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Preview: Charlton Athletic Vs AFC Bournemouth

There might well come a point where it’s easy to move on. Time might heal or we might grow to love the replacement more. But it doesn’t ease the pain.

Better was deserved after years of invaluable service, of unforgettable moments and a respect for supporters that was returned. An unceremonious binning, totally ignoring the evidence that suggested doing so would only hinder the Addicks.

Those who still feel heartbroken and angered by the decision, a decision that meant they lost trust in the ownership, will receive a reminder why they’re so disappointed on Saturday. They’ll see first-hand the brilliance for one final time, and will want to appreciate it, no matter who tells them to move on and get over it.

For the final game of the season against Bournemouth will also be Floyd and Harvey’s final appearance at The Valley. The popular mascots, who have provided joy to young and old, represented the club superbly and consistently shown a better first touch when knocking a ball around than most players in red, are being culled.

Oh, and some bloke called Kermorgant or something is coming back. And he’ll be celebrating a promotion to the Premier League at The Valley, a promotion that he played a huge part in. He could even have a medal around his neck come full-time.

But it isn’t Charlton’s promotion. Depressing, that.

LAST MEETING: BOURNEMOUTH 1-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC

A rampant Bournemouth inflicted Charlton’s first defeat of the season at Dean Court in October, with the Addicks fortunate to lose by one.

Callum Wilson’s third minute goal was enough to give the Cherries victory, but the hosts tore through Charlton’s backline on several occasions. Marc Pugh and Matt Ritchie terrorising Chris Solly and Rhoys Wiggins, and Bournemouth unlucky not to double their lead at any point.

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FORM

Bournemouth: WDWWWD

While the occasional dip in form and the strength of their challengers means their promotion won’t be confirmed until the final day of the season, the Cherries are fully deserving of their top two finish.

At their best, which is frequently reached, there is no better side to watch in the division. Harry Arter has been one of the outstanding performers of the season, the pace of Pugh, Ritchie and Wilson is a constant threat, while Kermorgant’s brilliance and goals have been so crucial.

Praise, too, has to be given to their backline, with the likes of Artur Boruc, Steve Cook and, unfortunately, Simon Francis consistently solid.

Those qualities have shone through in recent weeks. Eddie Howe’s side are unbeaten in 12, winning eight of those games.

And while the draw with Sheffield Wednesday a fortnight ago appeared a little costly, Middlesbrough’s slip-up at Fulham and their impressive defeat of Bolton has given them the reward they deserve.

But Bournemouth won’t rest now that their promotion is all but confirmed. A win at The Valley could see them crowned champions should Watford fail to beat Wednesday.

3

Charlton: LWDDDL

Guy Luzon’s assessment of Charlton’s defeat to Birmingham couldn’t have been fairer. If it wasn’t the worst performance of his reign, then it was certainly the worst performance since he taught his side how to win again. A defeat that was certainly deserved.

For the Addicks, as they have for several weeks, looked mentally tired, physically drained, and unwilling to push themselves to their very best with nothing to play for.

It is, of course, a massive shame that the season is ending like this. In fact, you could probably argue it’s tainting the good work done throughout February and March.

I’m not quite sure I agree with that, with a mid-table finish still commendable enough, but Luzon will be desperate to send Charlton supporters away for the summer with a positive final memory.

13

THE OPPOSITION

Bournemouth will welcome back Francis after the full-back missed Monday’s victory over Bolton through suspension.

The 30-year-old, despite failing to impress for the Addicks in League One, has been sensational for the Cherries and is likely to replace Adam Smith in Howe’s starting line-up.

But all the attention will be another former Addick. Kermorgant, who has been outstanding this season to the surprise of only Roland Duchatelet, is sure to get a fantastic welcome back from The Valley crowd.

That isn’t to say home supporters will be hoping the Frenchman pulls off a signature piece of magic on the final day of the season.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton could give a start to Joe Gomez after the 17-year-old centre-back was rested for last weekend’s defeat to Birmingham.

Gomez will come in for either Tal Ben Haim or Roger Johnson, but all three could be in an Addicks squad for the last time against Bournemouth. The experienced duo are both out-of-contract, while Gomez has been attracted interest from the Premier League’s powerhouses.

It might also be a final Valley appearance for Simon Church, who is unlikely to have his contract renewed, and Chris Eagles, who is yet to sign an extension to his short-term deal. But both are likely to start on the bench.

Also set to be on the bench will be former Bournemouth man Rhoys Wiggins, who remains an unpopular figure among Cherries supporters following the manner in which he departed the club in 2011. The Welshman impressed in his one appearance since returning from injury at Bolton, but Luzon has stuck by Morgan Fox otherwise.

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KEY BATTLE – STOPPING BOURNEMOUTH’S ATTACKING THREAT

Let’s be honest – Bournemouth are brutally brilliant. It was seen first-hand at Dean Court in October, and was witnessed on Sky Sports on Monday night. Both the Addicks and the Trotters decimated by a rampant attacking force.

And if Charlton are to have any chance of spoiling the Cherries’ party, they must offer a great deal more defensive resilience than they did against the same opposition earlier on in the season. Simple balls over the top were sending Wilson through on goal, with Ben Haim and Andre Bikey stranded, while Pugh and Ritchie kept dragging Solly and Wiggins out of position before leaving them for dead.

In fact, a serious improvement is needed on recent defensive efforts, with frailties at the back exposed in this disappointing run of results since the international break.

Replacing Johnson for Gomez would be a good start, with the young defender’s agility, awareness and strength our best bet to combat Wilson, while Ben Haim will at least provide some sort of aerial challenge for Kermorgant.

In the case of the wide men, it’s vital that Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Frederic Bulot do their fair share of tracking back to offer support for Solly and Fox.

Unfortunately, it means the Addicks will have to behave like the away team at The Valley on Saturday, dropping deep and relying on their prowess on the break to cause a threat. But anything else will see Luzon’s men face embarrassment.

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PREDICTION

We might as well give Floyd and Harvey a run out. We’d stand just as much chance as winning as we would with a full strength XI. Bournemouth will be fired up, and Howe will make sure that doesn’t result in complacency. Charlton Athletic 0-3 Bournemouth

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