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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fizzy No. 19 - Burnley(h)

In a post a couple of weeks ago I said how important it was to get to 12 wins under our belt before we travel to 2nd placed West Brom on Dec 15 for Game 22, so that now means once again winning three in a row. In the same post I also said that Preston could give us problems after only losing once at home and Sheff U was going to be easy owing to their 4 away defeats. So, after getting both wrong, you'll be pleased to know that I also forecast that tomorrows game against Burnley would also be a difficult one.
Because working along the same lines, I had noticed that their away record was very good and now, a week on, its even better after their 2-1 win at Watford. All in all they've won 4 away from home at Colchester, Sheff. Wed, Leicester and Watford, drawn at Bristol City and Barnsley and lost at both Scunthorpe and Cardiff. So a record that makes you wonder why they sacked their manager, although a record of only 2 home wins may be the reason. Anyway, with an away record that is the best in the fizzies outside the top 3, it'll give Pards, if he needs it, a stiff challenge to get the team back on course. Oh, and they've also beaten West Brom at home so having beaten the top 2 already in the League they'll be keen to get the scalp of the 3rd best.....
Their recent record reads that they haven't lost in their last 4 away from home and to emphasize their potential they are one of the few teams to have scored more times on their travels than they've conceded.
A little piece of good news is that the history of games between us at the Valley, if you believe in such nonsense, looks very favorable with 14 wins, 7 draws and just 3 defeats although the last loss at home was the last season we were together, so to speak, in 94/95 when they did the double in a relegation season for them, with a 2-1 win at the Valley and 2-0 at their place, wherever that is.

Who They Got?
Well, a new manager for starters. Owen Coyle, ex of St. Johnston, joined just a week ago after the sacking of Steve Cotterill on November 8th after a run of only 1 win in 10 games. Unfortunately for us, they're another team that we meet at apparently the wrong time because since Cotterill left there has been improvement and they have gone the 3 games without losing and only conceded one goal in the process and will no doubt be on a high after winning at Watford. And, of course, the new manager remains unbeaten after the win at Watford and the previous home draw with Stoke City.
On the playing front, Number 10 Andy Gray seems to be the man to watch. Related to the famous Grays of Leeds, he's 6 ft nothing and the top goalscorer with 9 goals in the fizzies, he's started all 17 games and played the most minutes. But he's an old mate of Andy Reid from their Nottingham days so maybe he can give some pointers as to how to stop him. Second highest scorer with 3 goals is the much travelled Nigerian Ade Akinbiyi, now on his 11th club. There's also the winger-cum-midfielder and 34 times-capped Icelander Joey Gudjonsson, who scored what proved to be the winner at Watford on Saturday. Captain of the team is the Scot Steven Caldwell but he will miss the game as he is expected to be out for another month with a thigh injury.

Who's Talking?
Well, lot's of people actually and Killer for one, and he gives us all a dose of football logic, if there is such a thing, by recalling Alan Simonsen's words after a 7-1 defeat at Burnley some years ago. "After the match (he said) I can remember Simonsen saying "1-0, 7-0, all it is is one defeat, that is all it is,' and he was so right. It doesn't matter how much you get beaten by, you have time to correct it, and if you've got a good enough manager and players, you can sort it out."

But on the other side of the coin was a comment by Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock after his teams 2-1 defeat to West Brom on Wednesday, "I would think West Brom are nailed-on certainties to go up." while conversely Adrian Boothroyd was apparently furious with Watfords' tepid display against Burnley last weekend, that followed a bad run of only 4 points from 4 games, "It was an awful spectacle, it was absolutely shocking. I thought that when we lost at Barnsley on Saturday that although the result wasn't good there were some aspects of the game which I could be pleased with but not tonight. We were lacklustre and it was like looking at a team of clones."

The Addicks

The adopted 4-5-1 set-up was meet with a similar formation by Sheffield on Tuesday and proved ineffective so Pards reverted at half-time to his beloved 4-4-2 with the introduction of Luke Varney. Things improved and it's perhaps an obvious indication of the team to be used come the weekend.

The defence is also sure to alter with Basey getting a groin strain on Tuesday so its up to Pards to choose beween Mills, Moutaouakil and Powell as the two full-backs. He did include the comment that there was a lack of left-wing attacking play after Mills switched across so perhaps we will see Chrissie Powell's return to the team with Mills at right-back.
Midfield will be choice between Semedo and Holland alongside Reid, ZiZi and Thomas although, and it seems sacrilege to suggest it, there may come a time when our skipper may be asked to have a rest but probably not now. Varney seemed to shine last Tuesday after coming on for the second half so Pards may feel that he earned his place alongside Iwelumo but ultimately it may all depend on what knowledge Pards has of how Burnley will play.

A 1-1 is always the standard cop-out when you haven't got any idea which way a games going to go, but with the absolute need to win games and remove the memory of Tuesday its vital that we get the three points so I'm going for a 1-0 home win.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Charlton 0 Sheff. Utd 3

