FA Cup Round 3 Preview

Last updated : 05 January 2007 By Jim Bonner
It's that time of year again. Wigan travel down to Fratton Park for the second time this season with FA Cup fever hitting Portsmouth...

...or rather, it hasn't.

There are approximately 9,000 tickets left on general sale to Pompey fans so it's quite clear that this third round tie has not captured the imagination of the Fratton Faithful. Why? I believe it's a mixture of the following factors:

- The club are still charging £25-30 a ticket for adults. Considering Christmas has just gone, I doubt that many adults will have that sort of cash left to blow on football. It's just too expensive, as many fans have already forked out for wallet-shrinking trips to West Ham and Bolton, not to mention the non-season ticket holders who saw the home games against Sheffield United and Spurs.

- It's Wigan. Absolutely no disrespect to Wigan but we've played them once already this season in a hardly inspiring fixture. They're not one of the big names of English football so many people will see it as just another ordinary "Premiership" fixture that doesn't have the magic of the cup about it.

- There's a sense that we won't be taking this fixture as seriously as we could be. Key players are set to be rested to give the squad players a chance to show what they're made of. Players and fans alike seem to be more interested in our excellent league campaign and view the FA Cup as a bit of an unwelcome distraction.

Personally, I welcome the FA Cup games to Pompey's season. After all, it's a competition we can win if the draw is kind to us and we don't have to primarily focus on a relegation battle this year so why not go for a major honour? If we can avoid drawing one of the "big four" or an away tie at the likes of Newcastle or Tottenham then we have a great chance of getting to the final.

This game will give the attendees a good chance to view some of the fringe players as it looks like Niko Kranjcar, David Thompson and Richard Hughes may start. Gary O'Neil and Sean Davis could miss out as both have picked up 4 yellow cards and so another one would mean a suspension. Harry is also set to rest either Linvoy or Sol so Andy O'Brien is set to replace them due to the injuries of Stefanovic and Pamarot.

Matt Taylor will cover for Pamarot at left back whilst Andy Cole should start alongside Benjani. Andy Griffin and Richard Duffy are back at the club and could feature whilst Toddy could play against the club that had him on loan just a few days ago, if he recovers from injury.

Arjan De Zeeuw will miss out on facing his former club as he is sidelined with a toe injury. Other casualties for Paul Jewell to worry about are Josip Skoko, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scharner and most importantly, Henri Camara. Lee McCulloch is back after suspension.

The Latics have just signed David Unsworth from Sheffield United so there's a possibility he might feature against his former club. New signings Andreas Granqvist and Kristofer Haestad are likely to make their debuts for the away side (Yes, I don't know who they are either.)

This game has provided a good opportunity to progress to the next round. Wigan are in dire form having lost their last five games so even with a weakened squad you'd expect that we'd be able to beat Wigan at home. I hope Harry is taking this cup competition seriously because although we might dream of Europe next season, a Cup Final would certainly go down a treat too!

Lawro has predicted us to win this game 2-0, so we might have already lost this one!