Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Season Summaries--6. Portsmouth

6. Portsmouth (My preseason prediction: 6th)

'Arry Redknapp has a team to be reckoned with down on the South Coast, and it's been quite a journey in a short period of time for Portsmouth and their fans. From escaping near-certain relegation from the Premiership two seasons ago to a solid 9th place finish last year, Pompey now sit in 6th place after 13 games and figure to earn at least a UEFA Cup spot this season.

Here's a remarkable stat for you: In 9 of Portsmouth's last 13 games in all competitions, one (or both) teams involved have been held scoreless. Of those 9 games, two came in the Carling Cup (3-0 victory over Leeds, 1-0 victory over Burnley) and the remaining 7 were Premiership matches, in which Portsmouth recorded 3 wins, 3 draws, and a loss (0-1 at Chelsea).

Portsmouth's roster will be decimated in January due to the African Cup of Nations, and it's not just minor players or reserves/subs that will be leaving Pompey for the month, it's some key figures that have led the team to their good start so far this season. Benjani, the team's leading scorer thus far with 8 goals in 10 Premiership starts, will remain with the club as Zimbabwe did not qualify for Africa's largest international tournament, but Papa Bouba Diop, Kanu, Sulley Muntari, John Utaka, and Djimi Traore all figure to be selected for their respective national teams and Lauren, the Cameroonian wingback, has been called into training camp and may choose to "unretire" from international soccer for this tournament. Luckily for Portsmouth, three of their four league fixtures in January are relatively easy (at Reading, at Sunderland, and home to Derby). Pompey also make the trip to Old Trafford at the end of the month, but even with all of those players, I'm not sure they would've come away with a point.

You would have to say that December will show us exactly just what kind of team Portsmouth is. Yes, they've beaten Newcastle, Bolton, Wigan, Fulham, and Reading, as well as Blackburn, but they lost to Chelsea and Arsenal. December brings games against Everton, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Arsenal so we'll see how many points Pompey can take from those games. I like this team a lot; I'm sticking with my 6th-place prediction.

Play up Pompey!

No comments: