Boro V Pompey
Pompey face a six-pointer today, both teams are bottom 3 as we speak, the relegation hatch seems to crept up on Pompey out of nowhere last week, quite ironic as it coincides with a bit of an upturn in form! Pompey really do seem to be paying the price for some rather lacklustre performances under Tony Adams, some players have admitted they were not fully focused under the last regime, so its up to those same few to turn it around and show the form of early last season once more.
Paul Hart has admitted that if you offered him a point right now he would rip your arm off, we are hardly adrift at the bottom as we were just 3 short years ago, but us fans have been spoilt with charges for Europe in the last two terms, and the return to scrapping at the bottom has a more familiar feel to it to be honest!
Hermann Hreidarsson is the man people are pointing to for inspiration right now, he has suffered the drop on mor than one occasion and really doesn't want the 'relegation man' tag to stick still further, his displays in defence epitomise all that Pompey fans love to see, he crunches into a tackle or header, and what he lacks in pace he makes up for with sheer bloody mindness as he bulldozes forward rather skins his opponent, more of the same please.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Boro are on the back of 3 consecutive clean sheets at home, so defence is obviously key to their survival aspirations, Justin Hoyte is the main concern there though, he remains the biggest threat to hopes of a fifth consecutive unchanged line-up.
Brad Jones looks like retaining his place after a somewhat indifferent display last week to dump his team out of the cup, maybe a lack of confidence can be something Pompey can exploit.
Player to watch: O'Neil
Bit of a no-brainer really, still revered on the South coast, he is someone used to great escapes after featuring in more than one for his former club, he seems to feature prominently in any game he plays against his former employers now, hopefully not crucially.
Pompey Team News:
Pompey have a longer break from action than Rip Van Winkle, our first competitive action for 11 days has seen us drop down the table, but has also seen a sunshine break to Dubai to lift spirits and recovery from aching bones.
Paul Hart has indicated that he wants to stick with what he is familiar with, this seems to point to naming the most consistent squad he possibly can, this has been particularly harsh on Gekas who has not seen a second of action after his loan switch, and Basinas will be in with a straight fight with Mullins for a place alongside Davis in midfield.
Nugent will get another chance to stretch his run in the team, he has dropped straight into the Benjani role now, and current displays could see him take his place in the Fratton faithfuls hearts.
Marc Wilson has recoverd from a virus and calf strain, but along with the fit again Hughes may have to wait for a squad spot.
Player to watch: Davis
A couple of seasons back Davis had a long running bet with O'neil on who would score first in a season, both resembled Brian May by the time O'Neil broke the duck, but now the two mates are in direct competition on other sides, todays encounter could be key.
Match Facts & Stats
Boro edge all encounters with 30 wins to 26, but in the Premiership its 5-2 to Pompey, a stretch to 6-2 would be welcome.
Arthur Smiggingsthwaite (Stoke)
Paul Hart has a record of 1-1-1 in terms of results now, but can the first column be bulged a bit further, place your guess here.
Everton at Fratton