Manchester United vs Pompey Preview
It's a fixture that can make your spine tingle with excitement. Pompey fans travel to Old Trafford tommorow not in dread, but in optimism after such a good start to the season. Who knows? Maybe Old Trafford will be the theatre of our dreams if we manage to pull off a result.
Making this dream a reality will be a mammoth task however. United are currently top of the Premiership and have got goals in all parts of their team. Wayne Rooney is starting to fire again and after a bad result in Copenhagen, Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for a top performance to ensure his side stay top of the pack.
If the task wasn't difficult enough, injuries to key players are going to make it even harder.
Linvoy is definately out after suffering a hamstring injury against Reading whilst Glen Johnson is a major doubt which means that we face the very real possibility of having Noe Pamarot and Andy O'Brien starting alongside Dejan Stefanovic and Sol Campbell. Gary O'Neil and Benjani are also doubts for the game but both are expected to shake off their injuries.
The News has suggested that Harry will play five in midfield in an attempt to smother United which means Manuel Fernandes will be recalled, Pedro Mendes will sit in front of the back four and Kanu could be dropped in favour of a runner up front. I'm not in favour of this strategy because when we switched to a 4-5-1 against Chelsea they battered us for a period of the game and scored two goals in quick succession.
I also can't see us dropping the Premiership's top goalscorer and leaving Mendes to play a defensive role when he is probably more effective in creating chances and space for himself to shoot. Of course, Old Trafford is where poor Pedro scored "the goal that never was" so hopefully he can make up for that miscarriage of justice tommorow.
Contrary to earlier reports, both Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville have been declared fit to play. Louis Saha should also return to the side with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the only casualty on United's injury list. Therefore it is very likely we will be up against a full strength Manchester United side with our own injuries. Any result other than defeat tommorow would be a bonus.
That's not to say we can't get a good result tommorow. We are under absolutely no pressure tommorow as compared with our previous visits when we have been battling relegation. We are playing with confidence and United have been known to stutter in these sorts of fixtures occasionally in the past few seasons.
A win tommorow would be good enough to cement our place in the top four although I'd snatch your hand off if you offered me 0-0 right now. Even if we did lose, the lowest we could fall after the weekends games is 6th and then we have two consecutive fixtures against Fulham and Watford at home after that so defeat would not be fatal at all.
This is the sort of fixture we are in the Premiership for. Not going to Colchester to witness your team losing, that's Southamptons job.
This could be our toughest fixture yet but with no fear and plenty of self-belief who knows? Old Trafford could make our dreams come true!
Premiership Past: Manchester United vs Pompey
03/04: Manchester United 3 Pompey 0
Goals from Diego Forlan, Christiano Ronaldo and Roy Keane made sure Pompey were soundly beaten in their first Premiership visit to Old Trafford.
04/05: Manchester United 2 Pompey 1
Velimir Zajec's Pompey went to Old Trafford but Wayne Rooney scored early on to continue his scoring record against us. Gary O'Neil scored an excellent volley that never recieved the credit it deserved just after half time to equalise for Pompey and just when it looked like Pompey were going to get a well earned draw Rooney scored in the last 10 minutes to give United the win.
05/06: Manchester United 3 Pompey 0
Pompey were under the caretaker management of Joe Jordan this time round as fans from both clubs mourned the death of George Best. The Blues were soundly beaten as Paul Scholes scored his first goal for United in ages as Wayne Rooney scored against us yet again and then Ruud van Nistelrooy added a third late on. This was also the day that Harry Redknapp broke his ties with Southampton.
Lawro: Home Win (2-0)
Sky Sports: Home Win (3-1)
SoccerNet: Home Win