B***ocks! That was not supposed to happen. The Addicks steam-roller was just going to move on and add another defeat to Sheffield's already large away total. Win number 10 was due. All we had to do was turn up. But... it somehow does seem typical of the miserable Brian Robson to spoil our day and in the process prove us all wrong. And it's at times like this that a real effort has to be made to find any vocabulary, apart from a number of unprintable 4 letter words.
Anyway, a chance to close the gap to Watford to a more manageable size missed and in a bit of a physical battle we were clearly not good enough, although Inspector Sands was an eye witness and remains pretty upbeat about it, even putting some of the blame in the refs direction. Blackheathaddicted has no 4 letter words and instead gives us his usual clinical analysis and some player scores and, tellingly it seems to be a constant factor when we lose, calls Reid "lacklustre".
Meanwhile, Pards is very forthright and can tell you clearly why we lost and obviously wants to move on with a "It's a disappointing night and we have to wash it away quickly".
And not surprisingly as it was the biggest home defeat of his reign at the Valley and our worst since the 3-0 against Liverpool last December - which was said to be the worst ever performance by a Premier side, I do remember - and seems to have been a shock to all of us punters.
And unfortunately, on a night when you hoped that we could keep it quiet and hope that nobody noticed, it seems that the papers were out in force.
The independent offers a little advice to Pards that has been evident previously, "on this evidence they (Sheffield) look better equipped than Charlton to cope with the physical demands of Championship football".
The telegraph simply tells us "Charlton were poor" and even the dailymail gets in on the act and points out both teams situation and planning by reminding us that "There were just two survivors in Charlton's line-up last night from the side that played out a 1-1 draw against United in April. By contrast, Robson fielded six players who featured..that night"
And lastly, there's nothing in the posh_murdoch that you didn't already know.
But if after all that you're still desperate to find out what went wrong, there's more completely neutral views from the sheff U site if needed. Their fans obviously enjoyed the encounter, not least because of the fact that our very own Nicky Weaver is of course a Wednesday fan since childhood. And not surprisingly they lost no time in reminding him.
The Addicks: Weaver; Mills, Fortune, Sodje, Basey (Bougherra 66); Sam (Varney 46), Semedo (Holland 46), Zheng, Reid, J Thomas; Iwelumo.
Subs (not used): Randolph, Ambrose.
Booked: Mills 76 (dissent)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fizzy No. 18 - Sheff. U (h)

Its tough at the top and that was pointed out to me yesterday by Mrs Nelson. "How are Charlton doing?" was the Monday morning question, to which I proudly replied "Oh, 4 wins in a row....", (with a smile creasing the face). But women have that subtle way of puncturing any visible sign of male pride and the response quickly came.
"So they're top now are they?". "No, 3rd......", (the smile slowly disappearing).
So, a clear example of the fact that life at the top of the tree needs constant success and despite our very good recent run there's still two teams above us in the cursed Table.
And we continue our tight schedule of 5 games in 14 days with a game against one of last seasons gremlins, Sheffield United.
After 53 years of not winning at Deepdale finally despatched last Saturday we now face a team that has not won at the Valley since 1971, a gap of 36 years. There's been 14 games since then and we've won exactly half, with the rest being draws. But Pards won't care about all that, and I don't think he'll be worried about getting revenge for last season for, as Thierry Henry says in the TV ad, he doesn't care about the past, its today that's important.
So What Chance We Got?
Sheff U are currently 15th with 21 points, 10 less than the Addicks and like Preston before them have a decent home record but have proved not so good away from Bramall Lane. While the Addicks have now won 5 on the road, the Blades have suffered 4 defeats, losing at Palarse, Scunthorpe, Watford and Bristol City with a couple of wins and 2 draws.
But, before we get too carried away and look forward to our 10th win of the season, there have been recent improvements for the Blades and on Current Form they have 11 points from the last 18, are 5th in the Current Table, and after losing 4 of their first 5 away games have not lost away from home in their last three, with 1-0 wins at both Stoke and Leicester and a 1-1 draw at Hull.
It was an unexpected defeat, therefore to managerless Plymouth at the weekend, a first loss in 7 games. And Sheffield United boss Bryan Robson blamed his side's poor start for failing to take anything of note from the game.
"There are no excuses," he said. "It was the way we started. You can't start at half pace and think you can take it up. There was no urgency or desire from us for the first 25 minutes. It is the most disappointing performance since I've been here."
So some encouragement there then if a team with 4 straight wins and no goals conceded needs such things.
The Addicks
As we said before the Cardiff game, we needed to win 4 of the 6 games before travelling to West Brom in Game 22 to get back on target for 26 wins this season. We've won 2 already and after a summer of changes, Pards will be very pleased that he has hit upon a settled team and with no injuries to trouble him that he can name the same 11 for another game. The building of a perfect team is a slow and never-ending project but the pieces are beginning to take shape.
The move away from 4-4-2 after the QPR game has worked wonders, and it could prove that the three defeats in a row was a blessing in disguise. A 4-5-1 has given a chance to Thomas to shine and he appears to have taken it and the formation also allows ZiZi to get forward and he's now scored in the last two games.
But perhaps its the defence that has improved most of all with the arrival of Sammy Sodje. After a month on the sidelines, he finally forced his way into the first eleven for the game against QPR and he has remained there for the last 5 games, 4 of which we have kept a clean sheet and we are now the 2nd best defence in the Fizzies after, surprisingly, Leicester.
And there seems no clearer pointer to tonight's result than the fact the Nicky Weaver, rightly proud of his 7 clean sheets - all of which have been games that we have won - , has only conceded twice in his last 5 games against Sheff. U....
Haven't got a clue, but after getting Saturdays result right newyorkaddick sees another win, 3-0 this time. Shame on me for thinking 1-1 again. And after forecasting spot-on with a 2-0 win over Preston, our frankie has a worrying 2-2 in mind. Perhaps I'll ask the wife, she'll know.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fizzy No. 17 - Preston (a)

The last time we went to Preston was 28 years ago in 1979 with a 1-1 draw the result. And you'll have to go back a further 15 games to the dark and distant days of October 1954, when it appeared that the games were played in water if you take any notice of the famous Tom Finney statue, before you'll find an Addicks victory by 2-1. That's 53 long and painful years ago....
Whether their new manager of one week, Alan Irvine, will have had time, or the inclination, to worry about the past is debatable and the team that he plays will also not be known until the day. He's reported as knowing all about the Addicks from last seasons games against Everton, which is fine by us but clearly wouldn't impress his players come kick-off .

