Boxing Day's big match preview
West Ham United v Portsmouth Saturday, Boxing Day, 1pm Upton Park MAKE NO mistake, Sunday s battling draw against the league leaders may have been a monumental effort, but the Boxing Day clash with Portsmouth is going to be even tougher. One home draw doe
West Ham United v Portsmouth
Saturday, Boxing Day, 1pm
MAKE NO mistake, Sunday's battling draw against the league leaders may have been a monumental effort, but the Boxing Day clash with Portsmouth is going to be even tougher.
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One home draw does not constitute a revival, and if the West Ham players turn up on Boxing Day thinking this will be plain sailing, then they are likely to pay the price.
This game will be a huge six-pointer and only the team that can hold their nerve will come away with the points.
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Pompey have certainly been showing that they are capable of better things in the last few weeks. They have won two and drawn one of their last four games, with only a narrow defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to blot their copybook.
It is a far cry from earlier in the season when Portsmouth were simply awful.
The owners decided to sell the likes of Glen Johnson, Peter Crouch, Niko Kranjcar and Sylvain Distin in the summer and then wondered why they were doing so badly.
Slowly, boss Paul Hart began to turn things around, only to be sacked just as the resurrection looked under way.
He was replaced by former Chelsea boss Avram Grant, a man so dour that he makes Jack Dee look happy-go-lucky.
Portsmouth are relying on loan signings to bolster their recovery and it seems to be working.
Frederic Piquionne arrived from Lyon and his six goals have been a huge boost, while Aruna Dindane from Lens, with four goals, has also aided the cause.
Along with Hassan Yebda from Benfica and Jamie O'Hara from Spurs, Pompey have become a team built on sandcastles, but increasingly effective nonetheless.
They easily beat Liverpool 2-0 at Fratton Park on Saturday and that is bound to give them confidence going into this match.
Away from home they have lost six of their nine encounters, with only a 1-0 triumph at Wolves to show for their troubles, and of course, they are bottom at Christmas, so we know what is going to happen to them by the end of the season!
West Ham haven't beaten Pompey at Upton Park since January 1993, when they won 2-0 thanks to goals from Trevor Morley and Colin Foster.
Last season's game ended goalless, but West Ham will take heart from the 4-1 thrashing they dealt out at Portsmouth on Boxing Day last Christmas.
Both teams need a win, home advantage may well be the telling factor on what is bound to be a tense afternoon.
Possible team: Begovic, Finnan, Ben-Haim, Belhadj, Hreidarsson, Kaboul, Brown, Boateng, O'Hara, Yebda, Piquionne.
West Ham 2 Portsmouth 1