Date:Saturday December 17 2011
It's been a nearly 7 years since 'that lot down the road' paid a visit to Fratton Park, and with the repercussions of the result last time around still leaving a bitter taste in their mouths, it's time to do it all over again. Ahead of the game, I got the opportunity to ask Vital Southampton editor Abe Hawken a few questions about his clubs recent goings on, and their chances this Sunday.
Here are his responses...
Over the last few years the two clubs have followed similar financial setbacks, with Southampton managing to come out the other side looking much more stable currently. Do you feel these problems are now behind you?
Yes - I do feel that our financial problems are behind us. We've never been the richest of clubs, but I feel now that we are stable and that we are definitely moving in the right direction. The club's stability is down to the late Marcus Liebherr who saved the club. He will never be forgotten and his name is sung around St. Mary's on a regular basis - definitely a Saints legend.
On the pitch, you've had a very successful last 12 months, and after a poor start to last season you managed to turn things around. How much of this do you credit to the appointment of Nigel Adkins, and can you see him leading the club to the next level?
Nigel Adkins has definitely turned it around for the red half of Hampshire. His positive personality has rubbed off on all of the players and you can tell that the team love playing for him. In many games, when we've been struggling, he has made changes that have turned losses, or draws into wins. I feel that we have a great chance for promotion - and Adkins can definitely do a job in the top tier... we've just got to keep hold of him!
You've started this season like a house on fire, and find yourself one of the favourites for promotion, but after a bit of a stall in form, do you still think the team is strong enough for automatic promotion, or can you envisage a slide down the table in the upcoming months?
Every team has a rough patch in a season. We've been unlucky, but poor away from home, but you can't question our home form. As long as we keep winning at the fortress that is St. Mary's, we could be playing Premiership football next season.
With your recent drop in form and Pompey coming into this match off the back of 13 points from 15 at home, it is looking like being one of the tightest South Coast Derbies in recent years, and yet, Southampton have been named rather considerable favourites for the match (Southampton (11/10) v Portsmouth (23/10)). Do you think the bookies have got this one right?
You are certainly right - this is going to be the tightest south coast derby for years. But we have proved that we can beat any side, and despite our recent poor away form, we have the players and team spirit to win on Sunday.
Rickie Lambert has been on fire once again this season; do you think that the team could keep up this form if he was sold or picked up an injury which ruled him out? Which other players do you feel Pompey should be wary of this Sunday?
We would certainly miss Lambert if he picked up an injury. In terms of being sold, I don't think he has any intention to leave the club. He is a huge presence and when he's in a one on one situation, you'd fancy him to find the back of the net. Adam Lallana is also on to certainly watch. He is so influential in midfield, we look so much more dangerous when he's on the ball.
Finally, I 4-1 would like to hear your prediction for the match...
I think that we'll be the one's having the last laugh on Sunday... Saints to win 2-1.
Cheers to Abe for helping out with that, and one thing is for certain, it is certainly going to be a memorably match one way or the other. Fingers crossed the atmosphere and the result all work out well for The Blues.
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Date:Saturday December 17 2011
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