Friday 26th December 2003
With Christmas just behind us, Tottenham find themselves pitched into a battle for three points that would be the best present the side could give Tottenham supporters. Pompey started with puck and verve and were up in the top half, but they have toppled down to third from bottom of the Premiership.
Wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp might need to do his best for the club in the January sales, as his side need a boost and the older legs might start to go a bit after Christmas. He has mainly dealt in free transfers or low cost transfers, so how much money is left in the coffers is in question. Having brought in 33 players in 19 months, the Barry Fry Memorial revolving doors have found a new home at Fratton Park. The squad list is peppered with players who you have heard of and some from the Balkans who you haven't but the Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandarich has.
Veteran ex-Newcastle keeper Pavel Srnicek has made a return to the top flight following Shaka Hislop requiring a hernia operation. Short in stature, but brave and agile, the Czech has been preferred to Dutch goalie Harald Wapenaar who came in during the summer.
The reliance of experience in defence gives them a solidity there, but leaves them a bit exposed to pace; something a former Redknapp purchase - Fredi Kanoute - might exploit to his benefit. New to the Premier League, but not league football Linvoy Primus lines up alongside Croatian international Dejan Stepanovic in the middle of defence, but the latter will most likely partner Arjan De Zeeuw, who you might remember from previous Premiership meetings with Barnsley. Neither at too mobile and the movement of Keane should pull them about. They will certainly do that to Boris Zivkovic if the comments made about his substitute appearance against SCBC and his part in Pahars' goal. Also available are former West Ham defenders Aussie Hadyn Foxe and right back Sebastian Schemmel, with Jamie Vincent missing as he is on loan at Walsall. Left back Matthew Taylor brought in from Luton did interest Spurs at one stage, but they chose not to go for him, although he excelled in the First Division last season, but has suffered injury this time around. Another lower league player brought in is Eddie Howe from Harry's old club Bournemouth. A fringe player, he is a solid defender, who is dangerous from dead ball situations.
The midfield area has seen the manager farm out some players on loan. Kevin Harper has been at Norwich City, England Under-19 captain Gary O'Neil was taken by Colin Lee at Walsall, Rotherham fielded Carl Robinson and Courtney Pitt went to Luton Town. Conversely, Alexei Smertin arrived at Fratton via Chelsea, although his rapid transition from London to the South Coast indicated that this might be more of a deal for a mate than someone who Chelsea intend to play regularly. That leaves Tim Sherwood, Nigel Quashie, Steve Stone and Patrik Berger to form the midfield. Stone is a terrier, who has had problems getting sent off against Boro and Quashie is out with an injury at the moment. That has left Berger, who has been a goal-scoring midfielder this season, much to Redknapp's relief, as his three goals put him second to Sheringham in the goal-scoring charts at the club. Sherwood has been tumbled by the Pompey faithful and they have been booing him of late, so it will be interesting to see if he outs in a bit more effort against Spurs. You can bet he will ... and that he will pick up a card ... and I don't mean a Christmas one !!
Young Juventus striker Vincent Pericard looks a handful, but his chances to start have been limited as the preferred pairing of Nigerian Yakubu Ayegbini and ex-Spur Teddy Sheringham are likely to be put out to face us. However, recent rave reviews for on loan striker from West Brom, Jason Roberts, means he might edge Ayegbini out onto the subs bench. Sheringham we know all about and he has been pulling the strings for the side, dropping deep when necessary to ping passes out wide. He is probably as much a cert to score as Sherwood is to be taken off. Mark Burchill is another option who won't be available, as although he came back from Wigan where he went on loan, he left straight away for a similar spell at Sheffield Wednesday. Big striker Lee Bradbury is on loan at Derby County and although he has done well in the past at Pompey, it might not be long before being released.
Overplaying the oldies in the side could have even more of a disadvantageous effect on Pompey's form in the latter stages of the season, with substitutions not being used to freshen up the side during the games played already. Portsmouth do pass the ball very well and their movement in the opening couple of months of the season were exemplary. It was always going to be hard for Portsmouth, even though they ended the season as champions. However, they have shown that they can hold their own on occasion and if the right Tottenham turn up, then they could end up with the result below ... if not, then they will be lucky to return to London with a point.
PREDICTION : - Portsmouth 1 Tottenham 3
For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.
VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
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think your team have played this season ?
do you think is your best player at the moment ?
player isn't playing as well in recent games ?
exciting new names in the squad that we should look out for
are Teddy and Tim doing ??
