Portsmouth vs Bristol City Preview

Saturday, May 17th - Portsmouth beat Cardiff City at Wembley and lift the FA Cup as fans celebrate the club's best achievement in many years.

That historic day was only less than seven months ago but it seems a light year away from our current situation as Pompey fans are fearful of falling at the first hurdle to a lower league team.

This is a massive game for Tony Adams. Should we lose (or draw and go on to lose the replay) then the contingent of fans calling for his head is going to grow and more importantly, which players would want to join a club that has no trophy to play for and looks like a sinking ship?

My main worry is that Bristol City come to Fratton Park with nothing to lose and everything to gain. They are struggling to reproduce the form that saw them reach the play-off final last season but Gary Johnson will have them fired up, knowing that all the pressure is on us because we're the holders and the Premier League team.

The main team news from the build-up to this tie is that Jermain Defoe is "ill" and will avoid being cup-tied as the vultures keep an eye on his status. Therefore Tony Adams must decide whether to play Peter Crouch up front on his own or play either Kanu or David Nugent up top with him.

Will he play 4-5-1 and keep things tight or increase our chances of scoring by opening the game up and playing 4-4-2 given our recent defensive frailties? And if he does opt for two up top then does he play a proven goalscorer against Championship sides in Nugent or does he choose Kanu, given how well he played with Crouch against AC Milan despite a severe lack of pace.

Glen Johnson, Younes Kaboul, Richard Hughes and Papa Bouba Diop are all out injured meaning the midfield will pick itself with the defence likely to be unchanged from the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal.

The Robins' main threat will come from Nicky Maynard who has scored four goals in three games and a certain Stern John who virtually single-handedly saved Southampton from the drop last season.

Other key players for the opposition include right back Bradley Orr who has been linked with a move to Premier League clubs recently, central midfielder Marvin Elliot who is linked with a move to Pompey this January and goalkeeper Adriano Basso who was widely considered to be the best stopper in the Championship last season.

Our recent form and the history of FA Cup shocks points to Bristol City at least getting a draw from this game. However, we have to remember that they are a mid-table Championship team and a side we are very capable of beating with the squad we have.

I'm just as nervous as the rest of you are though. Will our defence hold out and will the pressure get to the Pompey players? Or can the cup win of last year inspire the team to give 100% and turn our fading fortunes around?

Predicted Starting Line-Ups

Pompey

GK: David JAMES

RB: Marc WILSON
CB: Sol CAMPBELL
CB: Sylvain DISTIN
LB: Nadir BELHADJ

RM: Glen LITTLE
CM: Sean DAVIS
CM: Arnold MVUEMBA
LM: Niko KRANJCAR

CF: David NUGENT
CF: Peter CROUCH

Bristol City

GK: Adriano BASSO

RB: Bradley ORR
CB: Louis CAREY
CB: Jamie McCOMBE
LB: Liam FONTAINE

RM: Ivan SPROULE
CM: Marvin ELLIOT
CM: Lee JOHNSON
LM: Michael McINDOE

CF: Nicky MAYNARD
CF: Stern JOHN

Pundit Watch

Lawro: Draw (1-1)
Sky Sports: Home Win (3-1)

My Prediction: This will be a very tense game and I dread to think what will happen if City take the lead and we adpot the gung-ho approach again. I think we'll keep it tight and nick it, similar to how we won every FA Cup game last season. None of which were comfortable...

Pompey 1 Bristol City 0