Saturday, 30 January 2010

Portsmouth preview

After the disappointment of Wednesday night it's important that we realise that the season isn't over. Losing the semi-final hurt bitterly, but letting it spoil the rest of our season would leave a longer ache. We're well placed in the hunt for fourth place, and can continue this pursuit tomorrow in our game at home to Portsmouth.

And Portsmouth should be easy victims tomorrow. It's sad how quickly they have declined from being a dynamic overachieving club to an utter shambles of one, but it's been an ever steeper such decline than Leeds United seven or eight years ago. City fans ought to have a particular sympathy for Portsmouth because we've scored such starkly contrasted outcomes on the foreign owner lottery. But the fact is that they are there for the taking tomorrow - having just lost Younes Kaboul to Spurs, and with question marks over both goalkeepers. And we need an opposition who we can really batter tomorrow - to regenerate some confidence and momentum before a crucial run of six games in 22 days.

I imagine there will be some change to the team from Wednesday night. Like Danny, I anticipate a return to 4-4-2, with Emmanuel Adebayor at the peak. Carlos Tévez will probably be behind Adebayor but Craig Bellamy or Martin Petrov could also do the job. One player who will surely be rested is Gareth Barry, who has looked exhausted for some time. I would like Stephen Ireland to replace him but Sylvinho or Pablo Zabaleta might also do so. Kolo Touré at centre back instead of Dedryck Boyata is another possibility.

This fixture last season was a triumph. We smashed them 6-0, inspired by Robinho and Stephen Ireland and buoyed by post-takeover optimism. Since then we've found out that performances like that would still be the exception rather than the rule. We only finished tenth in the league last season, exited both domestic cups at the first hurdle but salvaged some pride with a brave quarter-final exit of the UEFA Cup. We've also changed managers, lost our first semi-final since 1981 in dramatic circumstances and shipped out our record signing. It's been a turbulent period but there is a sense now, as there was the September before last, that we are entering a new era - or at the least, a new phase. That optimism can be prolonged and enhanced by a result akin to last season's. I predict 3-0.

1 comment:

wizzballs said...

next three are must wins. a little voice keeps telling me that this fixture looks too straightforward... the biggest danger is that we turn up expecting to win comfortably, but looking at portsmouth's travails, I just can't stop myself expecting us to win comfortably.