Portsmouth v Chelsea

I’ll start with the sad but not unexpected death of George Best. I don’t have any memories of him in his pomp (I was born a few years too late to witness his peak form at Manchester United) but I developed an affection for him over the years, just as many of my generation did. There is no doubt that he was one of the world’s most talented footballers and a genuine legend of the beautiful game; it is unlikely that there will ever be another like him. There will be a minute’s silence held at all Premiership games this weekend. R.I.P. George Best.

Today sees us travel to Portsmouth, now managerless following the sacking of Alain Perrin on Thursday. Many believed this match would have been the Frenchman’s last in charge, but Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric sped up his club’s managerial merry-go-round by dismissing Perrin earlier than expected. Sheffield United’s Neil Warnock is mooted to be first in line to take over at Fratton Park.

The dismissal of Perrin could make things a tad more difficult for us. It is often the case that teams perform better immediately following the loss of a manager. Joe Jordan, who has been given temporary charge, is no mug and has spoken of making wholesale changes for this match.

Jose Mourinho certainly isn’t underestimating the impact Perrin’s sacking could have on the Portsmouth squad.

“When people change their manager, normally in the short term it works,” he said in the pre-match press conference. “In the long term normally it doesn’t but the immediate consequence is good for one or two games. So Portsmouth will come with a great attitude. We must come with the same attitude.”?

One player who always has the right attitude is Frank Lampard. This match will be his 160th consecutive Premiership appearance — he hasn’t missed one since September 2001 — a feat that beats then Liverpool goalkeeper David James’ record. Mourinho summed up what the majority of us feel about Frank: “Other players have a great talent — Ronaldinho, Kaka, Shevchenko — we have unbelievable players in the world. But Frank is my favourite player.

“He trains every day, he plays every game, cold, hot, rain, snow. He can play in every system I want to play. He is what I call a player for every game. He is a player I wouldn’t want to change with anyone!”?

Claude Makelele and Glen Johnson are missing from the squad with knee injuries, while Arjen Robben is still recovering from hamstring problems. Didier Drogba is back in contention after recovering from a minor knock picked up whilst on international duty with the Ivory Coast, as is Shaun Wright-Phillips who missed Wednesday’s Champions League win in Belgium because of suspension.

Prediction: Pompey have lost all four previous Premiership matches against us and haven’t won a home game this season. The corresponding fixture last season came during the busy Christmas period; it was a hard-fought affair which we eventually won 2-0, a deflected Arjen Robben shot with ten minutes to go and a fine Joe Cole goal in injury time securing all three points.

With two clinical wins under our belt since the defeat at Old Trafford, and Pompey in somewhat of a tailspin, another 2-0 victory is on the cards. The vociferous Fratton Park faithful are once again likely to go home disappointed.

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Portsmouth 0 – 2 Chelsea · Update

See Crespo and Lampard’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; Sunday Times; Independent on Sunday; The Observer; Sunday Telegraph; The Guardian; The Independent; The Times; Daily Telegraph.

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