The Potters take on the financially destitute Portsmouth at Fratton Park today in the late televised match. Pompey’s woes are well documented, but they found a crumb of comfort last week with a good 4-1 win over their local arch-rivals, Southampton in the FA Cup, which may give them some heart with their on-field problems as they continue to struggle at the foot of the Premier League.
Tony Pulis has stepped into the debate on Pompey’s perilous financial affairs with a swipe at the Premier League. The former Portsmouth manager had criticised the league for allowing such a situation to develop where the ultimate victims will be the fans and people of Portsmouth: ‘Who was opening the bank and letting the money pour out? Was there anyone there saying ‘No’. If not, why not?
‘It is vitally important the people running football look at this situation, glean information and pass it on to other clubs.
‘We need to find out the pitfalls and whether it was to do with foreign owners and foreign investment. We now have more foreign owners in this country than ever before.
‘The Premier League and the FA have a responsibility, not just to clubs but to the communities who support those clubs.’
Portsmouth Team News:
Hermann Hreidarsson is doubtful with an Achilles problem, but Pompey have Ricardo Rocha available after suspension and Steve Finnan is back from injury.
Player to watch: David James
James is back in the starting eleven after the clubs’ abortive attempts to move the England keeper to the Brit last month.
Stoke City Team News:
Abdy Faye begins the first of a two match suspension for his red card on Tuesday. Danny Higginbotham is doubtful after pulling out on Tuesday with a back spasm and, of course, Matty Etherington is still out injured. Asmir Begovic will be making his first return to Fratton Park since joining the Potters at the start of this month for £3.25m
Player to watch: Tuncay
Since Big Tone likes to alternate between Ricardo Fuller and Tuncay with his insistance that they don’t play well together, we’d expect this to be the Turkish international’s turn today after he never made it off the bench on Tuesday.
Match Facts & Stats
The first leg at the Brit last November ended 1-0 to the Potters, but many of us didn’t necessarily think the best team won. On paper, they’re still more than capable of getting on a run of form – so Potters beware.
Today’s ref, Mike Dean will be well aware of what went on during the Wiley fiasco on Tuesday as he was the fourth official at the Brit. Hopefully he’s taken on-board what he saw and Tone’s post match demands for ‘parity’.
Wed 24th February: Man City (home) kick-off: 7.45pm FA Cup
Sat 27th February: Arsenal (home) kick-off: 5.30pm * SKY SPORTS