Wolves and Championship preview


As the regular season comes to an end, it looks like Charlton Athletic’s own season might be coming to an end for another year. Not that that’s anything to complain about. The aim eight months ago was almost certainly to consolidate and reaffirm our status as a Championship club and most would’ve bitten your hand off for 9th place with three games to go.


But the Addicks are on a good recent run of form, having scored 11 goals over the last 458 minutes of football and conceded just one over the same period; meaning a total of 11 points from the last 5 games. The midweek away draw against the Champions-elect in South Wales brought a third clean sheet in five games and the Addicks still aren’t out of the play-off picture, however slim their chances may be.

The weekend fixtures mean a return to the Valley, where Charlton recorded back-to-back home wins for the first time this season against Bolton and Leeds. Next up is Dean Saunders’ Wolverhampton Wanderers, who sit just outside the relegation zone thanks only to goal difference.

Chris Powell will be pushing his team to go three points better than their already impressive total of 57 but Wolves will be no pushovers as they begin to fight for their Championship survival, having won 4 of their last 6 matches, most recently against 2nd placed Hull City.

As the season is not yet mathematically over, we may have to wait another weekend to see our young talent blooded into the first team squad. Chris Powell, you imagine, will remain professional and won’t look to add youth players into the mix if they’re not ready to deliver the goods at this stage.

That means a likely unchanged line-up for the fourth game in a row, with all eleven players showing their worth and imposing themselves on the Championship at this late stage. Loanee Mark Gower may feel hard done by to have not made his first start for the club but the question is who should be dropped? Perhaps Fuller but without two out-and-out wingers, switching from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 for a home game may be seen as a negative move. Expect him to make another appearance from the bench. Danny Haynes has been missing from the bench recently but now might be the right time to make an appearance, if Powell can find room for him.

Wolves are also likely to be unchanged after their 1-0 win in midweek, despite fans calling for various changes. Although hampered in their run-in by injuries to key players (including Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Carl Ikeme and Bakary Sako) Wolves will be pleased with how their replacements have adapted to the task of keeping their club’s head above the relegation water.

Expect a fierce battle with the golden boys of Wolverhampton this Saturday, and their form suggests they should be as confident of a result as we are. A score draw is the likely result this weekend.

Elsewhere, the Red Dragons of Cardiff will be hoping to wrap up the title of Champions at Burnley’s Turf Moor, while three points for Hull City at home to Bristol City on Friday night will confirm their promotion should a faltering Watford fail to beat rejuvenated Blackburn at Vicarage Road.

Fourth placed Brighton will be looking to affirm their place in the play-off mix-up when they host Blackpool, a team still in need of points to push themselves away from the relegation zone.

Fifth faces off against sixth at Selhurst Park when Crystal Palace host Leicester. The Foxes can overtake the Eagles with three points but neither side has been in good form lately and so a nervous game of few chances may result. Just outside the play-off places, Bolton will play against Tony Mowbray’s midtable Middlesbrough at the Reebok and Billy Davies’ struggling Forest will be looking for three vital points against David Flitcroft’s Barnsley who responded to the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the mighty Addicks with a solid 1-1 draw against Derby County.

Eleventh placed Leeds under fast-tracked Brian McDermott travel to twelfth placed Lee Clark’s Birmingham. McDermott was brought in early after the Whites’ loss at the Valley as a precaution against relegation. With two wins in two, McDermott has certainly done his job and as hard as it is to believe, neither of these teams are out of the play-off equation. Fail to win this game though will end those hopes for both of these sides.

Ipswich make their way to Hillsborough in need of three points to confirm their own place, while Sheffield Wednesday may be forgiven for pushing the panic button at 5pm on Saturday if they fail to pick up all three points.

An out of sorts Derby will be looking for three points against Peterborough to relieve the relegation pressure, whilst anything other than three points may see Peterborough slip into the relegation zone with just two games remaining. One of the teams hoping to leapfrog the Posh are Huddersfield. They play at Millwall’s Bermondsey Den who still have five games remaining to pull themselves away from danger and into the top half of the table.

Any team down to 23rd can still finish in the top half of the table this season. It’s absolute madness but seasons such as these are why we love sport.