Game one and its promoted Swansea City, Champions of Division One by a clear 10 points last season and with only ONE away defeat since September last year, arriving at the Valley. Shades of deja vu then after last seasons 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe where we struggled against another promoted team who exceeded themselves on the day.
One point in our favour however is that Swansea haven't fared very well recently on the opening day with 3 defeats in the last 4 seasons although last years 2-1 defeat at Oldham on August 11th proved to be one of only three away defeats all season....
Its been 24 years since they were in Tier Two so expect the 3000 travelling fans to enjoy themselves and one person head and shoulders above the rest in their affections will be manager Roberto Martinez. Spaniard Martinez has been in the UK 13 years after signing in 1995 as one of 3 Spanish players that Dave Whelan took to Wigan. He's now been at Swansea since 2003 and manager since February last year and in those 18 months he's proved something of a revelation with just 12 defeats in 70 games. By comparison, our own Alan Pardew has figures, with the Addicks, of 22 defeats in 71 games...
I can't recall a Spaniard playing for the Addicks but of course Swansea have a few, namely 6, with the latest arriving in the summer, Spanish defender Serran from Espanol.
And after losing in Spain to Espanol 0-4 they have improved and finished their pre-season by drawing at home 0-0 to West Brom last weekend and then beating newly promoted dutch side Den Haag 1-0 on Wednesday again at home.
Swansea are a bit short of forwards due to injury with the quaintly named number 9 Jason Scotland from Trinidad and Tobago still not 100% after a stomach injury. After 29 goals last season, and scoring one every two games over the last three years, Pards will be pleased to see him sat on the bench. Another useful player is the Dutch number 6 midfielder Ferrie Bodde. Paul Jewell of Derby has spent most of the summer trying to prise him away with offers up to £2m but he's still there and he'll be at the Valley.
So what's the history? Only twenty games played at the Valley, the last back in October 1983, with the Addicks winning 11 and the Swans only 3 with 6 draws. The last game, in a season which saw the Swans relegated, was a 2-2 draw with Hales and Gritt getting the goals in the last 15 minutes and in fact I remember it well because I was so disgusted that I walked out before the end with us losing 0-2. Apparently Mark Hulyer was pretty pissed of as well 'cause he resigned after the game.
As for the Addicks the obvious downside of a settled team is clearly that the opposition will know exactly who's playing and can plan accordingly. With still no sign of any additions to the squad, the only doubts are over the fitness of Hudson and Weaver, but all being well we can expect to see a 4-4-2 of:
Weaver; Semedo, Hudson, Fortune, Youga; Sam, Racon, Shelvey, Thomas; Varney and Gray. But an opening day defeat to a promoted side would be unthinkable and a damaging effect on the morale of such a young side so Pards think twice before you hand your teamsheet in.
The midfield is woefully weak and you can't expect a 16 year old to run it with only a willing Frenchman as company. Without the energetic Holland, and no Semedo covering up, we need a little bit of weight in there to help out. Swansea, as you have said, will be all about energy and determined to get off to a good start so, please, put Basey in from the start and leave out one of the wingers, ie Thomas.
Verdict: My confidence levels have sunk and the best I can see is a 1-1 draw.