Although neither of these sides would have been seen at the season’s outset as favourites for promotion, it’s fair to say that Charlton come into tonight’s Championship game frustrated with a run of shoddy form that has taken them out of the immediate promotion fight and into the lower half of the table. The Addicks, who won promotion to this division only last summer through the playoffs, started the campaign in white-hot form, creating hopes of a return to the top-flight after a few years in which the club has faced down the prospect of liquidation. An injury crisis has poured some cold water on those hopes.
Their opponents this evening are Hull, just six points ahead of the hosts but, by dint of the concertina effect running from 3rd to 14th place in the Championship, also just six points behind Fulham in the first playoff spot. With Leeds and West Brom seemingly holding a lock on the top two spots in the division, Hull are in with as much of a chance as almost any other of competing for the third Premier League spot come June 2020. They’ll need to pick up points to get there, obviously, and there’s got to be a chance of that starting with a trip to the Addicks, winless in nine.
Injuries to test both sides
Charlton’s poor recent form, which includes six losses in the last seven games, is explained at least in part by a horrific injury record that even as it starts to relent will still deprive them of eight or more players for this evening’s game. Fortunately for the hosts, Lyle Taylor will not be one of the men missing from the team sheet; the striker has seen action from the bench in the last two games and could well be in line to start this evening; his goals were invaluable to the Addicks’ early-season form.
One striker who will be missing from the action this evening is Hull’s Northern Ireland international Josh Magennis. Although the powerful forward should be back in time for the Christmas fixtures, he’s not ready for this match and his spot will be filled by Tom Eaves. That said, the Tigers needn’t worry too much about a disruption to their goalscoring supply – most of their goals come from the wings, with Kamil Grosicki on one side and top scorer Jarrod Bowen, with 14 this season, on the other. Bowen is 7/2 with William Hill to score the opener tonight, and is worth backing at those odds.
Attacks to have the upper hand
Although Hull are currently in the bottom half of the Championship, the reason for their relatively lowly position is certainly not their attack, whose 32 goals thus far is a better total than most of the teams around them. It’s on a direct par with Leeds, who currently top the table. The Tigers could do with being a lot tighter at the back, however, as 29 goals conceded has meant that all that scoring hasn’t translated into enough winning. They’ve particularly struggled on the road, losing 2-0 to Leeds last time out, and less forgivably by a 3-1 margin to rock-bottom Barnsley.
The 400-mile round trip is not one that Hull will relish making on a Friday night in the middle of December, but if they are to shake the away hoodoo there can never be a better time than in a game where they face a side that’s on the kind of losing streak Charlton are. Either way, this is one both sides will see as a game in which to favour the front foot, and NetBet have 19/10 on there being more than 3.5 goals in the game. Given both sides’ weaknesses at the back, that seems like a bet worth making.
No uptick yet for Addicks
Under surprisingly adept boss Lee Bowyer, Charlton have come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of seasons. If they can get anything resembling a full slate of players back in action sooner rather than later, they’re more likely to find themselves in the top half of the table than their current lowly spot. At the moment, however, the fact is that they do have a lot of players out, and it’s hard for any club to deal with that – let alone one that was in League One last season.
Charlton may have home advantage here – and that, in and of itself, could be bad news for Hull – but the visitors have most of the other advantages including recent form, a more complete squad, and the goalscoring power of Bowen. Although we don’t imagine Charlton’s recent tricky spell will extend too long, we see it going on for at least one more game, and we’d back Hull at Paddy Power’s price of Evens to take the three points this evening.
Bets of the Day
Bowen to score first (William Hill, 7/2); Hull win (Paddy Power, Evens); More than 3.5 goals in game (NetBet, 19/10)