What Form They Got?
Thirteen points won at home, only 1 less than the Addicks, have come from wins over Plymouth(!), Southampton, and Sheff. Wed and draws with Leicester, QPR, Bristol City and Norwich. Their only home defeat was a 0-3 reverse at the hands of a Kevin Lisbie-lead Colchester in August, three months ago...
As for their current form, home and away, its 6 points out of the last 18 with only 1 win in the last 7 games. But that win was over Plymouth, just 4 days after Plymouth had beaten the Addicks at the Valley....

Who's Pards Got to Fear?
French central defender Youl Mawene and yet another of our ex's, Kevin Nicholls, seem to be the stars with injury-prone Nicholls the captain of the side. Nicholls played 12 times for the Addicks during the mid-nineties before being sold to Wigan in 1999. Nicholls has become famous for his collecting of cards throughout his career at Leeds and Luton and perhaps its been his influence that has lead to Preston having accumulated the third most yellows in the League behind Stoke and Coventry. Heading the card collecting has been ex-Blackburn and Leicester Callum Davidson with a total of 7 yellows from his 14 games.
Ex-West Brom winger Darren Carter and the ex-Gills striker Ghanaian Patrick Agyemang are the top goalscorers with a meagre 3 goals each.

The Addicks.
After three wins in a week and three clean sheets to boot, the cursed International Break could not have come at a worst time for the Addicks. The head of steam generated by those victories could well have gone off the boil by now especially with the captain away in the Emerald Isle.
But what will Pards do with his skipper this time round? It was clearly a mistake to play him against Wolves after his last International run-abouts, but will he choose to include him against the rough-necks of Preston? It's true that this time he's had a far easier International Break with only one game last weekend against Wales but his performance that day was not very inspiring and it could be that the boy needs a little rest, especially with the demands of the forthcoming run of 5 fizzy games in 14 days.
Having said that, and even with a ready and waiting substitute in Matt Holland now fit to return, I can't see Pardew doing anything else but retaining his Best Eleven as follows:
Weaver; Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo.
Holland should at least make the bench with Varney, Bougherra and Ambrose and Randolph if he's recovered.

Their Home Form this season, new manageritis, our record at Deepdale, the game being on TV, our own form after an International Break......everything, except our recent good away form, would seem to be against us for tomorrow. Even Killer has gone for a 1-1 result and a draw would seem to be the popular bet but are we up for another battle? Other high yellow card earners Stoke and Coventry both gave us a hard time and with so many pointers against us, it would not surprise me to see us suffer again.
Of course, those games happened before Sammy Sodje's arrival and we can only hope that he will inject some fighting spirit into the team.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another QPR for the Addicks??

With only 1 home defeat this season and that back in August you might be surprised to learn that Preston have just dumped their manager and succeeded in finding a new one in double quick time. With a home record of 3 wins, 4 draws and only that 1 defeat, similar in fact to that of 12th placed Sheff. Utd, you would expect to find them in mid-table but an appalling sequence away from home of 6 defeats in 8 games means that they are down in 21st place in the table. Unfortunately we're not playing them at the Valley and, as Wenger said of playing Charlton back in August 1998, its probably not a good time to play them, especially at Deepdale.
One of the founding members of the Football League, and its first Champions back in 1888 and 1889, Preston are clearly desperate to get back where they believe they belong and after achieving the Play-Offs in 2005 and again in 2006, the disappointment of finishing 7th last year has obviously proved to be too much to cope with. Stuck in 21st spot, 10 points off 6th place, something had to be done.
Out went manager Paul Simpson on 13 November after only 17 months in charge and just one week later Alan Irvine is the new boy. And new he definitely is as this is his first managership job after 5 years learning how to do it as David Moyes' assistant coach at Everton.
So what's going to happen on Saturday? The first forecast on the result has been posted by drinkingduringthegame as a 1-1 draw and at first glance seems to be perhaps an optimistic approach. Usually with a new boss everyone trys that much harder to impress, so we can expect a high work rate from Preston and probably playing with some confidence from a home record that only has that one defeat.
However, the new man in charge is used to Premiership football and will have hopefully little knowledge of the visitors, and experience of life down in the fizzies is always looked upon by Pardew as vital to success. Pards will be hopeful that he's not a quick learner.
Another pointer to a difficult game is the Head-to-Head History. If you looked at our 16 games so far this season, 8 of them have gone to the team with the best record and this weekend we travel to a stadium where we have a scant 4 wins, 6 draws and a huge total of 20 defeats.
But, of course, the history can only be a pointer, and according to Henry Ford, history is more or less bunk anyway as we saw at Southampton recently where our record, before the win, was almost exactly the same as at Preston with only 4 wins, 6 draws and 18 defeats. That didn't stop us winning and Pards must push us on this weekend.
Remember that to achieve our target of 26 wins we need to keep on winning and we can't allow a revitalised Preston to beat us. Easy to say perhaps but with key players Reid and Iwelumo back from exhausting International duty the odds look stacked against a win.
The International Breaks this season have not proved good for the Addicks with a 2-2 draw at Colchester, although after being 2 goals down, and then the 0-2 defeat at Wolves mean we are winless in the first game after our 2 weeks off and that combined with our dreaded TV form doesn't bode well.
So a 1-1 draw does look an inviting conclusion to make given the circumstances and would at least avoid a repetition of the embarrassing QPR result. Expect more forecasts like it as the fans look to avoid defeat although we can surely rely on Pardew to be planning nothing less than a win.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Looking Ahead..

