Thursday 15 October 2009

Huddersfield Town Preview

A week is a long time in football so they say, although this one seems to have whizzed by with another home match just around the corner. I had these two successive home games pencilled in for six points following a difficult run of games, but Oldham had other ideas last week. Will Huddersfield add further to the malaise?

Lee Clark has received a lot of plaudits for the way he has got his side playing, but their away form leaves a lot to be desired. One win in six games tells its own story. Their tails will up though, having beaten Exeter City 4-0 last weekend, with Jordan Rhodes claiming a hat-trick. Although with that said, Oldham were also on a decent run of form when they came to The Valley, yet they still defended within an inch of their lives for a point.

Evidence would seem to suggest that we are in a for a similar game against the team who changed places with the Latics in the league table last weekend. It was interesting to read in Nelson’s match preview that Huddersfield went to Colchester with five in defence in search of a point which they almost got. This hardly seems the ambitious approach of a team seeking promotion, but then again perhaps the percentages game Lee Clark is playing will ultimately play dividends.

So what to expect from Phil Parkinson? Following last weekend’s performance the temptation is there to make some fairly significant changes (something his predecessor would have been panicked into doing perhaps), although I expect Parky to resist the urge to do so at this point. There are some alterations he may like to consider however and I expect to see a different team to that which took the field last weekend.

At the back, I would imagine Miguel Angel Llera will probably make way for the returning Sam Sodje. Whilst Angel’s attacking qualities are superior to those of Sodje, his defending qualities are not, and for all the talk of Huddersfield coming to defend, they are also the league’s second highest scorers and know how to find the back of the net. Llera had a solid, if not spectacular, game against Oldham so may feel aggrieved to lose his place, but I still feel a bit nervous when the ball gets thrust in his direction so would be surprised if he was included at Sodje’s expense.

In midfield, Jose Semedo should be ready to return to action and, providing he is fit, I expect him to replace Matt Spring. Whilst Spring has been an adequate deputy, Semedo looks more assured at protecting the back four and controlling the tempo of the game. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our form has dipped somewhat during his absence and I expect Therry Racon will also be happy to have him back in midfield to work alongside. It’s hard luck on Spring but his chance should come again.

So what about up front? This would be the most obvious area of change given our lack of recent goals, but be that as it may, I can’t see Parkinson making any alteration to the combination of Deon Burton and Jonjo Shelvey. They both had pretty poor games last weekend, although Oldham made it hard for them to get into it. The options for change are a) drop Shelvey and replace him with a more orthodox striker or b) drop Burton and give McKenzie a go as the lone striker.

The problem with option a), as I mentioned earlier in the week, is that I don’t think we have an adequate strike partner for Burton. Perhaps it’s being harsh, but on Saturday’s evidence Izale McLeod isn’t up to it whilst Chris Dickson and Stuart Fleetwood are off elsewhere for now. Speculation regarding the arrival of Tresor Kandol is welcome. As for option b), I don’t think McKenzie is fit enough yet for anything more than a substitute’s appearance, whilst Burton doesn’t deserve to get dropped.

Even if he doesn’t change the starting personnel, I hope Parkinson can use the bench to better effect. If the game scenario is similar to that of last week, I would imagine he will change things around a bit earlier to try and up the tempo as we saw against Oldham. McKenzie should make another appearance based on last weekend’s evidence, whilst Tamer Tuna might feel like he deserves to stretch his legs after a decent outing against Barnet in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Finally, as Parkinson alluded to in his interview on the official website today, it’s not a great idea to start with semi-fit players, even if they would normally be in your first XI. Lloyd Sam and Frazer Richardson looked off the pace last weekend, and in hindsight Parkinson probably would have given them another week to recover. Hopefully they will be good to go on Saturday. So here is what I am expecting:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Sodje, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton.

Substitutes: Randolph, Llera Basey, Wagstaff, McKenzie, Tuna, McLeod.

