Chelsea vs Pompey Preview
That date is the last time Chelsea fans tasted a league defeat at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal are the last team to celebrate victory on Chelsea soil and the Blues have yet to be beaten at home since that defeat to their London rivals. This means that Chelsea are undefeated in the league under Jose Mourinho.
But all good things must come to an end.
Pompey travel to West London in buoyant mood after victory against West Ham last week and with 16 points on the board already and the best defensive record in the league. We are under no pressure to get a result tommorow unlike previous seasons when we went to Chelsea in a relegation dogfight and with the squad we have now we have no reason to fear the home side despite their array of talent.
Recent fixtures against Chelsea have been... well... dire. We are yet to score against them and in the six fixtures we have played against them they have scored 14 goals so past form doesn't favour us. However I am yet to be impressed with Chelsea in the league and they have come away with a couple of fortunate wins this season, most notably against Reading last weekend. Jose Mourinho has found it hard to accomodate Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko into a side that can win convincingly and have often played below par and still managed to win during the domestic campaign.
However Chelsea sent out a message to the rest of Europe during the week when they beat reigning European Champions Barcelona 1-0 but could have easily had more in what was a classy and determined performance from Mourinho's men. This win is obviously going to boost confidence so if the task tommorow wasn't difficult enough for us, Wednesday's result has re-inforced that fact that Chelsea away is the most difficult fixture in the Premiership today.
Didier Drogba is on fire at the moment and will take some stopping and although Shevchenko has only scored one goal in the league, a player of his quality will not go much longer without scoring again so our defence will have to be on top form to stop the pair of them. Michael Essien has arguably been the star performer for Chelsea so far and he will also take some stopping and Frank Lampard is starting to show some form again after a patchy 2006 and will no doubt want to put one over his uncle.
All of these players to worry about and I haven't even talked about how we're going to break down such a mean Chelsea defence although with Cech and Cudicini out injured Hilario should continue to deputise in goal and tommorow would be a good time to test how good he is. It won't be the first time Hilario has faced Pompey this season as he took part in the 5-0 drubbing of the Pompey reserves when Andy Cole missed a penalty, had a goal disallowed and hit the crossbar. Let's hope Cole has better luck this time around if he plays!
Portsmouth have a couple of defensive problems for the trip to the Bridge. Glen Johnson is ineligible to play against his parent club so Noe Pamarot is set to take his place at right back whilst captain Dejan Stefanovic is rated as very doubtful for the game so I'd expect Matthew Taylor to move into the left back position and Niko Kranjcar to be recalled into the starting lineup to play left midfield. Despite rumours of Harry playing a 4-5-1, I think we will go 4-4-2 so Manuel Fernandes is likely to keep his place in midfield whilst Benjani and Kanu will start once again up front. Kanu is on fire and in 2001 scored a hat-trick in 15 minutes against Chelsea for Arsenal when they were 2-0 behind, so maybe that's a sign that we could come away with something.
The players are confident and I think the way we are playing right now it's possible we can get a result against the Champions. I am anticipating defeat because of the nature of how hard this fixture is but we have come a long way and any result here will be an improvement on previous showings. Whatever happens we should give Chelsea a tough game tommorow and who knows? Maybe we can write ourselves into the record books tommorow.
Premiership Past: Chelsea vs Pompey
03/04: Chelsea 3 Pompey 0
Steve Stone gave the Champions a problem in this match. He got injured. Wayne "Scummer" Bridge then scored and taunted the Pompey fans when celebrating and there was no way back after Lampard made it two and Geremi scored a cracker to complete a day of misery.
04/05: Chelsea 3 Pompey 0
Arjen Robben tore us apart as he netted two goals and Drogba also got one as Velimir Zajec's Pompey continued to slide down the table in 2005.
05/06: Chelsea 2 Pompey 0
Beleagured Pompey did well to hold the Champions for an hour before Frank Lampard broke the deadlock. Richard Hughes should have equalised but his head narrowly missed LuaLua's cross from the right and then Robben scored to seal the win for the home side.
Lawro: Home Win (2-0)
Sky Sports: Home Win (2-1)
Soccernet: Home Win