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Happy Valley? Charlton v Blues Preview
Blues travel to south-east London to try to extend their winning run to three games against Charlton Athletic. It promises to be an intriguing match with the pitch at The Valley coming in for heavy criticism of late.
The Addicks come into the game in 14th place in the table, two points above Blues with a five goal superiority in goal difference. However, their home record is almost identical to Blues away record (the only difference being Blues have conceded one extra goal) with Chris Powell’s men having only recorded four wins at home in all competitions this season. That being said, their form isn’t that bad – 10 points from their last 18 although their last two league games have ended in defeat.
Rhoys Wiggins and Danny Haynes look like both will return from injury to contest places at left back and left wing respectively but the game will have come too soon for Andy Hughes. Dale Stephens may come in for Dorian Dervite in midfield and Powell will have the choice of Yann Kermorgant or Ricardo Fuller up top if the chooses to continue with a 4-5-1 formation.
Blues go into this game with only long-term injury victims Carr, Murphy, Packwood, Asante and Ambrose along with Keith Fahey unavailable. Lee Clark will have to make a decision whether to stick with the 4-4-2 that did well at home, or (as I suspect he might) drop Wes Thomas and bring in another midfielder like Callum Reilly, Hayden Mullins or Jonathan Spector to add to Morgaro Gomis and Wade Elliott to give a bit more bite in the middle and to counteract the likely Charlton midfield five. There is also the possibility Nathan Redmond will be handed a start after a couple of disappointing performances from Rob Hall on the left flank.
The pitch is supposed to be a bit nightmarish at the Valley which means Blues may have to go direct and I fear for them in this situation because I don’t think we play the long ball style that well. If we do go down that route I think it will be imperative to get some pace on the flanks to try to get in behind the full backs and to support the strikers – otherwise it could be a grim day. The Charlton blog I’ve read on this predicts a draw and I think he’s got it right.