Anyway, I hope we can take the game to the opposition from the off, regardless of how Huddersfield set themselves up to play. Parkinson is being rightly tight-lipped about the team he is going to put out and the way they are going to play, but hopefully ‘the good week of training’ he mentioned will help to yield all three points. You just know it will be another tense afternoon at The Valley though. See you there.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

In need of a Plan B

Judging by the blogs since Saturday’s game with Oldham, I wasn’t the only one who was left a little bit frustrated. I don’t think I recall a game when there was so much anxiety and tension in the crowd, everybody’s mental well being seemed to be hanging on us scoring a goal. It didn’t come and mild panic now appears to have set in, amongst the fans at least.

Oldham came to play for a point and a point is what they got. They strained the life out the game by putting eleven men behind the ball (I don’t recall Elliot being forced into one save in the second half) and a bit of unsporting time wasting. The thing is, who can blame them? As it stands, we are a top two side and most teams in this division will be happy to come away with a point from The Valley.

So on the basis that Oldham won’t be the last side to play 8-1-1 against us, it’s pretty clear we need to come up with an approach to combat this. Many will be clamouring for Parkinson to start with a more orthodox 4-4-2 formation, given the extra chances it seemed to open up once Izale McLeod was introduced on Saturday. It’s just a shame he had forgotten where the back of the net was.

And therein lies the problem. Which two would you pair up front, and would you drop Shelvey as a result? As if we needed reminding, Saturday clearly highlighted Izale McLeod’s limitations as a striker. Missing half chances is one thing, missing open goals is quite another. On the basis that Parkinson would only play one of Deon Burton or Leon McKenzie, our best option for a strike partner would appear to be on loan to Bristol Rovers, a team who could go level on points with us should they win their game in hand.

I do think there were other factors at play during the Oldham game as well. Richardson and Sam were both obviously not completely fit (I did have to do a double take when I saw them both walk out of the tunnel after the injury news gloom during the week) and, as decent a player as Matt Spring is, we are still obviously missing Jose Semedo and the rapport he has struck up with Therry Racon.

So plenty for Phil Parkinson to ponder ahead of what is likely to be a tough game on Saturday against Huddersfield Town, a team many fancy to cause an upset. Parky praised the performance of the team against Oldham and has publicly insisted that there is no cause for panic. However, he must wondering how he can get the team scoring again and how we can get all three points on Saturday.

On a different note altogether, it would appear that Charlton old boy Souleymane Diawara has come over all repentant for the tackle that would have appeared to crocked the world’s most expensive footballer for a month. Surely he didn’t pick up any bad habits whilst he was in SE7, did he?

Friday 9 October 2009

Oldham Athletic Preview

After the successful interlude of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, we are now back to the serious business of picking up points in the league. Whilst one point from two tricky fixtures has seen the chasing pack gain a bit of ground on us, it has not been disastrous, being as we are just three points behind Leeds at the top. In fact with the leaders not in action this weekend, there is every chance we can reclaim the top spot for ourselves should we win in style tomorrow.

However, we will undoubtedly have to work for all three points against an Oldham side whose had won three on the trot before Yeovil held them to a 0-0 draw last weekend. Manager Dave Penney has praised their ‘resolve’ and his team lie eight points behind us in 8th position. They will be looking for at least a point out of the trip to The Valley and it wouldn’t be surprising if they set out their stall to do just that.

After what seemed like an eternity with the same starting XI, injury (Semedo) and loss of form (Llera) has forced Parkinson’s hand in recent weeks with Matt Spring and Sam Sodje being the beneficiaries. It looks like there could be further shuffling for Parky this weekend, with our right side looking to be in need of an overhaul. Both Lloyd Sam, who came at half time against Leeds, and Frazer Richardson, who was rested against Barnet, are both rated doubtful. Sam and Richardson have been two of our most consistent performers so to lose one or both will be a blow.

So how to fill the void? The right wing issue is the more simple to resolve, with Scott Wagstaff ready to come in. I watched the highlights of the game against Barnet and I must say his goal was a cracker. The right back issue is somewhat more tricky. Is Chris Solly ready for his first league start? I must admit I haven’t seen enough of him to be sure. Parkinson obviously rates him (Moutaouakil was loaned out to Motherwell on the premise that he was hindering Solly’s development) but something tells me it may be just a bit too soon for him.

