Date:Friday December 8 2006
I guess draws are better than losses…
Portsmouth have again avoided defeat. At least that`s something to be thankful for, and the home record stands strong.
What aren`t as encouraging are the cracks which are beginning to show. In a bold move, I actually aliken Pompey to Arsenal. Not that great on the road, but with an impressive home record. But in both cases, the home record is more shaky than the case presented by the statistics.
Portsouth did well to come back against Aston Villa, it`s true, but a rare defensive lapse by Sol Campbell let Aston Villa right back into the game. The shot which garnered them a point was from roughly the same distance as that struck by Kevin Nolan when Portsmouth fell for the first time in the Premiership against Bolton.
I`m not saying that this is any big surprise. Regular readers of the site will know that I am very realistic about Portsmouth`s chances, and fourth place still represents a very good run. People may point to the fact that two points cover from 3rd to 10th, but to be at the sharp end of that pack is still an achievement.
But when the game`s being played, things are entirely different. It was clear from the outset that Portsmouth had the capability to dominate the visting side, but they failed to do so, and gave away a clumsy penalty. One criticism of the sturdy defence is its inability to deal with pacey strikers, and Gabriel Agbonlahor showed far too fast feet for James. One must support referee Uriah Rennie`s decision not to send off David James, as the Villa striker was facing away from goal, and therefore not in a direct goalscoring opportunity.
And yes, Portsmouth did show both determination and patience to get back into the game. Benjani again showed why goals aren`t always the most important thing for a support striker, and his workrate was never in doubt when he supplied the cross for Matt Taylor`s goal.
But the problem that may dog us this season was closing out the match. It`s been a strange seven days, with a useless performance against Newcastle, a resilient display against a more mighty Liverpool, and then not finishing against Villa, who, although very good at getting draws away, where also there for the taking.
Harry Redknapp called for wide men in the upsoming transfer window, and it seems very strange that we haven`t been linked with Shaun Wright-Philips at some point. Quite clearly the media love linking us, with all our money to spend, with anyone who`s available, and SWP would surely be a perfect post-christmas present to the fans?
Maybe toss in Stuart Downing too, and we`d have a great team. Only cost about £20 million, well worth the money we didn`t spend in the summer. Well, I can dream…
Whatever the arrivals in January, it`s clear that there are certain areas that still need shoreing up and cover. Then, and ONLY then, can we begin to even think about Europe. With the Carling Cup gone, a good finish is the only feasible entry point now, so Pompey better begin arresting the slide that`s seen only one victory from the last six games. No reason why it can`t be done though, and it is very likely that the next step will build nicely on the last.
But hey, let`s just nail Everton, and all will be peachy and good once more. Football`s easy like that…
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