Portsmouth Preview

I trust you all had a good time yesterday and it is back to some semblance of normality today with the visit to the South Coast. Portsmouth have been in mixed form recently yet the only consistency they have shown this season is inconsistency. For the good wins at Villa and Newcastle, counterbalance these with the performances at The Emirates and Anfield. The fact they have won just two of their eight home games, although five have been drawn means that it all adds up to a tricky little trip.

Had anyone given Harry Redknapp the stats at the start of the season, I am pretty sure that he would have bitten their arm off to be in the position that Portsmouth find themselves in now. Benjani, Kranjcar and Muntari are their main goalscoring threat yet they have struggled to hit the back of the net at Fratton Park. It is two hundred and seventy minutes since Kanu found the back of the net for Portsmouth, a last minute goal in the 1 – 2 home defeat against Blackburn. Indeed, that is the only goal scored by them at home since their 7 – 4 win over Reading. As long as that run continues tonight, I doubt that we will be complaining.

Early team news is that Theo Walcott will not make the trip and indications are that Robin van Persie will not either, his thigh strain yet to have fully cleared up. I have a suspicion that this will mean an unchanged team from the starting line-up in the last two games, subject to any strains being reported in the interim of this preview being posted. Arsene may well be saving those for the weekend’s trip to Goodison Park, a game that will prove in my estimation a tougher trip than this, Everton being the better organised of the two sides. If Arsene decides to have a little tinker, then Rosicky seems the more likely to make way with Abou Diaby coming in to replace him.

I suspect Arsene will go with

Almunia; Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy; Eboue, Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky; Hleb; Adebayor

And a bench of

Lehmann, Senderos, Diarra, Diaby, Bendtner

The Dane might feel that he perhaps should start one of the next two games and he may at Goodison but only, I suspect, if injuries are picked up this evening. He seems happy at the club now that his appearances are becoming more regular, even if the press are trying to stir up the Hornet’s nest. At the age of nineteen, not many forwards are ready to lead the line at a big club but Bendtner could probably do so. However, that would have to be in tandem with someone rather than the sole striker role that Adebayor seems comfortable playing. Next season however, might be a different story for that. The confidence he will have gained from the goal against Tottenham is immeasurable. Scoring in the ‘bread and butter’ weekly games is what he needs to do to push Arsene into changing his thoughts on the formation. I think Bendtner and Adebayor would probably make a good combination. In close control and pace, Adebayor is similar to a smaller striker; that he is a big man makes him harder to predict. Bendtner meanwhile is not quite so good on the ground compared to Adebayor but is an impressive header of the ball, his goal on Saturday more evidence of that.  Indeed, he  commented after the game on an exchange that he and Vic Akers had,

Get me on for the corner and I’ll score for you. It was quite funny when it actually did happen

Yep, they were laughing all the way down the Tottenham High Road at that one. A partnership in the making perhaps but something RvP and Eduardo may have alternative thoughts on.

With United travelling to Sunderland and West Ham in their next two games, wins this evening and on Saturday are vital. It is hard to see either of them scoring against United, let alone winning the games so we need to keep the pressure on by taking maximum points. Kicking off after them is in some ways an advantage, knowing what is required is often a great motivator.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ‘til Tomorrow.

33 thoughts on “Portsmouth Preview

  1. i think wenger should start with bendtner and adebayor to give pace and power against the tough PLAYERS of portsmouth we need to fight fire with fire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. yogi
    Had anyone given Harry Redknapp the stats at the start of the season

    I did , i also said watch out for the Manc’s too !
    And you wrote ‘both teams off’ ,telling me it wasn’t
    proven.. But it all goes to show that there is no ‘SURE WINS’ in the EPL anymore the competition is tougher ,and for that reason 2 away games with reasonable teams scares me !..

    Looking at the other top 3 , they all have it EASY in the next 3 games! I think Chelsea v Newcastle is the hardest on paper over the next 3 EPL games for our rivals .. (manure-chevs and liverpoo should all get there next 9 points).

    Everton is our tough game .. I think we can win if we can stay fit .. And Portsmouth could come out firing or roll over easy.. This will be an important double for us , character building and fitness being the key…

  3. YW

    ‘Bendtner meanwhile not quite so good on the ground as Adebayor’

    Are you sure, YW? Bendner has a better touch, control and passing abilities. His finishing is also better and can shoot from afar. I agree Ade has more energy and pace. He also has experience simply because he’s had more chances and Nik is just 19. However, Nik is pushing for first team place and with the way he’s playing there will come a time Arsene can’t ignore him.

    Nik just has to be patient and continue to develop his game. He’s going to be a big, big player for us in the near future. Ade watch your back.

  4. Did you notice that in the two league games against Tottenham, Cesc had a hand in all our 5 goals: 4 assists and 1 goal.

  5. Whatever it is….Arsene will put his best team against pompey and everton. Might change it a bit with regards to Niklas and eboue. Other than that its the same ol’ team barring any further injuries. RVP might be ready for the toffess hopefully. Gilberto might be better off at centreback. Our play involves a DM who’s an “all action” type ie Flamini rather than a “one who exudes calmess…dunga type”.Thats why he’s being on the sidelines at the moment me thinks.

  6. No doubt we must win both away matches. Ade is better suited for Everton game, so I will start Bendtner at Portsmouth. Hopefully we can score early and Portsmouth will tire at the end, so we can kill them off.

    Everton game is tougher. Ade would play with RvP or Bendtner. Better with 4-4-2 than 4-5-1 cos we must put their defence under pressure from go.

    Who knows, maybe MU and Chelsea will drop points.

  7. “If you stand off them and let them pass it around, then they’ll pass you to death”
    Redknapp about the Arsenal game coming up – should be “Quote of the day” … Cheers

  8. IF the next two premiership games are “must-win” games can anyone name one that isn’t?

    We’re not fighting Everton, Man City or Pompey for the title. We’re fighting Man United!! They’re not going to be happy with a draw and neither should we. Every game is must-win in the premiership! It’s only the odd group game in Europe that isn’t must-win.


  9. Not sure I agree that playing after is an advantage. I would much rather play first and put the pressure on the rivals to keep up….

  10. Spot on Yogi. I think more posters on this site are coming to realize why Wenger will start a 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1 with Eboue in the line-up. He needs a good balance offensively and defensively especially at the start. Portsmouth is a counter-attacking team and there key players are either big or speedy (Harry prefers both). Muntari, Benjani, Kanu, Utaka, Diop et al. They will make will make mince-meat of lightweight defending. Remember Reading. Arsene Wenger is a pragmatic man. He will not engage in a Keeganesque shoot-out with Pompey. He is here to win the league playing attractive football and with ManU breathing down our necks, the starting XI will include Eboue who offers more defensively.

  11. ethan_gun-

    back to stirring up your nonsense again I see….


    Never did Yogie write any team off

  12. Merry Christmas to all

    Yes, looking at the way MANU plays and the amount of luck they have to keep from droping points, we cannot afford to drop a single point in the next 3 games.
    Playing pragmatic at the beginning may be advisable and then change when we need to as in the case of Spurs. If AW can get his substitutions that spot on he will have improved over the previous games and seasons. If there is any criticism of AW that I have is that he does not bring on substitutes early enough for my comfort( but when has that matter in his job description)

    Up the Gunners, lets pass Harry’s team to death.

  13. Hope you guys had a Merry Christmas! Must be all stuffed and happy and looking forward to the game at Portsmouth.

    I watched the 4-4 thriller at Stamford Bridge on TV. Never thought Petr Cech and Scott Carson could concede 8 goals between them in 90 mins. I laughed out loud when Cashley got sent off, less so for Carvalho. Actually feel sorry for them, losing their first-choice CB’s and LB must be a blow, while their keeper’s just back from injury and not at his best. But considering what Fat Frank said, I threw that sympathy out of the window. Let’s have a good laugh about what he said just before today’s games:

    “We are only six points behind and we have still got Arsenal, United and Liverpool to come to our place. Anything is still possible and that’s the feeling we have. We now have to go on a real run of winning games…”

    Let’s keep it that way and get 3 points against some of our old boys down south!

  14. Nacho

    Are you sayng that because ethan wrote his own team off at the beginning of the season, he’s no right to comment? Hasn’t he got the right to express his views? Anyway Arsenal 2 Pompey 0

    Enjoy the game.

  15. Adebayor a top striker? Hold the ball or giveaway ball? Arsene’s overreliance on Ade will cost us. Today he was more a liability than an asset; poor passing, can’t head the ball prefers to head the air. When he gets a chance he turns to give a faulty pass instead of shooting. Can’t shoot. We’re in trouble.

    Bendtner changed the game when he came on but Arsene continues to rely on his 4-5-1 with Adebayor on top.

    I agree with ethan_gunner, need a striker and a CB in January. Gallas showed that he’s injury prone.

    Now that MANU is in front, can we catch them?

  16. It’s high time we start blaming Arsene for sme of these points loss. Why 4-5-1 with Bendtner on the bench? He immediately changed the game when he came on. Why bring on Diaby when Bendtner would have been better? Is Ade so special he’s undroppable? Even now having the guts to compare himself with Henry but not performing same?