In which case Kelly Youga would move to the right, with Grant Basey slotting in at left back. In my opinion Basey has been unlucky not to get more of a run in the starting XI than he has done in the past few seasons. I don’t really recall him every having done anything calamitous on the field, and there have been a number of occasions when I thought he would get a start after some frustrating performances from Youga. Hopefully he will get an opportunity tomorrow.

The only problem with this of course, is that Youga may be required to cover the centre back position with Sam Sodje off on international duty and Llera short on form and confidence (although he is apparently fully fit). The Spaniard has had somewhat of a mixed start to his Charlton career. He has scored a couple of goals but has also looked shaky at times in defence, something which was painfully exposed against Colchester. He could have done with a mid-week run out against Barnet but it didn’t happen.

Parky has suggested he will start and I can’t imagine he won’t make the starting XI. It really would be quite telling if Llera, as one of only three specialist centre backs we have and one of two who are available, is rested in favour of a specialist left back. So, providing there are no other tactical changes further up the field (I don’t think Parkinson will start with an orthodox 4-4-2), I imagine they will line up as follows on the assumption that Richardson, Semedo and Sam are all unfit to play:

Elliot; Youga, Dailly, Llera, Basey; Wagstaff, Spring, Racon, Bailey; Shelvey; Burton.

Subs: Randolph, Solly, Mambo, Stavrinou, Tuna, McLeod, McKenzie.

I’m looking forward to getting back to The Valley having missed the last two games (against Exeter City and Barnet) due to other commitments. I am, however, a bit nervous about the game given the expectation there is to take all three points. I’m not expecting an easy encounter but hopefully the memories of Colchester are close to being erased and we can close the gap on Leeds again.

Friday 25 September 2009

Exeter City Preview

It’s a sign of heightened expectations and performances that two drawn games in succession is being considered a ‘dip’ by some. Whilst the games against Southampton and Norwich were both winnable, maintaining our unbeaten record against two teams who finished higher than us last season shouldn’t really be considered too disastrous. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard people booing the team off against Southampton at half time!

So a chance to make everybody happy again tomorrow when Exeter City come to The Valley. Like many of our opponents this season, I don’t know very much about them other than that we were playing two leagues apart this time last year, and that they have had a solid if not spectacular start to life in League One. Paul Tisdale is considered to be one of the brightest managerial prospects on the circuit and there is little doubt he will put out a well organised and disciplined side.

It is dangerous to start to think that we will just roll sides like this over when they come to SE7 and I’m sure Phil Parkinson will have prepared accordingly, knowing that dropped points may allow Bristol Rovers to sneak into the second automatic promotion spot. This is a game we should be looking to win however, allowing to us to capitalise on any potential slip up by Leeds who face a tough away fixture at the MK Dons.

In terms of personnel, there are reports that Nicky Bailey and Frazer Richardson may not be fit to play, although I am sure we have heard this before a game more than once this season! Hopefully they will take to the field and if so then it doesn’t really make sense to ‘shuffle the pack’. If not, I would expect Matthew Spring and Chris Solly to deputise, and Exeter will probably fancy their chances a bit more.

When you’re unbeaten in eight, criticism seems a bit churlish but I do continue to worry about us defensively. On the opening day of the season we twice let Wycombe back into the game, and against Southampton I thought we were poor. Throwing away three points in injury time against Norwich wasn’t exactly smart either. Hopefully the team will have benefited from the realisation that they are not invincible and have to stay switched on for the full 90 minutes (or 93 minutes in the case of the Norwich City game).

Another worry (I’m sorry, it wouldn’t be a post about Charlton if there wasn’t something to moan about!), is our options up front. Deon Burton has surpassed my wildest expectations this season, but should he get injured, or Parkinson decide to play a more orthodox 4-4-2, then we only have Izale McLeod or a not yet fit Leon McKenzie to turn to. Whilst the jury is still out on McKenzie as we have yet to see him play, I can’t say I have much confidence in McLeod. Did someone mention Chris Dickson?

