Pompey have some work to do to get themselves back into this tie. They trail 1-0 from their trip to the Stadium of Light in the first leg of this semi-final. This was always going to be a tight scrap between two very good teams. Can Portsmouth mount a response back at home? They may get a chance to, with the Black Cats having struggled for away results at the end of the regular season. Read our Portsmouth v Sunderland betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on May 12th, 2019 at 3:28 p.m.)
Pompey produced a W12 D7 L4 record at home across the course of the regular season. They are going to need to call on all of their home strengths of theirs. They were doing great at Fratton Park at the end of the regular season. They were on a four-match winning streak (seven undefeated) before a 2-3 reverse there against Peterborough in their final home game of the term. They closed out the season by scoring at least two goals in each of their last five home fixtures. In total, they averaged 1.8 goals per home game this season in their League One campaign. They conceded under a goal per game.
So this is still likely to be a tight game. Pompey took a clean sheet in 30% of their home games, which was a great effort. They did fail to get one in any of their final four at Fratton Park through this season. In total, home and away Portsmouth did not get a clean sheet in any of their last seven games. Pompey though scored in each of their final dozen games of the campaign. Of the twelve home wins that they recorded this season, eight of them were by a one-goal margin. Pompey scored 71% of their home goals for the season in the second period of fixtures, scoring the opening goal in 12 of their 23 home fixtures.
The Black Cats shook off a little slump in end of season form to give themselves an advantage in this tie. They failed to win any of their final four regular season games, taking the two points only in that sequence. Sunderland took just one win in their final seven games of the campaign. The Black Cats posted a W10 D9 L4 away record for the season in the division and interestingly they did struggle for away wins at teams in the top half of the table. Sunderland posted a W2 D6 L3 record this season in such matches.
The Black Cats took one point from their final three away games of the season and they failed to take a clean sheet in any of their last four on the road. They do have a positive of having scored in each of their last eleven games now, including the first leg of this semi-final. Of the four away defeats that Sunderland suffered this season, three of them were by a one-goal margin. They closed out their away campaign with back to back 2-1 defeats at Fleetwood and Southend. Of the goals which they shipped on their travels, 68% of them happened after the halftime break in game. Sunderland scored 65% of their away goals in the second half of games. They did open the scoring 14 road games for the season.
Given the pressure of the situation, this is likely going to be another tight scrap between the two teams. There is enough in Portsmouth’s form at home to hint that they will be working their way back into this tie. Portsmouth to win by a one-goal margin.
13th May 2019 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
Sunderland have the chance at getting themselves back up to the second tier, but the fallen giant struggled for form down the back stretch of the season. Portsmouth finished three points above them in the play-off places but they too saw their winning touch desert them at the end of the season. Read our Sunderland v Portsmouth betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on May 5th, 2019 at 4:56 p.m.)
So this will be an interesting clash as neither were particularly in great form at the end of the season. After such a strong and powerful campaign for pretty much its entirety, Sunderland ran out of steam about midway through April. They posted just one victory in their last seven games of the season, losing three of those. They closed out the season with back-to-back 2-1 away defeats at Fleetwood and Southend. The home record of Sunderland was highly impressive during the regular season as the Black Cats produced a W12 D10 L1 home record. They remained undefeated all the way through to their third-from-last home fixture of the season when they were toppled by Coventry in a thrilling 5-4 defeat.
Sunderland did manage to score in each and every home game played and they closed out the season on a 10 match scoring streak, home and away combined. So that is a big strength of theirs and they averaged exactly 2 goals per home game across the course of the season. But it is interesting to see that during the regular season Sunderland only claimed three victories in their 11 games against the final top 12 (D7 L1). Sunderland conceded just over a goal per game at home across the course of the season. Of the goals which they did concede home, 64% of them were conceded in the first-half of fixtures. Seven of their 12 wins at the Stadium of Light were by a margin of at least two goals during the regular season. Sunderland opened the scoring in 12 of their 23 home fixtures. Sunderland finished the regular season with the joint third highest tally of goals and the fourth best defensive record in League One.
