Bristol Rovers travel to The Valley on the second day of 2017, to try and address the dismal display they showed at home when playing the Addicks earlier in the season, which lead to caretaker Kevin Nugent’s Charlton side sealing an impressive 5-1 victory.
Karl Robinson has now started to settle into his new managerial role at The Valley, and after a difficult start, he has picked up four points from a possible six since Christmas, and will be looking to start the New Year with a strong victory at home. It is worth noting that the first January signing, Jay Dasilva, will be available for the game against Bristol Rovers on Monday.
Charlton are expecting to announce the signing of a midfielder on January the 1st, but as I am writing this, the club has not made an official statement as of yet, but the lad set to join should also be available for the game against Bristol Rovers.
The newly promoted Bristol Rovers are a side that have taken to League One rather comfortably and are a team which are currently flirting with a promotion play-off spot to the second tier of English Football.
The Pirates are a side known for having strong attacking ability under Darrell Clarke, but do have issues at times preventing the concession and leaking of goals, as was very much witnessed in the emphatic 5-1 defeat to Charlton earlier in the season.
However since that defeat, the Pirates have bounced back, and currently sit four points above the Addicks, and two points away from the final play off spot. With the transfer window opening today, Clarke will be looking to consolidate and strengthen his side for a third promotion in three seasons.
There is a feel-good vibe at the Memorial Stadium, with new wealthy owners recently purchasing the club, who are willing to invest in the core infrastructure as well as back Clarke for consecutive promotions and stabilisation.
L -> W -> L -> W -> W
26th Nov: Chesterfield 3 – 2 Bristol Rovers (LOSS)
10th Dec: Bristol Rovers 4 – 2 Bury (WIN)
17th Dec: Shrewsbury 2 – 0 Bristol Rovers (LOSS)
26th Dec: Bristol Rovers 4 – 1 Coventry City (WIN)
31st Dec: Bristol Rovers 2 – 0 AFC Wimbledon (WIN)
The Pirates are coming to The Valley, after two back to back wins, which have involved Bristol Rovers scoring six goals, and will be aiming to continue that momentum in order to seize revenge against the Addicks!
Injuries / Suspensions:
The Rovers will be unable to field Jake Clarke-Salter, who has been out injured since the defeat to Charlton in November. However, other than the one casualty, Darrell Clarke has a fully fit arsenal to utilise, with the likes of Liam Lawrence and Lee Mansell returning to fitness, after being out for a long period.
In the recent festive period, Charlton Athletic have collected a total of four points out of a possible six, after a boxing day victory against MK Dons, and an away draw against Southend United, on the last day of 2016.
The Addicks are a side which has been riddled with injuries in recent weeks, with a total of seven first team starters missing for the game against the promotion chasing Shrimpers. However, the squad which was fielded, including five academy products, showed a fight, determination and spirit which allowed the Addicks to get back into the game after going down 1-0 in the first half.
The opposite of what has been seen in recent games, which has shown a Charlton side not willing to fight tooth and nail to steal points and win games, but it is clear that Karl Robinson’s football ideology is beginning to be adopted by his side, the team showing an increased work rate and trying to press forward as a unit. Despite Robinson saying there is a large amount of improvement to go, with the Reds only being at 50% of where he wants them to be, the game on Monday is a chance for him to continue that journey in the right direction.
The new signing Jay Dasilva will be available for Robinson to field for the first time, in front of The Valley faithful, with Sheffield Wednesday interested in Fox, who has also been recently out of form, it is likely Robinson will be planning to bench Fox. However, it is currently unclear whether or not Dasilva will play as a left back, or move up to the left wing, with Chicksen coming into that left back position.
Charlton are also expected to announce a midfielder signing on January the 1st, but as I am writing this post, no club announcement has been made. However, the new midfielder set to arrive at The Valley, should be able to play in a red shirt against Bristol Rovers on Monday.
Tony Watt has returned to The Valley after his contract termination by Hearts, after the forward fell out with the players and staff at the Scottish Premier League side. The returning forward is unlikely to feature, as Robinson is assessing the commitment and determination of Watt to play for the badge, after his recent unprofessional history at Charlton and Hearts.
D -> L -> L -> W -> D
10th Dec: Bradford City 0 – 0 Charlton Athletic (DRAW)
17th Dec: Charlton Athletic 0 – 2 Peterborough United (LOSS)
21st Dec: Millwall 3 – 1 Charlton Athletic (LOSS)
26th Dec: MK Dons 0 – 1 Charlton Athletic (WIN)
31st Dec: Southend United 1 – 1 Charlton Athletic (DRAW)
With Robinson picking up a possible four points out of six over the festive period, the manager will be looking to take seven points out of a possible nine in three games, to ensure a good start to the year.
Injuries / Suspensions:
Charlton’s total number of unavailable players will maintain at the significant level of eight.
It is unlikely we will see the starlet Ademola Lookman, who is heading to Everton, due to a case of transferitis. Chris Solly will remain unavailable due to his knee injury, as well as Norwich loanee Declan Rudd due to a hip injury.
The Skipper Johnnie Jackson is also unlikely to take part due to a groin injury, as well as Jason Pearce who is also experiencing groin problems. Long time absentee Ahmed Kashi will be absent due to a serious Achilles injury, and midfielder Ricky Holmes is still struggling with a foot injury. Lastly, the striker, Lee Novak is still recovering from a knee issue.
Darrell Clarke has almost a fully fit arsenal, and a squad with significant depth, which means he will be able to address any issues of fatigue through rotation, when heading to The Valley. Whereas, Karl Robinson is not so lucky, he has eight first team starters unavailable, and cannot rotate or introduce any players, other than Dasivla, without significantly weakening his side.
If Charlton are able to stay driven, and fire on all cylinders, they may be able to steal it, the possible psychological advantage being a factor, after the 5-1 Charlton victory last time these two sides met.
Charlton Athletic 3 – 2 Bristol Rovers