I guess this nitpicking is owing to the fact that I’m starting to worry about the next two games, away to Colchester and Leeds. These are surely the litmus test of our promotion credentials and we need to make sure we are going into them on firing on all cylinders. Stuart Fleetwood in an interview this week said that there was clear water between the top two (us and Leeds) and the rest of the league. I’m not convinced of that and think there will be 5 or 6 teams in the mix come May.

I can’t make the game tomorrow owing to plans made in advance of the season starting (I really must stop doing that) but I am hoping for a win to boost confidence ahead of the next two trips. Enjoy the match and I look forward to reading the reports.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Southampton Preview

As Benjamin Disraeli famously once said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. On the bare face of it, Saturday’s game against Southampton should be a walk over: we’re top and they’re bottom, we’ve got six wins and they’ve got none, and we’re twenty-four points ahead of them in the league. Even if it wasn’t for their ten point deduction, they would still be sitting in the bottom three. So how come I’m more nervous about this game than I have been for any other in quite some time?

Well, simply put, our winning run has to come to an end at some point and there is one man who will be determined to ensure that happens this Saturday. Alan Pardew has a point to prove and you can be pretty sure that his team will be pretty well prepared for this encounter. The last time he was at The Valley, he got booed off the field after we lost 5-2 to Sheffield United. He won’t have forgotten that, but then again neither have we. I’m sure there will be a lot of fans looking forward to giving him a little piece of their mind.

Following Charlton is an absolute joy at the moment and I really don’t want the feeling to stop. OK, we haven’t played the divisions stronger teams as yet, but you can only beat what they put in front of you and we’ve done it with aplomb. Watching us at Prenton Park a couple of weeks back was a great experience. The team played well, the fans were in good voice, there wasn’t a negative word said about the performance from those around me, and at the end the players came over and gave us a lengthy and heart warming round of applause. That alone made the trip worthwhile.

Saturday’s game will see the biggest turn out of the season at The Valley, although according to the official website Southampton will be bringing less with them than expected. Still, I imagine the away end will be lively and add to a fiery atmosphere. Those travelling up from the south coast will be hoping their team can return with something, although predictably Pardew has been pleading for time to gel his recruits into the team he believes will make the play-offs. To be fair to him, it is still early days, but I can’t imagine that his task over the summer was any more difficult than that of Phil Parkinson who had to sort out a demoralised mess of a squad.

Unlike Parkinson, Pardew has also been afforded the luxury of a bit of money to spend following the takeover by Markus Liebherr. Rickie Lambert has arrived from Bristol Rovers for a fee thought to be around £1 million, whilst Papa Waigo N’Diaye has been brought in from Fiorentina, albeit on loan but I can’t imagine his wages are insignificant. He has also swelled his back room staff by appointing Wally Downes (ex-Brentford manager), Dean Wilkins (ex-Brighton manager) and Stuart Murdoch (ex-Wimbledon). I wouldn’t imagine the pay off for that lot would be cheap.

So Southampton are well kitted out for a return to the Championship and are actually undefeated in three, even if they were all draws (including playing for an hour against 10 men against Colchester). This could be a difficult game for Charlton and I can see their front two, Lambert and Waigo, causing us a few problems. Pardew also had the advantage that he knows the majority of our squad and will be looking to exploit our weaknesses and nullify our threats.

In terms of personnel, it’s hard to imagine Parkinson will choose this game to start making changes when he’s won six on the spin with the same team. He may need to apply a bit of thought to who he goes for on the bench however. Will Leon McKenzie get into the match day eighteen for the first time? Regardless, unless there is a late injury, I would be very surprised if the following aren’t on the field in a red shirt at 3pm:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton

With our following game being against Norwich City, we will be able to see how well we have adapted to the Championship compared to the two other relegated sides. I don’t think we can take maximum points from both and the warm fuzzy feeling of our 100% record may well be punctured. I know which game I would prefer to drop points in though, and it isn’t this Saturday when I am desperately hoping we can walk away with all three.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Tranmere... and Brentford at Home

We've been a little slow getting a match report up after the tranmere match, apologies for that, I've just started a new project with work so have been manic!

It was a great away day....The day started off with that rough feeling... You know the one, you go to the pub for a quiet one to discuss logistics for getting to the away ground and one pint turns into two and so forth...I wake up at 7:30 and text Richard to tell him I'll be on my way once I've tucked into a fry up...

