by, 08-11-2010 at 08:48 PM (224 Views)
Tuesday 9th November 2010
Npower Football League Championship
Fratton Park Stadium
Referee: G L Ward
Portsmouth (13th) V Queens Park Rangers (1st)
By The Godfather
After producing such an outstanding display against Reading, Queens Park Rangers have reclaimed their status as league leaders. On Tuesday night, however, they face a very difficult test when they travel to Portsmouth, a club that boasts, in the words of Neil Warnock, “the best starting eleven in the Championship”. This, I am sure, will be a very entertaining encounter between two strong sides.
Manager: Steve Cotterill
Season 2009-10 finish: 20th position
Last season was a disastrous one for Portsmouth. I’m sure you all know about the club’s financial problems, which left the club in administration and having to deal with a massive points deduction. Relegation from the Premiership was inevitable and, despite reaching the FA Cup final, the 2009/10 campaign was certainly one of misery for Pompey supporters.
Under new boss, Steve Cotterill, the team did not start this season very well either, sinking to the bottom of the league table following a series of disappointing results. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago, various news outlets reported that Pompey were likely to go into liquidation, since one of the club’s investors was unwilling to cooperate with attempts to stabilise their finances. Fortunately, a deal was eventually agreed.
Portsmouth are now looking far more stable, both on and off the pitch. They have a number of quality players at their disposal and, providing that the manager can keep his players fit, could be in line for a promotion challenge. Following a disappointing result against Derby County last weekend, they will certainly be hoping to return to winning ways.
Men to watch
1. Up front, Portsmouth have the talented Dave Kitson, a striker who is proven at Championship level. He enjoyed a lot of success during his spell at Reading, playing a vital role in the club’s promotion to the Premiership under Steve Coppell. Since joining Pompey from Stoke, he has netted 4 goals in 8 appearances. The 30 year-old will no doubt pose an aerial threat on Tuesday night.
2. John Utaka is likely to partner Kitson in attack. The 28 year-old is a very skilful and pacey forward, who was a member of Nigeria’s squad for the 2002 World Cup. Before joining Pompey, he enjoyed successful periods with Lens and Rennes. Utaka has scored a total of 11 goals in 97 starts for the Blues.
3. In central midfield, Cotterill has Michael Brown at his disposal, a player who Neil Warnock will know very well. Of course, the 33 year-old played for Sheffield United between 2000 and 2004, making nearly 150 appearances and becoming fans’ favourite in the process. Brown brings both aggression and creativity to the team.
4. In addition, expect to see highly rated midfielder, Liam Lawrence, start for Pompey. The 28 year-old is currently on loan at Fratton Park after falling out of favour at his parent club, Stoke City. The Irish international must be marked properly on Tuesday night: his ability to produce pinpoint crosses will no doubt threaten the QPR defence.
5. Central defensive midfielder, Aaron Mokoena, could also be involved on Tuesday night. The 29 year-old captained South Africa during the World Cup and so has experience at the very highest level. The former Ajax and Blackburn man will certainly provide a stern test for the likes of Shaun Derry in the middle of the park.
QPR Team News
Bradley Orr was given a straight red card for his challenge on Robson-Kanu last Saturday and therefore will miss the next three matches. Heidar Helguson may be involved depending on the speed of his recovery from a shoulder injury. Clint Hill sat out of the Reading match due to a slight strain, but should be back in contention for a starting place. Lee Cook and Peter Ramage remain long-term absentees.
It is true that, on paper, Portsmouth boast one of the strongest sides in the division. Most of their players have experience of regular Premiership football and therefore should have the edge over other teams. However, there is a real sense of unity and spirit about Queens Park Rangers and Pompey will certainly have difficulty preventing Adel Taraabt, who seems to have recaptured his fine form, from influencing proceedings. I'm going to predict a draw here: but QPR are more than capable of taking three points.
Portsmouth 0-0 Queens Park Rangers