Much has been made of Wigan's 8-0 thrashing of Hull on Tuesday evening but in many ways it is their defensive record which is the more remarkable. Charlton's visitors on Saturday have kept ten clean sheets in their last eleven games.
Since returning from lockdown they have beaten Blackburn, Stoke, QPR and Hull at home and Huddersfield away. In addition they gained a 0-0 draw at Barnsley playing with ten men for the last twenty minutes. The only team to score against them since early February is Brentford who beat them 3-0 last month. Their post-lockdown goal difference is 16-3
They were already on the rise back in February when, after losing 1-2 at home to Preston, they saw off Reading and WBA away and beat Millwall at home. On top of that they had gone to Leeds at the start of the month and had beaten them 1-0.
So, is there any hope?
Charlton's performances against Brentford, Reading and Birmingham have offered moments to admire but lack of goal power and individual errors have been costly. It also looks like they are enjoying the poor luck that is typical of relegated teams. It would be a brave Charlton fan to expect three points on Saturday but would one point be enough, perhaps from a scrappy 0-0 draw?
As long as Huddersfield lose to WBA on Friday evening a point for us on Saturday would move us above them on goal difference with one game to go. Their final game is at Millwall. A draw would also maintain the gap between ourselves and Wigan at ten points meaning that, when the twelve point penalty for administration is imposed, we would sit two points above them. Wigan's final game is at home to Fulham and they would have to win it. Hull play Luton on Saturday and they can't both win. We'd probably prefer Luton to win as Hull's final game is at Cardiff. If they drew it would mean they could both, in theory, catch us although that is highly unlikely. Barnsley already need to beat Forest and Brentford to overtake us.
(It is not of course impossible that we could get something from Elland Road next Wednesday, but few of us would want to count on it.)
Wigan are appealing against the club's twelve point deduction for going into administration on the grounds of force majeur - an event over which they had no control. They are unlikely to succeed as the EFL recently said:
"Whilst it is clear that Covid-19 has undoubtedly presented significant financial challenges to the professional game, evidence of the required source and sufficiency of funding to be invested in or otherwise made available to the club, was provided as part of the recent change of control process."
The extraordinary events at Wigan will have particular resonance for Charlton fans as we observe our own ownership shenanigans. While their plight might hand our club a short-term advantage no football fan can be comfortable with a situation in which a club like Wigan can so easily fall into the control of shady and unpredictable individuals with questionable motives and no link to the communities served by the club.