Sunday, December 31, 2006

Portsmouth Preview

Berbatov is vital for Spurs at Portsmouth

Meeting Old Friends

Portsmouth: L W W D W D
Tottenham: L W L W W W

A visit to Portsmouth on New Year’s Day will be like meeting old acquaintances with Mendes, Campbell, Davis and Paramot making a very worthwhile contribution to the club’s season which sees them comfortable in 6th place, four points ahead of Spurs. Both clubs lost ground on the top European spots with defeats on Saturday, so will be hoping to start 2007 on a more positive note. Defeat for either side but especially Spurs, will leave them with a lot of leeway to make up on the top six.

Spurs have won the last four games against Portsmouth – 3-1 at White Hart Lane in February, 2005 (Mido’s debut), last season opened with a 2-0 victory at Fratton Park and two fairly fortuitous home victories followed – 3-1 in December, 2005 in Harry Redknapp’s first game back as manager and then 2-1 in October. Prior to this success, Spurs’ previous win at Portsmouth had been in 1956 although Pompey had spent most of that time in lower divisions.

Spurs full away League record against Portsmouth:
P 16 W 4 D 5 L 7 For 16 Ag 25

Spurs have been badly hit by injuries with important players missing and Berbatov’s presence for the last half hour against Liverpool showed just how important he is to the team – until that point nothing much had come off for Spurs against a solid, well-marshalled defence but with his appearance they became unsettled and under considerable pressure. Spurs need him if they are to get anything from this game. Ledley King will still be absent so added pressure will be on Robinson, Dawson and Davenport to defend strongly especially from set-pieces where Portsmouth have been so strong of late with goals coming from Primus (2), Paramot and Campbell in recent games. Midfielder Matthew Taylor has scored six goals this season and Spurs need to be alert to long-range efforts from him and Mendes. David James has done much this season to set aside his ‘Calamity’ tag but a mistake on Saturday contributed to Bolton’s win. Spurs would appreciate more of the same on Monday.

Spurs’ win at Portsmouth on the opening day of the 2005-06 season, against a very different team, set them off on the right way for the season, hopefully a win on the first day of 2007 can set them up for an exciting and successful year. Following the disappointment of losing their long unbeaten home record, it would be good if Spurs could immediately turn it around with a win to improve their poor away record. It would boost Spurs’ confidence and put a dent in Portsmouth’s ambitions. A win is possible but only if individual errors are removed from Spurs’ play and they show the sort of ambition that accompanied their second half performance against Liverpool.