Meet Town’s opposition: Charlton on the slide, or on the rebound?
- Credit: PA
Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over Charlton Athletic, this weekend’s visitors to Portman Road
On the slide, or on the rebound? Time will tell whether this is the perfect weekend to play Charlton Athletic.
The Addicks, boosted by a glut of recent new signings bankrolled by new owner Thomas Sandgaard, had won five games on the spin before last weekend.
But that winning run was ended by a 1-1 draw at Gillingham last Saturday, and the wheels came off the bandwagon in spectacular fashion with Tuesday night’s 4-2 defeat at then-basement dwellers Burton Albion, their first loss in nine fixtures.
Town will be hoping to catch their opponents on the slide, and with confidence at a low ebb, to recharge their season after their own disappointment with Tuesday night’s 3-0 home defeat to title contenders Hull City.
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On the other hand, the South Londoners are a wounded animal, and so are sure to be dangerous.
One thing is for sure, though. Town must improve their dreadful record against the clubs in-and-around them, towards the top of the table, if they are to stand a chance of promotion this season.
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Despite their poor week so far, the Addicks are still well-placed in sixth spot, just one place and two points behind Paul Lambert’s men with a game in hand.
Lee Bowyer’s side will fancy their chances of emulating fellow high-fliers Hull (top), Lincoln (third) and Sunderland (eighth) by inflicting defeat on Town, and so reversing their slide.
That’s why this weekend could be a key moment in the seasons of both clubs.
SEASON SO FAR
An indifferent start to life back in League One saw the Addicks suffer back-to-back league defeats, at home to Doncaster (1-3) and away at Lincoln (2-0) in late September.
But a near-perfect record in October enabled the South Londoners to soar up the table and into the play-off places.
Last month kicked off with a goalless home draw against Sunderland, followed by five straight league wins. A sixth successive win was claimed with a 3-2 home victory over Fleetwood Town at the start of this month.
Then came the mini-slump.
FLOOD OF ARRIVALS
Since Danish-American businessman Thomas Sandgaard completed a takeover of the club, in late September, new signings have arrived in their droves.
Just before Sandgaard’s intervention, experienced midfielder Ben Watson had been secured on a one-year deal. The 35-year-old ex-Wigan and Nottingham Forest schemer is best known for scoring the Wigan winner in the 2013 FA Cup Final against Manchester City.
Since Sandgaard’s takeover, at least nine other new players have joined the ranks at The Valley.
The most recent has been right-back Chris Gunter, capped by Wales on 96 occasions. Gunter was released by Reading over the summer, after rattling up 314 appearances for the Royals in an eight-year stay.
Striker Omar Bogle, who cost Cardiff City £1 million when he moved from Wigan in the summer of 2017, signed a one-year deal with the Addicks earlier this month. The 28-year-old only managed 21 league games and four goals in three seasons with Cardiff, spending last season on loan at Dutch club ADO Den Haag.
Centre-half Ryan Innis, who had a spell on loan at Colchester United, is another of Charlton’s newcomers.
The centre-half never really had a chance to establish himself at Crystal Palace, having 10 loans away from Selhurst Park and only featuring in two Premier League games for the Eagles.
Other Charlton signings from last month included teenager Ian Maatsen (on loan from Chelsea), midfielders Andrew Shinnie (on loan from Luton) and Paul Smyth (on loan from QPR), plus experienced defender Adam Matthews.
Matthews actually played 29 games for Charlton last season, before being released following relegation from the Championship. He re-signed on a one-year deal.
That might sound a ridiculous sub-heading, given that Charlton leaked four goals at Burton on Tuesday night, with dreadful defensive errors contributing to the first two goals.
But before their visit to the Pirelli Stadium, the Addicks actually had the best defensive record in the division with just eight goals conceded in their first 11 league matches.
Chuks Aneke and Conor Washington are the only two to have scored more than one goal, although both have been regular marksmen on five goals apiece.
Ex-MK Dons striker Aneke has scored in each of Charlton’s last two outings, while Washington has been on international duty with Northern Ireland this month.