Tonight's match at The Valley has been overshadowed by the unexpected death of Gary Speed. The word tragedy is very much overused but this is truly a tragedy for his family, his many friends and for football. It reminds us that there are things that are more significant than even the most important game.
Night games at The Valley are very distinctive. They were not a feature of my youth because there were no floodlights. But there is a very special atmosphere on those occasions. The downside is having to travel down with commuters understandably grumpy at having to endure another journey with south-eastern. However, at least Deutsche Bahn has upgraded its late night service to Leamington so I no longer have to change into a bus at Rugby to get to Coventry or stay in the Holiday Inn Express at North Greenwich overnight.
The media tone towards Huddersfield has changed over the last day or two, if only because it is in their interests to promote it as a real contest rather than the latest stage in Town's glorious progression. The Football League Paper, which usually falls over itself to big up any team from Yorkshire, even called Charlton 'red hot' yesterday. Another relatively positive piece is to be found in the Daily Mail, although presumably most of its predominantly female membership do not read the sports pages but want to find out about the latest threat to human civilisation as we know it (falling house prices): http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2066888/Bradley-Wright-Phillips-Jordan-Rhodes-scoring-fun-Michael-Walker.html
There is no doubt that we are up for a real contest tonight which will hopefully show the strength of our attack. The contrast between Jordan Rhodes and Bradley ('he's better than Shaun') Wright-Phillips is a fascinating one and is reviewed in depth here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/jordan-rhodes-taking-the-fast-lane-in-race-of-the-forwards-6268590.html
Our central defence need to show their mettle, but for me, recent forced changes in midfield are a concern. Johnnie Jackson was not the most obvious player, but he had a welcome habit of appearing in the right place at the right time.
Chris Powell knows that Charlton are going to have to produce something special:
Huddersfield are certainly up for it, captain Peter Clarke claiming it is a chance to 'show the nation what we are all about.' This statement chimes up with some of the media hype, although I doubt whether the nation are on the edge of their seats. It has been suggested, however, that we could dispense with selection worries for Britain's Olympic teams by playing the Huddersfield side. Indeed, I am surprised that Beckham seems to prefer Paris St. Germain to Huddersfield.
The media hype surrounding Huddersfield has irritated me, but I would quite happy to see them come up in second place. They are a side with a great footballing history and we are tied together by the 7-6 (when, to my everlasting fury, I had been taken Christmas shopping in Woolwich). A very good friend is a supporter.
Huddersfield have not been beaten in London since April 2010 when they lost 3-0 to Brentford. I doubt whether we can repeat that and, given that we are up against draw specialists, I am going for a 1-1. Odds from Coral (as provided by CSP Addick Dick Sheppard): Charlton 11/8, draw 9/4, Huddersfield 2/1.