Date:Wednesday April 4 2012
St. Mary's Stadium
7th April 2012
El-Classicoast has thrown up some tasty ties in the past, deciding relegation battles, FA Cup Quarter Finalists and obtaining closure from a club betrayed by it's manager. But arguably, none is bigger than this. It is essentially Promotion v Relegation, Revival v Survival, the rewards much greater than any bragging rights.
3 points for either team could be so huge in a months time that many are foregoing the usual opponent baiting that usually occurs in the build up to any big derby. Tensions are at an all time high, but are being bottled instead of coming out in the open. Everyone knows the importance, none more so than the 22 players that will be on that pitch on Saturday.
Nigel Adkins has come out this week and quashed any rumours that Championship top scorer Rickie Lambert needs surgery, and claimed he will be fit to play this weekend. However Tadanari Lee has been ruled out for the rest of the season after having surgery on his foot.
An obvious choice but one that can't be overlooked. The former Bristol Rovers man has amassed 78 goals in under 3 years since signing for Southampton. Furthermore he has netted 28 times in all competitions since the start of the season, including one against Pompey at Fratton Park.
George Thorne limped off during Saturday's 5-1 defeat and will miss the rest of the season, which is a big blow for the Blues. After shipping 5 goals at against Burnley, the gaffer may also look to recall Ricardo Rocha to the starting XI, possibly at the expense of Karim Rekik.
So often in these encounters a local boy etches his name into the club's folklore, and after his grit and determination earned us an unexpected point earlier in the season, he'll be out to make a name for himself again.
I, for one, don't need to remind anyone of the score the last time we played this lot in their own back yard. However, it's the hosts that boast a better record since WWII, boasting 14 wins and 7 draws from the 28 games competitive games played.
The Premier League have lent us Neil Swarbrick for what could be a feisty encounter.
The bookies have already written us off, but on paper we have a team could handle their perceived 'dominance', but we will need to play to our fullest potential. Like most Pompey fans, if offered a point I would bung you in the back of the van and be straight back down the M27. I'll go for a very tense 1-1.
A pseudo-derby against Millwall at Fratton Park this Tuesday.
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Date:Wednesday April 4 2012
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