Charlton Live writer Matt Riggs previews the clash with the Cottagers on Sunday lunchtime…
It’s six games since the Addicks last tasted victory and there are, without a doubt, causes for concern.
Some forwards are struggling to find the back of the net, others are being linked to leave on loan and key players have looked worryingly average.
Oh, and we’re on TV next. Against Fulham.
The impressive start to the campaign is now a distant memory. The most optimistic of supporters, who thought a play-off spot or better was nailed on from the moment Morgan Fox fired in a second against QPR, have been brought back down to earth with an almighty thud.
At the same time, though, it’s important to remember a few things. This is the same squad that we had such high hopes for after five matches and Guy Luzon is the manager who guided the side to eight points against some of the division’s better sides, playing exciting football while, at the same time, keeping it tight at the back.
But the recent rut has left the side in 17th place in the Championship and the Addicks need a win. Yet, we can’t help but be fearful – it’s the curse of the cameras, after all.
Valley View: A Look at the Addicks
Recent results have been poor, and probably more disappointingly, painfully obvious. The 3-0 away defeat to Blackburn left Charlton without a win against Rovers in five matches and it’s as many games at Molineux in which the Reds have failed to pick up maximum points.
Add those to a poor draw at home to winless – at the time – Rotherham and a home defeat to Huddersfield, who had also failed to grab a victory when they arrived in SE7, and you have the perfect ingredients for a typical Charlton slump.
The heavy defeat at Selhurst Park did nothing to change the mood of supporters and though Luzon’s men did take the lead at Cardiff last week, they could not hold on.
Admittedly, injuries have caused ongoing issues for weeks, with strikers Simon Makienok, Igor Vetokele and Tony Watt all experiencing their own problems, leaving Charlton short up-top. Alternative options in Karlan Ahearne-Grant and Conor McAlney don’t exactly strike fear into experienced Championship defender’s eyes.
But these problems are part-and-parcel of life in the Championship and though the number of strikers to be absent could be seen as unlucky, most would have told you when the season started, the squad was thin.
Good news did arrive in the shape of contracts for two left-backs this week – first Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, then Morgan Fox – but Charlton are going to need to rediscover some of their early season form if they are to take anything from the Fulham game on Sunday.
Important too will be Luzon’s team selection. Watt as the front man with one in behind has proved unsuccessful and therefore the importance of playing Johann Berg Gudmundsson out wide is huge, with two up-front an obvious choice in a home London derby. Ultimately, though, the result could hinge on which strikers are available for selection.
Alou Diarra is back in contention after serving a one match suspension, but the fear for Charlton fans is that this could all cease to matter once the Sky cameras are inside the Valley. I needn’t remind you of the abysmal TV record.
The Opposition: Fulham
Inconsistency – that’s Fulham’s current problem. Kit Symons’ men followed up last weekend’s convincing 4-0 win over QPR with a 3-0 home defeat to Wolves on Tuesday and currently sit in 14th in the Championship.
But inconsistency hasn’t stopped the Cottagers in the past when facing Charlton. Last season, live on Sky, again in October, they romped to a simple 3-0 victory albeit having started the season poorly.
And looking back to their past record against the Addicks, it’s impressive. You have to go back to 2004 to see Charlton’s last win in this fixture, though there have only been three meetings between the sides in the last nine years.
Ross Mc(four)mack is a name opponents never enjoy reading on the teamsheet, least of all Charlton, and teenager Moussa Dembele has started the season well with three goals. They are, without a doubt, one of the more dangerous pairings in the Championship.
For supporters, either delight (for those that realise he always plays well against us) or dismay (for those who just love to give him grief) will come with the news that Scott Parker is unlikely to be fit for the match, having been unable to feature in any of Fulham’s matches this season.
We’ve met before: Previous Encounters
As previously mentioned, the two sides met on Sky last October, and it ended horribly for Charlton. Karlan Ahearne-Grant, in only his fourth senior appearance for the club, was the only bright spark in an otherwise uninspiring display by Bob Peeters’ men.
A 1-1 draw was played out at the Valley later in the campaign, with Gudmundsson cancelling out McCormack’s opener, but it really is depressing looking back previous to last season.
The 4-0 scoreline in the FA Cup defeat at Craven Cottage from Charlton’s League 1 promotion season doesn’t tell the whole story of that game, yet the match before that…
Tomasz Radzinski’s hand, anyone?
Ultimately, Charlton are on a slippery slope and they need to turn things around.
But with injuries still limiting Luzon’s men, and last season’s 13-match winless run still a painful memory, it’s not a given that this slump will end anytime soon.
Fulham are an outfit who possess two dangerous goalscorers and could hurt Charlton on Sunday, but the Addicks are desperate to end this TV hoodoo. That leaves one possible outcome – a draw is on the cards.
Follow Matt on Twitter @riggsy24