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Preview: Burnley V Charlton Athletic

If a reminder is needed that the two points taken from two winnable home games in the previous week was not enough, it’s this.

A trip to promotion chasing Burnley, with their England international goalkeeper, experienced midfield and prolific centre forward. Not to mention a tactically astute and respected manager, given freedom in creating and formulating his side.

For if the Addicks had turned just one of those points into three, a degree of pressure could be taken off this daunting trip to Turf Moor. Karel Fraeye’s side having nothing to lose, with any reward from it a bonus.

Instead, such a sympathetic view of Charlton’s chances of claiming points against superior opposition cannot be taken. Points needed for confidence, and to avoid being trapped in the bottom three while the Christmas turkey is being carved.

Some hope for Fraeye’s side exists in Burnley going six games without victory, failing to score in four of those.

But, realistically, that hope is heavily eclipsed by the fear provided by the quality of the Clarets, Charlton’s dire performance on Tuesday night, and their regular struggles away from home this season.

As such, the Addicks need to find a level of performance they haven’t been able to show previously in order to attempt to right the wrongs of the previous week. A difficult situation, that exists out of their own failings.

18

LAST MEETING – CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0-3 BURNLEY

Charlton’s relegation worries were increased in March 2014, as they were outclassed by a disciplined and clinical Burnley side at The Valley.

Having competed with their promotion chasing opposition for much of the first half, the Addicks finally caved in seven minutes before the break. Ashley Barnes getting the better of several red shirts to head home Junior Stanislas’ cross.

It could have been game over before the break, with Ben Hamer needed to pull off a superb double save from Chris Baird and Barnes as half-time approached, but it took just ten second-half minutes for Sean Dyche’s side to secure victory. Dorian Dervite recklessly hauling down Sam Vokes just inside the penalty area, and the Welshman dusting himself down to convert from the spot.

And the gulf between the two sides was reflected come full-time as Burnley, who would go onto win promotion at the end of the season, added a third in stoppage time. Michael Kightly’s cross looping in off the thigh of Johnnie Jackson.

FORM

Burnley: LDLDDD

There was not necessarily too much weight behind the idea of Burnley making an immediate return to the Premier League prior to the season getting underway.

Their promotion in 2013/14 always viewed as something of an overachievement, and the departures of Kieran Trippier, Jason Shackell and Danny Ings seemingly making their squad weaker than it was two seasons ago.

So there is an argument to suggest that supporters of the Clarets should be very happy with their lot so far this season. Sitting in fifth as the halfway point approaches certainly not an underachievement.

But a frustration exists that fifth isn’t first or second. That the Clarets are eight points off the automatic promotion spots despite spending a relatively large amount in the summer. That no win has been picked up in the previous six games.

In truth, there have been some decent results during the current winless run. A draw against Brighton and a dramatic comeback from two goals behind to steal a point from the Cardiff City Stadium both positive.

A failure to score in four of those games, however, which includes the disappointing 2-0 defeat to Preston North End and Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Middlesbrough, means frustration is the overriding feeling.

The Clarets desperately needing to get back to winning ways over the festive period.

Charlton: DDLLWW

The lowest attendance for a league game at The Valley since 1998, much lower when the non-attending season ticket holders are considered. A capitulation against the division’s bottom side, with Charlton’s character, effort and discipline all insulting to the supporters who had turned up. The boos at full-time, that grew louder as Fraeye walked down the tunnel.

Tuesday another desperate night in SE7, that perfectly displayed the damage Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire have done to the club. Apathy and anger reaching levels where it seems almost impossible to address.

And that will certainly be the case if efforts on the pitch continue to be so half-hearted and lacking any sort of resolve. The joy of seeing Ademola Lookman give the Addicks a two-goal advantage quickly overridden by embarrassment as a committed group of Bolton players, irrespective of their league position and lack of wage payments, fought hard to exploit the lack of structure and resilience in a weak Charlton side.

It was a result that not only leaves the Addicks without a win in four, having won two of their last 17, and sent them back into bottom three, but one that has crippled supporters of all confidence and belief.

It’s all so, so bleak.

1

THE OPPOSITION

Burnley are likely to revert back to two up top after Dyche’s unsuccessful attempt to quell Middlesbrough’s threat with a fifth midfield man in midweek.

Such a change in formation would see Sam Vokes come back into the side, possibly at the expense of Dean Marney, but Dyche has avoided making wholesale changes during this current winless run.

Instead, the highly-rated boss has tended to keep faith with the players that were responsible for a run of nine wins in 12 games earlier on this season. Matt Lowton, despite Tendayi Darikwa underperforming in recent weeks, and Matt Taylor among those being made to wait for a chance to impress.

But Burnley’s side will certainly be without Barnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz, who are both recovering from serious knee injuries.

THE ADDICKS

Charlton will welcome back Patrick Bauer after the centre-back completed his two-match suspension during the draws with Leeds United and Bolton.

The German’s return to the side could see Alou Diarra revert to a holding midfield role, at the expense of a forward option, or he may simply replace the inexperienced Harry Lennon in the backline.

But Fraeye’s decision could be influenced on the basis of whether two of his key attacking threats are fit. Doubts existing over the availability of Lookman and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who were both substituted on Tuesday night with niggles.

15

KEY BATTLE – STOPPING ANDRE GRAY

It says a lot about Gray’s qualities that it can be suggested the £9m forward is in the midst of something of a drought. No goal in his previous four games equates to his longest run this season without scoring.

But such a run takes nothing away from the threat the 24-year-old possesses to Charlton’s backline. In fact, there’s every chance that a brief period of time without a goal will only make him more determined to score.

At the very least, if the Addicks are to stop Gray adding to the 11 goals he’s scored this season for Brentford and Burnley, they’re going to need to show a much greater deal of defensive resolve than they did during the draw with Bolton. A back four lacking composure and organisation regularly exploited by the lively Zach Clough and the robust 24Emile Heskey.

 

Gray’s pace and movement, in addition to his sharp finishing, the sort that will punish Charlton should they put in a repeat defensive performance. And even if there is an increased resolve, Gray has the advantage over Charlton’s less than agile centre-backs.

Pressure largely on Bauer, on his return to the side, to deal with the threat of Gray, and give the Addicks a fighting chance of getting something out of this.

3

PREDICTION

Why am I going? Burnley 3-0 Charlton Athletic

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