Three of the last four league meetings have ended in a draw
There have been back to back 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light
Both teams have scored in each of the last eight meetings
Sunderland are winless in three at home against Pompey
Portsmouth had some powerful form during their run in. From the start of March, they produced eight wins in their final 12 fixtures of the season (D2 L2). That was some finish from them and at one point they put together a seven-match winning streak, scoring a least two goals in each of those seven victories. Overall during the regular season, Portsmouth produced an away record of W13 D6 L4. However their away record against the other top six finishers at the end of the season was just a winless D3 L2 return. So Pompey did struggle their away games against the better sides in the division which makes this fascinating. Out on their travels during the regular season, Portsmouth averaged 1.8 goals per away game and 61% of all of their road fixtures went over 2.5 goals.
Because of a lack of clean sheets across the course of the season, that played a part in some high-scoring away fixtures for Portsmouth. Pompey claimed a clean sheet in just 17% of away games and both teams scored in 78% of their away fixtures. Portsmouth scored in each of their last 11 away games of the season but they claimed just the one clean sheet in their last 14 games out on the road. Home and away combined Pompey have no clean sheet in their last seven games. Of their 13 away wins posted during the regular season, 10 of them were by a one-goal margin. Portsmouth are leading at the halftime break in 12 of their 23 away fixtures. They conceded 66% of their away goals in the second period of games
There should be a really evenly matched contest over the two legs between these two. The home record from Sunderland across the course of the season cannot be ignored at all, but Portsmouth have the scoring power to trouble them. The draw in this first leg has the most appeal in the match outright.
8th May 2019 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
This is a big game for both of these. Portsmouth still have a good chance at claiming automatic promotion this season. If they win on Tuesday night that leaves them one point behind the top two heading into the final weekend of action. As for Peterborough, they will move to within one point of the play-off spots if they can grab the victory. Read our Portsmouth v Peterborough betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on April 28th, 2019 at 7:12 p.m.)
This is a high tension game at this stage of the season. On the weekend Portsmouth picked up a point away at Sunderland to keep their hopes of automatic promotion going. A win in this and they move up to within one point of the top two leaving a great opportunity open for them in the final weekend of action. Portsmouth are a team who have been in fantastic form as they were on a seven-match winning streak in League One before their draw against Sunderland on the weekend.
Portsmouth are on a four-match winning streak on home soil and they are undefeated in their last seven on the South coast. They have scored at least two goals in each of their last four home games and they are currently on a 10 match scoring streak in the league, home and away combined.
Overall this season Portsmouth have taken a home record of W12 D6 L3 and they have averaged 1.8 goals per home fixture. It is not only the scoring power which they have produced but they have been tight in defence as well. Portsmouth have conceded at under a goal per game on home soil and less than half of their home games have gone over 2.5 goals.
In total Portsmouth have taken a clean sheet in 33% of their home fixtures. Going back to their scoring Portsmouth have scored at least two goals in seven of their last eight games, home and away. Of the 12 home wins which they have picked, up eight of them have been by a two goal margin at least. The negative for Portsmouth is that they have no clean sheet in their last five League One fixtures.
Portsmouth earned a 2-1 away win at Peterborough earlier this season
That is back-to-back league wins for Portsmouth over Peterborough which they have taken
Portsmouth have won five of the last six meetings in all competitions
Both teams have scored in just two of their last six meetings in all competitions
This is equally as big of a game for Peterborough. They missed big chance on the weekend as they lost 3-0 away at the relegation-threatened Walsall. Peterborough have not been having the greatest of time out on the road as they have lost three of their last five away from home, winning one of those. Overall this season they have recorded a decent enough W10 D5 L7 record on their travels it has just fallen apart a bit for them really since Christmas. Six of their seven away defeats have come since Boxing Day in the league.
They have scored well away from home this season as they average 1.7 goals per road fixture. But they have conceded at an average of 1.5 per game. 59% of Peterborough’s away games have ended over 2.5 goals. Of the goals which Boro have conceded away from home this season 72% have been shipped in the second period of fixtures.
