if you let them score first 'cause in the 9 games when they have, they've only won 3 of them, the worst figures in the Division. They've only kept one clean sheet all season, in that away win over Preston when Colchester were a bit on fire and unbeaten after their first three games of the season against Sheff. Uoo, Barnsley and Preston. Apart from that Preston win the only other result of note is their amazing 3-2 win over West Brom back in October.
In fact that win in game 11 over West Brom proved to the peak of the season as far as Colchester are concerned. Up to the dizzy heights of 12th place in the League, its all gone rather pear-shaped since then with only 1 win, 5 draws and 8 defeats in the last 14 games.
So exactly who they got to worry Pards? Well, Colchester manager Geraint Williams is refusing to curb his side's attacking instincts and despite being bottom they have somehow managed to score more goals than we have. But on the player front, the only one you want to hear about is our very own ex, Kevin Lisbie. Although he was on the bench last time out, he's made 21 starts in the Fizzies, with 2 sub appearances and has scored 6 goals.
And whilst we only have one striker in Big Chris scoring goals up front, they have 3 strikers over 6 goals each. Number 11, ex-Spurs, Dublin boy Mark Yeates is top scorer with 8 - not bad for a winger - and the giant number 9, 6' 4" Clive Platt, who was brought in the summer as Iwelumo's replacement, has 7. And if you're worried about Teddy, he's only started 10 games and scored a mere 3 goals, although he did start the last game and he may convince Williams to let him play against his old boss at West Ham.
And as if being bottom of the table is not bad enough, they've also got a host of injuries. Midfielder Izzet has missed the last two games after suffering a nasty hand injury, whilst 'experienced playmaker' Kevin Watson is also set to miss out again with the calf problem which has sidelined him over Christmas, while veteran goalkeeper Aidan Davison is still struggling with a shoulder injury.
On the history front, games have been a bit scarce with only 2 Third Division games at the Valley in the League. The first was exactly 33 years ago on January 1st 1975 and the addicks won 4-1. After our finishing bottom and relegation in the May of 1980, we meet them again in Sept 1980 and we duly lost 1-2 with Killer getting our goal.
As for the Addicks tomorrow, Pards has already made plain that Darren Ambrose should be fit too play. And the only worry, apart from that, is a possible injury to Fortune who limped off "in some discomfort" on Saturday against Leicester after 65 minutes.
We could also see a change at right-back after seeing Saturdays return from injury - on as a sub for Fortune - of Yassin Moutaouakil instead of Bougherra and Varney seems to have the vote over Lloyd Sam at the moment. So it's possible that we could see our favorite goal-machine Darren playing the hole again, after his recent 2 goal success in the home win over Ipswich, while Varney patrols the right wing but then Pards would have to choose between Semedo and Holland in midfield.
And that's exactly what he did do in the last home game against Hull, leaving the Portuguese on the bench, with Holland in midfield and putting Lloyd Sam on the right. But will Pards have noticed Colchester's attacking style and the fact that only Southampton and QPR in the bottom half of the table have outscored Colchester away from home this season with their 16 goals. Even the Addicks have only scored 17 times away from home remember. Perhaps a 4-5-1 would be better?
One man sure to be out there will be Big Chris. No injury is going to stop him trying to prove himself by playing against his old mates yet again.
Weaver; Moutaouakil, McCarthy, Fortune, Powell: Varney, Ambrose, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Iwelumo.
Sub: Randolph, Bougherra, Semedo, Sam and Dickson....
Prediction: An Addicks victory 2-0