Orient were always going to be playing a London derby this Saturday, but most of us had thought that it would be a game against Paul Fairclough’s Barnet rather than Alan Curbishley’s Charlton Athletic. Still, I’m sure that the majority of O’s fans won’t mind the slight inconvenience to the fixture list.
Orient travel to Charlton buoyed by last weekend’s 2-1 win at Wrexham. Orient have been in good form of late winning six out of their last eight, including that famous win at Craven Cottage.
Charlton have picked up recently having suffered seven consecutive Premier League defeats throughout October, November and December. In the past five games they have managed three victories, and managed a 1-1 draw at Chelsea last weekend. However, if Charlton can’t beat Chelsea, then is it really worth them turning up to face the O’s?
Alan Curbishley-‘I saw at first hand the passionate atmosphere the Orient fans generated at Fulham.’ Curbishely went on to add, ‘It was far from just a day out for them. They felt that they had a genuine chance to win and that came across from the terraces.’
Ahead of the game Curbishley commented, ‘I am not being disrespectful to Orient, but I can’t quite believe the draws we keep getting’. Curbishely continued,’We have had Dagenham and Redbridge, Yeovil, Walsall – we have had them all at The Valley in previous years and they are all difficult’.
‘I watched Orient play at Fulham and they played really well, so I know we have got a game on’,Curbishley said.
Charlton Athletic Team News:
Charlton are not expected to make many changes for the game after their 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge last weekend. Marcus Bent is definitely out as he is cup-tied so Shaun Bartlett who has been on Eurosport for most of the week watching the African Cup Of Nations, will presumably partner Darren Bent in attack.
Charlton could bring back Alexei Smertin and Danny Murphy after injury, and Dennis Rommedahl should be fit after a collision with Luke Young at Chelsea last week. Veteran goalkeeper Dean Kiely left The Valley this week to join Portsmouth.
Player to watch: Darren Bent
Having scored 14 goals already this season, Darren Bent has propelled himself onto the fringes of the England team and has already been called up to Sven’s squad on a number of occasions. He has fantastic pace and a great eye for goal. John Mackie and Gaby Zakuani will have their work cut out for sure.
Leyton Orient Team News:
Orient will be without the suspended Jabo Ibehre who picked up his fifth booking of the season during last week’s win at the Racecourse Ground. Craig Easton is still out with a calf strain whilst new signing Adam Tann is cup-tied. Lee Steele and Daryl McMahon are expected to deputise.
Player to watch: Shane Tudor
With 90 year old Chris Powell playing at left back and the possbility of Bryan Hughes on the left hand side, Shane Tudor will fancy his chances of causing havoc down the Charlton left hand side. Whilst Powell is a vastly experienced Premiership defender he will need a bit more than that if he is to catch Tudor. With Hughes being a central midfielder he is likely to wander into the middle of the pitch and leave room for Tudor to exploit. Having been totally unmarked for the majority of the game at Wrexham last weekend, Tudor will be hoping for a similar situation on Saturday.
Match Facts & Stats
This is the 43rd meeting between the two sides with each team having won 16 times. However, in the F.A Cup at least, Orient hold the advantage having won both the previous cup ties, 3-0 in 1936 and 1-0 in 1982. The two sides last met in 1990 in the League Cup which saw Orient go through 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-0 win at Brisbane Road was followed by a 2-2 draw at The Valley.
Alan Wiley will be the referee on Saturday. Mr Wiley will be officiating at the Carling Cup Final between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic. He is an established Premiership referee and was fourth official at the 2000 F.A.Cup final.
With the absence of Craig Easton and Jabo Ibehre, Orient do look slightly light ahead of the F.A.Cup clash. It’s a tough task for Orient and without two of their most influential players, the O’s may just struggle. However, the experience of Lee Steele could be invaluable and Daryl McMahon at last has the opportunity to show everyone that he has undoubted quality. If Orient play to their potential and Charlton don’t fancy it, then there’s no reason why Orient can’t pull off another famous victory. However, if Charlton play properly it will be a tough game for Martin Ling’s men.
Despite that, Charlton are not that much stronger than Fulham and Orient do have a real chance in this game. This is not a foregone conclusion and that in itself is to the credit of every Orient player. Charlton are not invincible, and as soon as every O’s player believes that then the task becomes slightly smaller.
With an army of some 6,000 fans, Orient could achieve another glorious chapter in their history. They said we wouldn’t beat Fulham, and now they’re saying we won’t beat Charlton. I think we’ll let the O’s do our talking on the pitch.