I get to Richard's and there is no answer on his phone.. The bastards gone back to sleep I thought! Sure enough he wakes up 30 mins later and we hit the road!

A quick petrol stop and were on the M1 following a car full of west ham fans headed to Blackburn, after exchanging the usual pleasentries, a few v-signs and birds getting flicked we unfurled our charlton scarf and asked them who they were fighting today... The running or driving dual I should say, was most entertaining in the bank holiday traffic on the M1!

We got to the ground and i must admit I've never been to an away match that was so easy! We parked not even 10 mins from the ground and headed to a delightful establishment called "break time" for our lunch! A bit of banter with a few locals and the cafe staff and we were off.... £5 for two lunches and two drinks.... I love the North!

The CAFC website said that only 300 tickets had been sold for the match but I would hazard a guess that there was probably nearer to 400 people there in the end. Still there were plenty of blue seats in the away end, but there were far more in the home end's Kop. The Charlton fans were in full voice from the kick off with a loud and full rendition of many miles have i travelled, many games have i seen....

The Tranmere fans were very poor.... I heard them singing once during the match and that was when the Charlton end began chanting "Barnes Out, Barnes Out".... You could see the discontent among the fans, trying to gee the team on after each of the addicks goals, but the players heads had dropped after the second and there was to be no come back.

Charlton were very impressive, they bossed the game from the start and with the exception of about 10 mins of football before half time where Tranmere looked as though they could get a goal, Charlton were in complete control.

Lloyd Sam had a cracking game, tormenting Tranmere in the middle of the park and deep inside their half. He cut through their side like a warm knife through butter...

But it wasn't the only performance that stood out. The whole side performed well, the back four looked solid and in control, the midfield were calm and thought through what they were doing without forcing the ball into positions that it didnt need to be. The attack force had a good game as well, tormenting Tranmere's back four and with so many attacking options, Tranmere found it difficult to manage the pressure and conceeded goals.

League One offers players much more time on the ball than in the Championship and certainly the Premiership. I think that the Charlton lads have realised that they can afford to use their heads to ensure the ball is going to the right place and to concentrate on the delivery of the ball rather than just forcing it and rushing the distribution.

We stopped off in Liverpool and watched the Arsenal Man United Match, got some food and got back into the car for the trip home... in all, it was a cracking day, good banter, good weather, good times! Looking forward to our next little away trip which will be coming up very soon!

5 wins from 5 games, a club record and a position atop the League One table.... it's been a good month for Charlton, but they need to continue this momentum and keep up the pressure on the rest of the league, starting with their home fixture today against Brentford live on Sky...

It's a tough call this one, derbys always are tough, but the Valley isnt a fun place to go, it's big and it's loud and for a lot of the League One lads, it'll be one of the biggest grounds they'll have played on....

I envisage a decent crowd at the Valley this early kick off, despite the match being on Sky and with the news that JonJo Shelvy has signed a new contract keeping him with Charlton until 2012, they should be in full voice.

Brentford don't have the best of records against Charlton, but records are there to be broken and Charlton will need remain switched on for the duration of this match to prevent Brentford from snatching points.

Thursday 27 August 2009

A Travelling Addick - Tranmere Preview

Week 5 of the 2009-10 season see’s Charlton Athletic journey up the M6 to the North West to take on Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

Both sides have had contrasting starts to the season, with the Addicks taking maximum points from their opening 4 fixtures to put them atop the League 1 table. Tranmere on the other hand have won just one of their opening 4 matches under new manager John Barnes to leave them three places from the bottom of the league table.

An important fixture for both sides, history says a draw is the likely result, but with 26 goals being scored in the sides previous 10 encounters, a goal-less draw is probably not what you should be betting on this weekend!

A Red Divided will be travelling up for this one.... I couldn't pass up an opportunity to head back home for the weekend for this match! Richard has fond memories of Liverpool, the last time he was up there was when Charlton, with the inspired Thomas Mhyre in goal held Liverpool to a draw and we had a cracking weekend out in town that weekend!!

