'Absolutely brilliant', that's what Pards thought after Tuesday's defeat on penalties and who can deny him his personnel feelings of euphoria like the rest of us. And the obvious reason for his enthusiasm was in witnessing a display of character and comittment that brought us back into the game after going two goals down to undenyingly the best team in the fizzies. And, in turn, we can only applaud the team for the learning of a relatively new trait that has been sadly missing this season - the fight-back.
After pointing out a few days ago that fighting qualities were perhaps lacking in the team with only 6 points gained after going behind, we see a 2-0 deficit overturned at the Hawthorns to earn us extra time. To lose on penalties, after missing a sitter and hitting the post, Varney and Dickson respectively, was perhaps hard to take but Pardew, as ever the optimist, could see plenty in the performance of the team to get excited about.
We can only wait and see what will be the consequences of putting out our strongest team, that used to be our weakest team as pointed out by our own new yorker, in a cup replay just 4 days before a very important game at Vicarage Rd. Urged on by all of us to play some reserves, Pards ignored us all and put out the same team for the third game running.
Meanwhile, there's Watford, on 47 points, 4 in front of us in 3rd place and who will be itching to get back into the top two. A defeat will not be on their agenda. However, with nine wins and the best record by far in the fizzies away from home, they are, like Palarse and Burnley, not quite so hot at home, with even 12th placed Wolves having a better home record.
They've lost 5, won 5 and drawn 3 of their 13 games at Vicarage Rd and only scored 18 goals. The two teams recent last-6-game record has been very similar with the Addicks only getting 6 points, while Watford have not been much better with only 7 points. But while we have suffered somewhat recently at home, Watfords recent home form has been nothing less that atrocious.
Discounting their 2-0 home win over Palarse in the Cup, their last fizzy pop home victory was back on October 20th, a 1-0 win over Hull. Since then seven home games without a fizzy win, comprising 5 defeats by QPR 2-4, Plymouth 0-1, Bristol City 1-2, Burnley 1-2 and commencing their bad run, a 3-0 defeat by West Brom, and just 2 draws, Cardiff and Colchester both with a score of 2-2.
And if they thought that the 2-0 cup win over Palarse would turn things around, they were mistaken for they then lost their last game away, 1-0 to lowly Preston.
But they are still one of the 6 fizzy teams that have never lost after going ahead in a game this season, the Addicks have lost twice after going in front, and the best approach seems to be to match them till half-team and then attack as they have lost 5 games after drawing at the interval.
So, after our recent devastating form, it's surely an away banker. Everything would seem to point our way, although there is surely going to be a bit of tireness in our legs after an exhausting 120 minutes against the league leaders on Tuesday.
But there is a small problem for Pards. While the defence, and possibly the midfield, may pick themselves, we still have a small issue with the attack and in particular, in our shooting. As pointed out by blackheathaddicted when watching the kids do rather better in a 6-0 scoreline, the quality of our shooting does leave something to be desired, hence presumably the chasing of Andy Gray.
Meanwhile, there is promising news on the horizon, as the beeb in its match report on Tuesday's game, sees no problem in naming Chris Dickson, despite his only playing just over half-an-hour, MOM. Stick 'im in Pards, all you gotta do is choose his best partner.