Sunderland vs Pompey Preview
This is our first fixture without our key African players and our situation isn't help with fitness doubts over Glen Johnson and Sean Davis, the latter may need a pain killing injection to return to the side.
It'll be interesting to see if we stick with the 4-5-1 formation now that we have lost players that made that system work so well. I think we will do, and I think that Benjani will play wide on the right and David Nugent will be given a chance to lead the line up front.
There has been talk that Lauren could fill the void that John Utaka has left, but we all know that's just asking for trouble, don't we? Matthew Taylor could play on the left and move Kranjcar to the right, but I bet his head "won't be right" once again.
I'll admit that I had this game down as a defeat due to being resigned to losing Harry to Newcastle but with the news that he is staying, it should give the team a boost and I believe we can go there and get a result.
Another reason for this is that Sunderland are a poor side that languish in the bottom three despite spending tons of money in the summer.
Roy Keane hasn't had the impact in the Premier League that many thought he would have. Sunderland have struggled to keep clean sheets and last week were hammered 3-0 at home by Wigan in the FA Cup.
The one thing they do have going for them is a knack of scoring late goals which has seen them salvage some results. Unless we're a couple of goals up come the last ten minutes tomorrow, we would have cause for concern.
Still, Keane could be without leading scorer Kenwyne "Scummer" Jones and Danny "Scummer" Higginbotham but does have Michael Chopra back. Roy Keane is likely to shake things up after the Wigan debacle, so expect a few changes from the side that took a beating last week.
When you look at their side on paper it does lack quality but our squad is depleted so going there and winning would be a great result and would put us right back in the hunt for a UEFA Cup place.
And now that Harry is staying put, we could be a good bet to extend our superb run on the road.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Craig GORDON
RB: Greg HALFORD
CB: Russell ANDERSON
CB: Johnny EVANS
LB: Nyron NOSWORTHY
RM: Kieran RICHARDSON
CM: Dean WHITEHEAD
CM: Grant LEADBITTER
LM: Roy O'DONOVAN
CF: Michael CHOPRA
CF: Kenwyne JONES
Bench: Marton FULOP, Paul MCSHANE, Dwight YORKE, Andrew COLE, David CONNOLY
GK: David JAMES
RB: Glen JOHNSON
CB: Sol CAMPBELL
CB: Sylvain DISTIN
LB: Hermann HREIDARSSON
CM: Sean DAVIS
CM: Pedro MENDES
CM: Arnold MVUEMBA
LWF: Niko KRANJCAR
CF: David NUGENT
Bench: Asmir BEGOVIC, LAUREN, Noe PAMAROT, Richard HUGHES, Matthew TAYLOR
Last Time: Sunderland 1 Pompey 4
Laurent Robert walked out of the team when he should have taken his place on the bench and thing got worse for Pompey fans when Brian Priske was penalised for handball in the box and Dean Whitehead made no mistake from the spot.
After half-time the story changed dramatically as Zvonimir Vukic got Pompey level and then a calamitous misunderstanding between Kelvin Davis and Alan Stubbs allowed Matty Taylor to tap in a second goal for Pompey.
Taylor's second goal was an iconic strike from near the halfway line to effectively seal the win and see the home supporters stream out. Insult was added to injury as Dario Silva headed in a fourth goal as Pompey recorded one of their best results under Alain Perrin.
Lawro: Draw (1-1)
Sky Sports: Draw (1-1)
Soccernet: Home Win
Matt Le Tissier: Draw (1-1)
Footy-Mad: Away Win
My Prediction: Draw (1-1)