Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Saturday April 19 2008
City of Manchester Stadium
20th April 2008
A rather curious week in the press for City as conflicting stories have been flying around at what will be happening to the club in the close season with its employees including the manager Sven Goran Eriksson. This game holds different importance for both teams. Portsmouth want to finish the season off well and go into the FA cup final in good form. City want to finish the season in an intertoto place and so ten points from their final four games should ensure that; starting with a victory over Portsmouth.
This game also sees the returns of players against their former clubs and Sylvain Distin will surely get a rather frosty reception from the City faithful for his distain at not signing a City contract and leaving on a free transfer.
Sven talks about the remaining games of the season: 'So we just go on trying to beat Portsmouth and work as well as possible on the training ground and then play as well as we can on Sunday. Then comes Fulham and so on.
'There are four games to be played and I`m rather confident that we will do well and we still have a chance to reach Europe.
'When we started the season well, the dream of playing in Europe was planted in the heads of he players and myself, so we are still fighting for that and hope we can do it.
Benjani is set to face his former club for the first time since his protracted deadline-day move to City in January. The Zimbabwe striker scored 12 goals for Pompey in the first half of the season and although the deal did not appear to go through in time, it eventually got the go-ahead.
Micah Richards has just missed out as he continues his recovery from knee surgery while Nedum Onuoha (dislocated shoulder) is out for the season so Vedran Corluka should continue in the centre of the City defence alongside Richard Dunne.
City goalkeeper Joe Hart has returned to training after suffering a knock at Sunderland and striker Daniel Sturridge is doubtful with the knee problem that ruled him out of the youth team's midweek cup success.
Valeri Bojinov is also near a first team re-call as he played sixty minutes for the reserves this week.
Facing his former club he might have something extra to show against his former employees after not scoring for a while in City colours.
John Utaka, Lassana Diarra and Milan Baros are all set to return following injury, with Baros likely to partner Jermain Defoe up front.
Defender Glen Johnson is expected to recover in time from an illness while Redknapp could rest Niko Kranjcar after a busy period for the Croatia midfielder.
The live wire forward who replaced Benjani at Fratton Park is in a rich vein of form and has scored against City a few times during his playing career.
Portsmouth have never beaten City at the City of Manchester stadium and you have to go back 1963 since Portsmouth last had a victory in Manchester.
Andre Marriner - not the worst referee and officiating his fourth City game this season and his third Portsmouth game.
Portsmouth will give City a very good game but City have only been beaten three times at home in the league by teams that are all better than Portsmouth and so I feel a narrow victory for City is on the cards with Benjani scoring the winner. City 1 - 0 Portsmouth
Fulham at home with a Saturday 3pm kick off on the 26th April.
Date:Saturday April 19 2008
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|1. Man City||13||9||3||1||+17||30|
|6. Man Utd||12||5||4||3||+3||19|
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