Three Ways Portsmouth Can Beat Peterborough United – Opinion

Portsmouth find themselves in a commanding position at the top of League One. However, Saturday’s visit to Peterborough United should provide a much tougher test than they have faced in recent weeks.

Pompey are flying, there is no doubt about it, and as it stands, would be comfortable winners of the third tier, a division they have remarkably been stuck in since 2017. The side are unbeaten in eleven and are showing no signs of slowing down as the League One run-in reaches boiling point with just eight games remaining.

There are not many more intimidating away trips in League One this season than facing a Peterborough side as in-form as they are. Darren Ferguson’s team will fear no one at the moment, especially off the back of their clinical performance to beat Stevenage 3-1 on Tuesday. With the quality they possess in attacking areas, Portsmouth will have to prove why they have the best defence in the division if they are to get a result at the Weston Homes Stadium.

Pompey’s Imperious Defence

Peterborough may boast some of the best talent that the visitors will have faced so far this campaign, especially in wide areas with Kwame Poku and Ephron Mason-Clark, but Portsmouth will be confident they can keep even those men quiet. Pompey have conceded just 32 times in 38 games in the league so far this campaign, keeping an incredible 17 clean sheets as goalkeeper Will Norris battles it out with Lincoln City’s Lukas Jensen for the Golden Glove.

The partnership of Sean Raggett and Conor Shaughnessy has been impenetrable at times and with captain Marlon Pack sat just in front of those two, it has become quite the achievement to put the ball in the Portsmouth net. Keeping the ball out to this extent has meant John Mousinho’s side have always had a base to build on in matches and are very rarely chasing a game. Expect Saturday to be no different as they won’t allow Peterborough to play the free-flowing dynamic football as consistently as they have been in recent weeks.

The Return Of Jack Sparkes

The expected return from injury of left back Jack Sparkes might not fill Pompey fans with bundles of excitement purely for him alone. However, the left-back’s availability could play a pivotal role in the tactical side of the game on Saturday. It should allow Mousinho to return to his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, having switched to a wingback system in their home win over Burton Albion. That’s the system that has seen them cruise to the top of the table and blow teams away in their impressive 11-game unbeaten run.

Sparkes’ individual importance should also not be overlooked in this team, as the 23-year-old has six assists in just 20 league starts from full-back this season, so can certainly aid the attacking threat of the team. Paddy Lane may also benefit from having a recognised left-footed fullback down his side of the pitch, as the winger had to operate in an unconventional wingback role against Burton. This should allow Lane to do what he does best which is cause trouble in the final third and possibly add to his impressive 11-goal tally.

Kusini Yengi – An Unpolished Diamond

Kusini Yengi made national headlines during the week for one of the misses of the season as he directed a shot wide of the post from just three yards out. It may therefore seem strange to include him as a reason that Portsmouth can win this crucial top-of-the-table clash, but the fact that it was his two goals that sealed all three points on Tuesday seems to have been overlooked.

The 25-year-old Australian showed no signs that the horror miss had affected him, as he cheekily scored a Panenka penalty to give his side the lead in first-half stoppage time. He then showed a superb striker’s instinct to get between the posts and convert a poacher’s goal and double their advantage. There are no guarantees of his inclusion from the start, with Colby Bishop waiting in the wings, but there are also no doubts Yengi will play a part on Saturday and Peterborough would be foolish to discount him.

Portsmouth look to be made of stern stuff and if they can beat this high-flying Posh side, they may well be spoken about as champions-elect come the start of next week. There are plenty of reasons as to why either side could come away with all three points in this one, but Portsmouth’s game management and willingness to win should just get them over the line.

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