Portsmouth v Manchester City
Fratton ParkSaturday, January 10th, 2009
Kick Off: 3pm
MANCHESTER City are sweating over the fitness of star attraction Robinho ahead of their Premiership clash with Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon. The Brazilian has a thigh problem, and his absence would be another blow to a squad which has already lost Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips to suspension and injury respectively. On a more positive note, recent signing Wayne Bridge is in line to make his first appearance in a sky blue shirt following his big money from Chelsea, and Nedum Onuoha has overcome a hamstring problem.
Having begun his top flight career with Portsmouth’s local rivals Southampton, Bridge expects a hostile reception should he be included in the starting eleven on Saturday. “I think I’ll be getting a few chants of ‘Chelsea reject’ and stuff about my time at Southampton, but I like those sorts of games,” he said. “I want to get out and play, if I could get a goal there will definitely be a big celebration.”Bridge says he is looking forward to making his debut and hopes to well for his new legion of fans. “I know that fans here are great from what I hear and what I have seen before when I have played against City,” he said. “We want the club to progress and give them something to cheer about. First and foremost we have got to get back to winning ways, that needs to start at the weekend so we can’t look too far ahead.”
For the home side, Glen Johnson is to return to the side following an ankle problem, but Papa Bouba Diop (knee), Richard Hughes (hamstring) and Jerome Thomas (back) are all sidelined. The sale of Jermaine Defoe to Tottenham means that Peter Crouch will most likely lead the line on his own again, while Lassana Diarra’s move to Real Madrid was completed last week.
Former City skipper and current Portsmouth defender Sylvain Distin insists he is not looking for revenge following the humiliating 6-0 defeat at the City of Manchester Stadium earlier in the season. “The table is very tight at the moment and we need wins because one point is not enough in this league anymore,” he said. “When we played Manchester City earlier this season and lost 6-0 they were flying. I am not looking for revenge because I have been in England for eight years and I cannot go for revenge every time I lose.”
Both sides have struggled lately, with only one win between them in their last 10 matches combined (four for Portsmouth and six for City), and the pressure is mounting on both Tony Adams and Mark Hughes.Hughes’ squad had been the subject of rumours of unrest this week, and there was some evidence of this on the pitch during last weekend’s embarrassing FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest when Daniel Sturridge and Elano were involved in a heated debate. Indeed, Elano is one of three players named by the tabloids as a possible trouble maker within the City camp, along with Tal Ben Haim and Jo. The club is never out of the media spotlight at the moment, especially with the transfer window open and different names being linked with a move to Eastlands on a daily basis.
Hughes has confirmed at a press conference on Thursday that a bid has been made for Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz, and also spoken about moves for West Ham duo Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy. However, he also said that no move has been so far made for want away Newcastle keeper Shay Given.
All eyes will be firmly on the Fratton Park pitch come afternoon however, with both sides badly needing a win to get back into the right half of the table.
Portsmouth (from): James, Johnson, Distin, Campbell, Belhadj, Nugent, Wilson, Mvuemba, Davis, Kranjcar, Crouch, Begovic, Pamarot, Hreidarsson, Lauren, Cranie, Kanu, A Traore, Primus.
Man City (from): Hart, Zabaleta, Dunne, Richards, Bridge, Ball, Kompany, Elano, Robinho, Caicedo, Fernandes, Jo, Vassell, Garrido, Sturridge, Hamann, Clayton, Ben Haim, Schmeichel, Evans.
Portsmouth – Peter Crouch
With Defoe gone it’s going to be left up to the big man to provide a threat in front of goal. He looked dangerous at times against Arsenal and is well capable of playing the role if the supply is good and he is adequately supported.
Manchester City – Vincent Kompany
With both Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips absent, City look light in midfield. Gelson Fernandes has had a poor season, while Dietmar Hamann is looking every one of his 37 years. Kompany has been solid all season and if he can stamp his authority on the game early on it might compensate for the lack of talent around him.
Prediction –1-1. Both sides are in dire need of a win, but neither will get it.
Corresponding fixture last season (0-0)
Many thanks to www.mancityfans.net poster XAVI6 for giving his time to write this match preview