Peterborough have opened the scoring in 12 of their 22 away games and they have scored two-thirds of their away goals in the second half of games. Of the seven away defeats which they have suffered this season, five of them have been by a at least a two-goal margin. If they don’t get the win out of this game, the chance at the top six finish will pass them by.
Portsmouth to win and both teams to score at 9/4 odds
Over 2.5 goals at 7/10
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on April 28th, 2019 at 7:12 p.m.)
It is really make or break for both of these in this game as both desperately need a victory to reach their own targets. However it is Portsmouth who are the ones with the stronger form at the moment and with them having home soil, it is the home win in the match outright which has the most appeal.
29th April 2019 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
There is a Cup Final to look forward to on Sunday as League One sides Portsmouth and Sunderland will face off at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final. It’s going to be a big day out for both and with little to choose between them in league action this season, it should be a great battle. Read our Portsmouth v Sunderland betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on March 27th, 2019 at 2:51 p.m.)
Pompey are on a good promotion push then in then in League One and have the chance to try and secure some silverware. Kenny Jackett’s men have just started to come back into form, importantly at the right time then for this final. They were on an eight-match winless streak of form (D6 L2) across all competitions. But they have stepped it up to a W5 L1 record in their last six played and that run started with an FA Trophy semi-final win over Bury at the end of February. Pompey have won all seven games played in this season’s tournament, collecting a clean sheet in five of those. Pompey scored at least two goals in five of their seven FA Trophy games this season. This is Pompey’s first ever appearance in the final of this particular competition.
Portsmouth beat Sunderland 3-1 in league action in December
Pompey are undefeated in their last seven against Sunderland
Both teams have scored in each of the last six meetings
Sunderland have won only one of their last ten against Portsmouth in all competitions
The Black Cats are right up on the heels of Portsmouth inside the top four in League One, trailing Pompey by one point, but having two games in hand over the third-placed side. Sunderland saw off Bristol Rovers in their semi-final clash and that moved them on to a six-match winning streak (90 minutes) in this season’s competition. In their first group stage game of this season’s tournament, they played out a 0-0 draw with Stoke but won on penalties. Sunderland have conceded just one goal in their seven FA Trophy matches this season. The Mackems are on a long undefeated streak of form in all competitions at the moment. It is 19 match unbeaten streak they are on currently. They have won five of their last seven played. In that seven-game sequence, they have conceded just the two goals. This is Sunderland’s first ever FA Trophy final.
You have two very good defensive sides going up against each other here. Given the occasion as well, it is likely to be a little bit cagey. Therefore a low scoring game should play itself out at Wembley. It’s tough to pick a winner, but Pompey do have head to head form going over Sunderland.
28th March 2019 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
Championship side QPR could only manage a 1-1 draw down on the south coast in the first attempt at settling this FA Cup tie. Pompey, who are from League One, now get the tricky task of having to try and finish this away from home. Did they miss their chance at home? The winner is at home against Watford in the next round. Read our QPR v Portsmouth betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on February 2nd, 2019 at 9:12 p.m.)
QPR were on their way out of the FA Cup away at Portsmouth. Fortunately for them, Nahki Wells came up with an equalizer with 15 minutes to go. QPR were on top in the match, but they didn’t create as much going forward as they probably should have. But now back on home soil at Loftus Road, they will be expected to drive forward. QPR have posted a W3 D1 L1 record in their last five home fixtures. They pulled off an upset at home against Championship leaders Leeds in the last round. They haven’t been short of goals have QPR, as they have scored at least two goals in five of their last seven at Loftus Road. The last time that QPR played host to Portsmouth was back in the 2011 championship, with the R’s earning a 2-0 victory. QPR are actually undefeated in their last 13 home fixtures against Portsmouth.
Pompey could well be meeting QPR up in the Championship next season. That is because they are on a good promotion push in League One at the moment. There is a bit of a question mark over their form though because Pompey have earned one win in their last six games in all competition. That victory was a 1-0 away win at Championship side Norwich in the last round of the FA Cup. Their away form doesn’t made particularly great reading either. They have earned two wins only in their last six on the road. But there is a positive for Pompey in that they have scored in all but one of their away games in all competitions this season. This will be their fourth away game of this season’s FA Cup having won each of the other three (against Maidenhead, Rochdale and then Norwich) with a clean sheet.