Don't know about you but I find these International Breaks just about the most annoying thing on the planet since that new bylaw in Madrid about the neccesity of picking-up dogshit (good job they supply handy little bags or nobody would bother.)
Nothing to do for 2 weeks except stare at The Table twiddling your whatsit and then a sudden burst of 3 games in 8 days, what a nonsense. And, of course, this time round it's even worst with another midweek game the following week. So starting this Saturday, 5 games in 2 weeks after none at all in the last two. Pards must be pulling his hair out.
And with the half-way point of 23 games almost upon us, it's another milestone that Pards will be looking at to judge our progress. Twenty-Six wins is the goal and if we want to be consistent that means that at the half-way point we'll need 13 victories. Ops, that's another 5 wins in the next 7 games.
A rather tall order but as you can see, despite our recent good run, it's because we've fallen a bit behind. After 16 games we're got 8 wins, 4 draws and 4 defeats and 28 points. A nice even distribution, and after our tremendous recovery over the three games we're back to 1.75 points per game, which is good but not good enough. The ideal would be 2 points per game and even to reach the target of 26 wins this season we need to get a more on.
As we've said the next 5 are all in a bunch so who are they? Next up are Preston away on Saturday, then Sheff. Uooo at the Valley on the Tuesday and then another home game against Burnley the next Saturday. And then the following Tuesday there's Cardiff away and then Ipswich at home at the weekend.
Putting it simply, 'cause West Brom are waiting for us in Game 22, of that 5 game bunch we need to win 4. Lets pick the easy ones. Both Sheff U and Ipswich have lost 4 games away from home with Ipswich conceding a huge 18 goals and Cardiff have lost 4 at home and won just once. These three games Pards, are a must for the three points.
The other two are a bit difficult to judge. Preston away, with our TV form to contend with, looks a bit stiff as, despite their lowly league position in 21st spot, they have only lost once at home, a 3-0 defeat back in August to Colchester with our favorite ex, Kevin, the first to open the scoring. But its all been relatively easy opposition and while only conceding once in their last three home games, and avoiding defeat each time, their only result of note was a 0-0 draw with Bristol City. But they don't let in many and after 8 home games they've only conceded 5 times and only Ipswich and West Brom have conceded fewer goals at home this season.
Burnley, in comparison, are better at the other end and although in midtable have lost only twice away from home, the last time being 5 weeks ago and they also belong to that rare group of six teams that have scored more goals away than they have conceded.
Both teams are also currently managerless after recently sacking the gaffer and its possible that by the time we play them they'll both have the added advantage of a new manager and players subsequently trying harder.
So a couple of difficult games there then but it all means that by the time we travel to West Brom on December 15th, we need to have a total of 12 wins under our belt. Or it'll be time to reach for one of those little black bags....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Keep Us Smiling, Andy......

The annoying nothingness of International Break Time is upon us again and while last year we could try and get excited by reading about our players lighting up the five continents, at the moment we are reduced to praying for the welfare of our wee Irish Jewel.
And once again our favorite Number 7 was on show yesterday at Cardiff getting his 25th cap by playing in the 2-2 draw with Wales. If you didn't see the game, there's no point reading the papers 'cause the little irish fella was strangely subdued and fails to get a mention anywhere, except in the Sporting Life "Andy Reid curled a clever free-kick just wide". The Times gave him a score of 5 but then again there's always the good news that he didn't get injured.
His left-foot skills and vision were still obvious for all to see but he wasn't the central fulcrum of every Irish move as in previous games and there was obviously something amiss. Slidding blocks and arm-waving protests indicated his committment to the Irish cause but he was clearly upset with something and you only had to see his face when he was withdrawn on 87 minutes to see that he was not entirely a happy bunny.
Perhaps its the disappointment of not qualifying or is there more to it than that? You only have to recall his feelings a few days ago regarding the axe of Steve Staunton to understand what was going on in his head. Dropped by Staunton for the vital game away to Slovakia in September, which the Irish unluckily drew, the whole of Ireland seemed to be crying out for his inclusion after the game and when Staunton recalled him for the game against the Czech Republic 4 days later he seemed to have won over the manager and played in all of the remaining Irish qualifying games.
Now there's only the caretaker Don Givens to please, although he did give us a few views in that respect last week, and a meaningless game against the Welsh. And he's had more to say on Friday in the telegraph amidst rumours that Paul Jewell, ex of Wigan, is to get the managers job. "It is important and it means so much to us every time we pull on the green shirt; it is massively important, but we do need to enjoy it a little bit more."
There was not a lot of smiles yesterday but the most telling moment of the whole game was the sight of the entire Irish section of the crowd giving him a cheering send-off when he was subbed, with everyone on their feet. Seems we're not the only ones to appreciate his subtle skills.
And we can only hope that after losing Staunton as national manager he's not keen on changing a club manager as well. Because it's his appreciation of Pardew's management skills that will hopefully keep him with us over the sticky January window.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Charlton 3 Cardiff City 0

Well, that's more like it. Not the goal-fest wanted, but at last we proved we can score more than twice in a "proper" game and this was our biggest win since the 4-0 against the Hamsters back in February and it pushed us back up to 2nd place.

