Preview: Portsmouth v City

Mark Hughes will be looking to complete a hat-trick of Premier League victories and continue City’s impressive start to the season on the South coast.

The City boss appears to have settled on his preferred starting line-up for the moment, so with no injury worries it would be a surprise to see any changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace on Thursday night.

The only possible changes might be to bring in Zabaleta for Richards, or to tweak the formation with De Jong coming in to give the defence a bit more protection. The latter should certainly be a consideration in our next match, when we play Arsenal, but for Pompey I expect to see a confident Hughes stick with Barry and Ireland.

Sylvain Distin is one old boy that we won’t be facing following his sale to Everton, though amongst several debutants we should see Michael Brown. We can probably expect a typically hard working and feisty performance from the former Blue as he seeks to impress his new employers. Watch your ankles Robinho!

David James is the other former blue set to play if fit, and he could shortly be joined at Pompey by Benjani and Tal Ben Haim if newspaper reports are correct. These transfers would make sense given the connections between City’s owners and Sulaiman al-Fahim. Neither player looks to have much of a future at City while Benjani was previously a fans favourite down there – something which many City fans struggle to comprehend.

Mark Hughes:

“Its early days, but I am encouraged by what we have produced and what I’ve seen so far. There’s a real resilience to us at the moment, there was a lot of focus on us ahead of Blackburn, and then we were away at the Nou Camp, which was only a friendly in inverted commas!

“We put in a great shift at Palace as well, we had to be on our mettle to come through that. Those are the type of games that were beyond us last year, and for us to improve so quickly on the road is very encouraging.

“It’s hard to plan for because personnel-wise they are changing day on day. It will be difficult to get an angle on who we are facing, they may do some business before the game so we’ll just have to see what the weekend brings.

“The key thing is for us to continue with the momentum we have built up over the last few weeks. If we can continue that, we’ll go into the international break in good heart. There are some big, big games coming up when we return, so it’s important we get a positive result against Portsmouth.”

Football ground guide to Fratton Park

Trivia: Portsmouth manager Paul Hart is the son of former City defender and manager Johnny Hart, and  said in The Independent today, “I was brought up at Maine Road and City were my team.”

Prediction: 3-0 to City

Ryan McGivern joins Leicester on loan
Verdict: Portsmouth 0 City 1

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