Thursday, September 04, 2008

Zheng and Other Business

After months of ifs, buts and maybes the transfer window has slammed shut and the player that was most likely to leave and join the riches of the Premier League is still here - Zheng Zhi. While being arguably our best player, he gets rough treatment from the fans, only some of which is deserved. Why he didn't leave remains a mystery, but he has stayed put and could play a significant part in the season if he is up for it. I would be delighted if, as the South London Press states, he may sign a new contract but that seems a little premature.

The criticism last season with a midfield that contained Zheng and Matty was that it was too lightweight and when Charlton played the physical sides, they were bullied out of a result. That problem may be eradicated if Zheng were to play with Bailey - a duo that I am quite looking forward to seeing in action - who gives us a bit of steel.

Will Zheng play against Wolves? He is fit, has had matches for China and would give us another genuine goal threat, so he should be in Pardew's thoughts. If we revert to a 4-4-2, which looks likely, it is probably between the Chinaman and Holland for the second central-midfield role alongside Bailey, with Racon injured and the talented Shelvey seemingly not quite ready to start. Even if he is only here until January, we are a better team with Zheng than without. Elsewhere Primus (I think) and Cranie have arrived and will add depth the the backline, though I do not believe that either will walk straight into the team.

We unfortunately could not follow up the superb performance against Reading with one up at Deepdale. Preston have come flying out of the traps so it wasn't too much of a surprise and I would be more disappointed if we played like that in a couple of months time when the side has bedded down. Wolves, likewise, have had a great start and while it seems inevitable that Iwelumo will score, we should feel confident especially after the way we dispatched Coppell's boys. If the away form picks up too, we may have half a chance of a good season. Fingers crossed.

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