Dowie still targeting Europe despite poor start

September 29, 2006

Manager Iain Dowie insists his ambition of leading his club into Europe remains intact, despite the Addicks' disappointing start to the season.

Charlton have lost five of their six Barclays Premiership matches, and Dowie was angered by the second-half capitulation against Aston Villa last weekend.

Tomorrow Charlton face an Arsenal side firmly back in the groove after victories over Manchester United at Old Trafford and Porto in the Champions League.

It is a daunting task. But Dowie is a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and he is out to spoil Arsene Wenger's 10th anniversary party and start climbing that table.

'We have had a difficult start but we shouldn't shoot low all of a sudden,' said Dowie.

'Our priority is to get a winning run together. We will have to work harder than ever before out of possession to stop them from playing.'

Alexander Hleb has every intention of adding to his Arsenal goals tally - but insists it is not always about shooting on sight.

The Belarus midfielder opened his account for the new campaign in Tuesday night's 2-0 Champions League win over Porto at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal will be looking to make it five straight victories when they return to domestic action at struggling Charlton.

Hleb believes patient build-up will again be the key to success at The Valley.

He said: 'We know as a team that we need to shoot more when we are presented with a chance.

'The fans must understand, though, that it is hard to get that chance when the opposition pull every man behind the ball.'

Lomana LuaLua is in line for his first Portsmouth start of the season as manager Harry Redknapp looks for more firepower following his side's first defeat of the season against Bolton.

And veteran striker Andy Cole and new £2.5million signing Niko Kranjcar could join midfielder Manuel Fernandes on the bench at Tottenham on Sunday.

LuaLua's appetite for the game has impressed Redknapp and he could hand him his first start since April after returning from an ankle injury and signing a new contract.

'We have some good players to come in and some of them are desperate to make the team, but Cole has hardly played a game in seven months and I changed my mind about having him on the bench on Monday,' Redknapp said.

'We can all second guess but he is just the type who could have come on and nicked a goal from one of the many chances we created and he is getting fitter all the time.

'But the missed chances were my only regrets from the Bolton game and I gave the lads credit for the hard work they put in.'

Tottenham boss Martin Jol has backed under-fire midfielder Jermaine Jenas to bounce back from his Liverpool nightmare.

Jenas' failure to score in front of an open goal from three yards in the 3-0 defeat at Anfield last weekend is already being tipped as the miss of the season by pundits.

Jenas, 23, has been one of Tottenham's better players during their poor start to the Premiership season and Jol will be looking to the midfielder to help Spurs finally hit the net after seven hours and 13 minutes without a goal in the league.

Jol said: 'JJ realises he's a big player for us and has taken that responsibility,

'He was gutted at Anfield - but what can you say? He can't sit in the corner and cry.

'He has to be a big man, mature and of course it hurt him inside but he's a good professional, a good lad and he will try to do better and put things straight next time.

Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann believes US is best when it comes to the art of shot-stopping.

The American has been a major part of the Royals' smooth transition from the Coca-Cola Championship to the Barclays Premiership and Steve Coppell's side, who are at West Ham on Sunday, are currently in seventh place following last week's spirited 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

At one end of the Madejski Stadium, the 34-year-old hasn't conceded a goal in league action in more than a year, joking that he secretly boards it up with plexi-glass when no-one is looking.

Hahnemann has followed in the footsteps of a number of American international keepers who have thrived in the top flight, including Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.

And he is convinced that growing up playing more traditional American sports had helped him to make the grade between the sticks.

He said: 'We have a lot of goalkeepers over here and there are a couple of reasons. We grew up playing basketball, American football and a lot of other sports where you need hand-eye co-ordination.

'And people in the States want to be goalies. It is a more respected position there than in a lot of other places in the world.'

Hammers striker Carlton Cole is hoping for better luck after his team's disappointing UEFA Cup exit to Italian side Palermo.

Trailing 1-0 after the first leg, the Hammers lost 3-0 last night in Sicily to continue their painful start to the season.

Alan Pardew's side have only won once this campaign and have struggled to get into their stride.

'We are not getting the lucks from the gods at the moment,' Cole said.

'We've created a lot of chances against Palermo and in every other game we've played this season.

'But sometimes it's not down to luck alone but to individual performances.'