This weekend is the world famous "Beatles Festival" which means that town will be booming, so for the small number of Addicks heading up, I hope you are going to stay over night and enjoy the bank holiday party in Liverpool!

Tranmere Rovers vs Charlton Athletic
Saturday August 29th

Prenton Park
Kick Off 3pm

A Tranmere View….
Thanks to “Tranmere Italian”, “Miltipello and “eXtreme” from for their help!

Last year saw you come agonisingly close to a play off position and finish in 7th place, your best position since your third place finish in 2004/05, but the start to the 2009/10 season has seen you win just one of your opening 4 matches to leave you 3 places off the foot of the table. Where do you see yourself finishing the season this year and what needs to happen to take that step into the play offs or promotion places?

Tranmere Italian: We have had a difficult start to the season due to effectively a total new starting eleven. We completely lost the spine of our team from last year. This year we have a mix of young loanees and youth academy players together with a few experienced pros. In terms of finishing position, at best mid table for us and little chance of the play offs!!

Miltipello: Being realistic, I think what's in store for us this season is ultimately a season stuck in and around mid-table, probably the bottom half mid-table too. The squad we have is paper thin at the moment and when we lose key players to injury I think it will really show. In order to get the play-offs we need some a 20 goal a season striker to come in, but given our budget it's going to be difficult to do this.

eXtreme: We need to show some spine and make the opposition play our way not theirs, and stop losing the ball. I can see us getting relegated this season. You said "What needs to happen to take that step into the play offs or promotion places?" A new gaffer, simple!

You’ve recently installed John Barnes as manager, a Liverpool and England legend, who’s managerial record isn’t the greatest…. What’s he done over the summer to boost, or drain your confidence for the forthcoming season? Is he the right man to take Tranmere forwards?

Tranmere Italian: I am not a Barnes fan. He wants to play total football in League 1, which is pretty to watch but not effective and we do not have the players to fulfil his style. I think he is going to take us in the wrong direction for League 1. We were awful at Leeds and could and should have lost 7-0!

Miltipello: I think the style and ideas he is trying to adopt to our game are fantastic. Swansea played their way out of this division and certainly would be great to see it work. However, unlike Swansea we haven't the cash to spend to bring in the better players who can play the passing game and that has shown in our performances so far. To end on a good note our kids have had a great chance to shine and Ash Taylor certainly looks a great prospect at centre back.

eXtreme: What's he done to drain you're confidence... well he never did have it, and I can't see him getting my confidence at all. Look what he did at Celtic " Super Cally Go Ballistic As Celtic Are Atrocious" says it all...

Charlton and Tranmere are in similarly precarious positions when it comes to the club owners and where the clubs will be going in the next few years is anyone’s guess. But you boys found yourself in a particularly unusual situation over the summer…. When you found out that Tranmere had been placed on e-bay, did you think it was a wind up? Will a change of ownership help drive Tranmere towards the Championship?

Tranmere Italian: I personally think ebay was done on purpose as the whole world knows Peter Johnson wants to sell!! He wants too much for the club though and we are in the shadow of Liverpool and Everton!

Miltipello: My first thoughts were, "Typical Tranmere". I sometimes consider ourselves the Newcastle of League One in that we'll be doing something ridiculous that'll get us in the press, but never usually for the right reasons. Changing ownership, as long as into the right hands can only be a good thing. That's not to say Peter Johnson hasn't done anything for the club, but some new blood could be the kick start that all clubs at this level desire.

eXtreme: Ebay... haha now that did make me cry not in a sad way, but more of and "I don't believe it, this has got to be a wind up" way! A change of Ownership is a must, Johnson has stated he wants to sell so we need to look to the future and hope we don't get a YANK to buy us!

What do you think League 1 holds for Charlton this season and where do you think the Addicks will finish up?

Tranmere Italian: I’m looking forward to seeing you play on Saturday. I would have thought you are a definite for play offs at least!

