General chat room. Pompey related or not, but PLEASE keep it reasonably clean.

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By Jack_Tinn
#890514
So all teams bar one (Bury) are lined up at the starting gate and here we go on a long and meandering race to the Championship for the lucky few. Pompey must be targeting promotion this year after coming so close last year and making some decent and exciting signing this off-season.

One game has already been called off this month and Rotherham will have to make a rearranged trip down to FP. I can't see them being chuffed about that particularly if it is a midweek game!

First up Shrewsbury away from home. KJ is talking up Shrewsbury as being a dark horse for one of the top teams in the division. Sorry, but I can't see that and I suspect that is is as much more about KJ supporting an ex-player of his in Sam Ricketts, tempering expectation of the fans for the first game and getting the players to not take the game too lightly. Opening games can be wildly difficult to judge but in the cold light of day Pompey have to be looking for three points from this game. I think Naylor and McCrorie will provide a solid foundation in midfield and from there Pompey can attack with Curtis, Marquis, Harrison and Harness all having the ability to affect the game by scoring and creating chances.

I have a feeling that Pompey are going to be a very strong team from set pieces this year with Downing (and Raggett when he is fit) being stronger in the air than Clarke and offering more of a goal threat from corners and free kicks from out wide. McCrorie is 6'3" and therefore is going to offer something in the air and physically that Close doesn't. I can see a goal for Pompey at Shrewsbury from a corner and I think that Pompey will have too much pace and creativity up front to be denied. I am never confident though of a clean sheet when Burgess is playing and at Shrewsbury he or Downing will have to man the left CB position. I am going to predict a 2-1 win though for Pompey on opening day and 3pts

Tranmere will come to FP for their first away game of L1 and I think they will be slightly worried as this is a tough game so early for them as a newly promoted side. Their opening game is against Rochdale at home. I suspect that Tranmere will set up defensively and seek to hit Pompey on the break and it may be a home debut for a lot of new Pompey player depending on who played in midweek vs B'Ham in the cup. (KJ please let players like Marquis and Harness get at least 20 mins at FP in that game to break the ice for the leaue game) . Patience will be key and the crowd should give the players time to bed in. I can't see anything but a win here for Pompey and it has to be 3pts if the team are serious about promotion and a return of 6pts from two games sets up the trip to Sunderland nicely

Sunderland away is a tough game anyway but even tougher given the number of times the teams have played each other recently. Pompey have a slight advantage insofar as Downing, Bolton, Marquis and Harness did not play in any of the games last year so will bring freshness to the challenge and the rivalry this season. McNulty will want to impress for Sunderland and will need to be watched carefully.

I did not enjoy either of the playoff games vs Sunderland because I could not see Pompey scoring and they often surrendered possession in midfield - particularly in the away leg and were robust and solid in defence but could not build any pressure or gain territory and push Sunderland back into their half or box. McCrorie will need a big game to help change that around and Marquis is better at holding up the ball and joining play than Hawkins is and I suspect Pompey will have more joy this time around. Not least because Harness and Curtis out wide can't be as off form and basically knackered as Curtis and Lowe were in those two play off games. I can see Pompey earning a draw or even catching Sunderland cold on the break in one or two incisive counter attacking moves. That being said I am going to target 0pts in this game for Pompey and then anything they achieve is a bonus.

Coventry come to FP on the Tuesday night following the trip to Sunderland. That might help Pompey as its a quick turnaround and since the Rotherham game (would have been next on the Saturday) has been postponed Pompey have 11 days gap between this game and the next league game. Both games last year were tight and cagey affairs and I don't see this being very different. Pompey do have more firepower though this season imho than last and Coventry have lost their best player and last season's captain in Jordan WIllis to Sunderland. Although every game for Coventry is an away game this season I think this is another 2-1 win for Pompey and another 3pts to set them up with 9pts from 4 games.

BY the time that Blackpool comes around Pompey will be a game behind in the table on most teams (although not on Bury who seem to have an unwanted arrangement with the EFL that they have August off!). An away game at Blackpool in August seems a kind gift from the fixture computer (much like the advantage of playing Sunderland away in August on a Saturday rather than a cold dank midweek night in February). Blackpool seem to be on the way back up a little after a few difficult seasons with harmony off the pitch having gone missing. I think that the eleven day lay off will help KJ with some time on the training pitch with the new team/players and it will help with getting Marquis and Harness integrated in the team morale side of things but it can hurt teams too in terms of match fitness and cohesion to have a long break so soon into the season. I can see Pompey being a bit sluggish in this game - also coming off two hard games vs Sunderland and Coventry - but I think they will get better as the game goes on. I am predicting a draw here (although it could be more!) so that Pompey come out of the first five games with at least 10pts.

To achieve 90pts for the season Pompey need to average 1.9 pts per game. 90e season. 90pts should get them automatic promotion and is my overall target for the season. 10 pts for the month puts them slightly ahead of that 1.9 rate which would be a good return for the first month and a month which includes the Sunderland away game.

I am excited for the season. I think McCrorie is going to be a huge player for Pompey this year and I think that as the season progresses we'll see Harness move into the no.10 role, particularly at FP and cause defences nightmares trying to work out whether to push out to him or stay and cover Marquis. Downing and Raggett will form a solid and powerful partnership. I think too that Pompey will benefit from not having the constant background of speculation about what players will leave if we don't get promotion at the end of the season. This should be a talented, focussed and determined group who can mesh a solid defence with an attack that is carrying some menace.

PUP PPU
#890517
Thanks JT - an excellent and well-argued read.

Today's game will tell us much about the season IMO. I think that we have spent the sale profits wisely and recruited well. KJ's team selection will be a mixture of the obvious (e.g. McC/Naylor) and the more judgemental.

Given the usual luck in any game, I expect us to win today. We really need to begin the season well to achieve our aim of promotion this year,

Actually, I'm on my way to the Italian Dolomites. But I try will try to pick up the text commentary as we land in Venice around 4pm.

PUP
#890518
Milton End wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:22 am
Thanks JT - an excellent and well-argued read.

Today's game will tell us much about the season IMO. I think that we have spent the sale profits wisely and recruited well. KJ's team selection will be a mixture of the obvious (e.g. McC/Naylor) and the more judgemental.

Given the usual luck in any game, I expect us to win today. We really need to begin the season well to achieve our aim of promotion this year,

Actually, I'm on my way to the Italian Dolomites. But I try will try to pick up the text commentary as we land in Venice around 4pm.

PUP
divertiti, godere

I agree with you regarding the purchases of Marquis and Harness. Much depends on them this season. I think therefore the most important thing for August is to get off to a good start and bed those two into the forward line as well as making sure that Downing forms a solid partnership at the back (I expect with Raggett once he is fully fit)
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