Burnley go into this game looking for a first point in six games after suffering five successive league defeats since Boxing Day. That's very much in sharp contrast to the previous five games when we picked up no less than thirteen points from four wins and a draw.
A 3-0 reverse at Watford on Tuesday has now seen us drop to ninth place in the table, our lowest position since mid-September. But it is so close up at the top and a win at Vicarage Road would have seen us going into this game in just one point behind the play offs.
We need to get ourselves back to winning ways and a few goals would go down well, Tuesday's result means we are the only side in the top half of the division with a negative goal difference.
If things have been difficult for us over the last month or so, then things have been difficult for Charlton since the beginning of October. When they beat Ipswich on 4th October they were comfortably just below half way in the table.
That was their last league win until Tuesday, a run of eighteen league games without a victory and only six points. It has left them stranded down in bottom place although they finally brought that unwanted run to an end when Matthew Spring scored the only goal in their home game against bitter rivals Crystal Palace.
Since we played at the Valley they have had a change of manager. The poor run saw off Alan Pardew and his place has been taken by Phil Parkinson, the former Colchester and Hull boss, who was Pardew's assistant.
He's had a busy few weeks during the transfer window. Spring has been brought in from Luton whilst Deon Burton made his move from Sheffield Wednesday a permanent one.
Parkinson has also added four loan players in January. Graeme Murty from Reading and Palace's Tom Soares were the first two and today he's brought in Darren Ward and Tresor Kandol from Wolves and League One Leeds respectively.
This is the second time Ward has signed for a club on loan this season right ahead of a game against Burnley, having previously signed for Watford and played his first game against us.
Charlton are currently five points behind Southampton on 22 points and also have the worst goal difference in the league. No matter what happens in this game they have a major battle on their hands if they are not going to drop into League One next season. It is 28 years since they last played below the top two divisions.
Phil Parkinson has some major injury problems made worse this week with the news that both Jonathan Fortune and former Claret Andy Gray have been ruled out for the season. Fortune has suffered a ruptured achilles tendon and Gray a stress fracture of the pelvis.
This was the reasoning behind the late moves for Darren Ward and Tresor Kandol, particularly the defensive position with Mark Hudson also doubtful with a hip injury along with full back Graeme Murty who has a shin problem. Parkinson has also recalled Stuart Fleetwood from his loan at Brighton.
Midfielders Therry Racon and the China captain Zheng Zhi are two long term casualties who are edging closer to a return but neither will feature at Burnley but they do have good news with both Darren Ambrose and Nicky Weaver fit again.
Charlton could line up: Nicky Weaver, Yassin Moutaouakil, Matt Holland, Darren Ward, Kelly Youga, Darren Ambrose, Matthew Spring, Nick Bailey, Tom Soares, Tresor Kandol, Deon Burton. Subs: Rob Elliot, Grant Basey, Chris Dickson, Jonjo Shelvey, Stuart Fleetwood, Lloyd Sam.
Owen Coyle will add new signing Rhys Williams to the squad and it would be no surprise to see him come straight into the side at right back with Graham Alexander moving into the midfield holding role. Should Michael Duff be fit he could partner Steven Caldwell in the centre of defence. That would mean Clarke Carlisle dropping to the bench after coming in for some criticism from the manager after the Watford game and Joey Gudjonsson probably the player to miss out in the midfield.
Stephen Jordan is still out with his ligament injury and so Christian Kalvenes will continue at left back.
I don't envisage other changes and the expected team is: Brian Jensen, Rhys Williams, Michael Duff, Steven Caldwell, Christian Kalvenes, Graham Alexander, Chris Eagles, Wade Elliott, Chris McCann, Robbie Blake, Martin Paterson. Subs from: Diego Penny, Clarke Carlisle, Joey Gudjonsson, Alan Mahon, Kevin McDonald, Alex MacDonald, Jay Rodriguez, Steven Thompson.
It was a forgettable sort of match that could have gone either way but we won it with a stunning goal from Wade Elliott. Despite being played in March this was Wade's first goal of the season and it ensured he won the Clarets Mad Goal of the Season for the second season in succession.
Just before the hour he latched onto a ball from Robbie Blake and gave Nicky Weaver no earthly chance as he rifled a left foot shot into the corner.
We'd started the game well and had dominated the first period, but by half time Charlton had come into the game and we were thankful to Gabor Kiraly, making his first home appearance since the Arsenal cup tie, for some good saves.
Other than that our main concern had been their striker constantly shirt pulling and getting away with it for much of the time. Andy Gray was his name and he was getting some stick from the home crowd who were suggesting he might not be worth quite as much as Charlton had paid for him.
After a quiet start to the second half the game exploded with the goal. Robbie nutmegged a defender as he played the ball to Wade and that goal of the season.
We should have added at least one more but with it remaining 1-0 we had a nervy finish when two Charlton subs, Chris Iwelumo and Luke Varney, might have scored. But we held out for a 1-0 win that left us within a point of the play offs.
The teams were;
Burnley: Gabor Kiraly, Graham Alexander, Clarke Carlisle, Stanislav Varga, Jon Harley, Wade Elliott, James O'Connor, Alan Mahon (John Spicer 64), Kyle Lafferty, Robbie Blake (Mark Randall 87), Andrew Cole (Ade Akinbiyi 75). Subs not used: Brian Jensen, David Unsworth.
Charlton: Nicky Weaver, Greg Halford, Sam Sodje, Patrick McCarthy, Ben Thatcher, Darren Ambrose (Luke Varney 69), Matt Holland, Jose Semedo (Zheng Zhi the China Captain 79), Jerome Thomas, Andy Gray (Chris Iwelumo 69), Leroy Lita. Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Jonathan Fortune.
Previous 20 Seasons
Gray(2 1pen) McCann