QPR should just have enough on home soil at Loftus Road to close out this FA Cup replay. It may well again be a tight battle between the two but we are sticking with a home side to get the victory by a one-goal margin at 13/5 odds* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on February 2nd, 2019 at 9:12 p.m.)
4th February 2019 / lee - Category: FA Cup & League Cup Betting
There is a top clash going down on Tuesday night in League 1 as league leaders Pompey look to make it five straight league wins. This is a game in hand they have over second-placed Luton and a win opens up a nine-point lead over the Hatters. Charlton were on a great winning streak before losing at Blackpool on the weekend. Read our Portsmouth v Charlton betting tips for more.
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on December 11th, 2018 at 3:11 p.m.)
Portsmouth won again on the weekend as they took a solid 2-0 home success over Southern. That made it four straight league wins for them. It also extended their unbeaten league form to eight, winning six of those. All season long Portsmouth have only suffered the one defeat in League One. Their home form for the season reads W6 D3 L1. They have come up with 18 goals and have conceded just the eight in their ten home fixtures this term. 60% of their games at home have ended up under 2.5 goals. Both teams have scored in less than half of their home games. In half of their home fixtures this season in the league, Portsmouth have banked a clean sheet.
67% of their home goals have been scored in the second half of fixtures. They have been good at getting themselves in front as well. They have scored the first goal of the game in all but three of their home fixtures this season. Portsmouth have also been leading at the halftime break in exactly half of their home games. If they can extend their winning streak on Tuesday night in the league then they will move a massive nine points clear at the top of the table over their nearest challengers Luton.
Pompey and Charlton traded 1-0 away wins last season
Each of the last four league meetings have ended in a 1-0 away win
Each of the last five in all competitions have ended in a 1-0 away win
Charlton go into the game sitting in seventh place in the league. They could climb up to fifth with a win in this tough road game. They were away from home on the weekend and suffered a 2-1 defeat at Blackpool who moved level on points with them. That snapped a good four-match winning streak of form that Charlton had been on. Still, they have won five of their last eight league games, posting a W5 D1 L2 record in that sequence of fixtures. Charlton have banked an away record of W4 D2 L4 this season in the league
They have failed to win any of their three away games against sides currently in the top flight (D1 L2) though. Of all of their away games this season 60% of their away games have gone over 2.5 goals. They have netted at least two goals in four of their last five fixtures so have been a threat in front of goal. The Addicks are on a five-match scoring streak in the league. They have scored first in six of their ten road games, which is really good. Charlton have also been leading at halftime in five of their ten away games in the league. They do only have the two clean sheets out on their travels.
Portsmouth should just have the edge, especially on home soil. Pompey are playing some superb stuff at the moment and it’s going to be hard for the Addicks to get anything out of this away game, especially after their loss at Blackpool on the weekend. Home win.
10th December 2018 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
League Two leaders Doncaster step out into action on Thursday night to try and extend their last at the top of the table. However, they are going into a tough game against the in-form Pompey who have promotion ambitions of their own as they start the game in fourth place. But Doncaster are unbeaten in their last 12 league home matches now so will take some stopping. But then you have Pompey who have gone unbeaten in their last eight league games out on the road. This should be a mammoth clash at the Keepmoat Stadium on Tuesday night. Doncaster are 8/5 for the wine, that the draw at 5/2 and Portsmouth at 7/4.
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Tough game coming up for Doncaster who step out against Pompey on Thursday night. Rovers have posted an unbeaten W9 D3 record at home this season in the league, part of the reason why they are running for promotion. They are on a four match winning streak on home soil and have won six of their last seven there (D1) so are going to take some stopping. Five of their last seven home wins though have only been by the one goal margin and Doncaster to win by a one goal margin at Bet365 will return a price of 7/2. Their last two League Two wins on home soil have been by a 1-0 scoreline and each of their last three wins home and away in the league have been but that result. A Doncaster 1-0 correct score returns a quote of 7/1 with bookmaker Bet365 for this one.
Rovers have actually failed to win any of their last four at home against Portsmouth in a D1 L3 record so this may not be all cut and dry. Home and away against Pompey, Rovers have won two of their last six meetings and one of those did happen this season when they carded a 2-1 victory on the south coast against Pompey back at the start of October. Top scorer for Rovers this season is John Marquis with an 11 goal haul and he is a price of 3/2 in the Bet365 anytime goalscorer market with Andy Williams at 13/8. Liam Mandeville has seven goals in nine league appearances this season and is a 2/1 quote. So they have the firepower do Rovers. However, the game to go under 2.5 goals, as Doncaster have shipped just one goal in their last four league games, is a quote of 4/5 with bookmaker Bet365.
So there is nothing wrong with Pompey’s form at the moment. They are unbeaten in their last five home and away and out on the road in League Two they have put together an eight match unbeaten streak (W5 D3). So they are tripping long nicely although they were held to a 0-0 draw at Yeovil in their last away game. Overall this season Portsmouth have gone W6 D4 L2 on the road. They have been level at the break in nine of their 13 away games this season and just 31% of their away games in the league have gone over 2.5 goals so there may not be a lot of goals flying around in this one. Pompey have scored just the 14 way goals this season in 13 games, but they have netted three goals in two of their last four out on the road so there have been signs of increasing output. They can’t match the firepower of Doncaster at the moment, but they can certainly dig in with defensive discipline (four clean sheets in their last five) and make Rovers sweat.
This one has a low scoring draw written all over it, so have a shot at a 1-1 correct score. Doncaster have more to offer going forward in the game, but Pompey rarely give up much at the back. Pompey are defending a long unbeaten stretch of form away from home and they would probably be happy walking away from the south coast trip with a point in their pocket. Draw and under 2.5 goals.
4th January 2017 / lee - Category: League One / Two Betting
Manager: Gordon Strachan
Key Player: Kris Boyd
The Teesiders have undergone a revamp over the summer, with manager Gordon Strachan bolstering his already fairly talented and accomplished squad with some Scottish blood. We feel he’s made some promising additions, many of which he’s managed before while at Celtic. There are now no less than six Scottish players involved with Middlesbrough, all of which are likely to play a prominent role this seas as the club aim to bounce back to the premiership following a rather deflating 2009/2010 season spent in the Championship.
Strachan’s new signings include the prolific Kris Boyd, whom was sensational as a striker in the SPL with Kilmarnock and Rangers when scoring 164 goals in a decade, and Strachan has shown his belief in the Scotlan international by handing him the No. 9 shirt ahead of the new campaign, hinting that Boyd will be one of the first names on his team sheet. Boyd was followed in by Kevin Thomson, a former team-mate at Rangers, and both should have plenty to discuss with former Celtic players Stephen McManus, Willo Flood and Barry Robson. They’ll be some banter flying around in trainging that’s for sure, but that’s going to be a positive thing for everyone as Boro have been lacking some team spirit in recent campaigns but now have some steely individuals which are going to rally behind one another. It’s also pleasing to see such a variety now at The Riverside, ranging from the combative players like McManus, Robson and Wheater right through to those technically gifted individuals like Nicky Bailey, Justin Hoyte and Gary O’Neill. There’s a nice blend about Middlesbrough, a team far more compact and a lot more complete than they appeared at the beginning of last season and evidentially were, as their mediocre finish of 11th proved.
I know every club at this level will feel they deserve to be in the Premier League and that their club is ready-made for the big time, but with Middlesbrough those sentiments really do ring true. Especially now that both Newcastle United and Sunderland are playing at the highest level, it’s doubly important that Gordon Strachan gets the ball rolling as soon as possible and we feel he’s built up a team capable of achieving that goal this year. He has a stronger defence than last season, more craft and forward intent and purpose in the midfield but more importantly forwards that will score the 15+ goals they need to propel them up the table and into genuine promotion reckoning. We really like Middlesbrough this season, so much so we’ve had a few pounds on them clinching the title at shortish odds, so we hope they don’t disappoint.
