Writer: Andrew Joyce
Date:Saturday May 10 2008
Our date with destiny has almost arrived, now is not the time for the faint hearted. Sunday, at Fratton Park promises to be a nail-biting affair where the heart will pound and the palms will go all sweaty as we seek to preserve our top flight status. A win will see us stay up, anything else and we`ll be dependent on how Reading and Birmingham perform.
Relegation fights are never a pleasant affair. Tempers get frayed, accusations are made and words get twisted, however Roy Hodgson has retained his dignity and gone about it in the most professional of manners as he seeks to guide us to safety.
One of his January transfer window signings, Brede Hangeland, has praised Roy for his manner remarking,
"Roy is looking for the same style of play wherever he works."
"He wants to have good organisation and a good shape in the team. We try to keep the ball and play football."
"You can`t just lose your head and everyone run around like headless chickens. We have to try and stick to the plan. I think we have improved gradually over the half season Roy has been the manager. It is a shame there are not a few more games."
David James has recovered from a calf injury but is unlikely to be risked ahead of the FA Cup Final next Saturday.
In midfield, Fulham could line up against two former players in Sean Davies and Papa Bouba Diop. Davis made 198 appearances for us whilst Diop made 84.
Portsmouth have lost the last three and Gharry Redknapp will be keen to see some of his stars put in a performance decent enough to earn them a place in the starting eleven next Saturday.
Signed from Spurs in the January transfer window the tiny, but productive striker, has been unfortunate to miss out on appearances in both domestic cup finals. His former club won the Carling Cup and he is illegible to play for Portsmouth against Cardiff next weekend. Therefore, he`ll be looking to go out on a high this weekend.
Roy Hodgson is privileged to have a fully fit squad to choose form, even Jari Litmanen is considered fit enough to be part of what could be a great day.
However, we don`t think Roy will veer to far away form the eleven that served him so well against Birmingham City last weekend, therefore we`ll plump for,
Keller, Stalteri, Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky, Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Dempsey, McBride, Kamara.
Some would say he is the reason we`re in a position to still stay up, some would say without his return we`d already be relegated, I say just watch the energy this man has and then ask yourselves which of the former statements is correct!
Sunday itself threatens to create its own little piece of history. A win will ensure our Premier League status whilst a defeat will condemn us to a return to lower league football after a stay of seven years in the top flight.
Glancing at the record books, our record at Fratton Park doesn`t bode well, with the figures currently at,
Premier League games - Portsmouth 2 wins, Fulham 0 wins, Draws 2
In all games played in the league at Fratton Park - Portsmouth 11 wins, Fulham 4 wins, Draws 8
Clearly, it`s going to take a reverse of a disappointing trend to ensure we get that crucial win.
Mark Clattenburg is the man chose to take charge of our most important game of the season, nay history!
All week I`ve contemplated what might happen on Sunday. I`ve thought about the fact that Portsmouth may have one eye on the FA Cup Final, I`ve contemplated the fact that we`ll need to win a third consecutive game on the trot away from home, after going 34 games without winning one, and I`m none the nearer to working this one out. There is no doubting it is going to be a monumental day and fortune will favour the brave, therefore, let`s go for it, let`s go for it in glorious style and predict a 2-1 win to Fulham with the winner coming in the most dramatic of fashions, in the last few minutes. What a script!
As the cartoons used to boldly state - That`s All For Now Folks! - until next season!
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Date:Saturday May 10 2008
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