Miltipello: Personally I see Charlton finishing in the top 2. They've started brightly and the Valley is a difficult place to go and grab any points. I think Leeds will win the title this time around, but Charlton will certainly be there or there abouts!

eXtreme: Play offs at least! Charlton are a decent side, they've got the fans and the support of there board room, but i think Charlton will be champions

Charlton and Tranmere Head to Head

Tranmere Rovers Honours

Football League Cup Runners Up 2000
Third Division North Winners 1938
Division Three Play Off Winners 1991
Football League Trophy Winners 1990
Football League Trophy Runners Up 1991
Welsh Cup Winners 1935
Welsh Cup Runners Up 1934

The Ground:

Prenton Rd West, Birkenhead, CH42 9PY

View Larger Map

The ground isn’t that difficult to find and can be reached either through Liverpool City Centre and the Queensway Tunnel or via the M53… I’d recommend Junction 3 of the M53 and it should be signposted from there. Trains run from London to Liverpool Lime Street and connections can be made to get to either Birkenhead Central or Rockferry which are the closest stations. As usual, the trains appear to be crap from London on the Saturday and they’ll probably be dry trains too, which given the scenes at Upton Park this week, can’t really be sniffed at.

Capacity: 16,587 (all seated)

Prenton Park is made up of 4 stands: The Main Stand, The Kop, The Cowshed and the John King Stand. Away supporters are housed in the Cowshed which thankfully isn’t as bad as other “shed’s” around the country and provides comfortable settings for away supporters.

Prenton Park is not a ground that sells out, it is regularly half empty, with average attendances for last season around the 6,000 mark, there will be plenty of empty blue and white seats.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Rewind - Back to the Dark Days.... it's not a pretty sight

Last night we were reminded of the darker side of football and once again it involved sides from London and to no one's suprise, it involved Millwall (again)….

I didn’t watch the match, but I heard from friends that there had been trouble and that it was kicking off quite big. When I got in from work (quite late) I logged onto the beeb and they were showing footage of the scenes during the match, and also of the stand off between fans outside the ground that continued into the night.

The Guardian today has some photographs of the trouble on their site and from the looks of it, it was a large disturbance that involved a significant number of people and resulted in several serious injuries.

Videos of the disturbances are now appearing on youtube as well.... although this chap who filmed this must now be thinking "was it such a good idea?" He has been appearing on Sky and other TV shows, showing his face and showing his video... living so close to a bunch of hammers fans... I'm not so sure he's been wise in his moves... the funniest point though is that he was on sky sports today in a Liverpool top!!! Is he mental???

It looks as though the invasions and the provocations inside the ground were coming from West Ham and not from Millwall, which I must admit, came as a surprise, my initial reaction was that there was trouble around the away end….

I’m sure that Millwall are not completely in the clear and there are reports of police intervention in the away end during the match. Outside of the ground the press are now reporting that much of the early violence was caused when West Ham and Millwall fans were trying to get at each other through the police cordon, the police standing their ground then became embroiled in battles with both sets of fans. But I’m sure that the police and FA investigations will look into the make up of the crowds that gathered both before and after the match.

Regardless of who did what, this incident is undoubtedly going to re-open the debate around punishments for clubs that are unable to restrain their fans and maintain an environment for all, rather than the x-rated scenes that were seen at Upton Park last night.

In my opinion, the scenes inside the ground and the sheer number of fans that invaded the pitch from the West Ham end points to the fact that levels of stewarding and their positioning was a major issue. It looks as though West Ham have concentrated on restraining the away supporters and ignored their own supporters at the same time….so what do the FA do?

The expectation is that both clubs will be given a large fine and will be reprimanded by the FA, but is that enough? Do the FA have the balls to turn around to West Ham and tell them that as a result of their inability to steward and police their fans to a satisfactory level they will be disqualified from the Carling Cup?

What do you think the penalties for the two clubs should be?

On a more CAFC related topic… when the Addicks are playing Millwall, should I expect to see similar levels of violence?

I’ve never been away to the Den, I was working away when Liverpool played there a few years ago when their was violence between the two sides, but I did get a taste of CAFC’s rivalries notably with Palace and it was an intense atmosphere….

Is Charlton’s rivalry with Millwall as intense? Charlton travel lightly at the best of times, will their allocation be even smaller at the Den?

Monday 24 August 2009

A few thoughts....

