So we come to the end of another trophyless season, with third place still to play for. We need to either better Liverpool’s result, or if both teams win, we’d need to win by three more goals than they do. So, for example, if Liverpool win 2-0, we’d need to win by five goals. Should be easy given our current finishing standards. Third place has been ours to throw away twice now, and we’ve thrown it away. We now need to hope Charlton get a result at Anfield, and that our players can actually do the job at Fratton Park. But with Charlton already down it’s looking like we’ll have to win, and win well. It isn’t a major issue that we get third, as we still have to play a Champions League qualifier, but it does mean a slight improvement upon last season, and little bit of extra cash from the Premier League.
With one game to go we have the same amount of points that we finished with last season. We’ve closed the gap with Liverpool, but that’s only because Liverpool have amassed fifteen points less than they did last campaign, nothing to do with any progress from us. We’ve lost a few less games this season, but the loss of our home form with moving to the new stadium has meant drawing more games. If we’re to make any sort of impact next season we need to win away games, and we might as well start practising that on Sunday. It won’t be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, Portsmouth need to win to have any chance of grabbing a UEFA Cup spot, while hoping that Bolton and Everton fail to get three points.
We’ve only faced Portsmouth eight times under Wenger, and are yet to be on the losing side, drawing four and winning four.
In their last eighteen games in all competitions, Portsmouth have lost eight times, drawn six and won five. Says a lot about the quality of the Premiership that they are still able to get into Europe on the last day, although it says a lot about our quality that despite Liverpool losing their last two games, one of those to our opponents on Sunday, it’s still out of our hands to finish third.
Henry, van Persie, Walcott and Ljungberg out till next season, Aliadiere and Flamini on gardening leave before their transfers in the summer. Rosicky should have recovered from his hamstring strain by the weekend, but Wenger may decide to just send him on holiday now rather than get him fit for one game.
Sol Campbell is unlikely to line up against his old club due to an Achilles problem. Kanu and Lauren should though. Portsmouth could welcome back five players from injury if they regain fitness by the weekend. Richard Hughes, Matthew Taylor, Dejan Stefanovic, Svetoslav Todorov and Pedro Mendes may all be included in the squad.
Bench: Almunia, Senderos, Djourou, Denilson, Baptista
Bench: Ashdown, Pamarot, Mendes, Kranjcar, Lua Lua