By The MKDSA Media team.
It’s Saturday, and MK Dons are on the South coast at Fratton Park to take on Portsmouth in FA Cup action. As if one Trash Talk wasn’t enough, we were lucky enough to speak to another Portsmouth fan and PO4 Podcast host Hugh Bunce, with some questions regarding the game. Many thanks for taking part as always!
Are you content with Portsmouth’s start to the season?
A top-six finish was my target for the season so in the big picture, seventh place in League One which is acceptable.
However, it was a blistering start to the season. Since a run of key injuries, Pompey has been in free fall down the table, winning only one game in the last eight in the league. The team need to bounce back soon, or we could be in a worrying position outside the play-offs at Christmas.
Are you happy with what you have seen so far under Danny Cowley Or did you expect more?
Overall, I am happy with what I have seen under Danny Cowley and feel a section of the fanbase calling for a change in manager is reactive to recent results and an overreaction.
I am concerned that teams have figured out a way of playing vs our 4-4-2, which looked promising at the start of the season.
Pompey are not creating enough chances to justify playing two strikers. Our expected goals have fallen to 14th in League One with 12.49 in open play (scoring 14) after being around the top of the league at the start of the season.
On the flip side, Pompey have been very solid defensively across the season. This is reflected in the data with expected goals against in open play 2nd League One with 10.08 (conceding 12).
Being defensively solid at the detriment of scoring goals is frankly not enough to get promoted. I have faith that Cowley will be able to find a way to get this team scoring again.
Which players do you expect to cause problems for the Dons on Saturday?
Zak Swanson has been brilliant since coming in to replace the injured Joe Rafferty at right back after arriving on a 2-year deal in the summer from Arsenal. Athletic and composed on the ball, Swanson has linked up brilliantly with Owen Dale down the right side and has a good delivery into the box. Picking up his second goal of the season playing in midfield against Ipswich, his technical ability at his level will create chances.
Pompey’s best creative outlet this season has been Owen Dale, who leads the team in assists with four as well as chances created per game at 1.35 in open play. At his best running at defenders one on one, Dale had the better of Derby wing-back Louie Sibley last Friday.
Luckily for MK Dons, Dale may not be available for selection on Saturday with his parent club Blackpool reluctant to get their asset cup-tied. Although famously cryptic with his team selection, talking to Andrew Moon of BBC Solent, Cowley has said he is hopeful this can be resolved for Saturday.
Are you happy with Portsmouth’s transfer activity from the summer and which signings have impressed you the most so far?
I am happy with the business done in the summer. Marlon Pack and Tom Lowery have looked brilliant together at CM when they have both been fit. Lowery ups the tempo of our passing and creates space with his movement off the ball. Quickly turning defence into attack, Lowery has been a huge miss in the middle while suffering from a hamstring issue.
Colby Bishop has been fantastic but I spotted there is another question about him so I will hold fire reviewing Bishop.
Who or What made you support Portsmouth And what’s your highlight so far following Pompey?
I am a massive glory hunter so decided on Pompey over Real Madrid…
Being serious, my family are from Gosport and all Pompey fans. The highlight so far was watching us play in Europe vs AC Milan with only a late equaliser from Filippo Inzaghi preventing us from a famous victory.
What style of play can we expect to see from Portsmouth on Saturday?
The most likely formation for Saturday is 4-4-2. Danny Cowley did experiment with playing three at the back after 60 minutes in the 2-0 win on Tuesday vs Ipswich. Although Cowley said he is open to using that formation, I feel that will be utilised more away from Fratton Park. Josh Koroma has been very narrow on the left-hand side so we might see Ronan Curtis get the nod on the left wing.
Whatever the formation, Pompey will need to find a way to create more opportunities for the front two if we are going to get into the 3rd Round.
Lowery is doubtful for the weekend, so I expect energetic young midfielder Jay Mingi to pair Pack in CM. Mingi is rapid with the ball at his feet and leads the team with four successful dribbles vs Derby. MK Dons will need to close him down quickly and stop him from cutting through midfield.
Pack will look to be the player pulling the strings in midfield with an excellent range of passing. Pompey are at their best when pressing from the front and if they implement the press well, could prevent MK Dons from passing through the thirds.
If you could have any Dons player, who would it be?
Mo Eisa is always a player I have admired. I feel he would link up well with Bishop and become a dynamite partnership. Fancy sending him to us on loan in January?
Have your expectations for the season changed after the signing of Colby Bishop
When we signed Bishop, it was seen by fans as a massive statement signing. Bishop was a player I highlighted us to sign for the past few seasons on the PO4cast, our weekly podcast. Signing Bishop made me think we could be a top-six team this season and so far, he has nine goals in League One, despite limited service.
Which Portsmouth game are you most looking forward to this season?
Our last away game of the season is Derby County away and I will be travelling up for the weekend for an away day weekend with my mates.
The Dons have had a poor start to the season considering the highs that were achieved last season, where do you think the Dons will finish in League One this year?
I predicted you to come second this season and underestimated the loss of Scott Twine and Harry Darling would have to your season. I liked the recruitment of Dawson Devoy, but it looks like he has not found his way with you yet.
Although Liam Manning did a great job last season, a change in manager might be needed to kick-start your season. A mid-table finish should be achievable with the squad you have.
Looking at your squad you have a solid midfield partnership when at full strength. Are you concerned if injuries in that area arise?
Pompey has had serious issues in midfield this season with Pack, Lowery, Louis Thompson and Joe Morrell all having time out with injuries.
Morell is currently playing at the World Cup with Wales, Thompson is injured and Lowery is still coming back from injury. It has been a huge problem.
Thank you for participating, it helps us get a stronger understanding of the opposition! Finally, what do you think the score will be?
Maybe I am being a bit cynical, but MK Dons have the lowest expected goals in League One this season. Mix that in with Pompey’s lack of creating chances I am predicting an enthralling 0-0. However, if Pompey can use Tuesday’s win as a springboard maybe, we can avoid the replay