Since Portsmouth gained promotion to the Premier League back in 2003, meetings with Chelsea have been far from happy occasions for the South Coast side. The Blues have been winners each and every time, with Harry Redknapp’s side scoring just the one goal against John Terry and company while conceding 18. Surely this will be a walkover then? A breeze to extend our unbeaten home record to 65 games and Jose Mourinho’s personal home record to 100. We can hope so!
Team news from Stamford Bridge features the same old names as far as injuries are concerned, with Wayne Bridge and Michael Ballack still missing following surgery. Ricardo Carvalho could return to the squad after his ankle injury along with Andriy Shevchenko. The Ukrainian played on Wednesday night for his country against the mighty Uzbekistan and lasted 55 minutes. In all, twelve Blues played in mid-week games, with Frank Lampard the only player scoring. As I write, Arjen Robben has left for sunny Madrid, so don’t expect to see him involved at any stage against Portsmouth! Goodbye and good luck to him.
Pompey will be without up to six players for the trip to London, with defenders Noe Pamarot and Linvoy Primus definately out with long-term injuries. There are doubts over Lauren, Dejan Stefanovic, Nico Kranjcar and Sol Campbell, who had to withdraw from the England squad following a groin strain. Portsmouth have had a decent enough start to the league season, with an away draw with Derby followed by a point against fallen giants Manchester United (savor it while you can!) and an impressive win over Bolton last weekend. With the man whose name would comfortably win you a game of scrabble, Benjani Mwaruwari, looking impressive in recent performances accompanied by the pacey John Utaka, Pompey’s front-line may cause some problems.
However, if you remember the meetings in previous years a trend emerges. Chelsea win, and Pompey don’t score (apart from Mr Mwaruwari’s strike last season of course). If Carvalho does return then we will be getting even closer to our strongest eleven. Our man of the match last week, a certain Rob Styles, is unavailable for selection this weekend so we will have to do it all ourselves. There were eye-catching performances from Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips in England’s game and they should be able to carry this form into Saturday’s game. Over to you boys, come on Chels!
Prediction: Not one to change tradition, I have to go for a win and a clean sheet. After Tal Ben Haim was made to look a mug against Fernando Torres and Liverpool last weekend, all eyes will be on him to help shore up the defence. Unless Carvalho starts and then it pretty much is already shored up. A 2-0 win shouldn’t be out of the question, and if Joe Cole doesn’t play at least some part in the game I’ll eat my True Blue scarf.