Having come through a week unscathed that saw Watford and Wolves welcomed to The Valley, the prospect of a trip to Rotherham United doesn’t seem quite so daunting for the Addicks.
In fact, when compared to the other opposition Charlton have had to face this season, there’s a fair and reasonable argument to suggest that the Millers are the least frightening opponents that the Addicks have played so far.
It’s therefore easy to see why supporters of the South East London club are in a positive mood ahead of Saturday’s clash. With Charlton favourites, a return for the free-flowing and potent passing football that was on show in the opening weeks of the campaign is hoped for, while a positive result might well be enjoyed without fingernails being bitten for 90 minutes.
But, as we’re told on a weekly basis by every manager, player and pundit, there’s no easy games in the Championship. Facing Rotherham at the New York Stadium, a ground the Millers lost just three times on last season and beat Wolves on during this, won’t be the walkover some expect it to be.
There’s also a different kind of pressure – the pressure of being the favourites. Where Charlton have showed in the past week they can play the role of the plucky fighter quite well, an improvement on recent attacking displays will be needed to break down Steve Evans’ notoriously well organised side.
Evans certainly won’t let the Addicks come away from Yorkshire with any points that they didn’t have to work incredible hard for.
Separated more often than not by several divisions over the past 31 years, Saturday will be the first game between the two sides since January 1983.
That game was also played in the second tier, and saw a Rod Fern give Rotherham a 1-0 victory on New Year’s Day.
Expected to struggle in the Championship following their promotion to the division last season, the Millers have far from disgraced themselves in the opening month and a half of the campaign, with Evans’ direct and pragmatic approach proving to be testing.
Wins over Wolves, the only defeat suffered by Kenny Jackett’s side so far, and Millwall, ending their unbeaten run, along with a last minute goal stealing point from their game with Bournemouth, are all commendable results and show they have the ability to frustrate anyone in this division.
They are, however, without a win in four league and cup games – a run that includes disappointing defeats to fellow promoted club Brentford and Tuesday’s 3-2 reverse at Bolton Wanderers, during which they led and scored an 82nd minute equaliser.
Performances may have dropped slightly, but the rate at which points have been picked up by Peeters’ side have not. If Saturday’s win over Watford was gritty, Tuesday’s draw with Wolves was certainly lucky, but finding a way to pick up points when not at your best is no bad thing.
However, the Addicks will have to make a return to their best soon if their faults aren’t to be exploited by more clinical sides, and if they’re going to pick up their first win away from The Valley at the New York Stadium.
Evans has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from, and a large squad at that.
Given the controversial figure has already stated he’ll look to rotate his starting XI throughout the season, changes are likely to be made from Tuesday’s defeat at Bolton. Among the most likely is the introduction of Jordan Bowery up front, who has scored twice from the bench in as many games.
There should also be a place from the start for former Addick Frazer Richardson, but Richard Wood, who has only played twice for his new side so far, isn’t expected to be involved.
Despite losing all feeling in his arm following a collision with Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme on Tuesday, Igor Vetokele looks set to be fit enough to start for Charlton.
The forward, who has been in sensational form this season, only suffered a flesh wound and Peeters confirmed he expects his star striker to be in the starting XI at the New York Stadium.
But the Angolan may well have a new partner alongside him attack, with George Tucudean’s recent struggles showing no sign of ending.
The Romanian missed three excellent chances to score in Tuesday night’s draw with Wolves, and was once again hauled off before the hour mark, so Franck Moussa or Simon Church will be hoping to start in his place.
Elsewhere, Chris Solly will return to the starting line-up in place of Joe Goemez having sat out the Wolves clash, but Johann Berg Gudmundsson is expected to remain absent with an injury picked up while away on international duty with Iceland, so Lawrie Wilson will continue to deputise.
KEY BATTLE – IGOR VETOKELE VS ROTHERHAM’S DEFENCE
Going with the notion that Charlton will take to the game to their opponents, it’s of vital importance Rotherham’s back four keep Vetokele quiet.
If he’s not scoring, the Angolan’s presence is giving opposition centre backs an absolutely torrid time and creating openings for his side.
It was Vetokele’s run that won the Addicks their penalty against Watford, and his efforts to chase down an innocuous long ball that won them their corner from which Andre Bikey scored against Wolves.
And Vetokele’s presence has proved priceless in recent games with Charlton failing to display their all-round attacking threat that was shown in the opening weeks of the season. His moments of magic have been one of the key reasons why the Addicks have continued to pick up points after the incredible win against Derby County.
It’s certainly not the case that Charlton are a one man side, but if Craig Morgan and Keri Arnason can limit Vetokele’s threat, Rotherham’s chances of keeping the Addicks at bay will increase dramatically.
Regardless of Rotherham’s organised set-up that has caused many a side to come unstuck when victory was expected, you would like to think that Peeters will set up his side to dominate the game, both in the sense of ball retention and attacking threat. Should that be the case, there’s no reason why the Addicks can’t pick up a relatively comfortable victory.
Rotherham United 0-2 Charlton Athletic