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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wycombe Wanderers Preview

If Saturdays game goes ahead it'll be eighteen days since the Addicks saw any action in an away 1-1 draw at Brentford but with Norwich having a difficult trip to Colchester a good result could see us back in 2nd place. Colchester have had only one defeat at home, 2-1 to Leeds back in August, and until the embarrassing 7-0 defeat at Preston in the FA Cup had only had one defeat in the following 21 games.
But of course there's the question of that growing goal difference between us and Norwich, currently at 7 more than us, to make up as well and as we shall see Wycombe won't be likely to help out in our need for goals.
Before that however, just a comment on our status during the transfer window. Norwich with four new arrivals - defenders Russell Martin (Peterborough, previously on-loan) and Zak Whitbread (the spanners), winger Anthony McNamee (Swindon) and striker Oli Johnson (Stockport) - all on permanent deals while Southampton have signed the expensive Jose Fonte from Palarse. Colchester have signed three players Ian Henderson from somewhere in Turkey, while converting midfielder John-Joe O'Toole (Watford) and Kayode Odejayi into permanent moves. Clearly the opposition are using the opportunity to bolster their chances while the Addicks, much like Leeds, remain relatively unbolstered, ( apart from a months extension for Omozusi and an agreement with Reading to sign Mooney for the rest of the season) although Leeds with 9 wins in last 13 league games perhaps have a bigger reason to be content with what they have.

So on to Wycombe. St Patricks day boy Gary (Patrick) Waddock is the new manager down at Adams Park having taken over on the 13th October. His claim to fame, apart from playing in QPR's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Spurs in the replayed 1982 Cup Final ( alongside Mike Flanagan) is that he was born in the same place I was, Kingsbury. He previously managed QPR for three months before being replaced by John Gregory and took over at Adams Park after Peter Taylor was dismissed after only 1 win in the first eleven games of the season. Waddocks career at the Chairboys was also looking a bit precarious with 2 draws and then 2 defeats in his first month and culminating with a bruising 0-6 away defeat at the hands of Huddersfield.
That heavy defeat at Huddersfield was the Chairboys eleventh game without a win and dropped them to the foot of the table and next up was an away game at the spanners who were on a 14 match unbeaten run at the den. Waddock had this to say after that Huddersfield defeat. "Our season starts today. The honeymoon period has finished and decisions will be made. I told them that at half-time and I told them again in no uncertain terms afterwards. Thats fighting talk and I want to see it in my players. Its time to make decisions." Out went goalkeeper Young, after only one game and so to did centre-back Duberry and in one of those strange upsets that are a key part of football the Chairboys won at the den with a shock 2-0 scoreline - also the spanners only home defeat so far this season - with two second half goals from Westwood and Betsy. And although they narrowly then lost at St. Marys 1-o, Waddock followed up with two vital home wins over Brentford and Stockport.

Since that win over Stockport however, they have got only 2 points from their last 6 games with three straight defeats before Saturday at Leeds and it looked as if they were heading back to the dismal run they had in September, October and November with eleven games without a win. But after shipping nine goals in their games at Yeovil and at home to Brighton they once again showed that they much prefer class opposition as they embarked on a run of three games against the top three in the table.

Norwich managed just one goal against the Chairboys - their lowest score for nine games - but it was enough to get a tough 1-0 win backed by 2200 travelling fans and with MOM going to home goalie Shearer while their following game took them to Elland Rd. Leeds scored first but were second best for long periods of the game which finished in a 1-1 draw and it must be said that Wycombe have had their best results against the top half of the table winning three times against Bristol, Millwall and Brentford whilst only managing one win against the lower half of the table.

So its five points adrift of Brighton for the Chairboys at the edge of the safety zone having played 2 games more, and its only the appalling form of Stockport with their eleven straight defeats that prevents them being rock bottom.

The Opposition

Waddock changed the formation for the Leeds game to an attacking 4-3-1-2. Thirty-year old Tommy Doherty is the creative key to the Chairboys midfield and alongside him is fellow Irishman 21 year old Scott Davies, on-loan from Reading while Harrold, Pitman and Beavon form the attacking trio.

