Portsmouth vs Chelsea match preview
The games are coming thick and fast, and it's not going to get much harder than our opponents tomorrow. Out of all the "big five" we faced last season, Chelsea were the only ones who beat us twice, and to be honest it's not a trend I can see changing. When we face the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, I get this strange pang of confidence that we could nick something. Chelsea, however, are just plain petrifying.
They've only lost once. They've score thirty-eight goals and conceded just EIGHT. In their last ten league games, on six occasions they've scored four goals. And although admittedly some of those on the receiving end of thumpings have been relegation fodder like West Brom, even the likes of Newcastle have taken a hammering from Mourinho's team. Just looking at the team sheet is enough to send fans scurrying for a stiff drink - Robben, Duff, Gudjohnsen, Lampard, Terry - brimming with talent. Oh, and according to their manager, they probably still need a couple of players on loan in the transfer window - so it'll be even more fun when we travel there next month.
If anyone can work out a way to get even a point out of this lot, Zajec can. He's got knowledge, tactical nous and seems to know what to get out of his team. No doubt, a similar method of play as used against Arsenal will be put into practice against Chelsea, and that might well keep the score down, but they've got such skill and pace across the pitch that I really can't see us getting anything. You may have gathered that from the somewhat concerned tone throughout this preview. If we get a draw, I'll be absolutely delighted. One beacon of hope is that the only team to beat Chelsea this season was Manchester City, and with a couple of big games still to come in the Christmas period perhaps Mourinho will rest his really big names, giving us a chance.
Although for a team constructed by a billionaire, the reserves are no mugs either.
For Pompey there are still injury worries - LuaLua, Unsworth and Stefanovic are ruled out until New Year, whilst O'Neil is still nursing a back injury. Ashdown will probably have recovered from the knock he picked up before the Palace match, although Shaka may retain his place after an excellent performance at Selhurst Park. It'll be interesting to see what happens up front; Yakubu seemed out of sorts on Boxing Day, whilst the arrival of Kamara and Fuller changed the game, so perhaps they'll get a chance to start up front and see if they can hit it off.
My message for this one is just to enjoy ourselves and watch the championship contenders in action. If we can get something out of the game then fantastic, but I don't think I've ever gone into a match more concerned of a thumping. Thankfully, the results we've pulled together recently means that games like this, we're not striving desperately to get something to pull ourselves out of the mire. We've done the hefty leg work, and games like this are just a bonus - as is anything we get out of them.