Thursday, 5 March 2009

Weekend Championship Preview, Game 36

Watford come to the Valley on Saturday in a game that now takes on more importance for them than it does us. Alongside Barnsley and Blackpool they hover above the drop zone on 39 points with Southampton and Forest a win away beneath them. The Hornets were brought down to earth at Home Park in the week in a match which saw Plymouth scramble above them. Watford have only managed two wins on the road all season and this might be the best shot they get of a third.

Morale in the Addicks camp will be on a new low after the dismal loss in the week and the harsh reality that the long struggle this season is going to end in an unthinkable second relegation in three seasons. Most of our players will have less to worry about in the current economic climate than those watching in the stands, but for some, it will be the end of the gravy train and, frankly, they can have no complaints. I had to laugh when I read Darren Ambrose's latest spouting that he's out to win a fresh contract. Who's he kidding? He will be lucky to get offered League One money come the Summer.

The big question now is will our side be able to play some relaxed and attacking football in the remaining games or will we continue to struggle as Parkinson begins the process of prioritising the playing staff for 2009-10 in League One?

I fancy he will stick with his current side for another week or two until the "almighty task" becomes mission impossible. It's a shame we haven't been able to make a real fight of it because it's shaping up to be a titantic battle to avoid joining us...

Birmingham City v Southampton

Southampton are on the kind of roll that we have long envisaged and travel to St. Andrews on the back of three successive wins. Their luck will have to hold here if they are to keep that run going. City have been stuttering of late but they have a very impressive 12-3-3 home record and despatched battling Bristol City in the week. Can't see many goals here and have to take Brum to edge it.
Prediction; 1-0

Blackpool v Norwich City
Six pointer here. Blackpool lost at home to Burnley in the week whilst Norwich, inexplicably, got a result at Loftus Road. Blackpool need to arrest their slide and they won't get an easier opportunity than this.
Prediction; 2-0

Cardiff City v Doncaster Rovers
Fascinating game in prospect at Ninian Park. Doncaster Rovers are playing care-free football as we saw in the week and they will look forward to this. Cardiff have games in hand and look certs for the play-offs. they might have to settle for a share of the spoils here.
Prediction; 1-1

Charlton Athletic v Watford
Watford look like they should have all the drive and urgency here but they are an average side who have been poor away all season. Unless they manage to score first, you have to think our players will finally show some attacking prowess, albeit far too late.  
Prediction; 2-0

Crystal Palace v Preston NE
Palace have been pathetic in recent weeks  and they will be grateful for their mid-season surge. They will laugh at our demise this season but may well join us next year unless something fundamental happens at Selhurst. They don't own their ground, their owner has been trying to pass on his responsibilities for a season now and their manager isn't far away from retirement. I really don't understand how they could let a player like Danny Butterfield go on loan to us and believe it's symptomatic of a deeper problem. This game could come at just the right time for PNE.
Prediction; 0-1

Derby County v Bristol City
City need a win at Pride Park to maintain their play-off hopes. Derby conceded two second -half goals at home to draw with Swansea in the week and they aren't out of the relegation woods just yet. It might be hard to split these teams.
Prediction; 1-1

Nottingham Forest v Swansea City
Amazingly, Forest are out of the bottom three and Robert Earnshaw repaid another slice of his fee with a brace in the win over Preston last time out. Same again would do Forest and I'll take them to repeat the feat.
Prediction; 2-1

Plymouth Argyle v Reading
Reading have two games in hand on Birmingham City and only need to make up two points. They won't want that gap to increase as City are at home, so I think we'll see them turn Argyle over and plunge them back into the mire.
Prediction; 0-1

QPR v Sheffield United
Fill your boots Sheffield. QPR were out-done by Norwich in the week and there's no reason why you can't match that. The play-offs have gone for the richest club in the Championship but not for the Blades who will be counting the points down.
Prediction; 0-2

Sheffield Wednesday v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Championship Match of the Day in prospect here as the nervy table-toppers go to unpredictable Wednesday. Both sides have scored and conceded plenty this season and this could be a topsy-turvey match.
Prediction; 3-3

I've had a shufty at the remaining games it's looking like we could get relegated at St. Marys. A defeat down there would be a double whammy and would probably mean we would be mathematically relegated with six games left to go. That would be a further embarrassment on our club and the last humiliation in this season which is vying strongly for the worst ever.

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