Goalkeeper - Rob Elliot has come in for a lot of criticism, with much of it targeted at his weight. I flat out disagree with this, if weight was such an issue then Paddy Kenny would not be one of the top keepers in the championship. Rob's problems seem to stem from his lack of agility and sense of positioning. He cannot get down to the low shots, or up to the high shots, fast enough. The weight question could be a factor in this but I don't believe it is the overriding problem. To me he has never looked like more than a league 2 keeper. Parkinson cost us dear in many situations but over the summer his loyalty to Rob cost us a better keeper. Darren Randolph was not perfect, see some of his performances in Scotland, but he was 10x better than Elliot. Whenever I feel sorry for Phil I remember what he has done to my club and the balance is restored.
If the rumours that Rob is ill are true then I hope Ross Worner gets the nod. Rob at 100% recently has been poor and I dread to think what he will be like when he is ill. Ross had a rough start to his Charlton career but did begin to improve, unfortunately Rob recovered from his injury and Ross was dropped. Worner is a bit on the small side for a Goalkeeper but he makes up for this with some very good jumps to claim high crosses. He is also the more agile of our keepers, he gets down to the ball well but high shots across him to his top right corner do beat him. I think this is down to positioning but it is a weakness that needs to be rectified. Today I would like to see him given a chance, over the past few games Elliot has made a number of costly errors, and yet he must feel untouchable because he hasn't been dropped. Cab Ross really do that much worse than conceding a total of 6 goals against the likes of Exeter and Carlisle?
Defence - we have a chance for a change here and hopefully it will revitalize the team. I personally think Dailly's time has come, Parkinson originally brought him in as a utility player and he made one of the centre back spots his own. Now he is a liability. Against Carlisle, their first goal was down to us defending too deeply. The ball was picked up around the halfway line, and no one put a challenge in until they were on the edge of the area, at which point Jenkinson came across from left back. This is probably because we don't have the younger legs in defence that would allow us to cover for an error but we are causing ourselves more problems with this style. Doherty comes in for a lot of the blame however, he is a good first ball centre back. He wins most of his headers and clears the danger either out of play or upfield. The problems for me come from Dailly playing as the second ball centre back. He isn't comfortable in this role and his lack of pace means he struggles to mop up the knock downs from targetmen. Dailly cannot win the ball consistently in the air anymore which means he would be a useless first ball centre back but because he is captain we have to find a place for him. I'm also wondering if he is the right choice of captain now. Yes he is the most experienced, but he seems more content to argue with his team than drive them forwards. There seems to be more respect for Semedo in the ranks and I would prefer him as captain leading by example.
Today I would like to see Mambo give a go and possibly Llera. I'm not a massive fan of big Mig as he can be very error prone, however, he seems to be better with the ball at his feet and that is what you need with a second ball CB. Mambo on the other hand looks like your stereotypical 1st ball CB. He is big and, you would imagine, strong. He needs to be given a chance to shine and this seems like the perfect opportunity. Francis and Jenkinson should start at RB and LB. I'm not sure Fry will be fully fit but if he is either Llera or Francis would make way with Jenkinson moving to RB in the latter scenario.
Midfield - there is a lot of take about our need for a creative CM, however we already have two. Jackson is a natural CM not a winger and Racon can also play the role. Reid or Eccleston can patrol the left flank with Wagstaff on the right.
My preferred midfield today would be Reid, Semedo, Jackson, Wagstaff with Reid and Racon coming on towards the end when the game is stretched.
Forwards - with Akpo and Abbott leaving in quick succession we have found ourselves in a bit of a hole. BWP automatically has to start as he has been our most prolific goal threat since joining. Alongside him though we have a problem. All reports seem to suggest that Anyinsah will not make the game today. Joe has not been great in front of goal this year but the strength of his game is bringing his teammates into the game. Benson is back but he is not really a targetman. This means we will need to play the ball on the ground and down the wings. To do this our midfield will have to stand up and be counted, something some of them don't like to do. Unfortunately outside of this starting strike force we seem to be out of options, you could shift Wagstaff or Eccleston forward, but this means Reid, Racon, or McCormack would have to start.
In all honesty I can't see this lineup being picked. Instead I think it will be more like the team below and we might get away with a draw.
Elliot, Francis, Fortune, Dailly, Jenkinson, Eccleston, Racon, Semedo, Jackson, Wagstaff, Wright-Phillips
But despite everything I will still be there cheering them on from start to finish and who knows, with the right motivation even this group of misfits might be able to pull off a miracle.
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