Date:Friday January 10 2014
Finally, I'm back to deliver my first preview of the year, and what a game should follow. Pompey travel to the side who thumped them 4-1 on the opening day at Fratton Park- Oxford have continued strongly since day 1 and currently lie in 6th just6 points off top spot. They have however, failed to win in any of their last 3 matches, so with confidence down, Pompey could claim their first win in 3.
Barker has recruited since the opening of the January transfer window, bringing in 4 new faces so far, with more to come. It comes at a time when Pompey's squad is thin, with several injured absentees, so is a smart move. The Blues boss knew after performances leading up to the new year that he needed new players, and he's wasted no time.
Pompey will look to avenge their 4-1 loss tomorrow, however will travel in good heart knowing that since then, they've beaten United on their own turf- a 2-1 win at the Kassam in the JPT, a few months back.
Richie Barker knew of the situation Pompey were in when he took over as manager, and he knows that another horrific result that came on the opening day is unacceptable. Barker believes that the memory of that day will pump up his side, and spark a strong response.
He's gone about the game in a positive way, and with the addition of 2 more strikers in the transfer window, Pompey will have 6 strikers at their disposal (7 if there were no injuries) so there will be no excuses for missed chances. 4 were present when the game was played, Agyemang and Connolly started the game up front so they know what's they're up against. Big Pat has 2 goals in 2 games against them this season, so it'll be expected if him to have no fears.
Jon Meades is the only injury absentee, and has been for some time. He is on the road to recovery after an ankle injury, but is well away from making the first team.
The other absentee, through suspension, is ex-Pompey player Dave Kitson. Kitson was certainly not a fan favourite at Fratton Park, with many performances sparking anger from the Blues crowd. He was due to be back, but with Oxford failing to play a game so far this year because of several postponements, he has not been able to complete his suspension.
The crafty winger Potter scored twice on the opening day massacre, and has proven to be a very good player for the U's. Pompey simply couldn't handle him last time out, but changes have been made and he will face a side very different from the one he last saw.
Pompey have a long list of missing players heading into tomorrow's game: Both Simon Ferry and Adam Webster are out because of hamstring injuries, whilst Dan Butler and Tom Craddock sit out with knee injuries. Danny East is also out due to an ankle injury and Andy Barcham is sidelined through a thigh injury.
Pompey do however have 4 new faces to use: Daniel Alfei is set to start after being named in the side that were due to face Accrington before the game was postponed, at right back. Alfei arrived on a month-long loan from Swansea, early on in the transfer window. Nicky Shorey may also make his first start at the opposite side of the defence after the former Reading left back that was part of the 7-4 thriller at Fratton signed until the end of the season. He's one signing that has caught Pompey fans' eyes. Jake Jervis is also striving for his first start on his Pompey return- the tall forward had a short loan spell last season in which he scored a very special goal against Tranmere. Jervis was set to sign earlier on this season, but failed to receive international clearance in time. The 4th recruitment is Ryan Taylor from Bristol City. Another striker, one who spent most of his time at City on the bench during his 3-year stay. The 25-year-old however believes he still has a lot to prove and hopes this is his chance.
Shorey, a full back who has played for England, has been seen as a very good deal is likely to start tomorrow. At 33, he has a lot of experience but will definitely still have a lot to offer, especially to Pompey. He played for Reading for some time, and has played against Pompey on numerous occasions so knows what to expect from the club. Hopefully he settles quickly, and becomes a part of what is going to be a fresh Pompey side.
55 meetings between the sides have seen Pompey come out victors 22 times, and United 19 times. The most of recent of results being the 2-1 Pompey away win in the JPT, in which Patrick Agyemang scored a fantastic solo effort goal.
Pompey will be out seeking revenge after that embarrassing show on the opening day of the season, with Oxford hoping they can replicate the performance once more and get back to winning ways.
Well, I think what with Barker adding fresh faces, and having an extra week to prepare for this one, Pompey will be victors. I'm being positive as usual, as Oxford can be a great side on their day. But with Pompey heading into this one a stronger side, I think we'll record a 2-0 win at the Kassam Stadium.
Mansfield travel down to Fratton, lucky not to have lost to the Blues this season- Pompey dominated a 2-2 draw earlier this season, wasting a load of chances that could have seen then Guy Whittingham's men, leave with all 3 points. PUP!
Date:Friday January 10 2014
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