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Preview: Charlton Athletic V Hull City

It says something about Charlton’s run of fixtures at the start of this campaign that their trip to Nottingham on Tuesday night appeared the most winnable in the league throughout the entirety of August.

For after the relative calm of an injury-hit Forest comes a Hull City side that contains several players of quality beyond this division and is brimming with confidence. Their start to this season making a mockery of those relegated sides who begin slowly, both this season and in previous years.

As such, the similarities between the Tigers and Queens Park Rangers are few. Irrespective of the confidence the Addicks have gained during their unbeaten beginning to this campaign, it is unlikely to be enough to allow them to dominate a side as strong as Hull in the same way they did the R’s.

Should they attempt to press high and take the game to an opposition with pace and cutting edge in attack, there is a strong danger they will be heavily exploited. Injuries may mean they not even be able to attempt it.

In fact, despite Charlton being the hosts on Saturday, it may be wiser to view the threat their opposition will pose in the same way they did Derby’s at the iPro.

An organised and resilient defensive effort, showing character and fight in the face of persistent attacks from the opposition, desperately required,

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LAST MEETING – HULL CITY 1-0 CHARLTON ATHLETIC

An error of judgement from Charlton goalkeeper Ben Hamer allowed promotion-chasing Hull to claim all three points at the KC Stadium in February 2013.

The then relatively clean-shaven stopper came racing off his line to claim a corner, but only succeeded in helping the ball on towards the back post. Egyptian forward Gedo able to bundle the ball over the line.

Against opposition who would ultimately finish in second place, the Addicks were not without chances to steal a point. Bradley Pritchard played through, but the Zimbabwean demi-god could only skew a glorious opening wide. Inches away from a pitch invasion.

FORM

Hull City: WDWW

While QPR and Burnley’s response to relegation from the Premier League has been unimpressive, Hull have provided the boost supporters needed following the disappointment of the previous season.

For they have started this season in relatively promising fashion. Huddersfield beaten by two, Accrington Stanley just about dispatched with on penalties in the League Cup, and a creditable draw away at Wolves that so easily could have been a victory were it not for a horrendous mistake by goalkeeper Alan McGregor.

And Steve Bruce’s side will come into Saturday’s game at The Valley with the confidence that a late winner provides. One-time Charlton target Sone Aluko scoring with four minutes to play against Fulham on Wednesday to secure a 2-1 victory.

Charlton: DDWW

So impressive has Charlton’s start to the season been that there was genuine disappointment that they were only able to come away from the City Ground on Tuesday night with a point.

For their performance was not of the standard of their dominant display against QPR and the resilient effort against Derby County. Attempting to take the game to Nottingham Forest, but so sloppy in possession that they ended up inviting as much pressure on themselves as the Rams provided. Patrick Bauer, thankfully, able to clear up the chaos on most occasions.

But so too did frustration exist owing to the fact that the Addicks were wasteful in front of goal. Had Simon Makienok taken one of three chances, and Dorus de Vries not been on hand to make two quite frankly ridiculous saves, a win would have been achieved irrespective of the somewhat incomplete performance.

That there is still enough attacking quality in this side to come close to victory despite a sluggish overall effort is extremely promising. Particularly for games like this one, with Hull arguably the stronger side on paper.

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THE OPPOSITION

Despite returning to full training this week, the trip to SE7 will come too soon for midfielder Mohamed Diame.

The former West Ham man has spent several months out with a knee injury, and is expected to return in the next week or so.

But midfield pair Sam Clucas and Isaac Hayden are pushing to start after coming off the bench against Fulham having been doubts prior to the game.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton have been dealt a major blow with vice-skipper Chris Solly and talismanic forward Tony Watt being ruled out for Saturday’s game.

Solly took a hefty blow late on in Tuesday’s draw with Forest, while Watt was substituted not long after half-time at the City Ground having been unusually quiet.

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With no recognised cover at full-back and both Igor Vetokele and Reza Ghoochannejhad also injured, it leaves the Addicks incredibly weak at both right-back and in attack.

Youngster Regan Charles-Cook will come in for his league debut to replace Solly, while fellow academy graduate Karlan Ahearne-Grant will start up top for the Reds.

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KEY BATTLE – THE GERMAN WALL V HULL’S FORWARDS

While we still attempt to work out if Simon Makienok is another George Tucudean or Yann Kermorgant’s replacement, Cristian Ceballos is strong enough to be a constant threat in this division, and Zakarya Bergdich will be able to provide something more than brief glimpses of quality in cameos, at least one of Charlton’s new signings has left supporters in no doubt about his quality.

Patrick Bauer has been so resolute that he could probably successfully hold off opposition attacks for 24 hours. His reading of the game constantly making you question whether he is actually just 22, his strength allowing him to dominate forwards, and his defensive skills have so far impressively stood up to any test.

Of course, he has had invaluable support. Chris Solly doing a fantastic impression of Chris Solly and Morgan Fox continuing to get better with every game. Alou Diarra a little uncoordinated at times, but marvellous in the air and capable of a highlight reel-worthy tackle. Ahmed Kashi’s passing sometimes erratic, but his defensive contribution excellent.

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But without Bauer’s control and leadership at the back, Luzon’s system would crumble. His almost faultless protection of his own goal as important as Watt’s bombardment of the other.

And with Solly and Watt both absent for Saturday’s fixtures, Bauer’s contribution is likely to prove even greater.

Against opposition who appear impressive in attack, he will once again need to be impressive to frustrate Hull. His reading of the game will need to be spot on to prevent Nikica Jelavic’s moment from causing problems, and to halt the pacey Chuba Akpom and Abel Hernandez.

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PREDICTION

A tough test for the Addicks has become something of an impossible task given the absence of Solly and Watt. A Derby-like performance is needed for Charlton to have any chance of taking something from the game. Charlton Athletic 0-1 Hull City.

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