Monday, December 26, 2005

'You've only got twelve men'

This was what the Addickted chanted at The Valley as Charlton went down 0-1 at home to Arsenal. They might as well have shouted 'Gordon Bennett' as referee Steve Bennett ignored a Cygan hand ball in the box, paid no attention to a Fabregas tackle on Sorondo which has probably put him out of action for Newcastle and sent Danny Murphy off. Media commentary after the game referred to the Addick's 'disastrous' slump, but in fact this was a spirited and skilled performance by Charlton from which they deserved a point. The 4-4-2 formation used worked well.

Charlton started brightly and tackled well. Luke Young did well to win the ball back after a superb lofted pass across the field by Henry. Kishishev also made a good tackle. Arsenal won a corner but it was fruitless. Shaun Bartlett was performing well up front. Murphy burst through but his effort was just over the bar.

With Lehmann under pressure he was forced to put the ball out for a throw in which led to a Charlton corner, but Arsenal managed to break and with Hughes out manoeuvred out a shot across the front of Myhre's goal. A break by Bent led to a Charlton corner. The ball was played back in by Murphy and Lehmann had to save at the foot of his post.

Sorondo put in an excellently weighted ball, but Bent was unable to use it. Poor defending exposed Myhre, but he showed his experience by making an excellent save from Ljungberg. This led to an Arsenal corner but their eventual effort went wide. Luke Young put in an excellent tackle to win the ball. Sorondo received a yellow card for a foul but the free kick by Reyes was well over.

Hreidarsson turned provider for Bent, but his effort was just over. Bartlett should have had a shot rather waiting and passing the ball. Young provided excellent defensive cover on the wing. Bartlett released Bent who powered through and he was only stopped by a word class tackle by Campbell at the expense of a Charlton corner.

Murphy received a yellow card for breaking up an Arsenal attack. The resultant Arsenal free kick was ineffective, but the card was to prove significant.

Half time: Addicks 0, Gooners 0

Arsenal had clearly been given a talking to at half time and moved up a gear. The Addicks were in early danger in front of goal. Luke Young was given a yellow card for a foul, but then Lauren was booked for fouling Bent. The Arsenal pressure paid off when, despite a superb tackle by Sorondo, Reyes was able to score to make it 0-1.

Sorondo had been scythed by Fabregas and had to be withdrawn in favour of Spector. Cygan then used his hand in the area, but referee Bennett either did not see it or thought it was ball to hand (which it was not). A penalty at this stage would have given Charlton a chance to get back into the game.

Arsenal won a couple of corners in succession. The East Stand lino gave an offside decision in Charlton's favour. Bartlett, who had been playing well, was pulled off in favour of Lisbie. Hreidarsson was booked for jumping for the ball and Murphy's bouncing the ball and presumably some choice words to referee Bennett earned him a second yellow for dissent and his marching orders.

Charlton now had their work cut out, but they showed determination and energy. Myhre made two good saves, although one was ruled offside anyway. Spector put in an excellent tackle that denied Arsenal a near certain goal. Arsenal were awarded a 'falling over' free kick in front of the 'D', but Myhre made a good save. He had to turn the ball over bar from the Arsenal corner, leading to a second.

Charlton won a late corner, but it was unproductive. Campbell was booked in the three minutes of time added on for a foul. At the end of the game there was the unusual sight of Mervyn Day and Keith Peacock remonstrating with the referee who was booed off the field. If the Addicks can produce similar commitment and skill at Newcastle, there is hope yet.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Thomas Myhre for an impressive performance by the keeper who was making his debutante performance for the Addicks at Premiership level. The Norwegian international said that he had been told about this Charlton tradition by Deano who already has a shedful of the trophies.

Sorondo put in an exemplary performance in his first appearance in the Premiership in central defence and the resurrected Fortune did not make any howlers. Hreidarsson looked more comfortable as left back. Young made some great runs forward and some great interceptions. Kishishev was composed and broke up the Arsenal attack well and perhaps should not have been substituted. Holland was fully involved and made some decent moves. Hughes committed some errors and does not look good enough at this level. Murphy came close to scoring and was generally effective but should have bitten his tongue to avoid getting sent off for dissent. Bartlett was asking the Arsenal defence some questions they were not always able to answer and made good use of his power in the air. He could have made even better use of it if he hadn't been held back so much without any intervention by Orpington Man. He also made some good defensive interventions Bent was lively and always looking for a way through the Gooners defence. When Spector came on he looked much more effective and comfortable in central defence which is his normal position.
Lisbie drew some justified criticism from the crowd when he came on for not getting involved more and lounging around too much, particularly when we were down to ten men. Ambrose did not really do much apart from taking a corner after he came on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded a special double Hiss of the Match to the referee Steve Bennett and the East Stand lino who had a policy of 'see no evil' and certainly 'flag no evil' as far as Arsenal was concerned.

Crowd rating A bit quiet at times, although noisy at others, particularly after their ire had been raised by the referee but could have been more vocal. 6/10.


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