Friday 16 January 2009

Sheffield Wednesday Preview

It's been a funny old week in the world of football. Benitez has seemingly lost the plot Keegan style, Manchester City have upgraded from an interest in Scott Parker to a £100 million offer for Kaka … and Charlton won a football game! Tuesday night was a joyous occasion. I was in Germany with work but keeping abreast of affairs at Carrow Road by the usual medium of internet and text messages. The feeling come the final whistle was one of delight and relief and I'm sure this was shared by all the Valley faithful. OK, it was only a 1-0 victory against a very poor Norwich side in a cup competition which we probably won't progress very far in, but I'd forgotten what a win felt like and it felt good.

So now back to the important matter of the league and a trip to Hillsborough tomorrow to play Sheffield Wednesday. Parkinson seemingly has a revised squad each week to tinker with and this week is no exception. Out for tomorrow are McEveley (returned to Derby with the unconvincing excuse that his shoulder is still giving him some gip), McLeod (off to the New Den for the rest of the season), Semedo (out for two months after his injury against Forest) and Burton (ineligible under the terms of his transfer from Wednesday). In are Tom Soares on loan from Stoke for month, as well as Graeme Murty and Matthew Spring who are both available again having been ineligible for the cup game.

It's a case of stick or twist for Parky tomorrow. Logic would suggests he sticks with a winning formula (given that he hadn't found one before Tuesday) but as we all know logic very rarely applies when it comes to Charlton. So I would imagine there will be some changes beyond the one enforced one up front.

Despite reports of an excellent display at Norwich, Darren Randolph is likely to make way for Robert Elliot between the sticks. Elliot has been quietly impressive in the matches I've seen him (although Forest was probably one to forget, as it was for the rest of the team) and if he and Randolph maintain their form and keep pushing each other for the starting berth then Nicky Weaver could well be surplus to requirements some time soon.

Across the back, I would imagine that Graeme Murty will return to right back at the expense of Yassin. The jury is still out on Murty after it was his apparent miscommunication with Fortune that led to Forest's first goal last Saturday, but it's difficult to judge on the basis of that game. I don't imagine the rest of the back four changing.

Midfield is where competition for places appears fiercest, although that has been diluted somewhat by the unfortunate injury to Semedo. Bailey returns and I think he will be joined in the middle of the park by Matthew Spring. Like Murty, it was difficult to judge him on the back of last Saturday's game when it was clear he didn't really know his team mates. Hopefully that has changed over the course of this week. With Sam retaining his place on the right, it's likely that Parkinson will use Soares's ability to play across midfield by using him on the left.

Up front, it's fairly safe to assume that Parky will go with a lone striker and someone 'in the hole'. It would be harsh to drop Ambrose after scoring the winner at Carrow Road, but Shelvey really has been a class apart from the rest of the players in red for the last couple of games he's played in, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him return. Despite seemingly having a lot of strikers on our books, we look desperately short up front. Todorov seems to be injured, out of favour or both and I wouldn't expect Parkinson to hand Dickson a start, so that just leaves Andy Gray or Martyn Waghorn. Asking two lads under-18 to lead the line might be asking a bit much, so I imagine it will be Gray. Incidentally, fair play to him for rejecting the chance to bugger off to Stoke's subs bench for the rest of the season. I don't know if he'll go elsewhere, but we need to get the best out of him whilst he's ours.

Anyway, all in I am going for the following:

Elliot; Murty, Fortune, Hudson, Basey; Sam, Bailey, Spring, Soares; Shelvey; Gray. Subs: Randolph, Youga, Holland, Ambrose, Waghorn

A difficult game to call this one. My heart is saying a win for the Addicks, my head is saying a dour draw. To state the bloody obvious, we really need to start picking up some points some time very soon and an away win would be a brilliant way to ignite that. If you're going, enjoy the game.

Come on you Reds!

Saturday 10 January 2009

Norwich and Forest

Starting with the FA Cup match against Norwich, you'll probably have noticed that neither Richard or I updated the blog after this match...... too be honest, it's because we were both gutted....sat where we usually sit, we were just gutted with the result and a replay doesn't help anyone with the fixture congestion it will cause.

Having turned up at the ground and queuing for about 30 minutes for tickets we went into the ground.... my prediction was a 2-0 Charlton victory, I really thought we'd do them over, and if football were a fair game, we would have done, however, its not fair and it seems that we're suffering at the hands of the footballing gods.

