Both Arsenal and Portsmouth will limp across the Premiership finish line on Sunday, with both teams missing plenty of first-team players.
There’s a lot more for Portsmouth to play for than Arsenal. If the Gunners win then they could finish third in the Premiership. If Pompey win they could secure Europen football for the first time in my memory.
So, with so much at stake for Pompey and so little for Arsenal, could a Portsmouth win be on the cards? I think there’s a good chance of it.
Harry Redknapp is an excellent motivator, so I’m sure his players will be more than up for it.
Their record against the top 4 teams is good this season. They got a draw at The Grove, drew with Liverpool at Anfield, narrowly lost to Chelsea twice and beat both Liverpool and United at Fratton Park.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp says he will need to strengthen if his team win a Uefa Cup place: ‘We can’t take on Europe with what we’ve got.
‘We’re going to need 10 extra players because if you’re successful in the Uefa Cup you’re going to play 10 extra games.
‘Ask Newcastle and Tottenham how difficult it was to handle this season, ad they have a lot of players and a lot of quality.’
Arsene Wenger praised Portsmouth’s fantastic survival effort in the second half of last seson: “They did well last year in the second part of the season and strengthened their team with Arsenal players.
“But then you are never surprised when that happens and the team does well.
“They have all contributed. Sol Campbell stabilised the defence and Lauren, who is a quality player, came in. Don`t forget Kanu has had an exceptional season as well.”
Portsmouth Team News:
Former Arsenal duo Luaren and Sol Campbell will both miss the match through injury. Dejan Stefanovic is also out while Matt Taylor and Richard Hughes are both major doubts for the south coast club.
The good news for Pompey is that Pedro Mendes returns after months out injured.
Player to watch: David James
It’s not often I pick ‘keepers, but with the way they perform against us, I should be picking them more often!
He may still be known as ‘calamity James’ but he’s one of the best goalkeeper’s around in the Premiership, and should definantly be England’s No.1.
He will be up for this after signing a new contract on Saturday.
Arsenal Team News:
It get’s better and better for us Gooners. I’m not sure I can remember all of our injured players but here it goes: Rosicky, Henry, Van Persie, Walcott are all definantly out. Adebayor is a major doubt with a groin complaint and the returning Freddie Ljungberg will probably last all of 20 minutes before he joins Henry and Co on the sidelines.
Oh and Wenger picked the last game of the season to ‘rest’ Jens Lehmann and Gilberto Silva.
Did I remember them all?
Player to watch: Julio Baptista
This will almost certainly be the big Brazilian’s last game in an Arsenal shirt so I’m couning on him to give us a good farewell gift. Anouther 4 goals will do just fine.
Graham Poll (Hertfordshire).
According to the papers this will be Mr. Poll’s last game as a referee. I sincerly hope not, he’s sure to want to be remembered for something other than dishing out 3 yellow cards to the same player in a single game. Maybe he’ll go for another disasterous first on Sunday? Let’s hope not!
In his 31 matches this season he’s dished out 4 red cards and 105 yellow cards, an average of 3.52 cards per game.
You would have thought that Arsene Wenger would be keen for his men to end the season on a high but it would seem not after he decided to ‘rest’ Jens and Bert.
With so much at stake for Portsmouth I’m back them to repeat their victories over Liverpool and Manchester United. 2-1 Pompey.
This will be my last preview of the season (obviously) so I wish you all a fantastic summer, and look foward to writing plenty more next season, starting with the Emirates Cup in July. Till then it’s Adios from me on the preview front.