Tim Stoodley previews Saturday's clash with Charlton Athletic at the ABAX Stadium.
Peterborough United play host as Karl Robinsons’ Charlton Athletic roll into The ABAX Stadium for a SkyBet League One fixture, kicking off this Saturday at 3pm – The Addicks without a win in three and hanging dangerously close to a tight relegation battle.
It’s tough times for one of England’s bigger clubs, a solitary 2-1 win over Scunthorpe is Charlton’s only taste of success in the last twelve outings as they struggle to adapt to life without January transfer star Ademola Lookman. They currently sit five points above the drop zone, so are far from safe, but will be hoping their early season form is enough to see them playing at this level again come August. Scoring goals has been the issue since the turn of the year; indeed they actually have the third best defence in the league, and have ground out more 0-0 draws than any other team in any of the EFL leagues.
Expect them to be tough to break down come kick-off on Saturday. They favour a 4-4-2, but have also tinkered with a 5-3-2 as they look to curb their current form. They are quick to the breakdown and as per the former MK Dons’ boss’s philosophy, try a patient and controlled build up style. A scrappy 1-0 win is seen as success for Robinson and at a time when they desperately need results, who can blame him? This means Posh will have the lions-share of the ball and will need to be clever to breakdown the well organised back-line, whilst still remaining wary of the counter.
One player who will control a counter-attack, should it arise, is inside forward Ricky Holmes. The former Northampton player is pacey and has scored the majority of his nine goals this campaign on the break. He’s a flair player, with good dribbling skills and is capable of beating a man one-on-one. His work rate is also notable and he’ll quite happily track back and work box-to-box. Holmes is also The Addicks top assist maker following the departure of Lookman to Everton, and his crossing ability is also worth attention.
Charlton are known to be a team that produce wonderkids – any manager that joins the ranks is given the orders of developing youngsters and a steady production line of stars hasn’t ceased despite their drop in leagues. No sooner has their latest star left to join a Premier League outfit and another is ready to fit the bill. Young Ezri Konsa is the next candidate showing top quality potential. Konsa is a centre-back and has featured regularly for The Addicks this campaign. He’s a unit at 6 foot and has a solid frame, with good strength and natural fitness. He won’t stop working and is a composed character for someone that’s only 19. One to watch on Saturday and in the future.
Five players in the Charlton squad are currently on loan from higher-placed opposition, and one player to feature regularly is Norwegian midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad, on loan from Burnley. Nestled in centre-midfield, he’s a team player, picking out killer balls with his adept passing ability. Ulvestad is also useful from twelve-yards and has a tasty first touch. He’s played 2040 minutes for The Addicks since joining on loan and would be expected to pack out the middle against Posh come Saturday. Interestingly, at 24 years old, he also has a Norwegian cap to his name and will be looking forward to catching up with international teammate Martin Samuelson.
Charlton gaffer Karl Robinson is a name familiar to Poshies after a long spell in charge of rivals MK Dons. Robinson joined The Addicks in November after being sacked by the Dons and since joining has had a torrid time. Saturday will be his 23rd match in charge of the South-East London side and in the previous 22 he boasts just 4 wins, leaving him with a win rate of just 18%, the lowest in the league where managers have taken charge of over 20 games. His short-term aim will be avoiding relegation but thankfully for us, Posh do have a great record against Robinson, including play-off success back in 2011.
Graham Salisbury is the man in charge of this game. It will be his 32nd match of the 2016/17 season and in the previous 31 he has shown 99 yellow cards – an average of 3.1 per game, one of the lowest averages in the league. He has shown red five times. He splits his time between Leagues One and Two and actually took charge of Cambridge United in their League Two clash with Cheltenham last Saturday. Cambridge winning that game 0-1. He last took charge of Posh way back in April last year, when he oversaw our thrilling 3-4 win away to Shrewsbury. Jack Baldwin, Leo Da Silva Lopes and Shaquille Coulthirst seeing yellow that day. His last visit to The ABAX was in 2014 when he officiated the League One Play Off semi final against Leyton Orient.
Goals from Ryan Tafazolli and Gwion Edwards were enough to give Posh the points when this duo met back in December. Posh controlling that game from start to finish and thoroughly professional in their dismantling of The Addicks. That game aside, there isn’t actually a great deal of history between these two clubs, they’ve only met 18 times and Charlton do hold the bragging rights having won half of those ties. Throw in 4 draws and Posh have just 5 wins to their name in the battle of these two. Interestingly, in those 18 ties, Posh have lost to Charlton 5-1 on three occasions.
Ryan Tafazolli is not expected to feature this weekend. He has had an injection in a troublesome groin injury, but Saturday's game will come too quick for him. Paul Taylor featured for the development squad on Tuesday, so he’ll be hoping to return following his hamstring issue. Gwion Edwards is definitely out, as is Jermaine Anderson.
League positions; Peterborough United - 11th Charlton Athletic - 16th
Last five; Peterborough United - LLDDW Charlton Athletic - LWDDL
Previous meeting; 17/12/2016 (League One) – Charlton Athletic 0-2 Peterborough United
Average attendances (2015/16); Peterborough United - 5,447 Charlton Athletic – 15,632
Top Scorer (league); Peterborough United - Tom Nichols (10) Charlton Athletic – Ricky Holmes (9)
Interesting face: Jonjo Shelvy was the youngest player to ever play for The Addicks. His appearance at 16 years and 59 days means the Newcastle United stalwart has secured his place in the Athletic record books.
Tickets for this one are cheaper for all areas of the stadium if purchased in advance and tickets are on sale at www.theposhtickets.com, via the Ticketmaster hotline 0844 847 1934* and in person at the ABAX Stadium Box Office.
*calls cost 7ppm plus your network access fee.