For the second time in a week Charlton take on a team which has accumulated just one point in 2018.
When Milton Keynes secured a 2-2 draw at The Valley in mid November they were sitting in a comfortable thirteenth place. In the thirteen games since then they have won once (1-0 v Peterborough on December 30th), drawn four and lost eight, and have subsequently sunk into twenty second place. Manager Robbie Nielson who was recruited from Hearts in December 2016 was sacked after their 1-2 defeat at Northampton and replaced by former youth coach and England under sixteen manager Dan Micciche. His four games in charge have all resulted in defeats - away to Oldham and Walsall and at home to Portsmouth, and Coventry in the FA Cup.
Our recent record against MK is not inspiring. In the 2011/12 promotion season we beat them 2-1 at The Valley courtesy of two Johnnie Jackson penalties on our way to promotion. Since resuming hostilities in 2015, however, our only victory in seven encounters was the 1-0 up there on Boxing Day 2016 when a dull match was enlivened by a few seconds of skill as Andrew Crofts hit a perfect through ball for Ademola Lookman to control and fire into the corner.
Saturday's game is a real "must win" for Charlton. If we can't beat a team in such dire straits as Milton Keynes then we surely must give up all pretensions of a play-off spot. Karl Robinson is under a lot of pressure to show that he can put out a team which can compete for the full ninety minutes and not fold under pressure in the closing stages. Our home game with MK in November was typical of this vulnerability as we regained the lead through an own goal in the 87th minute only to concede a penalty four minutes later. Failure to win at Stadium MK would suggest that we will drop back and be overhauled in the weeks to come by the likes of Portsmouth, Plymouth or even Gillingham. The announcement of a change of ownership can't come soon enough and it will be so disappointing if it comes too late for the boost to be too late for this season.
We watch with interest to see if Joe Aribo - who started in Charlton's run of three wins in January - will get a recall into the team which has yet to win since he returned to the bench to make way for Jake Forster-Caskey. Robinson has made it clear that Jason Pearce will not be risked.