Portsmouth vs Stoke Preview
By Jim Bonner
Updated Friday, 19th February 2010
Time to get behind Grant and the lads whatever the situation.This may well be the worst season in the history of Portsmouth FC and it may well be cut short if the club go bust on March 1st. Until then, all we can do is support our team and the manager who is trying to work a miracle against all odds.
Ricardo Rocha is available after his suspension and should take Hermann Hreidarsson's place at centre back who is doubtful for the match. Steve Finnan should also return at right back but Dusko Tosic is not match fit yet.
Quincy Owusu-Abeyie is set for a bench role as Grant may use him as an impact sub after coming on to devastating effect against Southampton. Kevin-Prince Boateng is out for weeks after a misdiagnosis by the club doctors who Boateng has branded as "amateur".
Asmir Begovic returns to Fratton Park less than a month after he was sold to Stoke but is set only to make the bench as Tony Pulis will favour Thomas Sorenson in goal.
Abdoulaye Faye is suspended following a midweek red card and Matthew Etherington is doubtful with a knee injury but ex-Pompey and Saints striker Ricardo Fuller will start up front.
My feelings about everything going on off the pitch are for another article. All I will say on the matter is that if administration (at least) is inevitable, then this game, along with the rest of the league fixtures are pointless.
But that hasn't happened yet and there is a tiny, miniscule light of hope that Avram Grant will somehow perform the greatest feat in football history by keeping Pompey in the Premier League despite the board wanting to sell yet more players outside the transfer window.
The Pompey manager has come for much praise after refusing to give up on this club and so in return we must refuse to give up on him or his players. There is a siege mentality installed at the club where the feeling now is that it's everyone against us.
That state of mind may be beneficial during the battle with Stoke City tomorrow. Tony Pulis' men have had a good second season in the top flight and are in no danger of going down.
Unbeaten in 2010, you can expect that the opposition will be a tough nut to crack and given how our defence struggled against the throw-ins and long balls that Southampton threw at us last week, I do worry about how our back four are going to cope with a team that can hoof the ball harder than anyone else and launch it further from the touchline than anyone else.
But if you want to look at this game from a positive point of view, then the side Grant puts out should have plenty of character to stand up to the physical challenge that the Potters represent and we do have players that have the pace to cause Stoke's defence some problems.
There is a small part of me that doesn't want us to win this game. I know it sounds stupid but failing to win would put Pompey's relegation beyond doubt and into the realms of certainty.
But if Pompey can win this then the glimmer of hope that victory would give us could be snatched away when the High Court place Pompey into administration, and unless this consortium from South Africa or Hong Kong or wherever doesn't come to our rescue in the very near future then we can forget the rest of the season completely as there will be no Pompey left to support.
All I ask for is that we go out there and give it everything we have and show all those watching on TV that despite everything that has gone on, we still have some pride left.
Play Up Pompey!
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: David JAMES
RB: Steve FINNAN
CB: Marc WILSON
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Nadir BELHADJ
DM: Angelos BASINAS
CM: Papa BOUBA DIOP
CM: Hassan YEBDA
AM: Jamie O'HARA
CF: John UTAKA
CF: Aruna DINDANE
GK: Thomas SORENSON
RB: Andy WILKINSON
CB: Robert HUTH
CB: Ryan SHAWCROSS
LB: Danny HIGGINBOTHAM
RM: Rory DELAP
CM: Glenn WHELAN
CM: Salif DIAO
LM: TUNCAY Sanli
CF: Ricardo FULLER
CF: Mamady SIDIBE
Last Time: Portsmouth 2 Stoke City 1
Peter Crouch gave Pompey the lead with a stunning bicycle kick but Stoke hit back in the second half after Fuller nodded in Delap's long throw. Pompey got the win when Jermain Defoe struck shortly afterwards to get the winner.
Lawro: Draw (1-1)
Sky Sports: Draw (1-1)
Soccernet: Home Win
I can't see us losing this because we'll be up for the battle, but I can't see us keeping a clean sheet against Stoke's direct tactics which have already shown they can cause problems during last Saturday's derby game.
Portsmouth 1 Stoke City 1
|18 Feb 2010|
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|13 Feb 2010|
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|12 Feb 2010|
|Southampton vs Portsmouth Preview|