Friday, 18 January 2008

Next... Watford away

With two games a week, which seems to be the case in this division, the games come so thick and fast that it leaves little time to reflect on the last one before preparing for the next one. This is the case for tomorrow's visit to Vicarage Road. After two draws against West Brom (after 90 minutes) and a comfortable win at home to Blackpool in the last three we can go into the game against Watford with a lot of confidence.

I was feeling confident of a result on Wednesday, what has followed since then makes me feel even more so. The effect that Marlon King's departure will have on the Watford Squad remains to be seen, but he is clearly (based on what I've read from Watford fans) a big, big part of their team. The only comparisons I can draw on from my own personal experience are Scott Parker and Danny Murphy. I accept that Murphy was having a bad run of form when he left for Spurs, but irrespective his departure, just like that of Parker before him, saw us fall apart. I know that King is not as good a player as either of those two - my opinion only - but I would not be surprised now to see Watford struggle to make the Play-Offs. The psychological effects alone could reduce this game from a six pointer to just another must win three pointer. Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but I believe that this is really, really bad news for Watford. Oh well.

The news that we have agreed a fee for Andy Gray is an indication that we are moving in an upwards direction whilst our opponents tomorrow are not. Clearly I am ignoring the fact that Watford have now got £5m to spend on top of what was already available, but who cares? I truly believe that our spell in the Premiership marks us out as a much better prospect than Watford and they might just find it very difficult to find anyone (of any quality) who wants to go there. Thus they could well find themselves spending all of that money paying over the top ("they've got £5m burning a hole in their pocket") on average players. With Pardew at the helm, by the way, I think we have avoided this, save for a couple of players that haven't quite justified their transfer fee yet.

So with the transfer news covered what about the game itself. I have to confess to not being very knowledgeable on Watford. I clearly know a bit about Danny Shittu and Poom, but apart from Francis who we were apparently looking at when he left Norwich and Etherington there is not much there. They have managed to a "Charlton" in that they went up through the Play-Offs and used the Premiership money to build a decent Championship squad. Clearly they missed Ashley Young in the second half of last season, but the nucleus of their team is the same players that only managed to finish in third place in 2005/06, minus Young and King, their two best players.

Thus with confidence low, and with a relatively inexperienced manager that has seen his team lose what seemed an unassailable lead at the top of the division to slip out of the top two, this could be a great time to play them. I would be inclined, irrespective of the extra-time and penalties on Tuesday, to start with the same team and take the game to them with a high tempo and real pace for the first 20 minutes. I am confident that with their recent home form they will really drop their heads if we go in front. I think that the 4-5-1 that I keep hearing myself say has a place away from home would invite them to come at us and I believe that their confidence is going to be too fragile not to take advantage of it. Both teams need a win to both keep pace with those in the top two positions and keep some distance from the seventh placed team, who this week are Ipswich. Thus it should be an open and exciting game, just what we have been most successful in this season.

I'm not going to the game. I rarely go to away games these days. I don't have Sky, owing to a stubbornness following our relegation last season, and my normal providers of access to Sky are on holiday (Dad) and out to dinner (Spurs fan). The pub is also off limits as I'm officially off the Beer until February. It's a strange feeling knowing that the game is on tv and not being able to watch it. My Dad, who survives on text messages when he is away and I'm at The Valley, is in Teneriffe where he will be watching the game in a bar. So I will be getting my updates via text from an old (hope he's not reading this) man in a Bar in the canary Islands. I really must swallow my pride and re-order Sky!

I expect a big following tomorrow, and I believe that they will all have a great day out.

Up the Addicks!

No comments: