Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Monday, 29 October 2007
With Watford winning this evening (ho-ho!), that means the Top 4 all won and the next four, down to Charlton, were all beaten. The top sides are beginning to string out and we are a worrying 7 points adrift of the second automatic promotion spot which was ours little over a week ago. Watford, our relegation peers from last season are 13 points ahead of us and already look unassailable.
For the record I got 7 out of 12 correct results and was one goal away from five correct scores. I will publish my next few bets so you can all get on it too and join me in celebrating a nice big pre-Christmas win!
Saturday, 27 October 2007
QPR were good value for the win and they should have had the winner even earlier in the second half having missed a penalty and an open goal. They were hardworking but their win was handed to them on a plate by a disinterested Charlton side. Varney and Iwelumo mis-fired throughout and our midfield was all over the place. Reid was subduded on the left in the first half and failed to up the tempo when he came into the middle after Semedo was substituted. Lloyd Sam had a poor game on his return from a three match ban but did come closest to scoring for the Reds with a second half free kick which Lee Camp pushed out.
The back four were again a major disappointment. Alan Pardew at least took some positive action after the midweek display by dropping Bougherra and starting Sodje at the back with Fortune for the first time. He also gave Grant Basey a debut at left-back and he was probably the only Charlton player to emerge with any credit. Sodje made two superb last ditch tackles but Fortune cantered through the game and again made several howlers, worst of which was his mis-timed tackle which gave Rangers their penalty. Turned inside out he waited until his opponent got into the box before bringing his man down. The resultant penalty was slammed off an upright by Rowlands and that should have been the wake-up call Charton needed but no-one looked that bothered and you knew what was coming.
Minutes later and Danny Mills, who looked more interested than the rest, was far too casual in the box and lost the ball to a Rangers player who amazingly failed to hit the target. They didn't have to wait too much longer though, another raid on the left saw Vine curl a deep cross which Weaver came for but never looked like getting. Weaver collided with Sodje and Nygaard, and went down looking for a free-kick as the ball fell to Bolder who fired home. There was still plenty of time left but we hadn't shown any urgency all day and continued at a pedestrian rate.
Alan Pardew should be furious after this performance but it's hard to see what options he has. Thomas came on for Semedo but failed to create anything and Izale Mcleod didn't touch the ball after coming on for Iwelumo with a good 15 minutes left. What we need is an international break but the last one doesn't seem to have done us any good. Two away games now look very difficult and we face running out a mid-table side in the next home game. The bubble has well and truly burst and we have a lot of hard work to do to turn this around.
Friday, 26 October 2007
Bristol City v Stoke City
Must be a home win here. Stoke bounced back from a 4-2 home defeat by lowly Wednesday to win 3-1 at equally lowly Palace in midweek. Bristol City should provide altogther tougher opposition.
Burnley v Southampton
Hard one this as both sides are extremely unpredictable. I'll go with home advantage.
Cardiff City v Scunthorpe
JFH and Robbie Fowler are determined to prove me wrong by racking up the goals. Both scored again in midweek but it wasn't enough to prevent Wolves taking the spoils at Ninian Park. Scunny are proving a tough nut to crack.
Charlton v QPR
London derby predictions have to start with a 1-1 view. We are dreadful on live TV but QPR are bottom and managerless. They have been scrapping however, so I'll tone this down (an early Charlton goal could signal a hat-full).
Coventry City v Colchester United
The Sky Blues to bounce back from the 3-0 home rout by Watford.
Hull City v Sheffield United
The "Robson out" campaign can't be far off despite some respite in midweek with a 1-0 win at Leicester. I fancy Hull to win Yorkshire bragging rights here.
Ipswich Town v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Both had good wins in the week. Wolves have won their last two and Michael Kightly is buzzing. That might be enough to share the points.
Leicester City v Barnsley
As we know, Barnsley will scrap and Leicester are rudderless at the moment.
Preston NE v Plymouth Argyle
Plymouth looked a confident side at the Valley in midweek but they rode their luck and Ray Styles helped break the game for them. If Preston can take their chances they should have enough here.
Sheffield Wednesday v Blackpool
Is the Wednesday revival back on? They win at Stoke and lose at home to Scunthorpe in the same week. They're due a win on that basis.
West Brom v Norwich
Banker of the day.
Crystal Palace v Watford
Monday evening fare this one. A 17,000 crowd to see Palace fail again. The good news is that Neil Warnock and Simon Jordan will get to see themselves on telly again.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Wolves winning at Cardiff tonight tonight means we drop out of the Play-Off places. Maybe this will give us an extra edge on Saturday (I know this sounds desperate but...). Bristol City won again at home to Southampton, so open a gap on us and all of a sudden there's a real bunching with 8 sides separated by 3 points below the top 3.
Looking further out, we might be playing Southampton (Jason Euell) at just the right time. They are shipping goals so we might expect a 4-3 win. Bristol City away the week after that will be tough but maybe we will go there as under-dogs. We follow that at home to Cardiff where I will be furious if we can't prevent another ex Charlton player from scoring against us, especially a useless fat one.
Roll on Saturday!
Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Charlton started with a reasonable enough line-up bearing in mind all the pre-match consternation over how we would fill the left-back slot. The solution was straightforward enough, Mills went in at left-back and Yassin Moutaouakil came back at right-back. Ambrose was replaced by Varney in a wide right position, which looked ok to me at the start, although he had a poor game and was ineffective (not unlike Ambrose of late).
The game started very brightly with a goal a-piece inside the first 12 minutes or so. Plymouth attacked from the off and deserved their early lead when some quick movement and slick passing saw them play in from the left and several touches later Ebanks-Blake found himself with the simple task of steering the ball wide of Weaver. I could be critical of the Charlton defending but this was very early in the game and there was worse to come.
Having taken the lead, Plymouth took a breather and Charlton picked up the reigns with several good attacking moves of their own culminating in a ball being played out to Mills on the overlap at the left edge of the box on 12 minutes. His rasping drive from 20 yards looked to have been tipped onto the post by Luke McCormick but the ball cannoned back and the unfortunate keeper knocked it over the line. At this stage we had a great game in prospect.
There then followed a number of niggly fouls from both sides which Styles either failed to punish or simply got wrong - Semedo was clattered three times. Todorov was the inevitable first booking when Coco finally decided to impose himself on the game. Unfortunately he then failed to book a retaliatory cut-down on Todorov minutes later that saw him stretchered off (to be replaced by Izale McLeod). At this point Mr Styles was probably concerned at the number of things he was getting wrong and the evident abuse he was getting from the Valley crowd. So, he decided he was going to award a free-kick for every subsequent tackle and a yellow card for anything bordering a committed challenge until the end of the game. I lost count at 10 yellow cards, six to us a and four to them. For every booking he blew his whistle as loud as he could, stepped back theatrically and summonsed the player towards him. No quick kicks were allowed and we had a 15-20 second delay as he took his notes for each booking. In between times his other decisions were inconsistent and on several occasions blatantly wrong. There was precious little advantage played and when he did he was waving play on because he couldn't decide if there had been a foul committed or not! He used these two "advantages" to demonstrate that he knew the correct signal for "play on" by waving his arms profusely as if to ensure we were all aware that he was somehow contributing to the flow of the game (which he failed to do spectacularly).
Luke Varney missed the best Charlton chance of the half when he ran onto a long through ball from Jonathan Fortune only to slam his shot at McCormick. Iwelumo met a superb cut-back cross from Reid at the far post and headed down powerfully but, for the third game running, his effort was stopped on the line. In the midst of this Charlton period McLeod gave the ball away in a deep position and Argyle countered swiftly. The ball was lobbed over the back line and Barry Hayles was allowed to get a toe to it before Weaver and it trickled in for 1-2.
Charlton came out fired-up during the second half and created a blizzard of chances in several concerted spells of pressure, but everything looked hurried and there was a sense of panic even with 25 minutes to go. Andy Reid shot wide twice with options available left and right; varney did the same; Iwleumo rose unchallenged to meet a great left-wing cross ten yards out but contrived to divert his header wide of the gaping right-hand post. I think every midfielder and forward fluffed chances during the second half in-between bookings and fouls awarded by Styles. Defeat looked inevitable when Charlton eventually slowed down and Plymouth were able to get back into the game towards the end of the match.
Credit to Plymouth, they came to have a go and you have to think that Ian Holloway had done his homework, although it's pretty evident what Charlton's problems are; we cannot defend for 90 minutes and we have a glaringly obvious problem at centre-back. Our conversion ration of goal-scoring chances to goals must be the worst in the division and this too is becoming a concern.
Danny Mills was my clear-cut man-of-the-match today (Lillian Nalis stood out for them). Reidy was a close second despite his misses. Yassin Moutoakil played well but I think Fortune and Bougherra were exposed for the goals and they don't look comfortable with each other. Semedo and Zheng Zhi both had reasonable games in midfield but Varney looked clearly out-of-position. Iwelumo had another busy game but was guilty of three bad misses. McLeod contributed little. Thomas looked lively when he came on beating his men on the left and putting in several excellent crosses, although he too finished his best opportunity weakly.
This was our first back-to-back defeat and we've heaped pressure on ourselves for Saturday. Our record in live TV games is truly appalling (I'll bet no-one has worse) and QPR will come to frustrate us. I'm so hacked off with this evening's game that I can't be bothered to look at the other results and am off to bed.
Monday, 22 October 2007
What with England going down in Paris and Lewis Hamilton losing it in Sao Paulo (you can't see him being handed the World Championship on a technicality) it was a depressing end to a disappointing sporting week. We will have to hope for better next month when the final games of the European qualifiers are played.
At least Charlton have a chance of bouncing back and lifting spirits this week. We need to avoid two bad results in succession this season if we are to maintain hopes of automatic promotion. Plymouth Argyle are going well and had a confidence-boosted 1-0 over Coventry at Home Park at the weekend. Hopefully, a long trip on a Tuesday night to a partisan Valley will prove too much for them. We need Andy Reid firing on all cylinders and surely we won't waste all of the opportunities we create again.
On Saturday we play bottom-of-the-table, managerless QPR and have to expect to win this comfortably. London derbies are rarely straightforward but an early goal might be all we need to break their resolve and we could make it a long day for them. We are also due to give someone a beating by four or five and this week would be as good as any.
We will need to match West Brom as they have every prospect of picking up six points themselves as the entertain Blackpool and then Norwich at the Hawthorns. Bristol City are also at home twice against Southampton and then Stoke City. Southampton were outplayed at home by Cardiff yesterday but managed to hang on to an early lead and nick the points. After the goals they have been shipping when going behind, they run the risk of a hiding at City. Hopefully Stoke will put up a better fight on Saturday after their disappointing home defeat by Sheffield Wednesday.
That leaves Wolves and Watford, both of whom face two away games. Wolves go to Cardiff and Ipswich and I can't see them coming through those unscathed. Watford are flying but will have to negotiate Coventry City and then Palace on Monday evening. An opportunity then for us to make some ground here.
Remember, the Royal Oak has re-opened and waiting times for a pint should be shortened due to the extension of the bar as well as the pub. Landlord Clive Still is a long-suffering QPR fan, so expect him to be hiding in the cellar after the game on Saturday.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Wednesday, 17 October 2007
In Group D, the Republic of Ireland and Wales are already out. The Irish have gone out a respectable third to Germany and the Czech Republic but they have rallied in recent games. The Welsh, however, are staggering about punch-drunk and you feel it'll take a knock-out blow and some time on the canvass before they have any chance of long-term recovery. John Toshack was considering his options after the Cyprus game and it was hard to escape the conclusion that he feels he has been unable to influence his players and that he has little prospect of improving the situation. Incredibly frustrating for a man with superb playing record and an under-rated manageral career.
In Group F, Northern Ireland can at least hold their heads high after fighting all the way. Along with Denmark, they are likely to lose out to Sweden and Spain who only need one win from two reamining games each to qualify.
England's defeat in Moscow hands the Russians the initiative and they know that a win in Israel against a side who are now out of contention, would leave them needing a victory against no-hopers Andorra to clinch their place. Croatia only need a point from their two remaining games to qualify and one of those is a must win game for England at Wembley. The anti-McLaren brigade will be smelling blood and England do not need the added pressure that the press will now heap upon them.
Scotland meanwhile, were beaten by two good goals in Georgia. This after a great run of results which had put them top of their group containing the World Cup finalists. Their remaining match against Italy at Hampden on 17th November is now a straight qualifier and they must win if their failure to qualify for a major competition is not to be extended to 12 years at least.
Let's all hope that England and/or Scotland can yet make it because next years finals won't be the same without someone to cheer on.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
Scunthorpe v Leicester
Sunday, 14 October 2007
I also watched a dogged England display as they ground out another amazing result at the Stadt de France. It's hard to think that England have actually made it to the Rugby World Cup final, but they have and no amount of purist pontification will change that. Despite what they are saying publicly they will be hoping to face the Argies next week. Whilst the South African's are hot favourites this evening, I can see the Pumas running them close. I hope so, because England have the game to beat them but not, I fear, the Boks and the wounds from they opening round mangling are still too fresh to be forgotten.
Back to business, and it great to see Chris Dickson's name appearing as scorer on the pub telly in Glasgow yesterday. First because that's four in a week, but also because it meant Millwall were losing (so they scraped a draw - it's not the end of the world).
Looks like we might need the win at Wolves on Saturday if Watford aren't to increase their lead at the top - they should beat Hull comfortably at Vicarage Road. West Brom and Bristol City are also away, at Colchester and Norwich respectively, so Watford will go six points clear if we don't match their result. C'mon you Reds!
Friday, 12 October 2007
One thing is for sure, I will insist that we are drinking in a pub tomorrow night that is showing Le Crunch. With Scotland whimpering out of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday (don't mention it, I am still furious), I will be cheering England on in a game that I believe they can win. The tactics deployed so brilliantly against the Aussies will be enough to force the French to choke once more. With up to 40,000 England fans in Paris it should be an amazing occasion. Allez les Blancs!
England's oft derided football team should make mincemeat of Estonia at Wembley too, irrespective of who's fit to play, so expect a rare double. Then we can all get back to the business and the focus on a tricky trip to Molineaux where a draw would not be too shabby with two homes games to follow.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Twelve months ago we had given Iain Dowie the boot and were about to lurch from one crisis to another. Our fans were split over whether or not it was the right thing to do but almost everyone knew that Les Reed's appointment was a disaster very quickly afterwards as we headed to the bottom of the tank. All this after 15 years of relative stability and progress. Simon Jordan was revelling in our plight and reminding us all of how he'd warned our Board that "what goes around comes around" as he'd left the Valley with his tail between his legs on St. Jonathan's Day.
Four months later and Alan Pardew steadied the ship but it was too much to ask of him with what he had inherited and and we, ultimately, paid a heavy price for our £20m gamble to push on following the Alan Curbishley era. Simon Jordan had his perverse day in the sun.
Two months into a brave new season and Alan Pardew can give himself a big pat on the back. Having rebuilt the entire playing squad and backroom staff in little more than six months, his emerging new team are unbeaten in 8 and lying second in the table. All this achieved well within the sale budget and presumably he has repaid part of the Dowie debt as well. What's more, there should be more to come from this side and the division looks to hold little in the way of surprises so far.
By comparison Simon Jordan's Crystal Palace have stumbled on and the unfortunate Peter Taylor (he who didn't fancy the Charlton job) finds himself the latest scapegoat for Palaces' lack of genuine quality. I thought Simon might ride this one out a while but I was forgetting his monstrous ego. The anticipated appointment of Neil Warnock (yes, I know, Neil Warnock!) is adding to my sense of well-being. This really is a marriage made in court.
Down at the other corner of the Bermuda Triangle, the Lions have big problems of their own. They continue to struggle desperately to attract the finances they need to redecorate their house and it's hard to see any takers knowing the social skills of the family who live there. Having conceded four goals at Carlisle in the first half on Saturday, Poor Willie has been shown the door. Millwall's hierarchy (sic) and their supporters have, to a large extent, a much smaller slice of `Umble Pie to eat than their ugly neighbours. Knowing the limits of their expectations, they are always more circumspect than Palace in gloating. That, and the fact that the mindless majority couldn't care less what's happening as long as there's the prospect of a bundle several times a season.
The appointment of a replacement at the not-so-New Den will be interesting. You have to suspect they will go the least-cost route and appoint someone on the cheap, if not allow Richard Shaw a run at it if they can overcome their nemisis at Priestfield next time out.
The feel-good factor could well be here for a while yet.
Monday, 8 October 2007
In 85-86 we trailed in 7 points behind Norwich and only one ahead of Wimbledon in finishing second in what was a relatively low points scoring season for the top clubs.
Interesting that in 97-98 we also had 19 points; we finished fourth that year and qualified through the play-offs. We had also played 6 away and only 4 at home after 10, so might reasonably have expected to be 2 or 3 points better off had we played 5 home and 5 away. Although 4th, we were only 3 points off second and 6 points from Champions Nottingham Forest.
Champions in 99-00, we had reached 22 points after 10 games and finshed four points above 3rd placed Ipswich Town.
Goal difference in all the previous campaigns was similar i.e. +6 to +9 after 10 played, although we have scored and conceded less so far this year.
So what conclusions can we draw? Nothing for sure of course, but I guess we look a couple of points off an automatic promotion place in relation to previous seasons at this stage. It's interesting to note that we have only lost one game in getting our 19 points this year whereas in the other seasons we had lost two or three and yet had similar or better points tallies. If we can extend our unbeaten run and lose less matches we should make up a couple of points before we get to 20 games.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Blackpool v Plymouth------1-0--------0-0-----One goal from correct score
Bristol City v Sheffield Utd-2-1--------2-0-----One goal from correct score
Cardiff City v Burnley------1-0--------2-1-----And no goal from Fowler or JFH!
Charlton Ath. v Barnsley---3-0--------1-1-----We needed an early goal and we look to need two goal leads to avoid drawing.
Crystal Palace v Hull City - 2-0--------1-1-----Poor result for Palace Taylor must be on borrowed time or Jordan's increasing lack of interest may mean he's not prepapred to shell out on another manager when this season looks lost already.
Ipswich v Preston NE------2-0--------2-1-----One goal from correct score.
Scunthorpe v Watford-----2-2--------1-3-----Watford are looking strong and beginning to pull away.
Sheffield Wed v Leicester--2-1--------0-2-----Not even close.
Southampton v West BA---2-2--------3-2-----One goal from correct score.
Stoke City v Colchester-----1-0-------2-1-----Colchester lose their unbeaten away record.
Wolvers v Coventry City----1-1-------1-0-----One goal from correct score.
On a different note the New Zealand v France game last night was a pulsating match which like the earlier England performance against the Aussies will be long talked about in the rugby world. Two of the supposedly inferior northern hemisphere sides winning through to the semis and guaranteeing one European placing in the final. South Africa will surely be too hot for Fiji this afternoon but there's room for Scotland to throw another surprise this evening and I'm having a tickle on them with a 13 point start.
Saturday, 6 October 2007
In the second half Charlton began to apply the pressure and created a succession of corners and free-kicks. Zheng Zhi clipped the bar with a glancing header as Charlton began to up the tempo. Todorov came on for Varney and Thomas replaced Ambrose. Todorov missed a sitter but you knew it was coming. On 82 minutes Reid sent over a raking cross from the left which he looked to have over-hit. Big Chris leapt and then stretched to meet it. His knockdown was perfect and Zheng Zhi had the simple task of finding the net. The impressive Heinz Muller in the Barnsley goal was finally beaten and that looked to be that. However Barnsley were not done and with two minutes remaining on the clock they snatched the equaliser following a desperate scramble in the Charlton box. With five minutes of added time they even had the ordacity to miss the chance of the game which add least added a bit of perspective for frustrated Addicks fans.
All-in-all this will be seen as two points lost but we remain in touch at the top and have stretched our unbeaten run.
Friday, 5 October 2007
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
Lovely result at the Hawthorns tonight - Charlton could well go top on Saturday - just the incentive we need!Marginally better than the weekend with one correct score, three more correct results and six results within one goal of a correct score. Should have had more confidence in the Addicks, so I'l be sticking my neck out on Saturday for a comfortable home win. Bookie due a beating!
Barnsley v Bristol City; .......2-1......... 3-0....... Biggest defeat for City this year.
Burnley v Ipswich Town; ...2-0......... 2-2........ And Ipswich were leading twice!
Coventry v Blackpool;......... 2-1.......... 3-1....... One goal from correct score.
Hull v Charlton Athletic;......2-1 ..........1-2........ We had to score first to get something :)
Leicester City v Wolves;..... 1-0.......... 0-0........ One goal from correct score.
Norwich City v Scunthorpe; 0-1......... 0-0........ One goal from correct score.
Plymouth v Crystal Palace;.. 1-1......... 1-0........ One goal from correct score. A fine result nonetheless.
Preston NE v Southampton; 0-2 .........5-1......... Maybe Southampton haven't turned the corner yet!
Sheffield United v Cardiff; .....2-0.........3-3......... Sheffield United have started far slower than I had expected. Fowler and Hasselbaink are out to prove me wrong as well!
Watford v Sheffield Wed;....... 2-1.........2-1......... None needed.
Colchester v QPR; ...................3-0..........4-2.........Emphatic home win.
West Brom v Stoke City;........ 2-0..........1-1.........I'll settle for that.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
A poor first half from a tired-sounding Charlton came to life on 40 minutes when Andy Reid made a rare contribution in knocking a long ball into the box. Three Charlton players went in to challenge but Hull goalkeeper Myhill got there first but only managed to punch the ball onto the back of one of them and it fell to Luke Varney to stroke home. That was the spark for a tetchy game to ignite; Charlton had been getting more than there fair share of the 50:50's and the referree was getting full volume abuse from the home crowd. On Charlton's next foray forward, Lloyd Sam clashed with Ian Ashbee and Ashbee kicked out as both players fell to ground. The inexperienced Sam retaliated and the fate of both players was inevitable as both sides flew into the melee. Jon Fortune and Dean Windass (no surprise there) were both in quickly and as the referree restored order Sam was already on his way. Ashbee followed and the frustrated Hull fans gave vent to their anger in 4 minutes of added time.
In the second half Hull seemed to lose the initiative and were unable to create any of the attacking pressure they had managed earlier. Mills was booked for a foul on Pedersen and also managed to drive an angled shot off the top of the Hull bar. Nicky weaver tipped an effort onto the top of the goal and Chrissy Powell put his head in the way of the Hughes free-kick that concussed him for a couple of minutes. Nothing much else to report until Reid found Zheng Zhi on a break after 88 minutes. Zheng burst through the Hull back line and crossed for Big Chris who beat Myhill to kill the game. McPhee managed a consolation in the last minute. Alan Pardew will be very pleased to have done what all promotion winning sides do by winning away from home without play particularly well.
The Addicks stay second behind Watford but remain three points clear of Barnsley and Coventry, safe in the knowledge that they can distance themselves from Barnsley at the Valley on Saturday which would achieve SAP's aim of a top-two position after 10 games. West Brom now know that they have to win at home to Stoke tomorrow night to reduce their five point deficit.
Saturday's match beginning to look exciting already!
Monday, 1 October 2007
As far as the rest of the midweek programme is concerned, I suspect we might see fewer draws than of late. Here's my take...
Barnsley v Bristol City
- A close game in prospect here but I fancy Barnsley to nick this knowing that a win will move them above City in the table.
Burnley v Ipswich Town
- Ipswich are poor travellers at the moment and they won't fancy this.
Coventry v Blackpool
- Coventry to make up for lost ground on Saturday. Blackpool did well to take a point at Vicarge Road.
Hull City v Charlton Athletic
- Tough for Charlton and we will need to score first to get anything here. I'm going with Hull to open the scoring and take the points (it would then put us under the requisite pressure to beat Barnsley on Saturday).
Leicester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
- Leicester will be looking for a double of sorts having beaten Villa last week. I can see Wolves going down here.
Norwich City v Scunthorpe
- Oh dear! Losing at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday was a very poor result and Peter Grant might be feeling the heat after tomorrow. On current form Scunthorpe will relish this.
Plymouth v Crystal Palace
- It's a long way to go on a night game for Palace but I think they have enough about them to share the points.
Preston NE v Southampton
- Excellent win for Southampton at Sheffield United on Saturday and their camp will be itching to get out and do it again. George Burley's boys to make up for their poor start.
Sheffield United v Cardiff City
- Sheffield United are due a win and Cardiff might be feeling satisfied with themselves for nicking a point at Oakwell.
Watford v Sheffield Wednesday
- Watford should be too good for an improving Wednesday team even without Marlon King and Darius Henderson.
Colchester v QPR
- QPR sacked John Gregory after their humping at West Brom on Sunday. I don't believe Gregory is the cause of their problems and they will be weaker without him.
West Brom v Stoke City
- West Brom are beginning to find the form that made them automatic contenders for most of last season. The goals are flowing and they will be confident of more against hard-to-beat Stoke side.