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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Looking Forward To Wednesday

So our first goalless draw of the season, a scoreline that Curbs was particularly fond of, at currently struggling Forest. But then Curbs usually planned for such results on the back of a defeat or three and especially against superior opposition whereas here we were playing a team itself suffering 4 sucessive defeats and second to bottom of the table. Hardly a time then for planning another clean sheet but that is what Pards seems to have done with Basey employed in front of the defence in a 5 man midfield with only Varney up front.
Pards seeked to shift the blame somewhat onto a less that perfect ref for not showing his red card earlier and for missing a penalty area hand-ball whereas in contrast spectator Pedro45 puts more of the blame on Pards' team selection for missing out on a second away win in a week.
So a disappointing result for the fans anyway - (although Luke Varney is quoted in yesterdays Sheffield preview that it was a point earned rather than two lost so what do we know ) - that saw us slip a place down to 9th and although only a point away from a Play-off position, it has been pointed out this week that we are currently on a run of only 9 wins in the last 34 games (!) since losing out to West Brom at the Hawthorns 2-4 on 15th December last year. That's a sequence that has seen us get just 39 points from the 34 games - almost relegation form when you think about it.
So lets not think about it too much as we consider the next opportunity for Pards to get that win 10 under his belt since West Brom. Sheffield Wednesday are next and after finishing 16th last season and flirting with relegation a large part of the time, Wednesday were quick out of the blocks this season and were the very first fizzy team to score after less than a minute of their game at home to Burnley. A further goal 3 minutes later confirmed that they really are fast starters and the opening day 4-1 home win over Burnley sent them to the top of the table on that not so distant summers day, August 9th. Things since then, however, have settled down somewhat and after 7 games they have 9 points leaving them, as you would expect of a team called Wednesday, floating in midtable.
In fact after visiting in Nottingham a team with a bad home record, we now entertain one with an away record only better than the two pointless away teams, Forest and Palarse. For while Wednesday have continued their, so far, unbeaten home record with another win, 2-0 over Watford, and creditable draws against Preston and Ipswich its been their poor away record that has held them back with only a single point gained in the three away games. Manager Brian Laws may point out that visits to Molineux and Reading's Madejsky stadium don't usually offer much these days but he can't be happy that a defence that has let in 10 goals in the process with scorelines of 1-4 and 0-6 and he only has a 1-1 away draw at Swansea to offer any respite.
So a leaky away defence then but another important feature of Wednesday is their gung-ho attacking style for of their 9 goals scored no less than 6 have been scored in the first 22 minutes so with both teams tending to score first - the Addicks have done so 5 out of the 7 Fizzies - , you would expect a thrilling start to preceedings. However, as mentioned Wednesday are not quite the same team away from home and they, unlike the Addicks with two clean sheets, are currently having trouble down the other end for, after scoring in all of their first 5 games ( including their League Cup tie with Rotherham ) they have failed to score in their last two. After their last game, the 0-0 home draw with Ipswich, Owls boss Brian Laws praised his side, saying: "It was important that we bounced back, ( after the 0-6 loss at Reading ) and the fact that we got a clean sheet showed the character that's within the team." Which does somehow show a lack of ambition to my mind but does show how upset he was at a 6-0 loss. If it was chicken wings dished out after a 2-3 loss at Luton god knows what he chucked after losing 6.
Anyway, a summary of both the Addicks and Wednesday definitely shows a liking for scoring first and then unfortunately running out of steam in the second half. Both concede more in the 2nd half than they score and the Addicks are the highest club in the table with a negative second half record of only 3 goals scored and 6 conceded.
Pictured above is the current star at the Owls, number 11 Dutchman Etienne Esajas, with 3 goals, who's been at the club a year and who's already been included in the fizzys Team of the Week after the Wolves game. And while we have the top defender in the actim listings - Mark Hudson, of course, - Sheffield have, apparently, the 3rd best striker in the fizzies in Marcus Tudgay from seedy Shoreham-on-sea wearing number 7 who is also on 3 goals who it was that scored that first goal of the season after just 30 seconds. They also have another of the Sodje brothers, this time its Akpo, born in Greenwich, who scored a couple in the first game of the season but has been out with hamstring troubles. And last and by all means least is the one and only Francis Jeffers ( you won't need his number to pick him out ) who, usually denied a starting place, sometimes comes on for the last few minutes to run about a bit. You won't be surprised to learn that he has failed to score this season but I'm sure his presence will be appreciated by the Addicks.. or not.
League history at the Valley against Wednesday has been quite good for the Addicks with 9 wins, 5 defeats with 5 draws but overall it swings to Wednesdays favour with only 12 wins to their 16 with 10 draws mainly due to the fact that we rarely win at Hillsborough.
Unfortunately, recent events at the Valley tell a different story. Of the last 4 League games at the Valley they have won 3 of them with only a second half comeback last time out, inspired by Andy Reid and completed with 2 goals by Iwelumo, prevented them winning 4 in a row. So danger threatens Pards and just to emphasize what I've been saying about their early goals they got 2 that day in the first 15 minutes.
As for the Addicks, after playing around with the team last weekend, we'll surely see the lineup return to its usual, and beloved, 4-4-2 for Saturday. Perhaps it was the expectation of Forest's lively determination to put right a sorry sequence of 4 defeats in a row that lead Pards to try to pack midfield and anchor Basey with a place in front of the back four, as ably described by Pedro45.
But whatever the reason it would appear to have been Forest's appalling finishing rather than our formation that kept us in the game at half-time, plus award-winning Weaver of course. There are perhaps good reasons for Pards to concentrate of promoting the kids but what has happened to poor old Jose Semedo? Surely the holding role was his to fill.
He is clearly in favour of Basey at the moment and perhaps is secretly envious of the cautious approach of the likes of Wolves, Reading and Birmingham, all of whom appear to watch the game unfold before pressing on to win. All three have first-half records of leading 3 times, drawing 3 times and losing only once, whilst the steaming Addicks are the best of the Division and have been leading 5 times at the interval out of the 7 games played.
So will Pards keep his lucky 4-1-4-1 system from the last two games? or will we see Gray back in the fold with two strikers on show? Well, team selection would seem to be messed up a bit with the injury doubts over Fortune and Cranie and we may see Youga in central defence alongside Hudson with Basey filling-in at left back. And if Pards is keen to keep his 4-1-4-1 numbering system who better than Semedo in his familar holding role with Moutaouakil at right-back although there will be a need to make sure he watchs that number eleven of theirs.
Bailey and Holland look to have the midfield places currently sown up but there's the suggestion that we may see ZiZi for the first time this season although he's not been mentioned as being included in Tuesday's reserve runabout against Southend so it may be only a bench-warming appearance.
Meanwhile, Varney insists his goalless run will end soon and after so much faith shown by Pards - he's the only player now to have played every minute of all 8 games - one hopes so too.

Team: Weaver; Moutaouakil, Hudson, Youga, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Holland, Bailey, Bouazza; Varney.
Subs: Elliot, Ambrose, ZiZi, Gray and Dickson.

And lastly the Prediction. Another clean sheet with a 2-0 home win.

1 comment:

Richard Akeno - Pool said...

Toddy gray varns against this bunch of muppets.
Attack attack attack