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Friday, May 16, 2008

Kanu has the skills to light-up Wembley

Portsmouth play Cardiff in tomorrow's FA Cup final and my strong sense is that the Premier League side has too much experience, physical strength, organisational ability and class in forward areas to fall foul of an upset if they give it their maximum as they should.

Harry Redknapp has been very shrewd in the transfer market for Portsmouth and a major cup final place and a top-half league finish is testament to his experienced ability to build and organise a good football team.

He bought in a superb keeper in David James from Man City whose fitness levels are such that he will go beyond the best-before date of most goal-keepers. Former Arsenal and England star, Sol Campbell, is a champion-level centre-back and the acquisition of the consistent and athletic Sylvain Distin from Man City to partner him was a master-stroke. They are a very good centre-back combination.

Right back, Glen Johnson, is another great purchase - he looks to have focused properly on his football after looking to lose interest in the Chelsea squad and is now showing a level of football that deservedly has put him back in the reckoning for the England team. For me he has had a very strong season - and its great to see that a young guy of his talent is not letting it waste.

The trio of Muntari, Diarra and Diop in central midfield is very powerful, athletic and hard-working. To have these guys screening a a very solid defence is a massive reason why Porstmouth have had a very consistent season and been very hard to beat. Then on the wings there is the class of the Croatian international and reported Arsenal target, Niko Kranjcar, and the lightning fast Nigerian, John Utaka.

Finally Redkanpp usually goes with the one up-front option and I expect to see the magnificently skilful Nwankwo Kanu take the starting position tomorrow. I hope that Kanu can show some typical aweseome ball skills tomorrow and get a crucial goal - he is a man who career and ability deserves a big cup-final moment.

He was a nearly-man at Arsenal - overshadowed in the forward positions by the legend Dennis Bergkamp and the awesome Thierry Henry - and he left somewhat quietly in 2004 on a free transfer to WBA which I felt at that time was a club not appropriate for his ability and that the great former Ajax forward may be sliding prematurely into relative obscurity. Fortunately a guy wth such high talent was rescued from WBA reserves by ability-admirer Harry Redknapp - and both have prospered since. For me it will be something great to see the uniquely talently Nigerian striker show the world his sensational skills on a big stage tomorrow.

My feeling is 2-0 win will follow for Portsmouth. However, this is based on a lack of awareness of Cardiff City. I watched with appreciation their fine win over Middlesbrough and their workmanlike semi-final win over Barnsley - but I would like to know more about their qualities. If there are Cardiff supporters out there who can shed some light on this that will be very welcome? A view from Portsmouth supporters on their club's cup final chances would also be welcome.


Blogger RedsMan said...

This is an unusual FA Cup final approaching. None of the big four in the EPL presented, and one of the teams from the Championship. Last time was Manchester United v Millwall four years ago with a 3-0 win to Utd. This time, it is different for I see at the moment a little difference between the two sides as opposed to the gulf of four years ago.

Both teams, though playing in different level of football, appear to have similar results all season. Portsmouth with 16 wins, 9 draws, 13 defeats is a slight improvement on last season's ending. Compare Cardiff's 16 wins, 16 draws, 14 defeats, they almost parallel, taking into consideration the Championship play 8 more games than the EPL.

What does this mean? They are similar in playability in their own respective leagues, and that for me gives the inclination tomorrow's final will be heavily defended by both sides, little attacking opportunity and either one of Redknapp or Jones will need to pull out or put on someone who will open up the defence in one moment.

Harry Redknapp could deploy one up front in Kanu or evolve more of an attacking favour adding Baros. Dave Jones could start with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink alongside either Warren Feeney or Steven Thompson. I could go for Pompey being flexible with 4-4-2 with Cardiff being more defensive with 4-5-1.

I think 2-0 is round about a more realistic scoreline to Pompey, and since T has jumped for that one, I'll bet him a Big Mac on 2-1 to Pompey!


5/16/2008 3:41 pm

Blogger T said...

That's a deal my friend!

5/16/2008 4:36 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Well, props go to the first manager in Pompey's history in nearly seventy years to lift the prestigious domestic trophy but they were made to earn it the hard way. This was emphasised by the great late block of Glen Johnson as a Cardiff player was poised to dramatically hit an equaliser.

The thing is the winner would be claiming the cup for over decades since their club last won it, so there would be mass celebration more than expected whoever the winner was. Cardiff gave a very good account of themselves and came out with an adventurous 4-4-2, Pompey kept with a reserved 4-1-4-1. But it's Harry's game and for once his long managerial career has neeted him the highest prize in English football.

The fans were superb, both sides, and simply showed how supporting, winning and losing was to be taken against the idiosy of those who rampaged through Manchester on Wednesday.

Excellent, Harry & the boys.


5/17/2008 11:44 pm

Blogger T said...

Ditto your comment Redsman. Good to see Redknapp lift a major trophy at 61 years old - a unique character and someone who gets a good mix of skill and organisation in his teams. Under-rated manager.

I thought Diarra had a very strong game and possibly man of the match. I have misgivings that we had him at our club and then let him go - with performances like yesterday's he would be a natural replacement for Flamini - and even a rival for Flamini's starting posistion should they both have remained. Instead they have both gone - surely not as Wenger would have planned!

I think my tip for Kanu to light up the game came good - if I don't say so myself (that's my quota of good tips exhausted for the year!)! That piece of skill when he twisted the centre-back with a major foot drag and then tip-toed round the goalkeeper only to then hit the post was a brilliant piece of action - me and my brother really enjoyed it! Sharp finish for the goal and now he goes down in history as the scorer of an FA Cup winner- good reward for a footballer who has given a lot of entertainment over the years.

5/18/2008 8:49 pm


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