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to Dave at
PORTSMOUTH : - Amdy Faye (knee); Svetoslav Todorov (knee); Nigel Quashie (knee); Shaka Hislop (hernia)
TOTTENHAM : - Simon Davies (hip/thigh); Christian Ziege (thigh); Dean Richards (knee); Jamie Redknapp (knee)
TV : No live coverage
Radio : No live coverage
Internet : www.spurs.co.uk Live webcast (Subscription only)
|Portsmouth 2 Tottenham 0 (Half-time score : -)|
|Friday 26th December 2003|
|Venue : - Fratton Park|
|Kick Off : - 15.00 p.m.|
|Weather : - Windy, rainy|
|Crowd : - 20,078|
|Referee : - S. Dunn (Bristol)|
|Teams : -
Portsmouth : - Wapenaar; Primus, Zivkovic, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, ;Stone, Sherwood (Hughes 79), Smertin (Taylor 90), Berger; Sheringham, Yakubu (Roberts 84)
Unused subs: Srnicek, Schemmel
Tottenham : - Keller; Carr, Gardner, Richards,
Taricco; King, Poyet (Postiga 61), Jackson,
Dalmat (Ricketts 68); Keane, Kanoute (Zamora 86).
|Colours : - (kits
courtesy of http://www.colours-of-football.com)
|Scorers : -
Portsmouth - Berger 53, 69
Tottenham - None
|Cards : -
Portsmouth - Sherwood (foul) 17
Tottenham - Taricco (foul) 16
Any hope of some Christmas cheer disappeared with this gutless display against a relegation rival on a wet and windy day on the South Coast. With such performances, it will be a long season for the supporters, with little to get hope up about, as the bottom of the table exerts a stronger gravitational pull with each uninspiring display.
It doesn't help watching Tottenham perform like this, when you do so in surroundings like those at Portsmouth. Surely this is a ground to take the mantle of The Old Dell as the worst to grace the Premier League.
However, on the pitch, where it matters, it was Tottenham who looked the ones barely fit to grace the Premiership. How Pompey didn't go ahead right at the start, when Yakubu skied a chance set-up by Sheringham's mis-kick, I don't know. Although Spurs hit back with debutant Jackson hitting a long range effort and Robbie Keane working the keeper, neither looked a threat to the home side.
In fact, Jackson had looked promising in the first half, but after he had been hit late by Sherwood, he faded a bit from the action. Free-kicks were littering the game and an early warning of what was to come arrived on 25 minutes, when Berger hit a dead ball past the post. Another more worrying moment came when Robbie Keane, of all people, knocked away a Sherwood header from the goal-line after a corner.
As the half came to an end, Tottenham finished strongly and Kanoute twice got on the end of moves, but finished too high, then Keane was through, forcing Wapenaar to save with his legs as he came out to thwart the Irishman. Spurs still had some defending to do, with Richards denying Yakubu's shot with a block and then Keller had to make sure with a palm over to prevent Smertin's long-range shot going in.
Berger had obviously benefited from the rest during his suspension and it was just our luck that this would be his first game back. After the break, he curled a free-kick just wide and this was just a sighter for his next one which arrived on 52 minutes. The award might have been said to be harsh, as Gardner was adjudged to have pulled Yakubu, but there was no denying that Berger's 35 yard free-kick was well struck, although Keller was seemingly at fault, having lined his wall up and then he stood right behind it. This left him little sight of the ball as it flashed low into the net.
It was a similar tale to tell in the 67th minute, as Yakubu hit the turf, again with Gardner in close attendance, with Berger this time getting the benefit of a wicked deflection (once again) from a Spurs defender, Jackson, to leave Keller wrong-footed.
Spurs had one scoring opportunity in the second half, with Postiga's header being diverted for a corner, but you will not win too many matches if you don't take the game to the other side ... especially those who are below you in the table ... and there are becoming less and less of them. As it turned out, Yakubu turned out to be less proficient in taking chances than he is at winning free-kicks and when through at the end, thanks to a defensive mix-up, he couldn't get the ball past Keller, who saved with his legs.
A sad moment occurred in the 77th minute, when Taricco went in for a tackle on Sherwood and it left the former Spurs midfielder having to leave the field on a stretcher and it was later revealed that he had a double fracture in his leg.
As for Spurs the only thing that is broken is their spirit, which didn't make an appearance today and it will be needed in the next three matches or not only will our season be over by mid-January, but our Premiership occupancy might be too.
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - LEDLEY KING
|That's how I feel.
Benny The Ball
|Other scores this Boxing Day :|
|Leicester City||1||Newcastle United||1||Friday|
|Leeds United||0||Aston Villa||0||Friday|
|Birmingham City||2||Manchester City||1||Friday|
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