101gg tip for the season: Portsmouth to finish bottom of the Premier League (7/2)

The Portsmouth team that will run out at 3pm on Saturday to face Fulham at Fratton Park will be a far cry from the one that proved victorious against Cardiff in the 2008 FA Cup final just 16 months ago.

One can analyse the poor mismanagement behind losing such players as Glen Johnson, Lassana Diarra, Sulley Muntari, Pedro Mendes, Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defoe since the Cup final win, but the bottom line is that Pompey are at this stage dead certs to go down and will likely finish bottom with their current squad.

The side that will face the Cottagers on the opening day of the Premier League season is unlikely to have the defensive solidity it became renowned for over recent seasons, while the midfield lacks any real quality and there are not many goals coming from the strikers.

David James should start despite missing England’s friendly in Holland on Wednesday behind a defence that may or may not include Sylvain Distin. Pompey fans had better hope the Frenchman is still at the club this season because a defence led by Younes Kaboul is unlikely to keep Paul Hart’s side in the Premier League.

The midfield should feature summer signing Aaron Mokoena, and the South African defensive midfielder who struggled to get in the Blackburn side in recent seasons will need to perform immediately. Other midfielders such as Hayden Mullins, John Utaka and Pape Bouba Diop are decent players but it would be no surprise to see such a side struggle.

Shorn of Defoe and Crouch, up front Pompey were going to invest much of their hope in David Nugent becoming a regular Premier League goal scorer. But after his involvement in a hotel brawl in pre-season, the goals will have to come from Nwankwo Kanu (33), Niko Kranjcar and Frederic Piquionne.

Kranjcar is undoubtedly a class act but was only restricted to 22 appearances last season due to injury. The Croatian schemer has added to the woes around Fratton Park by publicly stating this will be his last season at Pompey.

In these desperate times, a ray of hope comes from Frederic Piquionne who scored in Pompey’s 2-0 win over Rangers on Saturday. The sad truth however is that this journey man French striker is not a serial goalscorer Pompey need, he scored just three goals in 22 appearances last season.

Much of course will depend on the takeover by Sulaiman al-Fahim which is still yet to come to fruition. This may of course happen but with 20 days of the transfer window left Pompey look in a perilous position. It looks increasingly likely that veterans Steve Finnan and Antti Niemi will be some of Pompey’s biggest signings this summer.

Our good pals at William Hill have slashed the odds on Portsmouth to go down from 15/8 to 6/4 after hearing “rumours of financial meltdown” that had “swept the world of bookmaking.”

Aside from Portsmouth, Hull (4/1), along with promoted clubs Burnley (9/4) and Birmingham (7/2), are the favourites to finish bottom with the bookies. But, if anything, the promoted teams have an edge in that they should be highly motivated and not that long ago were winning games, albeit in the Championship. (Portsmouth won just four games in the Premier League in 2009.)

To add to the misgivings about the upcoming season for Portsmouth, question marks have to be raised over whether Paul Hart can work a miracle with a squad of players that just don’t look good enough.

It is easy to debate the reasons of why Portsmouth have ended up in this position, Alexandre Gaydamak and lovable rogue Harry Redknapp have a lot to answer for. The bottom line is Pompey’s odds on finishing bottom will only plummet even further once it dawns on football followers just what a mess they are in.

Portsmouth are 7/2 to be finish bottom of the Premier League and 6/4 to be relegated.

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Full odds on who will come bottom of the Premier League can be seen here.

Full odds on relegation from the Premier League can be seen here.