Friday, 30 October 2009

Away day preview: Portsmouth

Game 11 of the Premier League sees Wigan travelling about 40,000 miles south through Narnia to play Portsmouth on Saturday. With our hosts rooted to the foot of the table with only four points and Wigan finally putting some consistent performances together, this looks like an easy away win on paper. To be fair, so did Chelsea's games at Villa Park and the DW Stadium.

Portsmouth have lost all five home league games so far this season, all by the margin of just one goal. This suggests better performances than results are showing, and we all know how intimidating Fratton Park can be. Portsmouth are also a team coming off the back of a 4-0 tonking of Stoke in midweek, so our recent good form might be under threat.

Saying that, in recent weeks Wigan have been playing outstandingly well, harrying the opposition like Mourinho's Chelsea and attacking with a speed and flair that would impress Arsene Wenger. Hugo Rodallega is maturing into the player he hinted at becoming towards the end of last season and our back six are settled and keeping out goals. So can we keep this up at the weekend?

Team News
Portsmouth have Michael Brown back from suspension, but are missing defensive duo Hermann Hreidarsson and Linvoy Primus, both long-term injury absences. Papa Bouba Diop and John Utaka both face fitness tests.

Wigan will have to do without Maynor Figueroa for the first time since May 2007 after his knee injury. Paul Scharner and Chris Kirkland are still carrying the same injuries from last week but both should start.
Predicted starting XI: Kirkland; Melchiot, Boyce, Bramble, Edman; Thomas, Diame; N'Zogbia, Scharner, Rodallega; Scotland.

Two to watch
Obviously, Hugo Rodallega is the one Pompey should be scared of. Two goals last week means that he has almost outscored the whole season's top scorers for Latics in the past three seasons. He's the first striker we've had who genuinely looks like scoring every time he gets that ball since Nathan Ellington.

For Portsmouth, Michael Brown returns against his former club from suspension - and he's bound to be fired up for this one. We loved him during his short spell in Lancashire, and it will be interesting to see how he compares to our new central midfield partnership of Thomas and Diame.

Despite Portsmouth's dramatic improvements in recent weeks, if Wigan play like they did against Burnley then we'll have our third away win of the season. However, Pompey are packed with hard-working, battling players - and it is these sorts of sides that we have struggled against. Think Wolves at home or Hull away. It will all depend on whether the Latics forward line has the stomach for the battle. So long as Jordi Gomez is kept away from the starting XI then we'll be fine, include him in the centre of midfield and we could be in trouble.
My prediction: Portsmouth 1-2 Wigan

As Bobby says, Sin Meido.

P.S. also, have a look at my views on the Marlon King situation, posted earlier on today on TalentSpotter. Leave your thoughts below if you don't want to bother registering on TalentSpotter, I'll read them all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm taking nothing for granted since the Wolves and Hull losses. Pompey won 4-0 midweek, and Whelan says he'll settle for 1-1, which I thought was conservative by his standards :)


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