Will Luckett assesses the pre-match talking points ahead of Pompey’s trip to Shrewsbury Town tomorrow...
Expect a game of few goals
Don’t predict fireworks at New Meadow.
Two well-organised sides go toe-to-toe and it has all the makings to be a game of chess that might be decided by one goal.
Shrewsbury Town have been the surprise package this term.
They brag the second-best defensive record in League One and have conceded just 14 goals from 22 games, which has been the key factor behind why they sit second in the table.
What’s more impressive is their form on their own patch.
Shrewsbury have made New Meadow a fortress having collected eight wins, one draw and a single loss – and have conceded just four goals.
Meanwhile, Kenny Jackett’s troops have also been difficult to break down this term, especially in recent weeks.
Pompey have the fifth-best defensive record in the third tier and have delivered four successive clean sheets in defeats of Bury, Charlton Athletic, Northampton Town and Plymouth Argyle.
It’s probably going to be a clash that won’t linger in supporters’ minds down the line for being a footballing classic.
But it could be one for the game’s purists with a moment of magic, a referee decision or a defensive gaffe proving the defining moment.
The side in form
Pompey head up to Shropshire buoyed with confidence and belief.
In their past six matches, Jackett’s men have clinched 15 points from a possible 18.
The victory at Charlton was highly impressive and well deserved.
What’s more, it highlighted the Blues are not just capable of defeating teams above them in the table, but also on the road.
And although the success against basement side Bury wasn’t pretty, it was job done and a banana skin avoided.
Only Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic have taken more points than Pompey in the same period.
In contrast, Shrewsbury’s momentum has slightly jettisoned in the past few weeks.
They started the season in rampant form and went unbeaten in their first 15 games.
However, their form in the past six matches in League One reads two wins, a draw, and three defeats.
Hurst’s men suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Bury last month, as well as having their unbeaten streak at home blotted by Bradford.
Christian Burgess is adamant the Blues can get the better of any side in the league and Jacket’s troops will have their tails up at New Meadow.
Start of the hectic schedule
‘Tis the season for mince pies, sherry and, generally, filling your face with food & drink.
That’s not the case for a professional footballer, however.
They can’t have that extra piece of Christmas pudding or that one more beer when on the verge of explosion.
Instead, they have to stay well disciplined for what is arguably the most crucial stage of the season.
Pompey’s visit to Shrewsbury will kick off a stretch of seven games in four weeks.
A busy schedule could see Jackett rotate his squad to get the best from his players.
Therefore, it means some of his troops on the fringes may get the opportunity to prove themselves to their boss.
The Blues have also been boosted by Oli Hawkins’ return, while Kal Naismith is back running and nearing full fitness.
Jackett needs his side to be as saturated as possible if Pompey are to maintain their solid form.
A successful festive period could even cannon his men into the play-off places.