Charlton .v. Rovers
5th December 2006
The Valley was the venue for two of Rovers most inspirational displays last season.
Firstly it saw perhaps the greatest Rovers comeback in recent years as Rovers came from two goals down with just 15 minutes remaining in the Carling Cup fourth round. Then it was the stage for Rovers final away game of the season, a game that saw Rovers all but qualify for Europe.
Mark Hughes and his men will be hoping for a similar kind of lift on Tuesday night as his troops search for a second successive victory in a bid to replicate last season`s winter festivities.
Charlton, under the stewardship of their second manager in less than 20 games, Les Reed, are seriously struggling at the wrong end of the table. Their fans must be wondering what has happened to a team who have become a fixture in the Premiership. You have a single manager for fifteen years and then two in the space of six months!
Such disarray has been mirrored on the pitch as well as the Addicks look devoid of ideas, threat and stability. Ian Dowie`s summer squad and the remnants of the Alan Curbishly era have not gelled well and Reed is left with a real job on his hands of gluing his men together in a bid to stick around amongst England`s elite.
Mark Hughes on form: "We`ve had a difficult period, but we`re back on track now and if we can string together a couple of positive results then we`ll be ahead of the points total that we had at this time last year."
David Bentley on playing central and the Valley: "I really enjoyed it. It is somewhere where you see a lot of the ball, you can really set your mark on the game and look to dictate things. And I really enjoyed doing that. I got my first goal for Blackburn there, so it is a good place to play football. We seem to enjoy playing there, because we won there twice last season and hopefully we`ll get another win there tomorrow night."
Benni McCarthy on Rovers and Nonda: "We know we are a good side, we create a lot of chances, and we can win a lot of games, but we need all our players present. I'm delighted that Shabani scored. Now he can be more at ease and I'm sure he'll score a lot of goals because he is a fantastic goalscorer."
Charlton boss Les Reed on form and the future: "We have to work hard in our home games and get as many points as we can from them. If we do that and build the confidence then we can carry that out onto the road and take points away from home.
'We have to remain focused on looking forward. It's still a long season and we have to take it step by step. It will be a long time before we are out of it because that's the way results go every week, but we'll move on."
Charlton Athletic Team News:
Charlton manager Les Reed is likely to shake things up a little after another defeat at the weekend. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, Jerome Thomas and Souleymane Diawara are available for selection.
It is likely they will be brought in, particularly Hasselbaink, as Charlton look to add more bite to their attack. Darren Bent for all his talent is struggling to lead the line alone.
Charlton from: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traore, Rommedahl, Holland, Reid, Faye, Ambrose, D Bent, M Bent, Hasselbaink, Diawara, Thomas, Sam, Kishishev, Hughes, Myhre.
Player to watch: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
He has pace, power and a deadly finish. The only reason he is lacking goals this season is because of the lack of chances generated for him and his declining fitness. The mercurial Dutchman has a tremendous record of scoring against Rovers and has done for every Premiership club he`s played for, except Charlton.
His return to the side could well be the difference between the two teams.
Blackburn Rovers Team News:
Defensive problems continue to mount for Mark Hughes as Stephane Henchoz joins fellow central defenders Ryan Nelsen and Zurab Khizanishvili on the sidelines.
This could mean a reprieve for either Dominic Matteo or Andy Todd, who is still the club captain.
Midfield maestro Tugay returns from his one match ban but could face a fight as to whether or not he is selected following David Bentley`s impressive turn in the centre of the park.
Francis Jeffers will miss out on the chance to face his former club through injury.
Rovers from: Friedel, Brown, Neill, Emerton, Ooijer, Todd, Gray, Henchoz, McEveley, Bentley, Tugay, Mokoena, Savage, Peter, Pedersen, Nonda, McCarthy, Gallagher
Player to watch: Shabani Nonda
He has ended his goal drought and so it is time for Shabani Nonda to start scoring regularly. Another goal here will be a great boost to his confidence and a great boost for Rovers.
He doesn`t lack any of the required talent to be a success in the Premiership, just that little bit of luck and luck certainly shone on him on Saturday.
Benni McCarthy has this week been saying what a talent he is and how relieved he now feels following his goal against Fulham, so it is time that Rovers fans started to see the real Nonda.
Match Facts & Stats
Charlton have one point out of 12, from a 1-1 draw with Everton in the last home fixture on 25 November. Registered one draw and two losses under Les Reed.
The Addicks have managed one win and two draws from the last three Premiership games at the Valley and they are chasing a 350th top flight victory in the club's history.
Conceded 23 Premiership goals - only Fulham have leaked that many, but the Cottagers have played 16 games and Charlton 15.
Rovers won all three fixtures between the sides last season.
Chris Foy takes centre stage. He is one of the few remaining referees this season not to have issued a red card and he takes charge of a Rovers fixture for the first time.
Rovers are back up and running following Saturday`s victory and can take that confidence into the game against Charlton. It will be a keenly fought contest as Les Reed`s side really need to start picking up some points. The euphoric levels reached last season won`t be repeated here. Instead it will be a classically gritty English affair fought between a number of nationalities. Rovers though, will posses too much strength and class for Reed`s scrappers. Rovers to win by two goals to one.
Newcastle United at Ewood Park on the 9th December 2006 at 15:00