Since our last post (Hartlepool Preview) we’ve seen Charlton win twice on their travels and once at home this weekend, which gives them a 100% record after 4 matches, having scored 9 goals and conceding only 3 in the process, 2 of which were on the opening day of the season.

This is just the start to the season that the players and fans needed. With the exception of an early carling cup exit last week, it’s been a near perfect start to the season with goals coming from all over the pitch and with the side looking like they are playing with desire, drive, determination and more importantly concentration! Fans have continued to flock to the valley in their thousands ensuring that the Addicks continue to have one of the larger average attendances outside of the premiership which can only spur on the players when they need that bit of extra encouragement.

Last season I must have sounded like a broken record, the number of times that Charlton scored first and went on to concede a quick goal or a last minute goal had me harping on about the team losing their concentration too easily to almost anyone who would listen, it was usually Richard though, my other mates would just tell me to shut up!! I think that in the first four matches of the season, we’ve seen a side that is mentally stronger than it was last season and by getting a few wins under their belts, in what I would describe as a fairly convincing manner, should really set the foundations for the side to continue to push for promotion back into the Championship.

I’m a lover of statistics, I think it’s the American in me coming out, but I was thinking about when the last time Charlton won four matches on the trot was? For those who are interested, it was November 2007 (that time it was three away matches against Southampton, Bristol City and Preston North End and a home match against Cardiff City), but it’s not the first time that they’ve won their opening four matches! The 2005 premiership season saw wins against Sunderland, Wigan, Birmingham and Middlesbrough in their opening four matches!

This coming weekend sees the Addicks travelling up to the North West to take on Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park who sit towards the bottom of the table with 3 points from their opening 4 matches, but that shouldn't be a reason for the Addicks to get complacent and I'm hoping that they'll come out firing on all cylinders and take the match to the team from the North West.

I’m looking forward to heading up North (back home really) this weekend for the match, to get out on the lash in Liverpool, see the family and my friends and to get onto the Mersey Rail over the water to watch the Addicks in my own back garden. Happy Days.

Friday 14 August 2009

Hartlepool United Preview

It's long trip north tomorrow, for what is the second of three consecutive away fixtures. We head to Hartlepool after being relived of our league cup commitments following Tuesday's extra time loss at Hereford United, a result which appears to have been met with mild disappointment but ulitimately a certain sense of relief. This season is, after all, about getting of this division (at the right end I might add).

Like many, I'm pretty clueless about tomorrow's opposition, although their opening two results of the season, a credible draw with the MK Dons and the Championship scalp of Coventry City in the League Cup, suggest they won't be a push over. If we're to stand any chance of being in the mix at the end of the season however, these are games we really should be winning.

In terms of personnel, the good news is that following a mid-week break for most of our first choice XI, we seem to be refreshingly injury free. Dailly, Llera and Richardson are all fit to resume defensive duties and there don't appear to have been any additions to the injury list following the game at Hereford. Phil Parkinson therefore has options at his disposal, how will he use them?

To be honest, it's difficult to see him doing anything other than sticking with the eleven that took to pitch again Wycombe Wanderers last weekend. Nobody seemed to have staked a claim to a starting berth at Hereford and, more to the point, we played some good stuff against the Chairboys. As Parkinson has himself acknowledged however, we do seem to be lacking the fire to tuck away the chances we are creating.

Deon Burton and Jonjo Shelvey will need to improve on their performances last week, which were short of what they would have liked. Andy Gray, Izale McLeod, Chris Dickson and Stuart Fleetwood will all be desperate for the chance to start a game up front, and they may get their opportunity to do so in the not too distant future. Andy Gray certainly hasn't done a very good job of selling himself however, missing an open goal against Wycombe and a penalty against Hereford.

So all things considered, this who we are likely to see take to the pitch come 3pm:

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Racon, Semedo, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton

I can't imagine the bench will change either, although it would be good to see Yado Mambo given one of the seven spots should either Dailly or Llera suffer a recurrence of their injuries.

I'm not sure what to expect from this game. I would like to think we can start to build some momentum in the league by adding a further three points to those we picked up against Wycombe, but unfortunately I think Hartlepool will make this harder for us than we would like.