Expectation levels high for Southend clash

I would suggest that expectations will be at their highest level for three years when Charlton kick off against Southend on Saturday at The Valley.

On October 4th 2014 Charlton under Bob Peeters were entertaining Birmingham City, having begun the season unbeaten in ten games with Igor Vetokele scoring 5 goals.  Four days previously they had beaten league leaders Norwich City 1-0 away and they were now sitting one place outside the play-offs and just two points behind the leaders. In front of a crowd of 16,369 they took the lead through Vetokele in the 11th minute. They looked like a top six side with Buyens, Gudmunsson and Bulot impressing alongside Vetokele and the emerging Cousins and with Solly, Morrison and Jackson as dependable as ever but the game finished a 1-1 draw.

As we all know the wheels came off for Peeters and he was gone by the spring. The appointment of Guy Luzon (and the circus which surrounded it) was the catalyst for many to lose faith in the club ownership and management. Despite a brief Tony Watt-inspired upturn it was to be a downhill path via Roger Johnson to Karel Fraeye in late 2015 when expectations reached their nadir. Any high hopes based on Russell Slade's appointment for the following season were quickly dashed by defeat at Bury and Cheltenham in the opening two games.

But Charlton come in to Saturday's match having won their last five home games with an aggregate of 13-2. Their twelve points from five games is only one fewer than the thirteen Chris Powell's champions had gathered from five games in 2011. The current team went up to Rotherham and won 2-0 a couple of weeks after Rotherham had beaten Southend 5-0. There will be a palpable sense that Charlton ought to beat the Shrimpers convincingly and take their place in the top two ready for the clash with promotion favourites Wigan on Tuesday. The best crowd of the season so far is expected.

Southend under Phil Brown missed out on the play-offs last season thanks to Steve Morison's final day 94th minute winner for Millwall at Bristol Rovers, and they began this season impressively by beating Blackburn 2-1 at Roots Hall. Since their thrashing at Rotherham they have drawn with Plymouth and Rochdale at home and Gillingham away. They boast some well-known names - Anton Ferdinand, Marc-Antoine Fortune, Michael Kightly and Nile Ranger -fresh from his prison sentence for on-line fraud.

Charlton will welcome back Josh Magennis and Jay DaSilva and should be at full strength. Southend are our all-time favourite opponents. We've played them 42 times and have won 23 and drawn 10.  We haven't lost to them in eight games since 1996. What could possibly go wrong?