Scout report: How Sunderland can learn from Wembley heartache and stop free-scoring Portsmouth's dynamic attack
It is potentially Sunderland's biggest league fixture of the season when Portsmouth come to The Stadium of Light - but what should the Black Cats expect?
Sunderland have already lost twice to Pompey this season, losing 3-1 at Fratton Park in the league back in December and on penalties at Wembley in the EFL Trophy final in March.
Pompey sit in 3rd, just two points ahead of Sunderland and two points off Barnsley who sit in the last automatic promotion spot, a win for either side would keep those hopes alive or mean that they avoid the inform Charlton Athletic in the playoffs.
So what will Sunderland be able to expect on Saturday? How will Portsmouth play? Who are their key men? What is their current form?
Let’s take a look in our detailed scout report:
What system will Portsmouth play?
Manager Kenny Jackett sends his team out to score goals and they are the second highest scorers this season with 79 goals, only being outscored by Luton’s 86 goals.
Averaging 1.84 goals per game and a goal every 49 minutes, they will be tough for Sunderland to keep out.
Pompey however have the worst defensive record of the current top 5, conceding 46 goals, four more than the 42 Sunderland have conceded.
Jackett likes to line his teams up in a similar fashion to how Jack Ross has at times with a back four, two holding midfielders with a number 10, two wingers and a centre forward.
Oliver Hawkins, scorer of the winning penalty at Wembley offers a big presence up front to bring Pompey's attacking midfielders into play.
Who are Portsmouth's key players?
The line of players that sit behind Hawkins have been pivotal to Pompey this season, with four players who have scored 10 or more goals Sunderland’s back line will have to work hard to keep out Brett Pitman, Jamal Lowe, Ronan Curtis and Gareth Evans, with the quintet scoring 46 goals this season between them.
Tom Naylor and Ben Close have both proved themselves as holding midfielders in the second half of the season, providing plenty of balls forward to the attacking line.
PFA team of the year for League One player Matt Clarke has also proven that he is no easy feat for strikers to face up against this season despite Portsmouth's conceded goals.
Do Portsmouth have any injury worries?
Cardiff loanee Omar Bogle has been ruled out for the rest of the normal season following a knee and ankle injury following Pompey's game against Burton on good Friday.
The striker had scored four goals in twelve appearances since joining the Fratton park club on loan.
His absence however could see former Black Cats player James Vaughan come into the fold having came off the bench in Pompey's 2-1 win against Coventry City.
Who is Portsmouth’s manager and what can we expect from them?
Kenny Jackett took charge at Pompey before the start of the 2017/18 season following Paul Cook’s departure to Wigan Athletic.
His first season in charge saw him take the club to an 8th place finish, ending five points off the playoffs following the sides promotion from League Two.
Jackett has previous in League One having guided Wolves to champions in 2014 and Millwall to a playoff final win in 2010, he has also won the EFL Trophy this season and once before in its previous incarnation as the Football League Trophy in 2006 when he was in charge of Swansea City.
What form have Portsmouth been in?
Since losing 2-1 at Charlton in early March, Pompey have been on a seven game winning run in the league and have averaged 2.5 goals a game ever since.
Previous to the defeat at Charlton they beat relegated Bradford City 5-1 to snap a run of eight games without a win in the league (3L D5) which stretched from January 12th to March 2nd.
It was their first win since a 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon on new year's day.
Last six league games: WWWWWW