Pompey vs Reading Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 27 October 2006
Pompey will be looking to get their season back on track tommorow as the Championship record breakers of last season make the short journey down to Fratton Park.

Four defeats out of five games have blotted Pompey's excellent start to the season so we really need to be winning this game before we head off to Old Trafford next week. Reading will also state their case as just as important having lost their last three games and facing a journey to Liverpool after tommorow's game.

Steve Coppell's men have taken to the Premiership like ducks to water and currently have 13 points to their name using virtually the same side that stormed the Championship last year as well as the impressive Seol Ki-Hyeon who had played a big part in Reading's rise up the table early in the season.

They have already notched two away wins in the league and although they have lost their last three, those games were against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the cup. Make no mistake about it, we will not have it easy tommorow.

What will make the game even tougher is that we could be without three quarters of the defence that have performed so well this season for the match as Glen Johnson, Dejan Stefanovic and Linvoy Primus are all injured and face a race to be fit in time for 3pm tommorow. So in the worst possible scenario we could be looking at Matthew Taylor having to play left back with Campbell, O'Brien and Pamarot alongside him. That backline doesn't fill you with confidence does it?

Having said that, we are at home and we have plenty of quality players who can get the job done tommorow and if we're looking to finish in the top half, we should be looking to win these sorts of games. Benjani, Gary O'Neil, Pedro Mendes and Kanu should all return to the side after the Carling Cup farce midweek so here's hoping our key defenders can get fit in time for the game so we can play a full strength side.

In contrast Reading have hardly any injury worries for the game. Other than long term absentees Dave Kitson and Greame Murty the only other doubt is USA winger Bobby Convey who could return to play.

Key players for the opposition are Ibrahima Sonko who has adjusted to life excellently at the heart of the Reading defence and will be tough to beat. Seol will provide plenty of energy and trickery on the wing whilst Steve Sidwell has the ability to pick out a killer pass as well as score the odd goal, much like our own Gary O'Neil.

I think the way this game will go will depend on how many of our first team defenders are fit. If they all make it, I can see it being a battle as many of our home games have been this season, where our individual quality up front has won games for us whilst we keep it tight at the back. If we are playing with a second string back four then Harry could just tell the team to constantly attack and we will be in for a corker as it's likely both teams will end up conceding.

This is the first time Pompey and Reading have ever met at the highest level. The last time we met at Fratton Park was in 2003 when we had confirmed our promotion to the Premiership whilst Reading were chasing a play-off place. Vincent Pericard grabbed two goals in the first half and Toddy added a third in the second half to complete an easy 3-0 win.

I have a feeling it'll be tougher this time round...

Pundit Watch

Lawro: Home Win (2-0)
Sky Sports: Draw (1-1)
SoccerNet: Home Win

Note: In the Independant tommorow there is a rare interview with Sol Campbell on his time at Pompey. Don't miss it!

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