We've met quite a few teams from oop north recently. First we were away to the massive Sheffield Wednesday and then the not quite so massive but still rather large Sheffield United visited us. After an away trip to cider country we entertain two of the smaller northern sides in League 1, Bury tomorrow and Rochdale on Saturday (by which time I shall be in Montréal).
The Shakers and 'Dale are deadly rivals and it was quite a blow when Rochdale beat them 3-0 on Saturday to complete the double over them this season. Bury, however, remain just in the top half of the table and this is quite a feat for a team that was expected to be in a relegation struggle at the beginning of the season. As the Bury fan reviewing the match in The Football League Paper put it, 'The main objective remains to avoid relegation.'
Will Bury be one of those sides that park the team bus in front of the goal? I remember seeing them play at The Valley when we were both in the second tier and being disappointed with a 0-0, but then they did have Dean Kiely in goal.
This season they have only drawn once away from home but they have won six matches against losing seven. They have conceded 24 goals away, which is more than any team down to fifteenth, while they have scored 18. All this does not suggest a particularly defensive stance.
The bookies don't give them much chance, giving them 7-1 against to win and 3-1 for a draw. It could be an occasion for putting money on them to win as insurance.
Chris Powell has some selection dilemmas as it looks as if Dale Stephens will be fit again after a cameo at Exeter. He is a very creative midfielder and might be able to feed Bradley Wright-Phillips the quality balls he needs.
However, it would be difficult to drop the hard working and often skilled Bradley Pritchard or Hollands for that matter. I wouldn't play a 4-5-1 and drop either Kermorgant or Wright-Phillips.
I am entertaining a Rochdale fan to lunch tomorrow and he has already been e-mailing me about how they will win on Saturday under their new manager. Indeed John Coleman has already confidently predicted, 'We're at Charlton next weekend so we'll just go there and expect to win again.' Of his team's performance, he said 'it was just like watching Real Madrid. If we'd seen anything like that in the Premier League, we'd never hear the last of it.'
We were told that the Blades are the Barca of League 1, but it is quite a surprise to learn that Rochdale are the Real Madrid. Quite where that puts Charlton for a Spanish comparator I don't know.
We haven't had a goal scored against us in the league this year so I am going for a repeat tomorrow and a 2-0 win for the Addicks.