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Preview: Portsmouth v Man Utd

It’s bank holiday Monday as United travel to Fratton Park in what has proven to be a tricky encounter in recent times. Last season Paul Scholes’ opener was cancelled out by Benjani’s equaliser giving us a 1-1 draw. It was one of the wretched few games that kick started, what turned out to be, a rather famous season.

We must consider our chances of getting a result this time better. We have Rooney partnering Tevez this time which is always better than what we had against Newcastle. But more importantly, we are facing an abject looking Portsmouth team.

Of course, I do realise that I may have tempted fate by calling Pompey abject. David James might suddenly become as good as Casillas or Buffon and so, like the cliche goes, an early goal will surely help settle the nerves.

In team news, Owen Hargreaves, Park Ji-Sung are still in training while Nani is still smarting from the consequences of his bird brained head butt against West Ham last season. I wouldn’t know Louis Saha’s injury situation, so it would be a bonus if he ever featured on the bench. Carrick and Giggs are out after picking up injuries last week.

We seem short of options on the wing. So it would be really interesting to see who Fergie decides to play on the wing. Whilst it might be tempting for the gaffer to persist with Fletcher on the right like last week — although he doesn’t offer much over there — I’d hope he plays him in the middle of the park instead, alongside Scholes. I am sure a lot of people may be clamouring for the inclusion of Rodrigo Possebon in the middle, but plunging him into the deep end against a very physical midfield, away from home — when we are already doing a bit of catching up — would not necessarily be a wise thing to do. We have Anderson returning, so we could see him making the bench if he’s in the frame of mind. I suspect one of the Brazilian twins will be played on the wings. Raphael might start on the right. I honestly don’t know who’ll play on the left so we may as well throw Fabio in to the mix. The defence seems settled, but there is a chance Gary Neville might earn his first start of the season.

In some positives to take, going into today’s game, Chelsea returned to their usual disjointed snore fest style of football against a willing Wigan side. They got the result they wanted nonetheless, but it also shows the kind of team Pompey were last week. It’s just a thought — not something I’d want to read too much into as the season’s just gotten underway. Winning today could propel us into third spot behind Chelsea and (oh-my-God!) Liverpool.

Prediction: 2-1 to United.

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Customary Berbatov Update:
Nothing for certain yet, but it looks more and more likely that Berbatov is not in people’s good books at Spurs. And I can understand Spurs fans feelings with the way Berba’s treated them. For all Ronaldo’s faults I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be throwing the sort of tantrums Berba seems to be throwing at White Hart Lane. We’ve had parallels, in the cases of Gareth Barry and Adebayor, already this summer, but Berbatov still looks the most likely of the three to actually move.

I would be surprised if he stayed in Spurs beyond August 31.