Portsmouth vs Aston Villa Preview

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 26 January 2009
In mid-October Pompey travelled to Villa Park for a game dubbed as a European six-pointer. Fast forward to the present day and Villa are sitting pretty in a Champions League place whilst Pompey are three points from the bottom of the league.

It just goes to show you that things can change very quickly in football as a year ago we would have been favourites for this game whereas now Villa are well fancied by the bookies, knowing a win would put them level on points with Manchester United.

Martin O'Neill has assembled a very good counter-attacking side which is very worrying considering how often we've conceded goals after being caught on the break this season. They have quietly climbed the table and let the "big four" bicker amongst themselves so much that the fact that they are genuine top four contenders hasn't made the headlines.

If you're looking for positives going into this game then you can take heart from the fact that Villa haven't beaten us in five meetings with their last win coming in March 2006. Their top man in Ashley Young is also suspended whilst they didn't have the best result on Saturday either after being held to a goalless draw by Doncaster.

Tony Adams should give Hayden Mullins and Pele their debuts whilst Hermann Hreidarsson could also start with Nadir Belhadj being pushed further forward. Hopefully the Pompey manager doesn't do anything stupid and plays Jermaine Pennant in his proper position this time....

With the league so tight at the moment we could really do with a win right now to ease the relegation fears around Fratton Park. Not only that but Javier Saviola is reported to be watching the game in the stands and would much rather be set to join a winning team rather than a losing one.

This is one of the most important games of the season for us but Villa will be far from easy to beat. Hopefully Adams gets his tactics right and the players will be up for bouncing back from that dreadful Swansea performance.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: David JAMES

RB: Glen JOHNSON
CB: Sol CAMPBELL
CB: Sylvain DISTIN
LB: Hermann HREIDARSSON

RM: Jermaine PENNANT
CM: Sean DAVIS
CM: Hayden MULLINS
CM: PELE
LM: Nadir BELHADJ

CF: Peter CROUCH

Aston Villa

GK: Brad FRIEDEL

RB: Carlos CUELLAR
CB: Curtis DAVIES
CB: Zat KNIGHT
LB: Nicky SHOREY

RM: Nigel REO-COKER
CM: Steve SIDWELL
CM: Gareth BARRY
LM: James MILNER

CF: Gabriel AGBONLAHOR
CF: Emile HESKEY

Last Time: Pompey 2 Aston Villa 0

Jermain Defoe lobbed the stranded Scott Carson to open the scoring for Pompey and then the England 'keeper raced out of his goal to boot the ball straight at Nigel Reo-Coker which deflected straight into an empty net for a comedy own goal. Sulley Muntari and Olof Mellberg were both sent off late on for second yellow cards.

Pundit Watch

My Prediction: Villa are a decent side and with all their pace and Heskey to cause us trouble I don't think we'll keep a clean sheet. However, they have some big players absent and our lads will want to bounce back from the Swansea defeat.

Pompey 1 Aston Villa 1

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Tue 17th April 18:45

Bradford City 3 - 1 Portsmouth

Last game - Match Centre


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