As for the papers, there's a surprisingly early report from the independent as they're usually still in bed at this time in the morning. But it does give us a bit of realism perhaps after three straight wins. Talk of a comfortable victory by the Addicks are offset by "Cardiff....might consider themselves unfortunate, being denied what looked a clear penalty at the end of the first half, when the contest was still goalless," While the final result "ultimately reflected the gap between the sides, in confidence if not ability although they benefited enormously from having the passing skills of Andy Reid at their disposal."
And despite all the happy smiling faces when we look at The Table this morning, there's more of the same from a very strange report in the posh_m. Adjectives like "fortuitous" and "lucky" are used alongside phases like "landed awkwardly" and "hoofed the ball....without any purpose".
It was "a clear but fortuitous victory for Charlton". The game turned, apparently, "the home side’s way in the seven minutes before half-time."
"Steve Thompson....managed to turn Jonathan Fortune inside the box and was then hauled down. The referee told Jones afterwards he felt Fortune got a touch on the ball, but all the Cardiff manager and virtually everybody else saw was a penalty."
Somebody else, then, obviously dished out the player markings, as the Addicks are littered with 7's and an 8, while hapless Cardiff despite being at 6's and 7's can only rate a mixture of 5's and 6's. Another example perhaps, of people who see us as a "privileged" team with our "unfair" parachute money up against the poverty of 'on-the-ropes', Dave Jones' Cardiff. MOM by the way, and not the only person to spot it, Jerome Thomas...
There's another report over the sportinglife where despite numerous mentions of the hard-work of Steven Thompson, fails to notice the penalty incident that "changed the game".
Then again, its always a refreshing idea to see how the visitors saw the game and over at cardiffcityfc you can do just that. And there's only the slightest mention of the penalty incident.
But just to leave you in the right mood, over at the observercumguardian there's a neat little fizzy round-up where we only get a one-liner but further down there's the news that our next opponents, Preston, continue to suffer and were another team in a losing 3-0 scoreline.
The Addicks: Weaver, Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey; Sam (Ambrose 77), Zhi (McLeod 84), Semedo, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo (Varney 84).
Subs Not Used: Randolph, Bougherra.
Booked: Sam.
Goals: Sodje 45, Iwelumo 45, Zhi 80.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cardiff Preview

There's a bit of a chance that the return of yet another ex, JFH, will not be received too well by many Addicks this afternoon, on account of bags of money being grabbed for too little effort. Well, as we learnt last season JimmyF just doesn't do effort but one thing he does specialise in is getting annoying goals against his former clubs. And to prove the point, the only Premier goals he scored last season were against the only two other clubs in the Premiership that he's played for, Chelsea and Middlesbrough.
The question is, does he do it on purpose? Does he instinctively raise his game just to prove a point? The answer appears to be yes and although Pards has said that "He was a good player for me, he always put in an honest day's work and never caused me a problem", today he possibly will, because ominously JFH has said on the Cardiff site that he's not really worried about coming back to the Valley but has worryingly pointed out that, after three games without scoring, his wife is getting a bit upset with his bad moods and he only wants to keep her happy.......

Is There Anything Else To Worry About?
As for Cardiff, and not wishing to worry you unduly, but there's only 4 teams that have suffered a single defeat away from home this season in the fizzies and oddly enough Leicester and Cardiff are two of them. Cardiff's only away defeat was a 1-0 at Southampton last time out, while on a trip to Anfield in the 4th Round of the League Cup, they had a narrow 2-1 defeat...and this was after beating West Brom at the Hawthorns 4-2 in the previous round.
But while they appear to have raised their game in the League Cup with 3 victories their Fizzy Form has not been so good, with only 3 wins all season in those boring fizzy games. Wins at QPR and Norwich early in the season and subsequent draws at Plymouth, Barnsley and Sheff. U. have given them a reasonable away record but unlike all of our previous recent opponents that have been on a bit of a run, Cardiff have now gone 4 games without a win and have only won once, a 2-1 home win over Burnley, in the last ten Fizzy games.
As for the suggested battle, that may involve only the fans because as a team they've received only 12 yellows - we have 27 (!) - in their 14 games which is only bettered (sic) by West Brom on 11.

Who They Got Then?
Two big name forwards with a combined age of 67, as pointed out by the offfcial cafc guide, and a goalkeeper with a famous father but not a lot in between. Robbie Fowler and Hasselbaink lead the line on Tuesday in the 1-1 draw at home to Palarse and so we should expect more of the same. Cardiff have also recently signed Peter Schmeichel's son Jasper from Man. City on a months loan. On the goalscoring front, Fowler has 6 goals with JFH on 4 and Paul Parry have 3.

They may have 34 year old Trevor Sinclair in midfield although he suffered a jarred knee on Tuesday and another of Andy Reid's mates, Irishman Stephen McPhail who were together at Notts Forest 4 long years ago down there in Tier Three.

Is There Any History?
29 League games at the Valley and Cardiff have the stupefying record of 4 victories and 9 draws and 16 defeats. But they did win the last one back in March '85 by no less than 4-1. It was our worst home defeat of the season and at the end of it Cardiff were relegated.

And as Lindsay McCombie has pointed out "If history is anything to go by, there could well be plenty of goals flying in on Saturday. Either side has scored five goals (six on one occasion) in seven previous clashes between the teams."

The Addicks
A home game would usually mean a 4-4-2 for Pards but he's already been quoted singing the praises of the recently adopted five man midfield. "It gives you a strong base to attack from. I know the system has some flaws, but if you look to the positives of that system, then it can create more chances for you and that's what we've done."

But probably the key phase he has used has been "In the last two games we've created more chances that we have in the previous four." So expect a similar formation today then but with the return of Jose Semedo to midfield in place of Therry Racon. Twenty-Two year old Semedo, although called the "brainless one" by the Guardian last week thanks to his sending-off and his place of birth being the same town as Jose Mourinho, there can be no doubt that, bought on a free transfer from Sporting Lisbon, he's been a quiet relevation this season and one of Pardew's success stories.

Team: Weaver; Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo.

Prediction 6-0....
With our performances this week and the anticipated determination that there's going to be to put the QPR result behind us there can be only one result today. And bearing in mind Cardiff's recent form with 1 win in 10 and the history of this game, there's going to be goals. Gearing up to improve our goal difference and with an offensive 4-5-1 formation there's no doubt in my mind that someone is due for a hammering and who better suited than Jimmy and Co. Maybe we wouldn't see the 8 goals predicted on Thursday but its a 6-0 for me.....

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We Want a Hatful.......