    I feel a lot of pain with this point loss and I blame Arsene for his selection.

  17. I think we need to sign Ethan for Wenger & Howard for Pat Rice.
    We said there is a long way to the end of the season, Man Ure hit the bad time earlier in the season and we are losing the points now. It is still a very long way home for all teams.

    No need to panic just yet, we just need to win the next game with seems more difficult than today’s game…but hopefully young Bergkamp will be back.

  18. Frustrating night in Pompey. 0-0 and we didn’t trouble David James once. I thought as soon as I saw an un-changed side it would be tight and I really dont like this 4-5-1. We dominate possesion but we struggle to create chances playing that way and I really hope we revert to 4-4-2 on Saturday otherwise I fear another barren night. it seemed to me they were trying little one two’s through a brick wall all night

    I understood the formation on Saturday given the late night in Blackburn and both Eduardo and Bendtner were knackered so to see them rested was no surprise. But tonight it worried me, the aforementioned again didnt start and Eduardo didn’t even make it onto a very defensive bench. Yet when Bendtner came on with 10 mins to go and we revert to 4-4-2 suddenly we have 3 good chances (all off target), maybe we could have created more starting that way. What is more concerning to me is Wenger’s reluctance to start either Nic or Eduardo in the Premiership and whilst I am sure he has his reasons it does leave us short in those areas, as if Ade or VP are injured we simply play one up front and then struggle to win the game.

    As for the pluses, sagna continues to be solid, and Rosicky had a good game and was probably our best player.

    There goes top spot and at the half way stage we are 2nd…..still happy with that.

  19. If Wenger was willing to start either Bendtner or Eduardo I would probably stick with what we have got but seen as he won’t I agree with you Howard we would benefit from having another striker.

    I still say Anelka would be perfect, he is still banging them in for a poor Bolton team.

  20. Arsene must consider starting the Lazy Togolese from the bench. He’s just not serious. He plays like we do back in Africa only to get the girls to sing for you and of course get the most beautiful to hang out with. Hey, drum it into his head that he’s not the only striker. I seriously do not understand why Nicklas should be second choice to him. I’m so pissed off with him after the game tonight. He passes wrongly and expects someone to chase for him. He’s always waiting for a pass to get to him as if there are no defenders in the game. He cannot even judge when he’s miles offside. Hell !!! Arsene with all respect, please start him from the bench may be that will let him sit up. RVP we miss you, hurry back !!

  21. Its like Arsene don’t like the face of this futuristic boy at all, I mean Bendtner. I was surprised when Diaby came on for Eboue. Eboue is always crap and can’t score even if he has an open net in front of him yet as far as Eboue is fit, Arsene will play him. Its a bit wierd to me when this guy continue to get opportunities even though he has no end product in his game.

    Ade continued to head airs, tired, falling down at the least touch, mispassing, no shooting and poor touch, bad decision making always outside. All this Arsene didn’t replace him while his overall play was negative. Ade is not a striker of the true sense and misuse the majority of chances created for and yet Arsene don’t see anything wrong with Ade.

    Bendtner has shown his capabilities as a young striker but Arsene continue to retain Ade on the field even when he’s playing badly. Its a wierd situation we have and if Arsene don’t reverse gear it will cost us.

  22. Yeah I had been worried since I saw the 4-4-1-1 formation yet again. Having read what you guys posted, I still don’t understand why Arsene didn’t start Bendtner – who has done enough to deserve a starting place I think. It seems to me like only Ade and RvP have the divine right to start in a proper 4-4-2 now.

    And while Portsmouth’s 4-5-1 could be switched to somthing like a 4-3-3, we couldn’t do that as Rosicky and Eboue are just not natural wingers.

    I’m not saying 4-4-1-1 is useless. To me it only works when the 2nd striker/attacking midfielder is really fit/lively/creative, almost in a Bergkamp-esque way in that hole behind the striker. Hleb did well in that role in pre-season and some games early into this eason. But since he came back form injury, he hasn’t hit the top form required in that role these 2 weeks. A Hleb active as ever but not sharp enough, coupled with a below-par Cesc, just couldn’t make that 4-4-1-1 formation work, IMHO. And having 5 men in the midfield didn’t give us any advantage either in this game, as the opponents were fit and physically strong. And that’s exactly where Bendtner could come in and made a difference.

    Individually, Bendtner would also have added more value than Eboue on the pitch in terms of getting balls into the box or trying to score himself. Not sure if you’d agree but I think both him and Eduardo have done enough to start at a place like Portsmouth, especially when their home form’s been strangely not as great as their away form. Just why Arsene has been so set on the 4-4-1-1 is really beyond me.

