Almost, but not yet ...
Therefore, Pompey fans are looking at our trip to the Toon's as an opportunity to gain safety. However, we must win to claim yet another season up in the top flight.
But if we look at our recent away-record under the new solid regime of Paul Hart and Brian Kidd, we can hardly expect Pompey to go up there looking for win. It is evident to me that Hart will play a very defensive game, where if we were to defend well, we might get a point or even sneak a win. But the latter seems to be a bit unlikely, not sounding very pessimistic, but being real.
Going for such an important match playing a 4-5-1 formation is very suitable, especially if their manager decides to go for this one with his three more-than-capable strikers; Owen, Martins and Viduka. Playing a team who is willing to keep their top-flight status, with time running out, is going to be mega tough, and that is why I expect Hart to play a defensive match. If we do manage to keep them at bay for the first half, then we are there to get a draw or maybe a win, if we do take care of counter-attacking football, which I am sure we do.
As an analogy, I would like to mention the West Brom vs Sunderland match, where the unlikely West Brom scored 3 and won. Sunderland needed the win as much as we or the Toon's do, but as they were going to play the basement Baggies, they thought it is easy staff, and look what they got. On this point, I would like to point out the 'we-shall-not-lose' attitude Hart has introduced. Pompey could have done the same as Sunderland did when playing the Baggies, but instead, Hart was very cautious about the fact that West Brom can play and score if they are given the space, something which they were up to against us but did not manage thanks to a solid 4-5-1, even if this formation raised a couple of eyebrows.
This takes me back to the Newcastle match: a match that although a win makes it almost impossible for us to go down, it is also a match that we shall play cautious football and wait for the opportunity to score when less expected, and maybe win.
My prediction, a 0-0 draw. This result would suit us very much, as then we'll be almost safe, but unfortunately, not yet.
As always, and forever, Play Up Pompey!Written by Pompey Malta
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