Redknapp set for a rude reception as high-flying Spurs travel to rock-bottom Portsmouth

Portsmouth v Tottenham, Premier League, October 17, 2009

Portsmouth 18/5; Draw 12/5; Tottenham 4/5

In late September 2008 Spurs travelled to Fratton Park and their troubled start to that campaign received another blow as Harry Redknapp’s Pompey side, just months after winning the FA Cup, inflicted defeat on the Londoners with goals from Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. (7/4 for either Defoe or Crouch to score first.)

The days following the game would be dominated by the abuse meted out to Sol Campbell from the away end, but just over a year later it is quite incredible to compare the two sides who will do battle this Saturday at Portsmouth.

’Arry Redknapp is by all accounts set for a noisy reception at his old hunting ground which will take into account his recent history at the club rather than his achievements. Promotion, stability in the Premier League and the FA Cup victory of 2008 are now in the past as Pompey have been on a downward spiral since Redknapp moved to White Hart Lane and steadily over the course of a year nicked all of their best players. (Portsmouth are 4/9 favourites to be relegated.)

Niko Kranjcar (7/2 to score) was the latest recruit from Portsmouth on the final day of the summer transfer window whilst Jermain Defoe and England’s two-goal hero Peter Crouch experienced successful spells on the south coast. The current Pompey defence, now so reliant on David James, could well struggle to keep hold of whichever strike pairing Redknapp chooses.

Spurs have had an impressive opening to the campaign and much like their last league game, the 2-2 draw at Bolton, this tough and emotional fixture should tell us a lot more about whether Tottenham can breach the top four.

Importantly, Ledley King (12/1 to score) is expected to be fit for this match and Spurs always look a lot more solid when he is in the side. Elsewhere there are a number of players returning from around the globe and the recovery of many will be a major factor. In particular, the Lilywhites will be hopeful that Wilson Palacios (7/1 to score), who looked jaded after his last excursion with Honduras and really struggled in the home defeat to Manchester United, will return fresh after helping his country qualify for the World Cup.

After claiming their first victory of the season at Molineux in their last fixture, the international break came at a bad time for Paul Hart’s side. Seven successive defeats at the start of the Premier League season was a truly appalling start to the season but there have been signs or improvement, even before the victory over Wolves.

The huge amount of players brought in at the end of the summer transfer window was always going to put Pompey on the back foot, but they undoubtedly have the quality to avoid the drop. Steve Finnan made his first appearance in the last game and his experience will be crucial in a defence that will battle and is undoubtedly good enough to compete. (Portsmouth are 7/2 to keep a clean sheet.)

In midfield, Kevin-Prince Boateng (6/1 to score) will be eager to show his worth to his former employers, Hassan Yebda (16/1 to score first) will be buoyed by his winner at Wolves and Nadir Belhadj should take heart from his goal for Algeria last weekend.

Further forward one has to wonder whether strikers Frederic Piquionne (16/1 to score a brace) and Tommy Smith (20/1 to score first & Pompey win) are good enough and the suspicion is that Pompey’s new owners will spend big on striking talent in January. Although, on the few occasions he has appeared, Aruna Dindane (6/1 to score & Pompey win) has looked Premier League quality.

Pompey will though be without Jamie O’Hara who is on loan from Spurs for the season. To cap off the old boy links, Tottenham should be wary of Younes Kaboul (20/1 to score last) at set pieces, with the French defender Pompey’s top goal scorer this season.

With their likely to be much animosity in the air on Saturday afternoon it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Pompey will be riled up by the crowd and will get amongst Spurs. On paper there is only one winner with Tottenham boasting strikers in fine form compared to the home side who have scored just four league goals all season.

101gg predicts: Portsmouth 1 – Tottenham 3 (11/1)

Portsmouth 18/5; Draw 12/5; Tottenham 4/5

Full match odds here.


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