Just like the Arse of old, another 1-0 win away from home and three more points in the bag but oddly enough nobodys' calling us boring yet. With a 5 man midfield with two wide men and Sammy Sodje getting settled into defence, one goal is all it takes just now the take away the points.
But after reading Tuesday's report a dozen times, savouring the tasty bits, I turned to the back page and it seems there were other games that night. And after enviously reading the reports on Liverpools 8 goals and then watching the dog enjoying no less than 6 dumps in the park this morning, I got to thinking. One goal scored with a return of three points is all very well and don't think I being picky and unapprecative but just exactly when are the Addicks, with all the chances apparently being created, going to do the same and dump on someone.
Check the figures, after a bad run I know, but its only 4 goals in the last 6 games. In the last 9 games a meagre return of 8 goals. From a team that early in the season we were proud to say scored in every game, it's becoming painfully obvious that, while we have definitely strengthened the back line and no-one worries these days about the midfield, up front we are still struggling to convert our chances.
Meanwhile the Fizzies 2 front runners, Watford and West Brom are putting the skates on and are currently enjoying goal differences of 11 and 15 respectively. The Addicks can boast just 4 and that low return could work against us as the end of the season if we end-up level on points with anyone.
And while we have accumulated the points alright in scoring 19 times, there's no less than 10 teams in the fizzies that have outscored us, including such low-fliers as Colchester with Kevin up front.
Remember the 4-0 thrashing of the Hamsters back in distant days of freezing February? Only once since then in 25 games have we scored more than twice in a game and surprisingly enough that was when we were 2 goals down to Sheff. Wed in August. Well, needs must, Pards. Its no good basking in the sun and taking a breather after two amazing results at Southampton and Bristol. No, we want more.
And it's the visit on Saturday of Cardiff City and one of our unfortunate ex's, codenamed JFH, that we demand it. Let's have no more talk of wasting our energy booing the useless bugger. No, we want results and as he lopps off the pitch at the end of it all, we want to say "hey Jim, look how we've moved on after you", by blasting no less than 8 goals past his hapless goalkeeper.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fizzy 15 - Bristol City(a)

So it's Bristol City away and if you expected a different pictorical viewpoint, sorry about that, but I'm a bum man and as it happens it's more appropriate as you'll see later. So, anyway, as befits a team second in the Table, the current form of our opponents today is really very good with 4 wins, a draw and a defeat in the last six. And it's currently 5 games without loss as their last defeat was that 3-0 howler at Barnsley, back on October 2nd. And that defeat has been their only defeat, so far, which means, of course, that they are currently unbeaten at home.

Who Are These People?
Well, 2nd in the League with 27 points, 5 more than the Addicks, and with a home record of 4 wins and 3 draws and zero defeats. Last season they finished second behind Scunthorpe in Tier Three and they've continued their good run into the Fizzies.
But how you ask? What's a Tier Three team doing in second spot. Their secret is familiarity, but without the contempt, and a high work-rate. Like Watford's settled team continuing from last season, Bristol have a similar plan and there's five players that have started all 14 games and another five in double figures. In comparison the Addicks only have two ever-presents, Weaver and Semedo and that's due to change tonight as well.
Their manager is Londoner Gary Johnson and is another one famous for post match comments and one of his latest could be interesting if you go shopping before the game. He apparently said recently "If Fonts ever scores I'll bare my backside in Burtons window" referring to Bristol City defender Liam Fontaine. Sorry Gary, he scored at the weekend. Thankfully, we'll miss this frightening sight as he's consulting his lawyers over the small print and saving himself for Christmas.
And there's more bad news on the horizon for Gary as you can see from their home results. They've beaten Stoke, Southampton, Sheff U and Scunthorpe and drawn with Burnley, WBA and QPR, which for some strange psychological reason means that they fail to beat anyone that doesn't start with an 'S'. Sorry, Gary we're a Big 'C' club.
But having said that, they have a good record against other teams in the top half, with 4 wins and only one defeat - Barnsley - in the 7 games. And of the seven goals they scored in the winning games against the 'S's at home, 6 were scored in the first half. Overall they've scored first in 8 games and - unlike the Addicks who have given away points after scoring first - they have gone on to win 7 of them. So the best plan would be to frustrate them till half-time and then sneak a late goal for the win. We've done it once, why not again?

So What's the History Then?

Well, as you ask, its very good as a matter of fact. We'd had 25 League visits to Bristol and we've won no less than 9 of them. And drawn another 5 which means we've only lost there 11 times. And overall, including Cup games, we're won a massive 28 times with only 15 defeats. In fact, there's only a hand-full of clubs that we've beaten more times than Bristol City.

Any Useful Foreign Johnnies?

Its another port town but unlike the French multitude from Plymouth there's only one foreigner to worry about and everyone should. His name's Adriano "always believe" Basso, a Brazilian goalkeeper and before every game he points to the sky and says... yes, that's right, always believe...

Leading Goalscorer is the Birmingham-born super-sub, ex-Millwall and Gills Jamaican international Darren Byfield, with 5 goals from only 5 starts. We've had trouble with Jamaican strikers before this season with Ricardo Fuller scoring against us for Stoke so watch this one, Pards. Byfield arrived in the summer along with the expensive left-winger, the Scot Michael 'the steam engine' McIndoe. Chris Iwelumo will know him well as they both claim they are good enough for the national side.
Another regular goalscorer is the midfield Scot, Scott Murray and new boy Lee Trundle on 3 each. Trundle, bought for 1M during the summer is perhaps better known for his celebrity girlfriend, whose name I've forgotten, and off-field antics but more to the point he scored 78 times while at Swansea in only 146 games. He's number 23, Pards. And lastly there's news of Captain Courageous, Louis Carey, who'll be playing despite broking his nose for the third time last week.

Pardew's Plan or Is Racon Ready?
The big question today is who to play in place of the suspended Semedo? After the recent third defeat in a row, Pards was determined to get something from St. Marys so played a 4-5-1 with only one striker, Iwelumo. After that win, he would be due to return to his favorite 4-4-2 but the suspension of the over-present Portuguese and the need to try to get something from Ashton Gate may mean another single striker.

