Addicks Preview - Home, 19th January
We all love the Coca Cola Championship, largely for it`s unpredictable nature, a few sides break the 'small club mould` and punch above their weight and break into the top half, whilst others punch below and struggle. Who`d of predicted that Wolves, Leicester, Charlton and Sheffield United would have been so inconsistent?
It`s something of a mystery that Charlton are down in fifth with just 3 home victories this season when you look at their squad. Although lacking depth, the Addicks have plenty of quality, potential and a number of players still on the books from last season.
Throw in several astute Summer additions and you would think Charlton should be challenging the 'Orns and the Baggies for a promotion place, although Bristol are putting us all to shame at the moment.
Summer signings including Izale McLeod who is yet to hit off at the Valley as well as fellow strikers Luke Varney and Chris Iwelumno who have notched up 14 goals between them in limited starts. With Svetaslov Todrov also on the books and youngster Chris Dickson to boot, it`s plain and simple that Pardew has striking options aplenty.
In midfield, Charlton have several shrewd operators, most notably Zheng Zhi who impressed on loan last season and has been just as influential since signing permanently this term. 'The Chinese David Beckham` has a number of caps under his belt and at 28 is in the prime of his career. Twenty-four starts and seven goals tell of a man influential to the Addicks promotion push. An eye for a pass and a ninety-minute engine are just two of Zheng`s main qualities.
Next to Zheng in the midfield boiler room is another equally reliable character, Matt Holland. A full Ireland international with a World Cup campaign behind him and a number of seasons in the top-flight of English football, Holland is a pivotal figure. More of a holding player he may be, with less frills attached, the former Tractor Boy has racked up nearly 500 starts in England.
The midfield quality does not end there as Andy Reid [now club captain], Jerome Thomas and youngster Lloyd Sam, it really becomes a puzzle Charlton aren`t walking away with the division. That said, the quality in this league increases every season and W.B.A have even more skilled, experienced players in their ranks.
Kelly Youga is another youngster with a big future having returned from an impressive loan spell at Scunthorpe United. After that culture shock introduction to English Football, Youga has come back and played in Athletic`s last two cup matches, perhaps he will be a rival to Chris Powell and Ben Thatcher at left back in the second half of the season…
…A second half of the season which will yield more success? Who knows, but we all know that Charlton finish poorly, let`s hope that starts on Saturday for what should be a good game between two promotion candidates.
Calum Davenport has today joined Watford on-loan from West Ham with a view to a long-term deal whilst Collins John is likely to make the bench should the deal involving Marlon King go through in time.
Lee; Doyley, Davenport, DeMerit, Stewart; Smith, Francis, Williamson, McAnuff; Ellington and Henderson.
Weaver; Moutaouakil, Sodje, Bougherra, Youga; Ambrose, Holland, Zheng, Reid; Varney and Iwelumno.
Come on you 'Ornsss!