    You guys know more about football than I do. Can you please shed some light on this? I’m really curious – and a bit disappointed.

    Having said all that, if someone told me on the back of a “bad summer” that we would be in 2nd place on Boxing Day, 2 points off ManU, losing only once away, unbeaten at home, I would have taken it very happily. I’m trying to remember that that’s how far we’ve come. Trying.

  23. Very good points Louisa, do you think that maybe Arsene still thinking with the mentality from the EPL’s past?

    What I see is Arsene being more cautious, win your home games and not lose your away games (4.5.1). And wait for your opponents to lose points. With the way Man Ure is going,add to that their unlimited luck and referees compliments ….this cautious strategy may not work. The reason he has been playing it more than often recently is because we are now playing strong teams at home, and away games that we don’t like that much.

    For example…..Man Ure lost more games and we lost more points in draws. Fergie gambles more than Arsene in these type of games (M’boro, NCastle, P’Mouth)

    Can we take that as Wenger’s downfall? We can if we think this is holding us back or is he over protecting a still fragile in confidence young side. In his mind, this team would be devastated if they finish 4th again this season…..but if they play it safe and finish in a strong second it will give them more confidence to challenge next year.

    Unfortunately next year, himovichi spends another 300 millions and buy Chelsea the title again.

  24. Is that Adebeyour for real? I have just read his comments that Thierry would only be in the reserves if he came back. Doesn’t the clown realise that many of us feel that HE is the weakness in the team and that if it was not for Wengers stubborness in not wanting to be proved wrong he would never get a game. Adebeyour you are not good enough to clean Thierry Henry’s boots

  25. Oh by the way, I saw the Chelsea game over the weekend and it is obvious to me that we need foreign referees. These guys are either corrupt or do not have a clue. Foreign referees would not have the ‘mandatory penalty’ mentality at old trafford either.


  27. Well I pray that it shouldn’t happen but if we allow MANU to take their tenth title then I’ll blame Arsene. Arsene has developed favourite players and however bad they play, they will still be undroppable once they’re fit.


    A key Arsene favourite who feels good talking up himself without delivering on the field. Compares himself with the legendary Henry and often argues with his own team mates on the field. Poor touch,passing, can’t shoot, misses 90% of his heading attempts, falls down even when holding the ball and always outside. Have scored 10 goals, helped by a midfield that provide so much that any average striker will score. Have not scored a single goal in the CL and yet Ade Praisers describe him as prolific. Why Arsene continue to keep him on the field of play when its obvious the player is not performing is really one of Arsene’s strange decisions.


    A favourite Arsene player full of antics and bad attititude on the field of play. His overall contribution to the team is negative. Don’t think he’s ever scored for the Arsenal. Give him an open net and he’ll still throw the ball away.

    Quality? Arsene says once you are good enough you play and yet Eboue has proved again and again that he’s not Arsenal material but still seems undroppable. I’m looking forward to seeing the back of this man during ACN games.


    Arsene says he’s not bringing anybody in for the CB position, apparently because he has Senderos in mind. Senderos has gone backwards since 2006 even then he was poor but he showed potential. I rewatched Arsenal/Everton game at Goodison park where we lost 1:0 in 2006 and he was a real crap. He’s not moved up and has been causing us in critical games. Last year in CC finals, FA with Blackburn. This year CL with Servilla and in the CC match with Blackburn, without Song we would have lost.

    Arsene is bringing back Djourou who has not been impressive with Birmingham City and Toure will be off. My conclusion is that he’ll replace Senderos with Toure and make Djourou the reserve player to Gallas/Sendy. In that permutation, in case Gallas drops due to injury, Djourou comes in with Senderos; its scary fans. Djourou is still learning and has prospects but the trust Arsene has in Senderos when he keeps on flopping is also strange. I can’t see Benitex, Sir Alex and Mourinho keeping Sendy in their team.

    Sendy is another Arsene favourite who’ll never go away because Arsene will continue to give him chances even though poor. He might cost us in the long run if Arsene don’t get into the January opening for a CB.

    In fact Song is now better than both Sendy and Djourou at CB but Arsene will always put Sendy above any player in the absence of Gallas and Toure.

    These are Arsene’s favourites and as headstrong as Arsene is, he won’t change his mind about these players. as for Bendtner, is like Arsene don’t see the prospects in him that we see. He recently commented that Nik is not ready for the EPL meanwhile the boy has so far not disappointed us any time he came on.

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