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01-11-2010, 09:59 PM #1
Coventry v Portsmouth Preview: Avram Grant Demands Winning Habit
The British love a good, old fashioned giant killing act when it comes to the FA Cup, with Leeds toppling the mighty Manchester United undoubtedly the highlight of this season's competition.
Now Championship side Coventry believe they can take their own Premier League scalp this season at the expense of Portsmouth.
However, while the two clubs are separated by 14 places in the Football League, troubled Pompey are in freefall and are already favourites to be joining Coventry in the second-tier of English football next season.
It is a huge fall from grace for Portsmouth, who won this competition in 2008 and their manager Avram Grant could be forgiven for thinking the FA Cup is an unwelcome distraction.
Far from it, though. Grant says he is determined to string a cup run together after the Sky Blues earned a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park earlier this month.
Pompey had to come from behind to secure a replay, with Kevin-Prince Boateng's header in first-half stoppage time cancelling out David Bell's powerful strike from distance.
Coventry followed that draw with a 3-1 win in the league over Barnsley last weekend and Grant will not take the 1987 FA Cup winners lightly.
He told the club's official website: "I was very impressed with Coventry. They are well organised and caused us problems.
"We created enough chances to win the game but they still deserved the draw. This is the FA Cup and anything can happen in a one-off game - just look at Leeds winning at Manchester United.
"However, I am confident that we have the quality in the team to get the result and move into the next round of the competition.
"Although we all know that Premier League survival is the priority, everyone at the club wants to win this match. We always want to win every game we play.
"It's a good habit to get into. And if we do, we have another home game against Sunderland in the next round.
"Coventry had an excellent result on Saturday. They're on a good run of form and will fancy their chances in front of their own fans. But we need to concentrate on our game and make sure we perform to the best of our ability on the night."
Strategy: Grant's relentless optimism should be applauded and that spirit is beginning to show through with his players. Despite all the club's financial troubles, they do give a good account of themselves on the pitch. They did create chances to beat Coventry when the two sides first met but lacked the ability to put their chances away.
Goalscoring is likely to be a problem once more for Pompey, as Tommy Smith and Frederic Piquionne are hardly prolific strikers. In midfield, Pompey will have plenty of experience in Michael Brown and Hayden Mullins, yet that area too often lacks creativity.
Injury Update: David James is set to return in goal after his calf injury. The England goalkeeper is expected to play even though it would mean he is cup-tied if he is sold in the transfer window. Grant has no other injury concerns.
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