Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Saturday November 10 2007
When Sky pulled this one from the hat for its Sunday live fixture I don't imagine for one minute that they had it down as a top of the table clash.
With City sat in third place and Pompey in fifth after a third of the season gone, no-one outside of Stretford or Southampton can argue with the genuine credentials of this game.
From reading between the lines it seems that Pompey's support is less surprised than City's at their current standing but there can be little doubt that both sides deseve their lofty positions.
Pompey have played all of the self proclaimed 'big four' whilst City have met all but Liverpool of that quartet. That both teams are still sat at the top end of the table speaks volumes for the football they are playing and their ability to get results.
So what of this game? City/Pompey games of recent years range from the sublime to the awful with controversy never far away.
Both sides are built on strong defence with Pompey perhaps being a little more free scoring than City. That said when the blues take the lead this season they generally win and rarely concede.
The defensive performances in West London are the only abberations this season and we are to hope those performances are kept to that region of the country.
Sven talks about the loss of Michael Johnson:
'He is being operated on for groin problems. If we are lucky he will be back in three or four weeks but I am not sure. It's a pity but we had to do something.
'He started the season well but for the last month and a half he has had problems every second day. It is better this way.'
Hermann Hreidarsson could return in defence but Diop misses out through suspension. City jinx, Pedro Mendes, could return in Diop's absence.
The lad from Zimbabwe is scoring for fun at the moment but shouldn't find himself facing a defence as generous as Newcastle's this weekend.
City are without Michael Johnson due to a groin operation. Vassell could start with Ireland moving infield.
As ever City will look to the Brazilian's class to unlock the pompey defence.
Pompey go into the game unbeaten at home and on the back of a seven game unbeaten run in the league.
City moved back into third spot after winning their fourth game in five in the league.
Both teams are enjoying their best ever starts to a Premier League season.
Last season Pompey won the corresponding fixture 2-1 with goals from Mendes and Kanu; Corradi replying for City.
The two teams have never played out a 0-0 draw at Fratton Park.
Considerd something of a City favourite but hasn't officiated in a City win on his last seven games in charge of the blues.
A tough one to call with Pompey's home form perhaps making them slight favourites.
I'm going to buck the trend though and suggest a 2-1 win to City after a defensive mishap between James and Distin, exported from their days together at Eastlands.
Reading (h) 24/11/2007
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Date:Saturday November 10 2007
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|2. Man City||35||21||7||7||+35||70|
|4. Man Utd||35||19||8||8||+24||65|
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