Date:Saturday August 22 2009
Few things are certain in football, you can almost guarantee that one of 3 clubs will win the Premiership, its highly likely that one of 4 will win the League cup, you can be pretty sure that Spurs fans will think they can crash the top four this year. But one thing that is cast iron, absolutely a banker on the bookies list is that Pompey don't beat Arsenal.
29/3/1958 ring a bell? Not to me really, I was still almost 13 years away from birth, Rug was further away and Chix and EastneyDave were still cleaning chimneys, but that was the list time Pompey faced an Arsenal side and came away with what was then 2 points, a nine goal thriller with names as such as Dougan, Harris and Gordon notching alongside Barnard, the closet we have come since is the Graham Poll disallowed Kranjcar goal of two seasons back, and our debut season in the Premiership where Bobby Pires made waves with a spectacular collapse to earn an unjustified penalty. In the 59 following years its been a combination of Big fat L's and a few D's in the results margin.
So what are our chances this season? Well Arsenal have played twice, once in the Premiership where they struggled past a Lescott inspired Everton 6-1, and then they became the first English side to win at Celtic park since our own manager played for Forest under Brian Clough.
We however, have lost to a Bobby Zamora strike with his best asset, and a disputed penalty up at St.Andrews in injury time, not the best preparation.
Paul Hart is banging the drum (as he should) about plus signs, he has said 'I'd like to take the positives out of what we've done in very difficult circumstances,' he said.
'We created chances and, in my opinion, we should have won both the games we've played.
'We've also restricted the opposition to minimal chances - David (James) has had probably three saves to make in two games.'
Still we lost both and have a challenge Today.
Arsenal could compare comparisons in the summer with Pompey, they were stripped of Adebayor and Toure, and in came unknown Vermaelen to shore up the defence, they were written off as title contenders by the press, but what people forget is that arsenal are a vibrant footballing side with many young players who are learning fast, they have in my opinion the best midfielder in the Prem in Fabregas, and play football how it should be.
Wenger has come through the opening 2 fixtures unscathed as far as injuries are concerned, Walcott is close to a return, but Fabianski, Rosicky, Nasri and Djourou still unavailable.
He probably gets picked most weeks on 'one to watch' features, but he is sublime and can pass a team out of it, expect Mokoena and Mullins to get booked today!
Pompey will have one enforced change, Papa Diop has gone pop, well his hamstring anyway, Basinas is lingering, Vanden Borre may well slip to the bench after a pretty dire debut, and John Utaka may get chance number 87 to prove us he has what it takes.
David James has been linked to also getting dropped after his comments of last week and being blamed for last wednesday's penalty, but are these people serious?
Likely to be kept busier than so far, and has his back to the wall like Brad Pitt in a Brighton toilet at dusk, he can be inspirational and look unbeatable, today would be nice.
Oh you know already!
Come on then Pompey tipsters whats it to be? Place an inspired guess here.
Hereford on Tuesday with City to follow on Sunday
Date:Saturday August 22 2009
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