Monday, September 29, 2008

Plucky Wednesday Provide Glum Saturday

For the second consecutive home game Charlton scored first but ended up losing. The result now leaves the Addicks in mid-table and perhaps perfectly sums up our start to the season; good in patches (with Reading a highlight) but average for the most part.

Saturday’s defeat grates because we didn’t deserve it, even though the defending for Wednesday’s goals was appalling. We created some decent opportunities and bar some resolute defending, the woodwork and Andy Gray smashing over when it seemed impossible to miss, we would surely have come away with three points.

The game at Selhurst Park now takes on massive importance as a defeat could leave us just above the relegation zone, while a win could put us back in the play-offs, albeit with a hell of a long way still to go. I just hope we do not leave empty handed as I won’t be able to stand the gloating of my fellow Croydonians.

Pards has indicated that changes are imminent with Zheng, Todorov and Ambrose pushing for starts, showing that despite an erratic opening eight games, we have the squad (at least on paper) to challenge every team in the league. Whether we will ever have the consistency is an entirely different matter.

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.