The Preview: Pompey v The Blues
Sunday 30th August 2009
With City's mean black away kit still in the wash from Thursday, out comes the swish black and red sash retro third kit for the important mission to Portsmouth...
'It was a big moment for me to lead out Manchester City at Crystal Palace. If the manager asks me to be captain regularly then I would be delighted to accept because I am really happy to be at this football club and I think as a group we can bring a lot of success here.'
'The settling-in process is accelerated with the kind of top-quality players in our squad. These guys have a real understanding of how the game is played and are reacting off each other. They are enjoying playing alongside each other and showing what they can do.
'We have made huge changes in personnel, so they are all coming together at one time. But there is a real focus in the group. Everyone is excited, and as a consequence we are playing some good stuff...we've made a good start and we want that to continue.'
'It's going to be a fight for us this season, but you have to roll your sleeves up and get on with things and I'm looking forward to it. If given the chance, I'm really looking forward to playing against Manchester City. That is why I have given myself this challenge. I am certainly up for it. I watched a bit of their game against Crystal Palace and they are an impressive side but they are not unbeatable.'
(Since beginning his Pompey reign with a 2-0 win over City earlier this year) 'They have probably spent more than £100m since then and bought some extremely good players.'
Portsmouth Team News:
With Sulaiman Al Fahim's takeover now complete, Paul Hart has wasted no time in attempting to rebuild a threadbare squad.
New signings Tommy Smith and Michael (Nasty) Brown can start. Yet Aruna Dindane, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jamie O'Hara have not been registered in time to face City.
Defence is a big issue for Pompey right now after Sylvain Distin left for Everton in similar circumstances and with similar quotes to when he walked out on Newcastle and City.
19-year-old Joel Ward is ready to make make his Premier League debut, but Hart might partner Aaron Mokoena with Younes Kaboul.
Former City favourite David James has declared himself fit after injury in the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal.
Definitely out are Hermann Hreidarsson, Papa Bouba Diop, Steve Finnan and Marc Wilson.
Player to watch: Tommy Smith
The ex Watford goal poacher may have had a couple of demoralising top flight experiences but he certainly knows where the onion bag is.
Eager to impress, the new signing will go straight into the side and is likely to be played out wide initially. City's defence will have to keep a keen eye on him.
Manchester CITY Team News:
City have no major injury concerns outside of long term absentees Michael Johnson, Vincent Kompany and Roque Santa Cruz.
Sparky's cunning plan of fielding a full strength side for the difficult League Cup trip to Palace paid off and can only have helped the new players to forge understandings with each other all the more rapidly.
Player to watch: Robinho
Robinho is looking sharper by the game and only needing a goal to set him alight. You get the feeling that any day now one of his bursting in from the left wing right footed howitzer's is going to go in. And when it does...
Match Facts & Stats
City have not won at Fratton Park November 2004 when we won 3-1.
City and Pompey have played each other 12 times in the Premier League. 35 goals have been scored. That's an average of almost 3 each game!
This is officially Portsmouth's worst ever start to a Premier League season. City meanwhile, if they can win will have equalled last season's record of 2 away wins all season!
This will be Micah Richards 100th Premier League City appearance.
Peter Walton, Northamptonshire 2008-2009 Record: Games: 43, Yellow Cards: 97, Red Cards: 4 By no means a heavy duty card flourisher, if anything, he's the opposite in comparison to many refs we've had! City games reffed last season: City 2, Liverpool 3
Fratton Park is never an easy place to go and must never be underestimated. The key is to score early in order to peg back the passionate home support's vocal efforts. This is precisely the type of fixture that City must win throughout this campaign. Wins at Blackburn, Barcelona and Crystal Palace have provided perfect preparation for a City side that looks to be gelling quickly. The resurgent, winning momentum is unprecedented surrounding City right now and should The Blues come away with the points, then Sparky can look back upon a tremendously successful opening to the season. I'm banking on City putting in another professional performance, paying no attention to the distraction of Liam and Noel battering each other in Paris last night. Johnny On The Spot? Portsmouth 0, CITY 2
Sat 12 Sep, 3pm Eastlands time: CITY v Arsenal, Premier League.
Sun 20 Sep, 1.30pm Swamp Time: The rags v CITY, Premier League.