Tuesday, August 22, 2006

United Preview

Alan Curbishley guided us to the Premiership twice during his reign, and under his tenure we came face to face with Manchester United no fewer than 12 times in the top flight, without ever managing to record a victory.

Iain Dowie will step up to the plate in order to have his first crack at the Red Devils tomorrow night, and fresh from an opening day defeat to West Ham, he could surely be forgiven for wishing that the opponents for his first competetive home game were somebody other than the 8 time Premiership Champions. We have never lost our first two Premiership games in any of the seasons in which we have graced the league, and Dowie is more than aware of how hard we will have to work in order to extend that record.

"Wednesday provides the ultimate test, against probably the best team the Premiership has had in the time it has been going. It is our first home game and we have got to make sure that the fans go away having been entertained." - Ian Dowie

Team news for Charlton, obviously Traore misses out after his error at the weekend but his spot on the left will be filled by Hreidarsson, with Sorondo probably getting the nod in the centre. Carson will surely continue in goal, and the midfield and strikers should also keep their places. The only change I could foresee would be the possible inclusion of Reid in Hughes' place, but it's widely reported that he isn't fully fit yet and in my opinion it would be foolish to risk him from the start in a match like this.

United arrive in SE7 in good form, although they may be forgiven for thinking that they are still in the midst of their pre-season routine, such was the level of resistance put up by Fulham on Sunday.
Rooney and Scholes (who both starred in that 5-1 demolition) will start their three-match suspensions, and it's likely that their main danger man will be replaced by Ji-Sung Park. At least we can be certain that Van Nistelrooy wont be getting his customary goal against us this time around.

The key area for me will be Ronaldo's tussle with the ageing Hreidarsson down our left flank. He will need to be carefully marshalled if we are to have any hope of keeping a clean sheet. Distribution of the ball when playing our way out of defence is also critical. If we obtain it and then hoof it up field, we will find it coming straight back at us. We need to play a bit more intelligently against sides of superior footballing ability.

Curbishley often described this sort of match as a 'bonus ball', in the sense that a win is a great result, a draw is a good result and even a loss is acceptable. To a certain extent I agree with this, but I can't help feeling that if we were to suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of United tomorrow night, it could severely damage the confidence of a squad who are already unfamiliar with each other. Of course it works the other way aswell should we get a huge victory, but can any Addick look themselves in the eye and say with their hand on their heart that they honestly expect us to win tomorrow night?

Cynic Athletic's Prediction - 2-1 Defeat (Ronaldo, Saha - Bent)


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