That's what I expect, especially bearing in mind Bristol's storming starts, and perhaps we can hope that Matty Holland is fit to play. Otherwise, there's only one other possibility and that's Darren Ambrose but he's not what you might call a defensive player so it's Therry Racon for me.

So the team: Weaver; Mills, Sonje, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Racon, ZiZi, Reid, Thomas; Iwelumo.

Prediction... 1-1
Can't see us keeping our luck and having another clean sheet and although another win would be a fantastic result it's maybe a bridge, or a gate to far, with Semedo missing. Then again I don't think we'll get beat. So a draw looks the most likely bet.

Monday, November 05, 2007

All Addicks Day

Before we start, and to put everyone in the right mood, there's a cracking report in the guardian this morning. For some reason we've never been their favorite team but Jeremy Alexander tries to put the past behind him with a report full of praise. Pards half-time speech is revealed - "go on and hurt them" - and there's a nice little table of stats that confirms that we did just that with a staggering seven yellows instead of the six that most papers gave us.
And because of the card-happy Mr Hill we're jumped to 3rd in the naughty boys table with another red that will unfortunately mean a bit of a resuffle for Pards tomorrow night.
Yes, that's right. In this crazy League there's just too many teams and too many internationals - there's no international breaks for Tier Two in Spain for example - so we have another three games in 8 days before 14 days with none in another 2 week break. And we don't need to remind anyone that tomorrow its another tough away game.
But Pards won't be caring who it is, to him its just another 3 pointer and he'll be well aware of the need to win. Because, although he'll be more than pleased to have put a three game, pointless run, behind him, those defeats to Wolves, Plymouth and QPR have seriously damaged the possibility of our finishing in the top two.
Back in August Pardew outlined his aims - 26 wins - for the season. No mean feat but he's already worked out that although a total of say 75 points should be enough to reach the Play-offs, we'll need well over 80 to grab a top two spot.
Last season there were three teams well out in front and Sunderland finished with 88 points, Birmingham - with 26 wins - on 86 points and Derby on 84. That's an average for Sunderland of 1.9 points per game.
After our 1-1 draw with Barnsley, we were annoyed by the last minute equaliser but we were sitting pretty in 2nd spot and had 19 points from 10 games which gave us exactly the magic figure, 1.9 per game. But now its all changed and after another 4 games and just 3 points we're dropped not only to 5th but our points average is now a dismal 1.57 per game. If we continue at this rate till seasons end we'd end up with 72 points. Last season that would get you 9th position and thats no good to anyone.
Now these may appear to be only dull figures hammered out on a calculator but they reveal the very reason that Pardew took off the defensive Semedo at half-time against QPR, while drawing 0-0, and put on the attacking Jerry Thomas. He may admit now that it was a rash mistake but he knew that a draw was no good, he needed the 3 points and the same was true against Southampton.
How ironical that this time the same formation change was forced upon him by Semedo's red card but the truth is he persisted for 40 minutes with the same logic - an attack minded team with two wide men, Thomas and Sam. Another rash decision against a team that has scored in its last 31 games? You can argue so but fortune favours the brave and perhaps that's just what you need to get out of this poxy League.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Southampton 0 Charlton 1

Massive. That's how Pardew described it and marks of 10 out of 10 must go to the whole team, as well as Pards, to produce such a performance after such a barren spell. Not the 2-1, without Euell, predicted but a warming return to winning ways at a venue that has never been a welcome sight to the Addicks.
The best report is over at the posh_murdoch. Saints best player was their goalie and MOM went, of course, to Andy Reid. A comedy referee in Keith Hill "handing out cards and fouls for fun" but after the sending-off "Ten-man Charlton wasted time but were still the more dangerous and ambitious team. The Saints were second to every ball and looked flat and disjointed" and a revealing quote from Southampton manager George Burley who "lamented lost chances: “They flooded the midfield and we never got in the game."
Sadly, the man from the telegraph was obviously not at the game as he reports on a pressurized Charlton and a stolen three points.
From the sportinglife it's a "clumsy challenge" that gets Semedo sent off and then elaborates with "Charlton made light of the disadvantage with a spirited performance and just about deserved their victory" and Burley sums it up with "We were over elaborate at times and it did not help when Charlton were reduced to ten men. We had to work even harder and our quality was poor. I'm blaming no one for the goal. Credit to their substitute Varney. It was a great ball of his into the box and there was not much we could do about it."
But perhaps the scale of the performance is higher than we imagined because over on the saints website you can read that we've just terminated a Southampton scoring run that has lasted no less than 31 consecutive games. It seems that they've scored in every game since February 3rd, when they lost to Derby by the same score. And to end their long run, the goal that beat them is praised to the heavens, and is therefore is a joy to read, "And they duly snatched it in the last of three minutes of added time when Luke Varney got in behind sub debutant Andrew Davies. He might have expected to head for the corner flag to protect a precious point. Instead he whipped over a wicked centre and Iwelumo launched himself at the far post to head in from close range."
Strangely, there's no mention anywhere of Pardew's bravery in staying with two wide men when the defensive midfielder, Semedo, was sent off. Perhaps we can be thankful that Racon was not on the bench - although the experience would be useful before Tuesday night - but to retain an attacking formation for a further 40 minutes surely says much for the gaffers style of play, even after three defeats.
And true to form, you've only got to quote Pardew - who admitted that "of all the matches in my managerial career this win has got to be in my top five" - to understand exactly the feelings flowing through all the Addicks veins at the moment, "This was a massive win for us after the three defeats. To go down to 10 men and then go and score the winner in front of your own fans in the last minute does not come any better than that."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fizzy No. 14 - Saints(a)

