Charlton face Cardiff City this afternoon in what should be a good test of how much progress Charlton have made under Guy Luzon. I had dinner with a Cardiff fan a couple of weeks ago whose opening gambit was 'Charlton aren't doing very well' which has, of course, changed. Charlton are 12th in the table and Cardiff are 14th. In the six match form table, Charlton are 5th and Cardiff are 10th. In the ten match form table, Charlton are 11th and Cardiff are 20th. In other words, both teams are improving.
Cardiff have won two of their last three games, after winning none of their previous eight games in all competitions. Cardiff have not won any of their last five home games in all competitions. Their last win at the Cardiff City Stadium was 1-0 in the Championship on 10 January.
Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall is a doubt with a groin injury and could be replaced by Simon Moore. Anthony Pilkington and Scott Malone are injured but Peter Whittingham is back from suspension. Johann Gudmundsson and Chris Solly are expected to return from muscle strains for Charlton which is good news. Johnnie Jackson is, of course, still sidelined.
The earlier meeting this season ended as a 1-1 draw at The Valley on Boxing Day. Cardiff have won only one of the last seven meetings. Their only win since 1985 was 2-0 at home in October 2008. Charlton have won two of the last four meetings at Cardiff, drawing one and losing one.
Advocates of fan power will note that Cardiff are once again playing in their traditional blue. Vincent Tan's idea that getting them playing in red would raise their profile in Asia is one of the daftest marketing ploys that I have come across. However, it was mother who eventually got him to drop the idea, telling him that he should stop being a silly boy.
The opposition forces at Charlton have assembled a long charge sheet against Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire. One charge is that, having denounced agents, Roland then made use of them. Sometimes needs must and one shouldn't be too dogmatic in adhering to principles.
However, Roland may be ahead of the curve because the whole system changes on April 1st when agents are replaced by 'football intermediaries'. I don't think this is just a cosmetic change and the Association of Football Agents are up in arms. It will be much easier for anyone to become an agent (step forward, Jonathan Acworth). There is also more control over fees charged. Read more about this on our sister page on the political economy of football: Agents under pressure