Carry on Charlton - Nicholas
By Charlie Nicholas. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
CHARLTON ATHLETIC v FULHAM
Monday, October 17
Live on Monday Night Football
Sky Sports 1, 7.30pm
They have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far but went into the international break on the back of a defeat by Tottenham, in which they threw away a two-goal lead.
I am sure there will be plenty of people expecting the bubble to burst now, but I don't see it like that.
They lost to Chelsea earlier in the season and responded in style and although a London derby with Fulham is not the easiest game to call, I see no reason why Charlton can't bounce back again.
They will have had a rest, Darren Bent should come back with a spring in his step having been involved with England last week and I can only see positives for the home side.
And in Fulham, they are up against a side who have problems. They have not won in four and the noises coming out of Craven Cottage do not fill me with confidence.
I do expect them to come to The Valley and have a real go and if Luis Boa Morte can get involved and Steed Malbranque can find his form, they are capable of creating chances. Brian McBride has done well up front this season, but in truth goalscoring is not the issue.
Chris Coleman's biggest concern must be his defence. I'm afraid Fulham are just not strong enough in that department, which is strange because being a former centre-half, you would have thought that would be the one area Chris would have got them sorted.
But he hasn't and on the few occasions I have seen them this season they have looked vulnerable. Yes, Fulham are capable of playing well going forward, but if you can't keep the opposition out you will not win games, simple as that.
What Fulham need right now is a player in the mould of their manager. Zat Knight is 6ft 4in, but is just not aggressive enough. Alain Goma is another one who hardly instils fear into strikers - especially if they are playing as well as Bent is right now - and as a unit, Fulham's backline just strikes me as being a little naive and prone to individual lapses.
But the biggest problem tonight could be down the flanks. Moritz Volz, Carlos Bocanegra and Niclas Jensen are all nice tidy full-backs going forward, but defensively they are not quite up to it.
And Charlton are a side who do use two orthordox widemen. All the talk this season seems to have been about systems, and Curbishley has his team playing to their strengths in that 4-5-1 that becomes 4-3-3 when they attack, with Dennis Rommedahl and Jerome Thomas down either side.
Those two will be crucial tonight. If Charlton can get them in the game and they can get at Fulham down the flanks, I can see Charlton and Bent getting goals again - and getting back to winning ways.
Home win - I am going to go for a 3-1 win for Charlton, but I do think the game will be closer than the scoreline suggests. It should be a great game to watch, because both sides are neat and tidy and as we have seen already this season, Fulham do come out and attack sides. They probably have to because they are so uncertain at the back, but it should make for an open, exciting derby. But Charlton have been no fluke this season and I can see them returning to winning ways.
Does Nicholas know? Charlton to win 3-1 is 11/1 with Sky Bet. Click here for full odds!
Danny Murphy (Charlton) - He has been in great form this season and I think he should be a permanent fixture in the England squad. He may not have the goal threat or be as explosive going forward, but if Wayne Rooney should get injured, then Danny for me is the only player to replace him in that hole behind the one striker. His form has been central to Charlton's great start and he is also getting himself in the box and scoring goals this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see him doing it again tonight.
Does Nicholas know? Murphy to score last is 7/1 with Sky Bet Click here for full odds!