The outstretched and high foot of a robust forward has forced this game to lose its subplot.
For if Yann Kermorgant had not suffered a rush of blood to the head and given Bolton’s Mark Davies a boot to the chest, there would at least be some focus on the Frenchman facing his former club.
Attention when coming up against a previous employer is something Kermorgant is used to. When turning out against Leicester City, he thrived under the continuous booing and volley of abuse he received.
Against Charlton, a club where he remains a cult hero, Kermorgant has yet to have a real opportunity to break the hearts of those he frequently had in awe during his time as an Addick.
And long may that continue. The suspension the 32-year-old is under means the equally upsetting sight of having to witness him in another club’s colours won’t have to be endured this weekend.
Instead, attentions turn
to the the battle over which set of fans can boo their former full-back the loudest to the considerable force that Bournemouth are even without the Beast from Brittany.
In fact, Eddie Howe’s side rank alongside the Addicks has an outside bet for a top six finish come May. The young boss’s managerial prowess, an excellent back line and players with raw ability in attack makes for an exciting, if occasionally frustrating, side.
A win for the Cherries at the Goldsands would see them close in on the play-off positions, turning an indifferent start into a promising one, while Charlton will be looking to improve upon their sluggish display against Birmingham and move back into the top six.
LAST MEETING – Charlton Athletic 1-0 Bournemouth
On a night when one Frenchman was the centre of attention, another stole the plaudits.
A stoppage time winner from Dorian Dervite gave the Addicks a vital three points in their battle to avoid the drop, with Kermorgant on the losing side in his first return to The Valley.
In fact, it was his close personal friend Kermorgant that Dervite rose above to meet Johnnie Jackson’s superbly delivered corner.
The win, Jose Riga’s first as Charlton boss, was the first of a number of Tuesday night victories that propelled the Addicks to Championship safety.
At times this season, the Cherries have lived up to their dark horses tag. A 4-0 opening weekend win over Huddersfield, followed up by a 1-0 victory at home to Brentford had the pundits purring. Steve Cook led a solid back line, Matt Ritchie provided creativity, while Kermorgant and Callum Wilson were forming a formidable partnership in attack.
However, Bournemouth have been unable to maintain such standards throughout the campaign. Two more league victories have followed, against Wigan and Bolton, while draws away at Watford and Norwich are commendable results, but disappointing defeats to the likes of Leeds and Blackburn have made their start a frustrating one.
Nonetheless, Howe’s side are still arguably more than meeting realistic expectations, occupying a top half spot (11th) and only four points from the top six.
If they are, however, to break into the play-offs, a level of consistency will need to be found.
Despite sitting just outside the play-offs and still unbeaten eleven games into the campaign, the Addicks have also frustrated their supporters in recent weeks.
Gritty wins against Watford and Norwich City showed Bob Peeters’ side have the ability to press, hold onto a lead against considerable pressure from the opposition and defend admirably, but a number of tame performances in draws, most notably against Birmingham and Rotherham, have left supports feeling like their side might well have more to give.
The biggest issue appears to be holding onto leads; all too often Charlton have set back and allowed the opposition to come at them after going ahead, crumbling in the process and holding onto a point by the skin of their teeth.
Consistency, and more specifically consistent pressing, is something the Addicks also require.
With Kermorgant absent, Howe will look to Tokelo Rantie to step into the considerable void left by the Frenchman.
Howe has predicted ‘exciting times’ are ahead for the South African forward, who has failed to live up to his price-tag after joining the South Coast club last summer, and following a goal for his county in the international break, Rantie will be full of confidence.
Rantie will partner Callum Wilson in attack, who has scored six goals for the Cherries after arriving from Coventry in the summer.
The Bournemouth line-up is also likely to include Charlton academy graduate Harry Arter, a creative force in the middle, and Valley flop Simon Francis, whose turnaround since leaving Charlton has been remarkable.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson is likely to return to the starting line-up following a speedy recovery from an ankle injury picked up in the goalless draw with Middlesbrough.
Having missed the final two Championship games before the international break and failing to be fit enough in time to represent Iceland, the winger looks set to come back into Bob Peeters’ side at the expense of Lawrie Wilson.
Peeters will also be able to call upon Tal Ben Haim once again, who was absent for the Birmingham clash with the Israel international celebrating the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur. Michael Morrison, although doing little wrong against the Blues, will more than likely be dropped back to the bench.
The Addicks, however, will be without Simon Church, who dislocated his shoulder while away on international duty with Wales.
But a follow Welshman will be involved as Rhoys Wiggins, still disliked by Bournemouth fans for the manner in which he left the club, adopts his bi-annual role of pantomime villain.
KEY BATTLE: Bournemouth’s Pacey Forwards Vs Charlton’s Centre Backs
At their brilliant best, Andre Bikey and Tal Ben Haim have been impassable this season. The pair are dominant in the air, strong in the tackle and read the game so well that almost every ball played into the box is cut out.
However, both Bikey and Ben Haim have shown themselves to be somewhat susceptible to a forward line with a bit of pace. Andre Gray made his namesake look rather silly for 45 minutes at Griffin Park, Nahki Wells caused them all sorts of problems while Nouha Dicko’s speed helped to change the course of the game in the clash with Wolves.
It’s therefore the case that Rantie and Wilson may well cause considerable concern to Charlton’s centre back duo. Both forwards have the assets to catch Bikey and Ben Haim off guard, and the pair will need to perform as they did against Norwich’s similar pacey options if the Addicks or to keep Stephen Henderson’s workload down.
Howe’s Bournemouth always attempt to play attractive attacking football, while Peeters can call upon Gudmundsson once again, a serious creative influence and often central to Charlton’s best forward moves.
However, the Addicks have so far been somewhat cautious away from home and often unperformed. Rarely, if it all, has that attacking threat been on display. Likewise, Bournemouth’s indifferent start to the season makes them difficult to predict.
Either way, you would think this will be a fairly open and competitive contest. Bournemouth 2-2 Charlton Athletic