Portsmouth vs Sheffield United Preview

04 March 2011 06:10
Can Pompey make it six straight wins without conceding? Portsmouth take on Sheffield United in a match that looks like a home banker considering the respective form of both teams, but the Blades have been a bit of a bogey team for Pompey in the past.Team NewsLiam Lawrence is certainly missing due to his aggrevating calf injury which will keep him out for another two weeks, whilst Hayden Mullins and Joel Ward are also major doubts due to the same injury.That means that Aaron Mokoena should start his first match since his work permit issue, with Kanu starting in an attacking midfield role again. David Cotterill, Ritchie De Laet and Greg Halford are all expected to start against their former club.Shane Lowry is suspended for the Blades whilst Chris Morgan, Ryan France, Andy Taylor and Richard Wright are also absent with injuries. Joe Mattock, Sam Vokes and Nick Montgomery could return to the squad.Match DayMicky Adams' struggling Sheffield United visit Fratton Park looking for their first win in thirteen games tomorrow, how that stat contrasts to Pompey's current situation.The majority will expect a home win but the Blades have made a dent in Pompey's excellent runs in the past. Micky Adams also held a hoodoo sign over Pompey during his Leicester days so what odds on him grabbing his first win as Blades boss tomorrow?It's not all bad omens, though. United have only won once in their last eight visits to Fratton Park, when a certain Michael Brown notched a stoppage time winner against the Blues in the promotion winning season.There is a conundrum in our season that nobody can work out; why do Pompey play better in the second half of so many matches this season?We were dire in the first half against Scunthorpe and should have been at least three down to Ipswich at the break last week. We've had poor first half performances in so many other games this season but yet managed to win thanks to an improved second half showing. But why is this?Does it take 45 minutes for Steve Cotterill to work out the opposition? Do the players need a kick up the backside at half-time? Are the tactics purposely built to contain teams in the first half and then use the extra energy in the second to beat them?There are lots of theories, but that's for another article. Just don't be surprised to see Pompey drawing (or perhaps even losing) at the break tomorrow.Whatever happens, I will be at Fratton Park to simply enjoy a game of football and support my team knowing that there is no threat of relegation.On the other hand, whilst I believe talk of the play-offs is premature, a win could see Pompey climb to 9th (realistically) in the Championship table should results go their way.So there is pressure on Pompey to win tomorrow but it will be Sheffield United who will be feeling it far worse than we do, so I'm confident of another victory.Predicted Starting Line-UpsPompeyGK: Jamie ASHDOWNRB: Ritchie DE LAETCB: Greg HALFORDCB: Ricardo ROCHALB: Hermann HREIDARSSONDM: Jonathan HOGGDM: Aaron MOKOENARM: David COTTERILLCM: KANULM: David NUGENTCF: Dave KITSONSheffield UnitedGK: Steve SIMONSENRB: Matt LOWTONCB: Nyron NOSWORTHYCB: Neil COLLINSLB: Andy TAYLORRM: Bjorn-Helge RIISECM: Lee WILLIAMSONCM: Michael DOYLELM: Mark YEATESCF: Richard CRESSWELLCF: Sam VOKESLast Time: Portsmouth 3 Sheffield United 1 (Premier League - 23/12/2006)Pompey fans began singing "Are you Scummers in disguise?" to their red and white striped opponents and they responded by taking an early lead through Rob Hulse's header.The home crowd would have to wait until the second half for their team to score as Rob Kozluk put through his own net for the equaliser. Sol Campbell then gave Pompey the lead with a header from a corner and then Noe Pamarot scored a very similar goal minutes later to condemn Neil Warnock's men to defeat.My PredictionDespite the bad omens, I think Pompey should prove to be too strong for Sheffield United although I expect our run of clean sheets to be broken. this is Sheffield United and Micky Adams, after all!Portsmouth 2 Sheffield United 1