The Opposition View: Southampton

16 December 2011 06:50
Saints fan Jamie answers the questions I put to him ahead of Sunday's south coast derby.

Admit it, there was no way you expected to be top of the Championship at this stage of the season, was there?

Nope, it’s been so surprising. I doubt many Saints or Pompey fans expected us to be top of the league in December. We have played some fantastic football this season and it’s been a joy to watch them this year.

Is automatic promotion now the aim for the season or would you still settle for a play-off place at this stage of the campaign?

A play-off place is tempting but then I think back to the 2007 games against Derby, that was a horrible experience. Considering we’ve been in the top two for a couple of months now it would be disappointing if we were to finish lower than 2nd place but this is football and anything can happen. What do you make of Pompey's most recent plight? Are you revelling in our struggles off the pitch or do you feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for us?

I felt you got off lightly last time, especially with the unpaid tax bill but I’d like to see Pompey slowly come out of this alive. I know a couple of Saints fans who want you guys gone for good but football wouldn't be the same without a rivalry to look forward to. Do you think the "bubble" that your fans will be arriving in on Sunday is really necessary or do you think the fans of both sides have been treated too harshly by Hampshire Police?

Well it’s disappointing as I don’t really like getting coaches/buses to away matches. The Police operation seems a bit over the top, the trouble at the cup game a few years ago was not even that bad. I hope the bubble doesn’t make a return after the two fixtures this season. Back to football matters, Ricky Lambert and Adam Lallana have been the obvious shining lights on a good season for you so far but who are the other key individuals in Southampton's success so far this season?

Dean Hammond – Deano has been great for us at times in my opinion. He can be a real battler on the pitch, the type you need in derby games and has upped his game since the appointment of Adkins last year.

Frazer Richardon – It’s been a surprise to see Frazer do so well this season, he struggled to get a regular run in the side over Danny Butterfield last year but he has been very solid at right back for us.

Jos Hooiveld – I was a bit disappointed by us signing him, mainly due to the bad reports coming from Celtic fans but he’s formed a fairly decent partnership with Fonte and reads the game well.

Guly – I’m not his biggest fan but he’s had moments this season that have kicked the team into life. He is a very unpredictable player.

Richard Chaplow – He’s another one who’s stepped up massively since our promotion. I’m gutted that Chaplow won’t be playing on Sunday, he would have thrived in the atmosphere. What are the biggest weaknesses in this Saints side that Pompey could exploit come Sunday?

Our lack of pace in the full back areas could be a bit of a problem if Pompey have quick players. Our two left backs tend to struggle against pace and Frazer isn’t the quickest around. Are there any players in the current Portsmouth squad that worry you? Would you have any of them playing in your team?

That Erik Huseklepp seems a tidy player and I believe he has a bit of pace too, would be someone who could work well with Lambert. Jason Pearce, Richardo Rocha, David Norris and Liam Lawrence are four players who are very solid Championship players on their day.

Would you take a draw at Fratton Park if it were offered to you now?

Most probably.

What sort of match are you expecting on Sunday and do you think some of your more inexperienced players will bottle it given the "atmosphere" they'll be subjected to?

I'm not sure what type of game to expect if I am honest, the players we have are capable of some wonderful passing football, I just hope they can prove it on Sunday and can deal with the atmosphere better than the last lot. Predict the outcome of the game. I presume you won't expect to be on the end of yet another 4-1 thrashing this time?

It’s tough to predict but I’m going to be positive and say we will walk out 2-1 winners.