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Michael Taylor 18th Dec 2009 - 15:57

Appalling ‘Pool should still have too much for Pompey

I remember a time when going behind to Liverpool was tantamount to chasing shadows for the rest of the game all with the intention of staying in the game and not getting an embarrassing score put past you.

Teams would head to Anfield and pray to keep a clean sheet in a vain attempt to not lose and away from home the Reds counter attacking football made them one of the best travellers around.

Not so anymore though and you not that times are changing when you even have a nervy last minute after being 2-0 up at home to a very average Wigan side.

But that's how it is around Liverpool at the minute, although they'll be looking to build on their scrappy mid-week win against the Latics when they travel to debt ravaged Portsmouth for Saturday's early kick-off.

After successive home defeats by Fiorentina and Arsenal all that mattered for Rafa Benitez on Wednesday was coming away with the points no matter how they came.

An injury time strike from Charles N'Zogbia ensured Pepe Reina was denied a clean sheet yet again but that now seems a minor inconvenience as the three points were the vital aspect and they were achieved.

Another pleasing aspect from Wednesday was that both David N'Gog and Fernando Torres found themselves on the scoresheet.

The more confidence the front men have the better it'll be for the Reds when they come across a Portsmouth side that hasn't exactly shone defensively this season.

They've conceded 26 goals through the first 17 games of the season and, without either Sol Campbell or Sylvain Distin, they lack something more than talent, they really miss the leadership and experience.

In Avram Grant Pompey do at least have a shrewd operator in charge who is without doubt a huge upgrade on managerial bandwagon favourite Paul Hart, however Tal Ben-Haim and Younes Kaboul could never be considered a vastly experienced or influential defensive duo.

They are supported well by Jamie O'Hara and Michael Brown, both of whom are combative types that will try to ensure Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt are not able to get the vital foothold they need in midfield.

The problem is, even if the midfield pairing holds firm, one slip up from the likes of Kaboul could be lights out time for Pompey whenever someone with the class of Torres is about - Spurs and Portsmouth fans alike could tell you Kaboul is never the type to spend a full 90 minutes in defence as well.

In fact you could even go as far as saying that Kaboul is as likely to make an impression in the opponent's penalty area as his own, that's why you can only get a rather poor 7/1 about him finding the net at anytime - maybe that's being a bit harsh though.

Either way though, I saw enough of the Gerrard and Torres combo in the first half of the Arsenal game to think they'll become one of the elite combinations in English football once again this season.

Gerrard hasn't been at his best this year, and for that matter I'm not sure Torres has, yet the Spaniard has still managed eleven goals and his main provider does continue to be Liverpool's all action hero, Stevie G.

I know I'll be watching out for both of them this weekend and I really fancy both of them notching and realising the anytime goalscorer double price of 16/5.

In terms of match betting I do believe Portsmouth have become a lot smarter overnight by simply appointing Grant as manager.

He worked well under pressure at Chelsea and he's now trying to show adversity doesn't trouble him either.

Saying this though, his team just doesn't look strong enough to hold Liverpool for the full 90 minutes.

The scoreline might be close although I'm not sure as close as the action might suggest, so I'll be plumping for the 2-1 Liverpool at 6/1 while, for the first time in ages I think Liverpool are a banker at 8/13.



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