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Portsmouth 0 City 0

I was away in Rome for a few days until Sunday and only managed to catch the second half of this game but from what I saw (and subsequent) reports it looked to be a decent game between two useful sides who were creative and had something about them going forward, but primarily were concerned that the opposition could hurt them and sought to avoid defeat.

In the post match interviews, both sets of management talked about the need to keep things 'compact' - Portsmouth to nulify Elano and Petrov, and ourselves to keep it tighter at the back and put more pressure on their defence.

Perhaps that was a reason why Vassell was preferred up front to Mpenza, leaving Bianchi once again fixed firmly onto the bench whilst Richards came back into the side and young Fernandes replaced Johnson alongside Didi Hamman.

It looked overall to be job well done, and I wrote in The Observer it was important to pick up a point away at home to a side in the group of sides challenging us for a European spot - and a third clean sheet was another bonus after the Chelsea game, particularly coming against a side who have been free flowing in scoring goals at home.

Joe Hart took most of the plaudits and for me he looks to be firming his grip on the number 1 jersey with each performance, whilst the defence was as solid as we have come to expect. Fernandes slotted in well in place of Johnson, but as gainly as Vassell plays, for me he doesn't have the confidence needed for a striker.

Look at most top strikers and they want to score, believe they will score and have the utmost of confidence, wheras Vassell almost looks afraid to miss - explaining why he didn't attack the ball from Petrov and ended up making a hash of what should have been a goal and perhaps all three points.

Still, a point is a good return from a difficult place to go to and somewhere we have not fared well in the past and again keeps us in the Champions League positions with a pair of games (Reading at home and Wigan away) after the international break that are very winnable.