Until recently I have always enjoyed playing Pompey. It's a game I associate with sunny afternoons, and decent wins or at least entertaining matches. I remember a 3-0 home win in the early 80's, a match that might have featured Peter Mellor plating in goal for them, and of course that 4-4 draw down at Fratton that I am pretty sure I have mentioned more than once on this blog. Even when they joined us in the Premiership we seemed initially to have the upper hand. Lately however, things have swung back in their favour. Last season we managed two draws, though the more recent one at the Cottage was only thanks to that last minute goal from "one-legged" Ian Pearce. The season before they did the double over us with a 3-1 win at Fulham, a game in which ex-Saint Wayne Bridge had a torrid time, and a 1-0 win down south. Our willingness to sell as many tickets as possible means there'll be a large Pompey support and as always they'll make a lot of noise. That has to be a big help for them, so we'll have to make sure we really get behind the team for this one and make some noise of our own.
Whilst Sky still seem to love him, I lost a lot of respect for Harry Redknapp after the debacle that saw him switch from Portsmouth to Southampton and then back again. I get the impression he holds himself in pretty high esteem and doesn't really care who he treads on to get where he wants to go. In particular I was appalled at his treatment of Jim Smith, who had been a big part of what he had initially achieved at Portsmouth but was cast aside when things started to go pear shaped at the Dell. Actually it's St. Mary's now isn't it, but that didn't really sound right. There's also his obsession with buying new players every season. It's no wonder Panorama tried to finger him for dodgy dealing. That aside you have to admit, whatever his methods and budget, he does seem to get results and this season Pompey look a pretty decent side. However, with seven Africans in his squad, it will be interesting to see if they are able to maintain the form that has seen them claim a top 6 place come February and the African Nations Cup. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly how fast John Utaka really is, when he scored against Bolton he looked incredibly quick. I'm also looking forward to the return of two ex-Whites. Sean Davis has been through it all before and won't be too bothered by the reception, but Bouba Diop may not be ready for the level of vitriol aimed at him.
From a Fulham perspective we really need to start turning performances into points and this is the sort of game we need to win. Keller should continue in goal after a confident display last week, and Baird should get another opportunity to win the boo-boys over. I would expect the team to be pretty similar to the one that started at the Dog Track, with the only doubts being who plays left wing out of Bouazza and Seol, and whether Healy or Kamara partners Dempsey up front. If we can defend as well as we did against Ch*ls** then I see no reason why we can't grab all 3 points.
See you Sunday.