The way I see it ? Portsmouth v Arsenal

Last updated : 12 April 2006 By Jason Hogan
For example, we all know that there is a Phoney Russian Franchise in operation on the other side of London to where the Arsenal are and at this moment in time, this financially doped regime are achieving success on the most blatantly false economy English football have ever witnessed.

But whilst I'm no different from an awful lot of people up and down the country who take great delight in seeing everyone remotely connected with the PRF get taken down a peg or two from time to time, I personally think that there is still no better sight in football than to see Alex Ferguson with the right hump.

How I would have loved to see his corned beef textured face contorted with rage and indignity on Sunday after seeing his side being turned over by a team managed by the man he hates more than anyone else in the world. Unfortunately, things didn't turn out that way for me because of course we got beat and I was the one left with the hump.

After the game I just didn't know what to do with myself. One minute, anger tinged with frustration consumed me and the next a sense of perspective and a philosophical attitude took hold instead. There was a part of me that felt sick and pissed off about the fact that we had let those bastards beat us again yet at the same time I knew deep down that the line between success and failure was always going to be a thin one for us particularly at Old Trafford and if we had taken our chances early on in the game, things could have turned out a little different.

Over the last couple of days, the one thing that has made the defeat to ManUre all the more easier to take than normal is that we Gooners could find ourselves having the last laugh when the season is out. Having safely negotiated our way past Juve we will now of course face Villareal in the semi- finals of the Champions League. But I will tell all this for nothing, my fellow Gooners – this will be the toughest tie we will play in the entire tournament this year whether we make the final or not or indeed whether we go on to win it or not.

Still, that's a subject for another day; it's time to look at our rescheduled trip to Fratton Park and our meeting with Portsmouth.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change in football. A few weeks ago, despite a heavy influx of new players, Portsmouth were considered by most to be doomed and on their way out of the Premiership. Ten points in their last four games from a possible twelve has changed all of that.

The mini revolution started at home to Manchester City where they won with a last minute goal and they followed that up with back to back wins at Upton Park and Craven Cottage. Only a Craig Bellamy inspired Blackburn side stopped them from going into Wednesday night's game with four straight wins on the bounce.

One of the star performers over the last few weeks for Pompey has been Lua Lua. This boy is as unpredictable a player as you get in the game today. Sometimes he can (believe it or not) look like Thierry Henry and on other occasions he would be better off as a double for Lenny Henry.

Which version of Lua Lua turns up on Wednesday night will be anyone's guess but make no mistake if the right one turns up, the lads in Arsenal's defence will have plenty to think about.

Pedro Mendes and Sean Davies have also started to make an impact after their moves from Spurs but I think the two lads we will need to watch out for (fitness permitting that is) will be Gary O'Neil and Andres D'Allesandro. I think that both players, particularly D'Alessandro are big talents. O'Neil has a style that is very much along the lines of Lampard and Scholes in that he likes to make very late runs into the box from midfield and even though he is nowhere near as prolific as those two, he does have a genuine eye for goal and he is someone not to be taken lightly.

To be honest I really do believe that this game is every bit as tough, in its own way, as our forthcoming game against Villareal in the Champions League. Pompey are not Bolton in terms of style as such but they will approach this game like a cup tie. They would surely have gained some confidence from the wins both at Upton Park and Craven Cottage in particular but at the same time they also know that they won't have anything to lose against Arsenal because we are the ones that are there be shot at.

They will also know that Arsenal have fallen down against teams up north that have had an up and at ‘em approach to the game and I think Harry Redknapp will send his team out to get stuck into us as well.

Combine that with the fact that the faithful at Portsmouth are pound for pound every bit as passionate as any group of fans from up north that you care to mention then you get an idea of exactly what I mean.

There have been varying theories since Sunday as to whether Wenger was really concerned about getting a result at Old Trafford last Sunday. Leaving Henry out of the side did certainly did nothing to dampen down any conspiracy theories.

All I know for certain is that we cannot afford to come away from Fratton with nothing on Wednesday. Whilst I see no reason why we cannot go on to win the Champions League and qualify for next year's tournament as of right in the process, I still believe at the same time that we would not be in a position to offer up too many excuses if we were to fail to finish on the top four in the Premiership.

It really is put up or shut up time for the Gunners in the league now.