Monday, 11 February 2008

Next... Sheffield Wednesday away

I maybe in the minority, but I never tire of making jokes about playing the blue Sheffield team on a Wednesday. It's such a shame that we are not playing twenty four hours later as I would have loved that.

Hillsborough is a ground that I have been to more times than most Charlton fans. Whilst spending a year at Sheffield University I made several visits to both of the Premier League clubs grounds. I have never, however, been to Hillsborough on a Wednesday.

Sheffield Wednesday are having a bad season, and they have lost the three league games they have played since they won the Steel Derby. In fact their defeat at Bristol City dumped them into the bottom three. Exactly where any team would want to be when they have Charlton as their next fixture.

I am more than willing - desperate actually - to believe that our three defeats to teams in the bottom three are just a coincidence. I am, however, quite fearful that there's more to it than that. Aside from the worry that Pardew might have a problem getting his charges to approach the game with the right attitude, these struggling teams probably go into these fixtures with a bit of confidence, knowing that we don't always win them. In fact, of the nine games with the bottom six teams (as of 11 February) we have won just three, drawn four and lost two. That becomes a little worse when you consider that of the current bottom three that reads one win, two draws and two defeats in five. The good news is that the win was against Sheffield Wednesday, so that's all right then.

I suggested that we would beat Scunthorpe easily if not convincingly. I am tempted to say the same about Wednesday, on Tuesday, but I do have this fear that they will approach the game in the same way that Scunthorpe did and unless we score early we could be very disappointed after what was a fantastic performance on Friday night.

On the subject of Friday, I deliberately didn't provide a full match report as I thought there would be enough of them and I am clearly biased against Palace. However, if I was trying to be 'independent' I would have to conclude that we beat Stoke who are a very strong proposition in this division and have only lost to us in fifteen league games and Palace who were only as low in the table as they are because when they started their great run (that hurt by the way) they were way behind.

Thus the anecdotal evidence suggests that we have really sorted our act out. I still think that Lloyd Sam is looking off form, and I really don't believe that Ambrose's best position is out wide (either side), but appreciate that his creativity makes him a little bit rare in our current team. Halford had one of the best debuts I can remember, his throws are as enjoyable to watch as Rory Delap's were horrible to watch. I also loved that ridiculous turn in the Penalty area infront of the Jimmy Seed Stand. A goal was the only fair result but the turn would have led to calls of "That is just so unrealistic" if it had been performed on a Playstation.

My preference, fitness permitting, would be to have Thomas back in with Ambrose on the right and Gray and Varney upfront. However, I have not been to enough away games to be so sure that Sam doesn't add something away from The Valley that seems to be missing at home. At this point I'm not sure that the personnel really matters anyway, I think that it's the attitude that has to be right. I believe that one win against a bottom three club will exercise the demons, return the confidence to us, make the strugglers fear us again and put us right back on track for a top two finish.

I'm just not sure that we will get one. Come on Pards, prove me wrong!

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