I thought Charlton played really well, I thought Jonjo Shevely was a pleasure to watch, he worked 150% and was all over the place, tackling everywhere and everyone, and was far and above the best player on the pitch.

Burton was the weakest player on the pitch for me, he looked lazy, he looked uninterested and too be honest, he looked like was just interested in taking home his wages and then f**king off home.....

On the whole, I thought we were unlucky, we just couldn't get that second goal that we needed to win the match. Christ, we could have had 3 in the first 15 minutes, but as I said, its football and you need to take the punches and roll with them. One thing that really suprised me was the substitution that Parky made around the 70th minute, he just seemed to be playing for the draw, because i just couldnt work out what he thought he'd get out of the changes he made?

I took a lot of heart from the match and I think with Gray (or myself, I'd give 100% if Burton doesn't feel up to it) up front would have made more of the opportunities. Norwich had one real attack and they scored, it was a shame, but its not the end of the world, we need to move on and that starts with Forest today.....

Not wanting to be the merchant of doom or anything, but I think this IS the make or break match this season. If we get a result here today, we will move to within 2 points of Forest and with both Southampton and Doncaster playing mid-table sides, I'd hope that a few results might go our way, and we are back in the game, however, if we lose and anyone else gets a result, then I think we might find ourselves too far off the pace to recover.

Forest will be a tough team to do-over today, they've got a good manager in Billy Davies who will have them well organised today, so its going to take a lot of effort and creativity from the addicks today to break down Forest. Too be honest, I'm not going to make a prediction on the match today, its too close to call, but if the performance against Norwich is anything to go by, I'll take the positives, ignore the negatives and just HOPE that we get the result we all deserve.

I write this as I'm getting ready to head to London Bridge and to the

Come on you red men.

Friday 2 January 2009

Che Guevara - Part 1 and 2

It was all a bit weird this year with no footie on New Year's Day and it actually left me with a void that I needed to fill.

The 'festive' season is one that I usually enjoy; beer flows, banter is ever-present and well, it's all about football overload isn't it? For me, I head up to Liverpool just before Chrimbo and then Boxing Day and New Years Day are usually spent either at Anfield or on the happy al's coach to some away ground, usually the furthest one the F.A. can find for our inevitable midday kick off thanks to BSKYB.

Not this year though. My plans were altered thanks to the arrival of a second nephew in the famil and my folks both coming back from the US to my Sister's house up in Lincolnshire. With two kids under two, I was never going to last the whole fortnight at my Sister's house, so I came back to London on the 27th, to chill out, have a bit of fun on my bike and to just chill really.

New Year's Eve was spent in a boozer by London Bridge where myself, Richard and a few other mates proceeded to get absolutely smashed! We staggered over to the river about 11:30 and watched the fireworks on the thames, which I actually enjoyed! I was home and tucked up by 1:30 after taking the night bus home. It was a good night, but the one thing I missed was getting up to go and watch football!!!

Instead, as I was wandering around Angel looking for a coffee shop to try to get rid of my banging headache I saw that the 'screen on the green' was having a special Che Guevara day, showing both Part 1 (out today I think) and Part 2 (which is due out in Feb apparently) I decided to give it a go. 4 hours in the cinema on a New Years Day; the way I saw it, I'd have fun what ever I did, whether it be watching the film or falling asleep!

Part 1 focuses on Che's time in Cuba and his role in the Cuban Revolution that saw the removal of the US-backed Batista whilst Part 2 examines Che's involvement in the attempted Bolivian Revolution in 1966-67.

Both films were primarily in Spanish with English subtitles and the casts in both part 1 and part 2 was very good. Del Toro played a very convincing Che, he certainly looked the part and I would struggle to think of any other Hollywood actor who would have played the part as well. The cinematography was equally as impressive, with stunning scenery being mixed with 'arty-farty' style close ups and the likes to great affect.

From a personal perspective, I thought the films really did glamorise Che and his involvement in the Cuban Revolution, however, what they failed to do, was expose the long string of failures that he was involved with. The films skirt over his failures in the Congo and Venezuela, and I don't think they portray a balanced view of his personality. Notably the dark-side, which included being a cold blooded murderer and to large extent a 'gross-visionary' who failed to bring his visions to worldwide or even Cuban (some would argue) fruition.

Regardless of this, I still thought they were good films and quite entertaining. On the whole I would recommend them, perhaps not as films you'd go to the cinema to watch, but more ones you could watch on DVD!

I would recommend you make your way to the Valley for an entertaining 90 minutes of quality football, then head home to watch the films before turning over to bbc1 for MOTD, happy days.