So it's here at last, arguably the toughest home game of the season against the team that everybody seems to hate!
Going back a week, Pards was keen to told us all that Scunthorpe was a tough place to go to get a result, despite their bad results, because a small ground and high workrate from the opposition was clearly going to create a difficult cup-tie atmosphere. Well, tomorrows not a cup-tie but a passionate derby which you can guarantee will be just as stormy. And in Warnock, Palarse have a manager that does encourage his players to get stuck in and chase everything, as perhaps a total of 48 fouls in the last three games can well illustrate.
Of course, a local derby can be just as frenetic as a cup-tie and with their 'tough, hard working, direct play' that may well work in Warnocks' favour. Pardew favours technique and won't want any red mist descending and preventing coolness under pressure because thats what Palarse are all about. He'll be keen to get a repeat of the clearheaded, determined performance against Stoke to see us right.
And perhaps that's why Pards has been keen this time to remove any pre-match passion by praising the work of Mr Warnock. Anything to remove any of that spiteful nonsense that will in the end work against us and prevent us getting on with the job. Keep 'em focused, Pards.
As for the football, the previous fixture, way back in September, was a very different low-key game with Palarse, under Peter Taylor, struggling in 16th place. Todorov saved the bacon that day, scoring in the 74th minute, just after coming on for Jerry Thomas. But the hero of the game was probably Nicky Weaver with two great saves from Stowcross and Idrizaj.
As for current form Palarse lost their last away game at Leicester, thus wrecking their ridiculous 15 game unbeaten run. Although before anyone gets carried away, its worth noting that, despite that defeat, over the last 8 games they still have a better record than anyone with 5 wins, 17 points and only 4 goals conceded. Over the last 8 games, the Addicks have just 2 wins and 10 points.....
And their away record is a good one with only 4 defeats and the same figures as the Addicks with 6 wins, 5 draws and those 4 defeats at Leicester, Ipswich, Norwich and Plymouth, and all by the same score, 0-1...
But there's always a bright note and this time it concerns their form against the top teams. In 9 games, 6 of them at home, against the teams in the top current 10, they've only won once and their record against the top half of the table is bettered by no less than 12 other teams in the fizzies.....
But they are a resilient lot. Slow starters maybe, with only a total of 4 goals scored in the first 20 minutes of fizzy games - thats just 4 goals in 10 hours of football - they are like the last team we saw, Stoke City, and have a determination to fight back after going behind. Both they and Stoke have won 17 points after the opponents have scored first, more than anybody else....
We on the other hand, are completely the opposite and have scored first the most times, 18 out of 30 games, a total we share with Watford and West Brom.
The last time Palarse lost an away game before Leicester was back in October against Plymouth and that was then followed by a home 1-1 with Hull, as happened this time with a 1-1 against Southampton. After that game followed another away draw 1-1 with Blackpool. So could a 1-1 be on the cards tomorrow?
So what about the Addicks? Pardew wasn't surprised by Scunthorpe's work rate but was clearly disappointed about the number of chances that when begging. Two games in which we continued to create chances, with 11 shots on target against Stoke, whilst we kept the Iron down to just a single shot on target, which sadly proved to be enough.
A reserve game against Millwall on Tuesday saw new boys Monteiro and Halford perform well with Halford scoring from a free-kick and Monteiro at centre-half having three scoring chances. Will Pardew be so pleased with Greg that Yassin pays for his mistake against the Iron and finds himself in the stands? It's very possible and the fact that Halford was withdrawn after an hour may give the hint that he was being saved for just that.
As for the midfield we can only hope that ZiZi stayed off that dodgy food in Dubai, catches his plane back overcoming any jet-lag on the way and, finally, is capable of playing three games in 6 days. Holland, after getting praise for his work at Scunthorpe, will be alongside making sure he keeps awake while Sam will have to wait to see if he's also wanted. Removed at half-time in a swap with Thomas last time out, it could be that Jerry will start on the left with Ambrose moving to the right.
Up front, the fact that our performance last weekend improved after the introduction of Iwelumo for Varney will give Pardew a few headaches, as he prepares to choose between his three strikers, Gray, Iwelumo and Varney.
At least we know that the still unfit Lee Cook will not be taking part and will be watching from the stands and if anything can get Jerry Thomas to perform perhaps that's it.
So it could be:
Weaver; Halford, McCarthy, Bougherra, Youga; Ambrose, ZiZi, Holland, Thomas; Iwelumo and Gray.
Subs: Randolph, Fortune, Semedo, Sam andVarney.
And Finally The Prediction: As the CAFC site will tell you Palarse haven't won at the Valley since 1968 and another pointer in our favour is that of the 6 home games played on 8th February we haven't lost a single one. But tomorrows a derby and anything can happen. Will we see the Charlton that played Stoke or the one that appeared at Scunthorpe. I don't know any more than you do, so although we can dream of an easy 2-0 victory, it'll probably end the same as most derbies, a result that keeps everyone happy. 1-1....