Charlton Athletic have taken just three points from four games against sides in the top six this season and Saturday’s game against Peterborough United is a big chance to make up ground on the Posh and other teams further up the table. But only Scunthorpe and Sheffield United have scored more goals than the Cambridgeshire club - one of the division’s form teams who put five past Chesterfield at the weekend.
The sides last met in an August 2015 League Cup tie, when Ahmed Kashi’s wonder goal helped secure a 4-1 away win for the Addicks. But, of the Charlton side that lined up at London Road 16 months ago, only Patrick Bauer and Harry Lennon have started this season, with the likes of Jordan Cousins, Callum Harriott and Nick Pope being allowed to leave. Posh, meanwhile, have upgraded their squad significantly, signing players like Gwion Edwards, a delightful young Welsh midfielder who has scored five times this season including a stunner to cap a man of the match performance in their 5-2 win on Saturday.
But Peterborough’s most dangerous player is probably still winger Marcus Maddison. Attacking midfielder Paul Taylor is also a threat running at defenders, though can occasionally hang to the ball for a fraction too long in the same way as Tony Watt. Some Posh fans believe the two, who are weak defensively, shouldn’t play in the same team, especially not alongside two strikers.
George Moncur didn’t endear himself to the Charlton fans unfortunate enough to witness the miserable FA Cup defeat at Colchester United in January, taunting away supporters after scoring the opener. But he has only been on the fringes of the Peterborough team since joining on loan from Barnsley. With Michael Bostwick slotting in at centre-back to cover for the injured Jack Baldwin, the Boro’ defenders are vulnerable to pace, and may struggle against the likes of Ademola Lookman.
At 36, Peterborough manager Grant McCann is the same age as new Charlton boss Karl Robinson. Previously a long-serving Posh midfielder, McCann is in his first managerial role and has impressed during his six months in charge so far. His playing squad seems capable of mounting a strong play-off push and it appears to have strength in depth.
The Ulsterman certainly doesn’t need Roland Duchâtelet to explain the 4-4-2 diamond formation to him – not that any other manager in the EFL does. McCann has used it for large parts of the season, and there may be an opportunity for Robinson to utilise the wide areas and do to Boro’ what Swindon Town did to Russell Slade’s narrow Charlton.
The former Milton Keynes Dons gaffer played more first-team players than some expected in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay but it would be wrong to criticise him for it if Charlton struggle on Saturday. It’s not his fault that the squad lacks depth, and credit to him for trying to progress in the competition, even though a tough trip to Championship contenders Brighton awaited. He rested only Josh Magennis, Fredrik Ulvestad and Andrew Crofts, all of whom are expected to return on Saturday.
The South Londoners put in a strong performance against Bradford City but can’t just draw against the teams higher up the table. A win has to come sooner rather than later, and being at home on Saturday provides a great opportunity to move to within a point of the Posh, make a statement and build momentum ahead of next week’s derby against Millwall.