Friday, February 24, 2006

Villa Preview

Over the last few seasons Aston Villa have struggled away from home, but their form in Birmingham has managed to keep them clear of any potential relegation scraps. This season however, for the first time in a long time, Villa have earned more points on the road than they have at Villa Park, and they will arrive in SE7 on Saturday unbeaten in their last 7 away premiership encounters.

Curiously, only Chelsea and Manchester United have scored more goals on the road than The Villains, and only Chelsea and Manchester United have lost fewer away games; yet the club still only find themselves 15th in the Premiership.

Charlton on the other hand are in the middle of our best spell at home in at least 14 months, losing only 1 out of our last 8 games at The Valley, and winning 6 of them.
It's widely recognised among Addicks that although on paper those statistics make pleasant reading, the performances turned in by the team over those 8 games have not been as convincing as the results would indicate. Brentford in the cup aside, I can’t remember the last time we were truly comfortable in registering a home win.

Team news shows Smertin and El Karkouri pushing for a recall, and the latter would be making his 50th Charlton appearance if he makes the side tomorrow. Personally I would like to see Spector dropped back to the bench, Hreidarsson filling in at left back, and El Karkouri coming into the center of defence with Perry. I think that particular pairing will be best suited to coping with Villa’s attacking threat.

Their top two scorers are Luke Moore (8), and Milan Baros (9) and both look set to continue up front tomorrow. It’s a forward line of undoubted pace and potential, and they will be looking to become the first away players in 2006 to score in the Premiership at The Valley. Kevin Phillips is also in decent form, but it looks like he will have to be content with a place on the bench.

Mark Delaney has been ruled out with a knee injury, but the return of Ridgewell to the back line will ease O’Leary’s selection headache. Mellberg, Hughes, and apparent Charlton target Jlloyd Samuel will likely complete the back four charged with the task of marshalling Darren Bent, who has scored more goals on his own than Baros and Moore combined so far this season.

According to the official site Villa are bringing 2,000 fans down from Birmingham. I’ve also just spoken to our ticket office and they say that we only have single seats left, so if you haven’t got your ticket yet, you’d best get on the phone before they close at 8pm tonight. It’s unlikely that there will be any tickets available for you to pay on the day.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 1-1 Draw (Moore – M.Bent)


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