By Chris Harris
Five defeats in six games and just one side between them and the bottom of the Premiership - at first glance, things look bleak for Charlton Athletic. Apparently the league table does not lie but it's easy to make a case for an Addicks resurgence when you consider they have played four of the current top five.
Alan Curbishley stepped down last season after 16 years in charge, a period in which Charlton were transformed from homeless also-rans to Premiership regulars. We asked Tony Hudd of the Kent Messenger to assess new manager Iain Dowie and explain why results have not gone Charlton's way so far this term. Read on for the lowdown on Saturday's opponents.
THE STORY SO FAR
"Charlton have had a far more difficult start than they did last season and when you have a new manager things don't happen overnight. They've been hit by injuries as well so maybe their league position doesn't tell the whole story. Iain Dowie has not been able to play his best side yet because of persistent injury problems. Souleymane Diawara is the most expensive defender in the club's history, he made his debut at Chelsea and got injured. Andy Reid signed from Spurs and he's been injured too. Djimi Traore has a stress fracture, Gonzalo Sorondo is out, so is Jerome Thomas and Omar Pouso, the Uruguayan, got injured on his debut against Portsmouth."
MAN OF THE MOMENT
"It's very early days for Dowie. You don't get any time in the Premier League and he is trying to put his own stamp on the club. It's very difficult for the fans because Dowie is a former Crystal Palace manager and they are Charlton's closest rivals. He would have liked to hit the ground running but he's not had the best of luck so far. Dowie is desperate to keep a settled side but the transition period is taking longer because of injury problems."
"Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink was signed from Middlesbrough but, again, it's too early to judge him yet. He has scored one goal so far and says he's as fit as he's ever been. He can help Darren Bent develop as a striker but it's a question of getting players in midfield who can provide the service. That will be the key to Hasselbaink and Bent's partnership, as it is with any strike partnership. Charlton had Alexei Smertin and Danny Murphy in the team this time last year, they were excellent and created a lot of chances for Bent. Andy Reid - when he's fit - will operate more centrally in a playmaker role."
"They are not really missing Curbishley. It was a case of saying 'thank you Alan' and then moving on. He was there for 16 years and the legacy he left is one of a very stable, very secure club. Now Dowie wants to put his own stamp on Charlton and get them up the table."
"I think Dowie will play a 4-4-2 but Charlton have to find a way to deny Arsenal space. They can't let them settle, particularly in midfield. The Valley has not been an easy place for Arsenal to go but at the moment they are just beginning to click and I think it will be a hard game for Charlton. The more they lose the more confidence dwindles, but of course if they get something from the Arsenal game then everything changes."
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