By Chris Harris

This may be the season of goodwill to all men, but two can expect special attention at Emirates Stadium on Sunday - Arsène Wenger and Tony Adams.

The ever-popular Frenchman is assured of his place in the fans' affections - not to mention the history books. And the same goes for his opposite number this weekend, the man they used to call 'Mr Arsenal'. Adams is guaranteed a warm welcome after leading his former club to League titles in three different decades.

However much affection Adams still holds for Arsenal, it would be a huge feather in his cap to beat the man he learned so much from in the latter stages of his playing career. However, this might be a good time for Wenger to face Portsmouth. Just four days later, Adams can start spending the profits from Lassana Diarra's move to Real Madrid.

We asked Jordan Cross of the Portsmouth News for a Pompey perspective ahead of Sunday's game. Read on for his views on the departure of Harry Redknapp, the appointment of Adams, Pompey's defensive frailties and their England international pairing up front.


"They are changing times down at Portsmouth. Losing Harry Redknapp was a monumental moment after the things he did during his two tenures at the club. I suppose it matters to us as much as Arsenal in terms of the man coming in being Tony Adams. He has been given his chance and the Portsmouth board have shown their faith in him and he feels he is ready for the Premier League. He has gone about his job now and put this footprint firmly on proceedings."


"The big thing about Tony is that he is very keen on the coaching side of things. Redknapp would perhaps stand off a bit and oversee proceedings but if you go to Pompey’s training ground now you will see Tony in among the players putting his ideas across. In terms of training he has changed things a great deal along with Johnny Metgod, the Dutchman he has brought in from Feyenoord. That is Tony’s thing, that is his forte when he is out there with the players. He has been keen to put that across to the media.

"To look at Tony now he is a world away from the up-and-at-them British bulldog character that many people think he is. Obviously he has been through a heck of a lot, on and off the pitch, throughout his career but he has learned from that. He has almost got a lot of Arsène Wenger’s mannerisms in that he is very laid back, he is a placid type of character and he has been quick to tap his former boss up. I’m not sure he’ll be doing that ahead of our game though."


"Lassana Diarra has moved on, he has gone to Real Madrid for a massive 24million euros. He only cost Portsmouth £5.5 million at the start of the year so it is a good bit of business and the player gets the opportunity to go and play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. So January represents a chance for Tony to put his own flavour on the team. He has made it clear that he doesn’t think that the team needs major changes necessarily. He may want to move one or two more on and perhaps get one or two in as well. A priority will be a central midfielder to replace Diarra and perhaps you could say Portsmouth are a bit light on the right-hand side. I suppose they are the two areas that need a bit of reinforcement."


"It is kind of bizarre how the defence has struggled after doing so well last season. I watched the loss against Newcastle and it was unrecognisable. There was a total collapse in the second half and there were a lot of individual errors. I think it is hard for Adams to take because he is a proud man who prides himself on organisation and he has been working hard on that side of the game defensively. There have been some sloppy mistakes and a lot of the time when Portsmouth have gone in front they have ended up drawing or losing. You need to look at the individual errors really and you can’t really legislate for those sorts of things. It is a priority for Portsmouth to sort out these things because with the Premier League table being so congested they could easily get dragged down."


"Crouch and Defoe have a wonderful partnership up front. Harry Redknapp chased long and hard to get those two in, he has managed to pair them this season and the goals have been flowing. It is the typical little-and-large combination and it works well. They get on, on and off the pitch and it has all the right ingredients. Arsenal will certainly have their hands full with those two. The way Crouchie can get up and knock the balls down for Defoe, he is always sniffing round and the goals have been flowing. I spoke to Peter Crouch last week and he has set himself a 22-goal target for this season."

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24 Dec 2008