It’s petty, tedious and effectively the equivalent of grown men boasting about the size of their appendages. The irrational hatred that has formed in recent years between fans of Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday isn’t something I particularly enjoy.
You can almost guarantee notorious forums on both sides are littered with the sort of chat that appears each time this clash is on the horizon.
Charlton are ‘tinpot’ for not bringing 6,000 humans and 56 dogs to every away game, Chris Powell’s title winning side didn’t deserve to be a title winning side and Wednesday, committing a crime more outrageous than anything the Addicks have done, are Northern.
But once a football match breaks out amidst the arguments, the previously unbearable disliking frequently becomes an extremely competitive contest.
In fact, it’s the competitive nature of this fixture that has sustained mutual feelings of loathing over the course of four seasons. Rarely has there been a game where both sides haven’t had a strong case that they deserved to win, a moment of controversy is almost always involved and Miguel Llera has often conspired to add further entertainment in his own unique way.
In other words, fixtures between those two always create plenty of ammunition for
telling the other bunch they’re cheats and lucky debate.
And even without the uncoordinated feet of Llera, Saturday’s meeting at The Valley has the potential to be an absorbing one, if not necessarily an exhibition of fluent football.
For both Charlton and, more so, Sheffield Wednesday have seen excellent starts derailed in recent weeks. Given how crucial clashes between these two have proven to be in the past, the victor in this one stands a fair chance of getting their campaign back on track.
LAST MEETING – SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2-3 CHARLTON ATHLETIC
Burnley’s chief scout was almost certainly at Hillsborough for Charlton’s incredible comeback victory over Wednesday in April, and didn’t see it fit to gain any more evidence about the ability of Marvin Sordell.
For Sordell, while often under-performing throughout the campaign, was sensational when it mattered most. His hat-trick of superbly taken strikes overturned a two goal deficit and effectively propelled the Addicks to safety.
And the importance of that Sordell performance cannot be undervalued.
The Addicks looked destined for the drop after goals from Atdhe Nuhiu and Chris Maguire had given the Owls a 2-0 lead inside ten minutes, and may well have been 4-1 down before Sordell’s second drew Charlton level.
And Sordell, whose first had halved the deficit just after the opening ten minutes but not stopped Wednesday’s onslaught against a hopeless Charlton back four, made the most of the change in momentum he had inspired, slotting beyond Chris Kirkland with just over an hour played to record his first career hat-trick and give Jose Riga’s side a lead they never looked like losing.
Sheffield Wednesday: DDLDDL
Having lost just one of their opening ten games of the season in all competitions, Wednesday fans travelled to the Etihad believing their side had some chance of causing an upset.
Instead, Wednesday’s Capital One Cup clash with Manchester City has seemingly upset Stuart Gray’s side.
The 7-0 defeat at the back end of September has been followed by six further games without victory, with Wednesday currently on a run of three games without scoring.
And while shots on goal have hardly been lacking, with 37 made in those three games, finishing chances has been.
And while a well valiant effort secured a point against high-flyers Norwich last weekend, you would think it’s one of those situations where a scrappy goal in a hard-fought victory would truly reignite a somewhat beleaguered Wednesday.
Charlton Athletic: LWLDWD
Having rode their luck for a number of weeks, Charlton’s frailties were finally exploited on Friday night.
Where previously mistakes have not been capitalised on, Fulham showed no mercy as they took advantage of a shambolic opening period for the Addicks.
Many had hoped the defeat by Bournemouth a fortnight ago would alert Bob Peeters’ side to their faults, but that doesn’t seem to have been the case. Again, a side who pressed the Addicks stopped them from playing and caused them problems. That orange and yellow kit doesn’t seem to help matters much, either.
Nonetheless, a response of sorts followed after that loss on the South Coast, with a scrappy victory over Bolton.
Few would complain should a similar outcome occur on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood will face a late fitness test on a hip injury before Saturday’s trip to SE7.
The Wednesday camp is confident that Westwood, who pulled off a string of stunning saves in the goalless draw with Norwich, will be available, but one-time England stopper Kirkland is a more than adequate replacement should Gray be forced to make a change.
One man who definitely won’t be involved is Sam Hutchinson, whose knee injury means former Addick Jose Semedo will continue in the centre of midfield.
Hutchinson’s injury, however, has forced Gray to delve into the loan market. A new face may well be included in Wednesday’s squad, with the manager believing he has a ‘50/50’ chance of bringing a player into the club before Saturday.
But the Owls will welcome back Joe Mattock after suspension, while fellow defender Lewis Buxton has returned to training.
Igor Vetokele will again be absent from Charlton’s starting XI, but the forward has some chance of being involved from the bench.
Charlton’s top scorer has missed the previous two games with a troubling Achilles problem, and his possible return is boost for the Addicks who have looked tame in attack in recent week.
But his inability to play from the off means that George Tucudean will again be called upon to lead Charlton’s forward line. The Romanian showed moments of class in the victory over Bolton, but followed it with a poor performance against Fulham, and having to rely on someone so inconsistent in Vetokele’s absence is growing frustrating.
Peeters may well call on youngster Karlan Ahearne-Grant, who tested Fulham’s back four in his brief period on the pitch on Friday night, but most Addicks would rather a loan forward was brought in.
Charlton will also be without Frederic Bulot, who suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to Fulham, while doubt remains over whether Rhoys Wiggins will recover from his foot injury in time for Saturday.
But Peeters’ small squad will be bolstered by the return of Yoni Buyens, who was suspended for the trip to Craven Cottage, and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who is fit enough to start having made a substitute appearance in West London.
KEY BATTLE – FORWARDS VS FORWARDS
Regardless of Wednesday’s 7-0 thumping in Manchester and Charlton’s 3-0 reverse in West London, both the Owls and the Addicks have fairly well organised back fours – Wednesday’s have made prevented their winless run from becoming a losing streak, while Charlton’s has been central to their early season success.
And with both sides somewhat goal shy, genuine chances are likely to be few and far between. A wasted opportunity could prove costly, while a chance taken may prove to be a match-winning moment.
In fact, it’s the two out of form forward lines that will decide this game.
Wednesday will field Nuhiu, a target man capable of dominating defences, and Stevie May, who scored three in quick succession after moving to Hillsborough but is without a goal in seven, while the Addicks are likely to operate with Franck Moussa, yet to live up to the billing following his move from Coventry City, just behind Tucudean, whose Charlton career has been somewhat indifferent.
If either side’s attacking force can provide one penetrating moment, you’re backing them to win the contest.
Like most games between these two sides, Saturday’s clash is unlikely to be one enjoyed by football purests. Even more so given the fact that both Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are in fairly desperate need of a victory, by whatever means.
The forum members may well have to be inventive after this one.
Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday