AFC Bournemouth will make the short trip to Fratton Park today to face local rivals Portsmouth in the FA Cup 4th round.
Bournemouth, who sit 16th in the Premier League, are favourites to progress to the next round, while the hosts, Portsmouth currently occupy 5th position in League 2. However, rewind back to just 8 years ago and it was all very different.
Portsmouth, an established club in the Premier League, who finished eighth in the year of 2008, went on to win their first FA Cup in the modern era, beating Cardiff 1-0 at Wembley Stadium thanks to a goal from Nwankwo Kanu. The team, which consisted of house hold names such as David James, Sol Campbell and Sulley Muntari certainly had the wind in their sails.
Bournemouth on the other hand, finished 21st in League One which ultimately meant relegation to the Fourth Tier of English football. They were deducted 10 points by the Football League as debts mounted to around £4 million. Their FA Cup exploits only reached the second round as they were defeated 2-1 away from home by Millwall FC. It was very realistic that AFC Bournemouth may be liquidated.
Fast forward 8 years and the tables have certainly turned.
Bournemouth Manager, Eddie Howe and defender Sylvain Distin both return to their former club, hoping to win at a stadium, they know too well. With Distin saying he only knows the kit man, from his time at Pompey, revealing that the pair constantly tussled due to their liking of wrestling.
Eddie Howe had a career to forget at Portsmouth, spent blighted with injuries. After Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth manager at the time) decided to sign Eddie Howe for a measly £400,000, his career ended before it even began. Shortly after making his appearance for Pompey, the blonde haired defender, was hit with an immediate blow to his knee, which ruled him out for the rest of the season. In his second season at the club, Eddie Howe last a mere 9 minutes in his second game after injuring his knee for the second time, which again, ruled him out for the rest of the season.
Howe hopes to have a bit more luck on his side when the two South Coast clubs lock horns for the first time in three years. Asked whether club captain, Tommy Elphick will make his long awaited return, after being ruled out since the 12th September, he confirmed that the 5’11 centre back, will indeed be involved in the action. Unfortunately, this game comes too soon for Junior Stanislas and Tokelo Rantie as both are ruled out through injury. Howe confirmed that he will take the game very seriously and is expecting a tough game. He has the ability to rotate the squad as the games come thick and fast with the Premier League returning on Tuesday.
But before thoughts of the Premier League, they The Cherries face this game against the local rivals, one that could potentially ignite a long awaited cup run. There is certainly interest in this game with the prize for the winner, a place in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
The match kicks off at Fratton Park at 3pm.