Preview: Manchester City vs Portsmouth (January 2010)

After narrowly being defeated in a 4-3 scoreline earlier this week to rivals ‘Manchester United’, Manchester City’s next encounter is a home tie to cash-stricken, south coast outfit Portsmouth. Portsmouth will hope their visit to Eastlands will be a much happier occasion than the last, with their last visit to the blue side of manchester ending in a 6-0 scoreline to City, including goals from the likes of Ched Evans, Gelson Fernandes and the lean, mean, goal-scoring machine Jo. Critics and bookies alike would suggest that this then, should be an easy home victory for the citizens, however could there be a shock on the cards, in the midst of Portsmouth’s current financial crisis?

In the past six months, both teams have shared the headlines, in the tabloids, both involving the same thing… money. However currently, the two sides couldn’t any more different with Portsmouth being a shadow of City’s former self. Portsmouth’s £60m debt is dwarfed by Manchester City’s enormous wage bill. Same division, different league. It’s apparent Portsmouth are on the brink of administration, with reports suggesting that the controversial sale of Younes Kaboul, apparently giving the club another few weeks to live. The positions of manager Avram Grant and chief executive Peter Storrie were this week undermined, after the club began negotiations to sell Younes Kaboul and Asmir Begovic without their knowledge, and many reports have suggested that Grant is on the brink of walking out on the South Coast ‘crisis club’.

Manchester City could be in line to give Emmanuel Adebayor his first start, since the incidents which marred the African Nations Cup, and scandalously have this week led to Togo’s exclusion from the next two tournaments. If Adebayor is to start, it would mark his 100th Premier League start. Another man that has been hitting the headlines this week, Wayne Bridge is in contention to feature at some point in the game, after recovering from a knee injury. Manchester City go into today’s game one player less, with Brazilian Robinho sealing a loan move to Santos earlier this week and it will be interesting to see whether Benjani makes the bench today, after reports earlier this week suggesting he is in line to sign for Sunderland. Roque Santa Cruz will still be missing with his constant calf problem, with Joleon Lescott and Michael Johnson sidelined with knee injuries of various severity. City fans will also have to anticipate seeing Patrick Viera in the traditional Blue/White jersey, with an ankle injury keeping the former Arsenal invincible on the sidelines for another week.

Portsmouth maybe without keeper Asmir Begovic as talks continue over a the possibility of a move to Tottenham. Pompey will also be without defender Younes Kaboul, after he put pen to paper on a deal which sees him move to Tottenham under the eyes of manager Avram Grant. Central midfielder Jamie O’Hara could start after re-joining Portsmouth on loan, and David James could be in line to face his former club, after talks with Stoke City over a move seem to hit another fault, earlier on in the week. Portsmouth hope to get international clearance in time to play loan signing Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, however whether he will feature at any point today is still a mystery. Former blue Michael Brown and Papa Bouba Diop are missing with back and calf injuries, respectively and it’s questionable whether Aruna Dindane will feature today, as talks over his future are still ongoing, despite returning from the African Cup Of Nations.

Today certainly won’t be a walk in the park for City, with Portsmouth despite their ongoing financial difficulties, unbeaten in their last four matches and a win today could really boost the morale of everybody related to the club. However basing a prediction on the team sheets alone, it would suggest that City should comfortably ease to victory, and if last seasons home performance is anything to go by, they should do it in rampant fashion. It’s fair to say we can’t take an easy fixture for granted, taking into account that opposing teams in contention for a top four position have dropped points in recent weeks. The next four games signal a great chance for us to push on and make ourselves favourites for fourth place or possibly higher, and so in Mancini we trust.

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