Man City v Portsmouth preview
Both sides hoping to follow up European success
By Will Wood. Last Updated: September 21, 2008 10:47am
Robinho: Key man
Having welcomed Premier League runners-up Chelsea to the City of Manchester stadium last weekend, Manchester City host FA Cup holders Portsmouth on Sunday.
The hype surrounding City's billionaire owners is gradually dying down, and that means all attentions return to the pitch as both sides look to break into the top-six.
Both City and Pompey have six points to their name thus far, with the hosts having suffered defeats to Aston Villa and Luiz Felipe Scolari's men, with successive 3-0 victories over West Ham United and Sunderland respectively in between.
Harry Redknapp's men opened with unenviable fixtures against Chelsea and Manchester United, unsurprisingly suffering two defeats on the trot, but they finally got their domestic season underway with an impressive 3-0 win against Everton at Goodison Park and a 2-1 defeat of Middlesbrough.
This fixture rendered four goals last season as City emerged 3-1 winners, and the presence of Britain's most expensive player, Robinho, £18million man Jo and the on-form Jermain Defoe suggests that another goal treat could be in store.
Both sides were in action midweek as they competed in the first round of the Uefa Cup, and Jo was in fine form as he netted a brace in City's 2-1 away win against Omonia.
Defoe, who has five goals in all competitions to his name already, was also on target in Pompey's 2-0 dismissal of Vitoria Guimaraes, adding the second having missed an earlier penalty.
There were no new injury worries for either Mark Hughes or Redknapp following the midweek games, though the clash comes too soon for the sidelined Benjani Mwaruwari to appear against his former side.
Michael Johnson remains a doubt with a groin strain, while Martin Petrov is still to recover from a hamstring strain, meaning Hughes will continue with the same midfield quartet of Elano, Stephen Ireland, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Vincent Kompany.
Robinho and Jo are set to lead the attack once again, with the former converting a free-kick - with the aide of a deflection - against Chelsea last week, handing him a goal on his debut.
Tal Ben Haim is likely to continue on the bench, with Micah Richards and Richard Dunne reforming their solid partnership in the heart of City's defence.
Similarly, Redknapp is likely to opt for the same starting eleven that saw off Guimares, with Peter Crouch partnering the in-form Defoe up-front.
Nadir Belhadj was also on-song in the side's last match, setting up the former Tottenham Hotspur man and earning a standing ovation from the club's faithful, and he will continue at left-back.
Possible starting XIs
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Richards, Dunne, Garrido, Kompany, Wright-Phillips, Ireland, Elano, Robinho, Jo.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Belhadj, Utaka, Diarra, Davis, Armand Traore, Crouch, Defoe.
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