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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Watford Preview

After losing our 2008-09 unbeaten home record, albeit only in a League Cup game, on Tuesday to a team we've never lost to before we now face the short, but tricky, trip to Vicarage Road for the game against Watford where we've only managed one win in our last 12 visits.
The last 4 games between us have all been draws so we would expect another tight game but after facing a side last weekend - Swansea - with only 1 away defeat since September last year, we now tackle a team with the embarrassing record of 5 home League defeats in a row. No wonder only 5000 turned up on Tuesday for their League Cup game!
And although Pards did seem genuinely disappointed with the dismal failure of our second string to get a result against Yeovil, it does seem a little fortuitous that the day after the defeat we at last sign the type of midfielder that everyone has been crying out for. They always say that you can even learn from a defeat and the Directors seem to have done just that.
Meanwhile, opponents Watford enjoyed a goalless draw at Sainburys on Saturday ( although nobody should be allowed to use the words "enjoyed" and "sainburys" in the same sentence), whilst on Tuesday, young striker Will Hoskins struck two minutes from time to earn Watford a first home win in four months against League One side Bristol Rovers and earn a place in the Carling Cup second round.
Four months, ( April 5th to be exact), is a long time in football and with successive home defeats to Barnsley, Palarse, Scunthorpe and then Hull in the play-offs, one can understand Manager Aidy Boothroyd's idea to play all of his pre-season games away from Vicarage Rd. Watford have had 4 "first team" friendlies, all away, a 3-1 win over Boreham Wood, a 1-1 draw against Brentford and defeats against MK Dons 1-2 and Barnet 2-3.
In fact Hoskins' goals was the first time they have scored in those last 5 home games so home form for Watford looks like being something they will want to correct pretty soon.
Much like ourselves Watford have been shedding players during the summer with four key members of last years squad having flown the nest. Gone are Danny Shittu to Bolton, last seasons top goalscorer (with 12) Darius Henderson has gone to Sheff. Utd, and both Jordan Stewart and Nathan Ellington have been sold to Derby.
And again, like the Addicks, they rang the changes for their League Cup game with only 4 players, defenders Sadler, Doyley, Bromby and midfielder Harley starting in both games. These along with two players completing for the captains role, American centre-half Jay De Merit and tough midfielder John Eustace will surely form the core of Watford this season.
They also have a trio of Jamacians, number 7 Damien Francis, 11 Jobi McAnuff (ex-Palarse) and 14 Lee Williamson, all of whom finished the game against Palarse. Up front they have 21 year old Hungarian international star Tamas Priskin wearing number 9 but who has failed to shine recently and even spent a month on loan spent at Preston in March, for whom he played at the Valley in their 2-1 win in March. Life for him will be easier now than Henderson and Ellington have departed. Partnering Priskin at Sainburys on Saturday was Number 21 Tommy Smith, 2008 Player of the Year and scorer of 7 goals last season.
The league history between the clubs after 56 games reads 20 wins, 14 losses and 22 draws and at Vicarage Rd its 10 defeats, 6 wins and 12 draws. Our last win there was in Feb 1996 2-1 but that was only win in our last 12 games there....
As for the Addicks, surely no signing since the arrival of Ronnie Moore in 1983 has generated so much enthusiasm as the news that Pards has at last bought a Midfielder. Box-to-box 110% bulldog are the quoted attributes of Nicky Bailey but if you're still wondering why nobody else was chasing him after being on the transfer list since June, then you should read this article which will surely reassure you.
Another surprise addition to Saturdays squad could be the return of ZiZi from China now that the Chinese team are out of the Olympics although I'm not sure if Olympic red cards require 3 suspended games, and there's a question mark over whether or not Pardew will want to display ZiZi's skills in public so close to Deadline Transfer Day.
After resting 6 players for the Yeovil game and giving chances to Elliot, Moutaouakil, Basey, Holland, Wagstaff and Bouazza to show what they can do, its a bit of an irony that the only one to really come out of it with his reputation enhanced - Holland - sees his future chances limited by the arrival of Bailey. There must also be a doubt over the injury to Fortune, replaced after 40 minutes on Tuesday, although Pards emphasized that his presence will be so important that he will be patched up, no matter what.
Nerves were a feature of Tuesdays game and no prizes for guessing to whom Pards was referring in his post-match comments, namely right-back Moutaouakil. And with Bailey pushing for a start in a physical game, temporary right-back Semedo's return to his holding role in front of defence could be in doubt, leaving us possibly with the same defence that kept a cleansheet against Swansea.
In midfield it'll be a surprise if Bailey doesn't make an immediate debut, he played 90 minutes on Saturday in Southend's 1-0 win over Peterborough, although Hollands preformance on Tuesday may make him wait and alongside one of them will be Therry Racon fresh from his teamoftheweek selection and presumably Jonjo Shelvey. Another option, with the demands of Watford's play in mind, and hinted at by Shelvey's early substitution after only 56 minutes last weekend, could see a midfield of Holland, Racon and newboy Bailey with Jerry Thomas out wide.
Up front we can expect to see Gray and Varney partnered again, although Hameur Bouazza will be dying to take the field against his old club for whom he played 83 times in four years, scoring 8 goals before leaving for Fulham for £3m in 2007.
Addicks; Weaver; Semedo, Hudson, Fortune, Youga; Bailey, Racon, Holland, Thomas; Varney and Gray,
Subs; Elliot, Shelvey, Sam, Basey, Bouazza.
Verdict: I was going to make a comment about the fact that we better enjoy the League table while we can as it's likely to be the last time this year that we'll see ourselves up there in an automatic promotion spot, but the arrival of a new midfielder has worked wonders on my confidence and its a 2-1 win for me.


Mike said...

Surely the nervous player was Wagstaff? Moo2 looked anything but nervous.

nelson said...

Oops, obviously 2+2 sometimes comes to 5.