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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Portsmouth eye Chelsea clean sheet record

Portsmouth will equal Chelsea's record of six consecutive clean sheets at the start of a Premiership season if they can keep out Sam Allardyce's Bolton at Fratton Park.

It means so much to David James, the 36-year-old goalkeeper whose £1.2million move to Pompey from Manchester City in the summer raised a few eyebrows.

The player previously tagged 'Calamity' James has excelled at Fratton Park, defying Blackburn, his former club City, Middlesbrough, Wigan and Charlton.

But Pompey midfielder Sean Davis thinks the bigger tests to come - including the battle with Bolton.

'All the players are aware of the clean-sheets record,' said Davis, the former Tottenham and Fulham star.

'Especially `Jamo' of course, although strikers usually don't care that much so long as they score and their team wins.

'But Pedro Mendes and I, as defensive midfielders, are very pleased with that record and want to keep it going as long as we can.

'But it is always a tough game against Bolton. They are a hard-working team and have a lot of quality as well.

'So if we are not at the races we are not going to get anything out of them. It was quite hard in training last week because, obviously, the gaffer put out a different team at Mansfield in the Carling Cup. There's been more focus over the weekend

'But I think it is because we have so many in the squad this season that we've done so well. We must have now 21, 22 good players - all of whom can step in and do a job.

'So if you have a bad game you could easily find yourself on the bench - or not even that - for the next one.

'I think everyone is pushing for places and so if you've got the shirt you have to try to keep it.'

Davis arrived at Portsmouth last January in a £7.5million joint move with Spurs team-mates Mendes and Noe Pamarot, but admits he was not at his best then.

Davis added: 'I've missed the last two pre-seasons with injuries and so to get one under my belt and start at full steam straight away I've really enjoyed it.

'We are playing a basic 4-4-2 with a lot of communication. There are some old heads on young shoulders and everybody is pushing in the right direction.

'The back four are defending very well but it is a collective thing and we are all very interested in the stats which we get up and study after every game.

'(Nicolas) Anelka has scored at every level and is a great buy for Bolton. They get the ball forward quickly and can score from every angle so that will suit him.

'They are also good at set-pieces and a good strike-force, but if we keep working our socks off we should, in front of our supporters, have enough to get the points.

'But we won't get carried away. We'll just keep doing what we are doing and see how far it takes us.'

Davis feels a good pre-season has helped him match the team's improvement on a personal level.

He said: 'I feel I'm getting what I deserve now. It has meant so much to me to have a pre-season. If you don't get one you are playing catch-up with your fitness all year.

'I came in to do a bit of extra training in the summer and there was a little bit of banter about my top but I can take it because, if you ask the rest of the lads, they will tell you I hand out more stick than I receive.

'There is a lot of experience in the side now, with the signings of Dave James and Sol Campbell etc but they are easy to get along with. They have fitted in straight away and joined in the banter.

'We don't exactly go out to dinner together all the time. When you have time to spare you want to spend it with your family, but there is a good buzz around the place.