We now head south for a potentially tricky away tie against Corrupt Harry’s Portsmouth. We’ve beaten them already this season, an impressive 3-1 when we went down to ten men with the score at 2-0. We need to add to our good form over the last week and a half, and start notching up multiple wins. Blackburn and Everton failed to do us favours at the weekend by being useless, so we have an important three games now against Pompey, Everton and West Ham, where we need at least seven points really. Now we’ve got nearly everyone fit we should be able to deal with the three tough matches in a week. We used our get out of jail free card against Spurs, now we need to get back to good performances.
Portsmouth were hitting good early season form, but something’s gone awry in recent weeks having lost three games in a row, winning their last game over a month ago. If Spurs can beat them at Fratton Park, how tough can it be? Despite their dismal form, they are always a dangerous side to play, and we need to avoid a Middlesbrough/Newcastle style backlash after a run of poor results. At home this season, Portsmouth have won two, drawn five and lost two. It’s been their away form that had kept them in the European places, the emphatic 7-4 victory against Reading at the end of September being the last home victory.
We’ve played Portsmouth ten times under Arsene and are yet to be beaten by the Hampshire side, winning five times and drawing five. We hadn’t beaten them since December 2005 before the victory earlier this season. This particular fixture at Fratton Park has commonly finished as a draw, apart from the win in 2004 where Campbell got the winner.
Van Persie will be our only definite absentee. Wenger says he’ll probably play some part against Everton, but this fixture is a bit too early for him. Maybe current Arsenal hero Bendtner will get a start in his place. Walcott might be back in the squad after his flu problem. I don’t really know whether or not Wenger will surprise us with his team selection. The last time we played almost the same line up three times in a week in league games, it didn’t go so well, with the players looking pretty jaded by the third. So maybe this time we’ll see a tiny bit of rotation. Defence will stay the same, but maybe a couple of Eduardo, Bendtner, Diaby and Walcott might play a part. Knowing Wenger, it’ll be the same side that faced Chelsea and Spurs. The game against West Ham on new years day will be our fourth in eleven days, so he’ll have to mix it up at some point.
Subs: Lehmann, Senderos, Gilberto, Walcott, Bendtner.
Pompey have a few players injured that wouldn’t have played anyway.