Oklahoma born Jon-Paul Pittman is now top scorer with 8. Still only 23, he wears number 16.

Whats The Secret?
A team with six 1-1 draws and a favorite scoreline of 0-1 ( 8 times) they clearly see defence as the best form of attack. And while the Addicks have failed to score 3 times, Wycombe have 10 no-scoring games. But in 18 of their 26 games they have conceded no more than 1 goal, a commendable stat for a team second from bottom.

Well, as far as games at Adams Park is concerned there isn't any history 'cause we've never been there before. But if you want a history lesson the reason we've never been anywhere near Wycombe is because, despite the Chairboys being 123 years old, they've spent most of that time as an amateur club and have only been in the League since 1993 when they had the extremely good fortune to have Martin O'Neill take over for his first real job. And if you believe Wiki, it was all down to a chance meeting in a toilet at Carrow Road.

What Are They Saying?
It's not very recent but, Peter Taylor then manager of Wycombe, after completing the signing of the 24-year-old Crawley Town striker John-Paul Pittman last February, told the club website: "I'm excited to have him here, he's a very, very quick player."
But more recent is the worrying and surprise capture of Jose Fonte from Palarse by the clearly flush-with-cash Pardew. The fee is believed to be in the region of £1.2 million. Fonte says "playing for Saints is a dream come true! I was happy at Crystal Palace and I only have good memories of my time there but I have made a decision that I am very happy with. This might seem like a step back but it may be two steps forward and that's how I see it. Southampton has the stability which Crystal Palace does not have at the moment and I made this decision because the situation at Palace is delicate and I have to think about my future." Lets hope he takes a while to settle into life down here in the doldrums, around June should be fine Jose.
And if you're looking for any tips Parky on what NOT to do come Saturday, here's what Millwall's Kenny Jackett had to say after the Chairboys had demolished the spanners 14 match unbeaten run at the Den back in November, "It was a really poor performance from start to finish. We never got going, didn't show any fight, didn't show any personality, didn't show any zip."
The Team
After eighteen days off, will our first choice defence return to the action? Kelly was almost there before the Bees game but the word is that he'll still be missing while Frazer Richardson, although back in training will probably still be out specially given Parky enthusiastic interview last friday regarding Elliot Omozusi.
So expect to see a defence of Omozusi, Dailly, Llera and Basey with Sam Sodje serving his second game of his four match suspension.
Burton, however, is back from suspension and will break up the strike duo that played at Brentford of Akpo and Dickson. Dicko was subbed on 73 minutes with Leon coming on but Parky was full of praise for Chris afterwards - "I thought Chris did well. He worked hard and he's looked good since he's come back from Bristol Rovers. He put in a good honest performance, and there were a couple of good chances which Chris would normally take; that's his forte when he gets in there. But then he kept going, kept going and got the penalty for us. In the end, he's got us back in the game with his sheer determination." So expect a strike force of Dickson and Burton then, although there's a possibility that Dave Mooney will get his place back after making a recovery from his knee injury.

Elliot; Omozusi, Dailly, Llera, Basey; Sam, Semedo, Bailey, Shelvey; Mooney, Burton

Norwich won 1-0 at Adams Park on the 2nd of January but Leeds could only draw 1-1 last weekend so its a direct comparison for the Addicks. The Chairboys clearly prefer playing the best there is and have conceded only 3 times in four games against Leeds, Norwich, the Saints and the spanners, with three of them being away although only getting four points in the process.

So, beware Parky - we need the three points but don't expect it to be easy. After the season-begins-here rave from Waddock their home form has been: Brentford (win), Stockport (win), Oldham (draw), Brighton (5-2 defeat) and Norwich (1-0 defeat) but Parky will not like to hear the remarkable stat that Wycombe have only won 4 points less than Norwich in their games against the top half of the table.
Verdict: Wycombe 0 Addicks 1

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