For a thorough analysis of todays game you can do no better than read the official review by Lindsay McCombie over on CAFC. We're reminded that we haven't won in Southampton since Garth Crooks' single goal in 1988 and in fact have never won at the St. Marys ground being their very first victims in November 2001.
All-out attack seems to be Burleys plan and while conceding an "awful" lot its meant that Southampton have the proud record, until today perhaps, of having scored in every game they've played this season, all 14 of them. In comparison, the Addicks have failed to score in the last 3, only managing an own goal over the last three games. And there's also the news that we haven't kept a clean sheet since September 22nd against Leicester City, 6 games ago.
And just to rub it in, on current form, the Saints are the 3rd best team in the fizzies with 12 points from the last 18 available while the Addicks are 4th from bottom with just 5 points over the last 6 games played.
So a bit of a Home Banker then and it makes you wonder if there's any point at all turning up.

Have We Got Any Chance At All?

But, home banker or not, the bookies are hedging their bets and apparently still see some life in the old dog and somehow favour a 1-1 draw, as does killer and so incidentally does newyorkaddick. And there's more optimism from Wyn Grant, another forecaster who sees ZiZi scoring - and Basey as well - in a 2-2 scoreline. Most optimistic of all has to be drinkingduringthegame a 3-2 away win man, who as Therry Racon's sponsor is surely hoping that Pards will put his boy in for his first start.

But there's always someone to offset the dreams and this week its Pedro45, applying the sword with a 0-2 defeat and he helpfully points out that we face another toughie on Tuesday with Bristol City away, before inviting another ex back to Valley when Cardiff come to town a week today, damn.

And speaking of ex's its possible that a potential nemesis will not play as Jason Euell is reported suffering from a calf injury that he received last timeout.

While there's also some upsetting news, especially if you're a Saints player, that players may have to be sold in the January window to make sure that everyone gets paid for the rest of the season!

Who's talking?

Well, Sammy Sodje and Bradley Wright-Phillips for two. Sodje tells us yesterday that "Every club is going to have a blip, hopefully that was ours and we can move past it now. We're still relaxed and that's how good the manager is. He's not letting us panic or think that we're bad players, because you don't turn into bad players overnight."

While over at St. Marys, Bradley is obviously unaware, at the moment anyway, that he'll be the first to be sold come the window, lays it on a bit thick with "Charlton are a big side, a big club and this will be a big game for us," but "I think we are a top-six side, that's got to be the aim."

And from Jason Euell himself, "I took a knock on Tuesday and after the game it went rock hard but its getting better. We'll see tomorrow how it is. The fact that its my old club does not really make a difference, its just a case of trying to get another three points. They will be vying for promotion and if we can beat them it will make them stutter and a win will take us above them. The defence is not as tight as we would like but as long as we score more than we concede we'll be OK."

OK, Prediction..ish

Quite obviously, whatever the bookies say, its got a 2-1 written all over it. But which way, that's the question. Trouble is with our strikers form at the moment I can't see us scoring two goals but this is football we're talking about and almost 6 years ago, if you remember, we scored 4 times at the Arse after only one goal ( by Jason Euell) in our last 4 games.... A remarkable victory at a ground where we hadn't won for 46 years. Can we repeat it today at a ground where we've never won?

So, as Euell is clearly the key to a repeat of that success in 2001, it has to be 2-1 defeat if he plays or a 2-1 win to the Addicks if he doesn't.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The 'A' Team..........

As Pards looks to get blood out of a stone on Saturday, it can be revealed exclusively that a new Formation is planned next time out. When asked if he was thinking of making changes at the weekend, he replied "Considering changing the personnel and the tactics ? Maybe both," Pardew revealed. "A lot depends on who I get back from injury this week, which will be important."
Dropping the entire team and playing the Reserves was an initial idea that was given a try out on Tuesday against QPR Reserves. Everything seemed to work well and even Pards was there to oversee the experiment but the idea seemed a bit like cutting off ones nose to spite the face or maybe throwing out the baby with the bathwater so it was decided against.
Instead a 'New Formation' is to be tried. Its numerically a 5-4-1 but as Pards wants a fresh start and is a George Peppard fan he's termed it the A-Team and as the name implies it starts with a large base and terminates in a single point. Its a plan to try to prevent the Saints from continuing their scoring spree and to avoid further embarrassment with 3 central defenders with two young fit and overlapping full-backs. One in the 'Hole' and four across the midfield.
But who will provide the starring roles in this New Look? Playing Hannibal Smith will be our own Irish Crown Jewels, the little irish fella pulling them strings in midfield. He'll be protected from all those nasty tackles from the Saints by our own Mr. T, making his fizzy debut, Therry Racon.
To emphasize the point about his disappointment re last week, Pards will drop Mills, Weaver, Fortune, Iwelumo and Varney and the resulting team will look like this:
Randolph in goal; Moutaouakil, Sodje, Bougherra, McCarthy and Basey; Sam, Semedo, Reid and Racon; and in the 'hole' its ZiZi.
Where's the striker, you may ask? Well, putting it simply, they isn't one and anyone that had the misfortune of watching either or even both of our last two fixtures will tend to agree with me that there just isn't one available at the moment.
There are places on the bench for a couple of nominal up-front players, ie Iwelumo and McLeod, but at least with Iwelumo sitting it out they'll be no launching it up-field in some vain hope of success. No, this week it's ball to feet time, except when in the 6 yard box.
The lack of a striker to mark will force the 4 man Saints defence into a quandary and force them to either leave the field in a huff or go in search of someone to mark thus crowding the midfield with bodies and leaving an empty Saints half behind them, ideal for a chip over the top for our speedy Sam and ZiZi to exploit.
Anybody got a better idea? Thoughts, in writing please, to Alan Pardew, The Valley.