Tomorrow see’s Pompey welcome Cardiff City to Fratton Park who are under the stewardship of new manager Malky Mackay who replaced Dave Jones at the helm. Last season’s game at Fratton Park saw the visitors come away with a 2-0 win after an own goal from midfielder Hayden Mullins and a strike from the now departed Jay Bothroyd. It’s worth pointing out that Pompey Manager Steve Cotterill only had a squad of 16 to choose from which included two goal keepers against a team who was strongly fancied for promotion having narrowly missed out the previous season.
Cardiff boss Mackay has brought in nine new players during the summer and saw his side beat Huddersfield 5-3 after extra time in the Carling Cup despite fielding a greatly weakened team than the side who drew 1-1 away with Burnley the previous weekend.
Cardiff’s campaign started brightly on the opening day of the season when they beat newly relegated side West Ham United 1-0 thanks to an injury time winner from new boy Kenny Miller. A 3-1 away win to Oxford United including a goal for Pompey summer target Peter Whittingham was followed up with their third successive win in all competitions against Bristol City away 3-1 with Robert Earnshaw amongst the goal scorers for his new club.
Newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion became the first club to beat Cardiff City this season when they were the 3-1 victors at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill has a new problem on his hands for one of the first times since he came to manage the club; a selection headache. Recent signing and returning player Benjani Mwaruwari has been joined by the Norweigan international Eric Huseklepp and today the club unveiled the year long switch of Marcus Futacs who had been released by German side Werder Bremen with an option for a second year. Crowd favourite Benjani scored a hat trick in mid week in a 4-0 win behind closed door against Swindon Town. It’s believed that Futacs was the likely scorer of the fourth goal although no official scorer has been attributed by the club.
Kanu has to his credit managed to make a mockery of his advancing years and has started the past three games, whilst strike partner Dave Kitson has started to finally find some form which had evaded him of late in his Pompey career and scored the goal that secured a 1-0 home win against Reading at Fratton Park. Typically the FA have changed the number of substitutions allowed this season from seven to five so Cotterill faces the new task of having to tell squad members that they haven’t made the draft. Something that seemed a distant wish all throughout last season.
The biggest bragging rights of recent years who can forget go to Pompey after their 1-0 victory in the 2008 FA Cup final with Kanu on the score sheet. Since that day the fortunes of the two clubs have looked very different. Despite a second cup final appearance for Pompey losing at the hands of Chelsea, the club found themselves in the Championship after relegation from the English Premier League. Cardiff City on the other had have looked a club on the up and have missed out on promotion by a whisker for the last two seasons and will be hoping to make it third time lucky this season around with a new manager in place.
The threat of Kenny Miller and Robert Earnshaw cannot be underestimated and Cardiff’s away record certainly cannot be ignored, having not lost a game on their travels since a 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace on the 8th of March, a run of seven games including four wins. Pompey have so far failed to score a single first half goal in any competition this season and currently have the worst disciplinary record in the Championship which manager Steve Cotterill has to get to grips with before his new squad depth is quickly depleted by suspensions.
A win for Pompey might be a tall order against in form Cardiff City but for once Cotterill has a host of new options to choose from. If they can keep it tight at the back against the likes of Earnshaw who will no doubt prove a real handful then Pompey might come away with something from the game but for me it’s a big ask and sadly I can’t see Cardiff coming away empty handed from Fratton Park tomorrow especially after they did the double last season.