Date:Saturday August 9 2008
Sunday, 10th August
This season`s Premier League curtain raiser sees double European and Premiership champions Man Utd, take on FA Cup winners Pompey.
In a match that isn`t likely to affect the season ahead, Ferguson had admitted he would be looking to improve the squad fitness ahead of next weekend`s Premier League opening day...
"It's always a game we never quite use as a do-or-die thing, we use it as a barometer for fitness. At this particular time, we are not in the best position fitness-wise but it doesn't concern me unduly. There is a great quality in the squad and a great enthusiasm. A lot of them are exhilarated by winning the European Cup last season.'
However, Ferguson has warned his players of the threat that the FA Cup holders pose...
"Portsmouth are always a difficult team to play against. They had a great season last year and now Harry [Redknapp] has brought Crouch into the squad, the partnership of Crouch and Defoe will be a handful for anyone now but hopefully we can cope with that.'
Pompey`s assistant manager was full of praise for United, but the ex-Arsenal man admitted to his love of beating United...
'Alex [Ferguson]? He's outstanding. The way he consistently produces great teams and has developed players as well as bought them, I have the utmost respect for him. He is a great man at a great club but there is just something about him and them that I love beating. If I'm honest, I think I love beating them more than I would love beating even Arsenal. It's just something that's there - just like Alex always wants to beat Liverpool, maybe. '
Pompey`s newest signing and former Liverpool player, Peter Crouch, was equally as confident ahead of the match...
'Sunday is going to be a really difficult match, but we will be fit and ready and hopefully we will give them a good game. It's the first game of the season and all the new signings are out.'
Man Utd (from): Van der Sar, Kuszazck, Neville, Brown, R Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Evans, Evra, Silvestre, F Da Silva, Nani, Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, Gibson, Possebon, Giggs, Martin, Tevez, Campbell.
United will be without Ronaldo, Rooney, Anderson, Park, Hargreaves, Saha and Ben Foster for the trip to Wembley, but are set to welcome back Gary Neville to the captaincy. Ferguson had admitted that Nani, who is suspended for the start of the Premier League season, is likely to start; whilst there will be a place in the squad for United`s new Brazilian sensations, Raphael and Fabio. Meanwhile, Frazier Campbell could continue his partnership up front with Carlos Tevez.
He has revelled in the absence of Rooney and Tevez, and I expect the same on Sunday. The Argentine knows he has alot of pressure on his shoulders to perform in the absence of said players, and thus alot will depend on how well Pompey deal with him. If they keep him quiet, there could be a shock in store, but if he is left to do his stuff I fear for the Pompey back-line.
Portsmouth (from): James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Utaka, Diop, Pedro Mendes, Kranjcar, Crouch, Little, Sahar, Defoe, Davis, Kanu, Wilson, Duffy, Lauren, Nugent, Mvuemba, Cranie, Ashdown.
Pompey will most likely be without the likes of Lassana Diarra and Sean Davis, whilst Glen Little is facing a race to be fit after shaking off a thigh injury. Harry Redknapp will be looking forward to test the little and large combination of Crouch and Defoe again ahead of the new season.
After having a decent pre-season, the former Liverpool player will be hoping to continue his good-form into the new season. Despite the fact Rio and Vidic have generally got the better of Crouch in past meetings, our defence will have to guard against complacency.
- Man Utd are competing in their 25th Community Shield (previously called the Charity Shield), having previously won it 12 times and sharing it a further 4.
- Portsmouth are competing in just their second Charity Shield, and are looking to win the Shield outright for the first time, having previously shared the Shield with Wolves in 1949.
Peter Walton will be officiating at Wembley after being drafted in to replace the original candidate, Mark Clattenburg - who is currently under investigation for debt-related allegations.
United 1 - 0 Pompey - I think it will be quite a close game, and the strength of both defences means goals may be few. United are missing key players, but the strength of the defence remains intact - whilst Carlos Tevez will ensure we maintain an attacking threat.
United return to defend their Premier League crown with a home tie against Newcastle on Sunday
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Date:Saturday August 9 2008
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