Pompey will look to put in a similar performance to the one they did against Plymouth on Saturday to earn three points at Fratton Park.  Although the Blues failed to come away from Home Park with a win, their performance was good enough to beat any team in the division other than the Pilgrims.  Plymouth had to rely on a 90th minute Connor Smith equaliser to salvage a point from a match in which they were dominated for large parts of the game, and if Pompey can play to the same standard on Saturday they should prove too much for Notts County.

The opposition:

Recent form:
Notts County are currently perfectly in the middle of the League Two table in twelfth place.  They have so far been fairly inconsistent, having picked up three wins, three draws, and three defeats from their opening 13 league games.  However, their recent form has been less than impressive as they are currently on a run of three league games without a win.

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One to watch:
Jon Stead has started the season in scintillating form, having scored nine goals already this term.  He is the Magpies’ main goalscoring outlet and they will be largely relying on him for a positive result at Fratton Park.  Pompey will need to ensure that they keep him quiet on Saturday as, if they can keep his chances to a minimum, there aren’t too many others in the side who Paul Cook will be fearful of going forward.

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Tactics:
The Magpies play a 4-4-2 system under John Sheridan which sees ex-Newcastle man, Adam Campbell, partner Stead up front.  It will be interesting to see whether Sheridan sticks to his tactics on Saturday or whether he sacrifices one of his front men for an extra midfielder like he did last season when he was managing Newport County.  I think we may be in for a slightly boring match on Saturday as County make it their mission to kill the game.

We’ve seen you before…:
Carl Dickinson will probably line up at left-back for Notts County, returning to the club where he spent two loan spells between 2010 and 2012.  He appeared for Pompey in both the Championship and in League One and divided the opinion of the Fratton faithful.  Nobody could fault Dickinson’s effort while at Pompey, but his natural ability often left much to be desired.

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Pompey:

Recent form:
The Blues have put in mixed performances recently, having lost to Blackpool and Doncaster, beaten Barnet and Leyton Orient, and drawn with Plymouth in the last five league games.  The last two matches against Orient and Plymouth were both very positive performances and the Blues need to continue that form at Fratton Park on Saturday.

Tactics:
Amine Linganzi has found himself staring the last two matches and has put in solid performances, but Danny Rose came on as a substitute for him against Plymouth and scored a great goal which could easily have led to Pompey winning the match.  It will be interesting to see whether Paul Cook keeps faith with the Congolese midfielder or whether Rose earns a recall to the starting lineup.  With the exception of the possible change in central midfield, I am expecting an unchanged team to be picked on Saturday.  Here is my predicted lineup:

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Predictions:

Score prediction:
Last time Notts County travelled to Fratton Park they fell to a 4-0 defeat, and I can see a similar result on Saturday.  Sheridan could try and kill the match, playing very deep and holding on for a draw, and I think this style of play is unlikely to work against Pompey with creative players such as Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts, and Carl Baker being able to punish any mistakes in the backline.

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Kyle Bennett (image courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com)

Man of the Match prediction:
Bennett found himself on the score sheet and the winner of the man of the match award at Home Park, and I think the ex-Doncaster man could star again this weekend.  He scored twice in the 4-0 thrashing of the Magpies last season and he may well be too good for their defence once again this weekend.

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First goalscorer prediction:
I think Carl Baker could find himself on the scoresheet on Saturday.  He has a knack for popping up inside the penalty area to score, and with Notts County’s defence often struggling to clear balls into the box comprehensively, Baker might find himself with an opportunity to convert a loose ball past the goalkeeper.

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