Thursday, 22 October 2009

Next... Gillingham away

It's a proper local derby for me. If you use Kings Hill is 30.4 miles to The Valley and only 16.2 miles to The Priestfield Stadium.

Add to that the fact that a former colleague is a Gills fan and will be going and it becomes much more serious. In fact, as we are technically friends (from today until Saturday morning and again from Sunday) I have decided to go and sit in the home end. My Dad is, naturally, coming along, and our former boss (who has decided to become an Addick for the day) is also going to be there. We haven't decided to 'Take their End' but we will, no doubt, be among friends if the rumours about the number of Charlton fans going is to be believed.

We sold out our allocation in two days - not a bad achievement for close to two and a half thousand tickets. I could probably have got tickets as we have already been to two away games this season, but it was decided that we would watch the game among 'friends' from Kent. Both my Dad and I live in Kent, but for those of you that think Kentish fans are just plain wrong, My Dad was born in Eltham.

So I already have enough reasons to want to win this game, before we look at this season and the current league table, but there is another reason to want to win. The FA Cup game in 2004 was a terrible embarrassment and one that I still carry the mental scars from to this day. It was supposed to be a formality, and the way that the home fans carried on, coupled with Tommy Johnson's 'Shhh' finger (photo above), made me keen to beat them out of sight at the next available opportunity. Bring on Saturday!

As for the current league position and our form, I find myself swayed towards the cup half full following our win over Huddersfield and Leeds poor performance against Norwich. Like I predicted at the start of the season Norwich seem to have found their feet now and I still believe that they could win this league. Even though they are nine points behind us I consider them a real threat to our chances of an automatic promotion place. With Leeds looking increasingly lucky in recent weeks I can see us catching them if their form doesn't improve and their luck runs out. I know it is the norm for Champions to win games they had no reason to, particularly if the winning goals come late, but it is also common place for sides like that fall away. Fingers crossed?

Despite MK Dons and Colchester being right behind us that is on the back of our worst run of form this season, during which we've won two, drawn three and only lost one. That six games has included three of the top six and two from the top half of the table. It also includes Leeds, Colchester and Norwich away. not bad eh? MK Dons at The Valley in a couple of weeks will be tough, but the rest of our games between now and 19th December when we entertain Millwall all look winnable. This should be viewed as a chance to build up another cushion like the one that we have just used to stay in the top two when playing three tough away games.

It would seem that some of the Gillingham fans are worried about the visit of the Mighty Charlton Athletic. I'm not sure they need to be if I'm honest. Sure I expect us to win, and I also expect it to be a lot more clear cut than last Saturday's win over Huddersfield, but I doubt it is going to be a 5-0 thrashing, even though I'd quite like it to be.

As for the side, I was surprised that we started with a 4-4-2 against Huddersfield, but assuming Semedo is going to play I am happy with either formation. The fact that we have demonstrated that we have a second option will keep Paul Stimson guessing and he will struggle to mark Shelvey out of the game if he starts on the bench again. I would probably play him and revert to a 4-4-1-1 with Burton upfront. I would look to being on McLeod in the second half to stretch the Gill's defence and take pressure of us if we are winning, or to chase a goal if we are not. Either way I'd not mess with the defence - assuming Richardson is passed fit. LLoyd Sam has been less than 100% fit in recent weeks so I might be tempted to start with Wagstaff and leave Sam on the bench to act as an impact player later on in the proceedings.

I note that Dave is going for a 1-1 draw. I sadly fear that could happen if we are not on top of our game. Recent weeks have demonstrated that we are not going to be able to walk through games but I think we have learned that now and should be up for this one. The atmosphere should be a little like Orient where I believe the fans really drove the players on. I can see the same thing happening on Saturday.

I would just love it if we beat them. Just love it!

Up the Addicks!

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