The Insider: Carabao Cup exploits could force Oxford to shuffle things around against Portsmouth
Oxford Mail chief sports writer, David Pritchard, gives the lowdown on Pompey’s next League One opponents Oxford…
Oxford’s start to the season has certainly surpassed expectations.
The hope was they’d be in the top half of the table.
But it’s been a level above that so far this term.
They’re currently on an 11-game unbeaten run, which is the best run for about four years.
There have been some big wins in there as well, it’s been excellent so far.
They came past Sunderland on penalties this week to reach the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 32 years.
The run has been great in that particular competition when you factor in they beat West Ham as well.
But so far they haven’t been distracted by it.
And I think it will continue to be that way.
They’ve drawn Manchester City in the next round.
But that game is six weeks away and they played Pep Guardiola’s side at home in the competition last season, so there will not be a novelty factor.
The biggest concern heading to Pompey will be how intense the game against Sunderland was.
A few players looked like they were going on fumes by the end of it.
Karl Robinson now faces a job to get them back up to speed for the trip to Fratton Park.
He could face some decisions in terms of some big players heading to Pompey.
That’s the bigger concern for Oxford as opposed to a cup quarter-final with Man City to come.
They’ve already played 21 games so far this season, so Robinson may well shuffle things around to keep players fresh.
The U’s will not be taking Pompey lightly, though.
The past two trips to Fratton Park have been ones to forget.
They had quite a torrid afternoon away from home last season.
But the fact it’s a big atmosphere at Pompey could help get some of those with tired legs in the squad through the game.
James Henry has been a standout since arriving at the club in the summer of 2017.
He was joint top scorer in his season, led the way last term and already got eight in the current campaign.
The former Millwall and Wolves man is a good operator at this level.
Henry is a calm head who scores all types of goals and worth his weight in gold for Oxford.
Tarique Fosu-Henry is another that’s been a sensation this season.
The 23-year-old struggled at Charlton last term, but Robinson seems to get the best out of him.
The pair worked together at The Valley and he’s already got eight goals this season.
They’ve been two of the standouts in what has been a fine start for Oxford.