Charlton vs Boro preview, and season so far review #CAFC vs #MFC Preview: Big Boro Test May Define Season for Addicks

It seems like there are no easy matches in the Championship as Middlesbrough visit the Valley this Saturday


The Addicks sit in eighth place with 14 points, below Middlesbrough with 15 points  in what is a very tight top half with only 2 wins between 2nd placed Norwich on 17 points and Brentford (14th) on 11.

Charlton finally finished 18th last season after flirting with relegation - although with many games in hand for long periods due to the state of the Valley pitch during the Winter. A large number of players left and came in over the summer with pretty much an entire first 11 coming in.

Results against opposition so far, and current/last year's league positions

  1. Brentford (14th/promoted - 2nd):  1-1 (away)
  2. Wigan (17th/5th last season): 2-1 (home)
  3. Derby (9th/3rd): 3-2 (home)
  4. Huddersfield (22nd/17th): 1-1 (away)
  5. Brighton  (18th/6th) : 2-2 (away)
  6. Watford (4th/13th): 1-0 (home)
  7. Wolves (3rd/promoted - 1st): 1-1 (home)
  8. Rotherham (19th/ promoted play off winner): 1-1 (away)
  9. Middlesbrough (5th/12th):  ? (home)
  10. Norwich (2nd/relegated): ? (away)


The match against 'Boro this Saturday will be the ninth of the campaign and will swiftly be followed by the tenth which comes on Tuesday away to Norwich.  This will allow a realistic view on how this summer's squad construction has panned out.

The Addicks are enjoying an unbeaten start to the 2014-15 league campaign -  the best in many years. Indeed, until last Tuesday, Charlton had a 100% home record. Some might argue however that a sturdy defensive effort is hiding an attacking inadequacy. Riches at the back in the shape of excellent find Bikey-Amougo and the resurgent Tal Ben Haim have led to other problems in the rumoured discontent from previous season's stalwart Michael Morrison.

With the exception of the Watford game, Charlton are however  still conceding goals, albeit against top of the table opposition. This is unlike the successful period of the Powell era when a single goal was often rewarded with three points. Vetokele has made a great start, but scoring more than one in a match has started to prove a challenge for the team as a whole,  despite often scoring first.

In the midfield area the negatives are the injury to Gudmundsson, the shaky start of Moussa and the questionable form of rare starter Harriot (despite his sparkling end of season displays). On the positive side is the welcome addition of another creative player in Bulot (another Liege loan signing). However, the number of chances being created has waned. There is also the problem of where to play young star Jordan Cousins and whether he replaces club captain Jackson in the middle, which is his more natural position.

Up front the club's stated policy is to stick to a budget and that is sensible. What is in place is a decent squad, but the forward line is very thin. The injury to Vetokele and the form of not-yet-settled Tucadean has given a warning of the potential problem of which many fans have been all too aware. With Marvin Sordell returned to Bolton and subsequently Burnley; World Cup striker Reza departing for the Middle East; Piggot out on loan; Simon Church seemingly out of favour and attempts to bring in more bodies in this area confounded, new Head Coach Peeters is left with few options.

Whether the failure to address this area is due to budgetary issues (and one assumes it is) with other clubs willing to pay more, the policy, however sensible, may ultimately mean a very frustrating near miss for a promising squad.

Can squad issues be addressed in January?  

This is arguably a dangerous strategy if you want to get promoted.  After spending out in the Summer, Charlton would surely have to sell a player or two if they want to break even for the season. In contrast, at least no one is talking about relegation in terms of quality which is a good thing.

So what of the strategy to add players after Christmas? The precarious waters of the January window are notoriously difficult to navigate, and normally more expensive. Of course Charlton are in a network which may provide some insulation from that, but what we save now may be offset by having to spend more later, and I think most Charlton fans would prefer to have the points on the board before the frost starts to bite.

Charlton's prospects: The club can loan in players until November so there is still time to bolster the squad. If the Addicks can continue to take points off top teams, and more off 'lesser' ones, their may be a surprise in the offing for the bookies.



So what has happened 'oop norf' in sunny Teeside since last season?

The club started at 14/1 ( now 5/2)  for promotion (top 6).  Charlton were 50/1, (now 9/1).

Aitor Karanka's side just drew 2-2 with Liverpool in the League Cup (Tuesday) only losing 14-13 on penalties, with an astonishing 27 of 30 penalties being converted.

If you thought Charlton's transfer dealing this summer read like War and Peace, Middlesbrough's  isn't too different, here are the summer dealings in the Championship this summer gone according to the Telegraph.

Ones to watch are Grant Leadbitter (already on 7 goals) and Enrique Garcia (5 goals so far) who joined from Real Murcia for £3.5m). After losing Jutkiewicz and Emnes they also added among others: Richard Smallwood (Rotherham United, £175,000), James Husband (Doncaster Rovers, undisclosed + swap), Tomás Mejías (Real Madrid, Undisclosed)

Boro's prospects: Their away form is pretty good thank you very much, and so far they look like a top six side,  so the Addick's defence will need to be on top form on Saturday

Saturday Prediction: Unbeaten record will be tested once again in another tough test for Peeters.