Manager: Kenny Jackett
Key Player: Steve Morrison
The Lions earned their ticket back to the Championship via the League One play-off’s last season and it’s generally the team which gains promotion via that route which automatically becomes one of the favourites to head straight back the other way. Bookmakers, though, aren’t entirely convinced they will and neither are we. In a hugely competitive league such as this one, you need players which are willing to fight tooth and nail for every ball, for every bit of space and for every blade of grass. Millwall players naturally are born with these traits and it’s one of the reasons why bookmakers reckon they’ll fair alright in the Championship this season.
Millwall are one of a number of sides in this division never to have played in the Premiership, so do they have what it takes to become this seasons surprise package and follow in the unlikely steps of Blackpool last season. If anything Millwall are a bigger club than Blackpool and certainly have the better of the two squads, so in that case it’s not exactly mission impossible. Even so, the priority this season will be to avoid the drop and we think the players will focus on attaining as many wins as possible at The New Den, with an hostile crowd behind them in their favour, and grounding out points elsewhere. They’re a dogged bunch, as many Millwall sides have been in the past, and we think they’ll fair alright against this seasons opposition. There’s plenty of attacking options at Kenny Jackett’s disposal, with goal-getter Neil Harris still plugging away, Steve Morrison as committed as ever when it comes to getting into scoring positions while Kevin Lisbie has been brought in to add further options after completing a move from Ipswich. In fact, there’s just as many forwards at the club than any other position, which underlines the managers general approach to games. Jackett know full well that goals win you games and he’ll be setting his Millwall side up to score goals this season.
We have every faith in this Millwall team that by the end of the season they’ll still be a Championship side. There defence isn’t the most accomplished or talented in the league but like we’ve mentioned enough times already, Millwall are a rugged bunch and they’ll match anyone for spirit and determination this season. They’ll beat tough to beat, especially at The New Den, it’s all about their away form and how they cope with travelling to bigger venues and competing against better equipped sides.
Manager: Paul Lambert
Key Player: Wes Hoolahan
After a sluggish start, Norwich really took League One by storm and ended up winning the title convincingly. Nine points separated them from their nearest pursuer, Leeds United, while it was their consistent nature which evidentially insured that this season wouldn’t be spent in the discomfort of League One and instead in the brighter and prosperous Championship. The man which deserves a large portion of the credit is manager Paul Lambert, who joined at the very start of the season as the club was enduring a difficult start to the campaign but instantly transformer their fortunes. From then on Norwich were tremendously difficult to beat, most of the time simply impossible to even stop, and come the end routed League One. The Championship will be a different proposition altogether but the confidence should be high following a season which contained a staggering 29 league victories, but can they really come close to emulate the sort of form which clinched them the League One title last season against far stiffer opposition?
The bookmakers are quietly fancying Norwich’s chances or retaining their Championship status, which after gaining immediate promotion back to the league will be their foremost goal this season. The Canaries were very good last season, exceptional at times, but it’s unlikely they’ll have matters all their own way back in the Championship. They do nevertheless have some gifted individuals who will make them an attractive proposition this season. Wes Hoolahan has become a huge fan favourite and his darting runs, as well as his ability to find the corners of the goal with consummate ease, will be a problem for opposing defenders. But the main man will be Grant Holt, now the club captain, as he found scoring goals in the league below a breeze and it was his tally of 24 which helped Norwich take the division by storm. He was, though, amply assisted by Chris Martin, who bagged 15 league goals last season, and at 21 years-old is a promising young star for Norwich. Paul Lambert has made some interesting new additions though since the end of last season, with Gillingham favourite Simeon Jackson now adding to Norwich’s already flourishing forward options and also adding some flair and pace to their game, as Elliot Ward, Steven Smith, Andrew Surman, Andrew Crofts and John Ruddy all provide a fresh feel and will be pushing last seasons first-team regulars for a permanent role in Lambert’s starting eleven.
I do worry a little with Norwich City as while they do boast enough craft in the midfield, while Grant Holt is surely going to snap up anything in his proximity, there defence doesn’t fill me with a great deal of confidence. For starters they have a 21 year-old in goal, and while handing out experience to some of the supposedly keepers of the future is admirable, I always prefer experience over talent when it comes to goalkeeping. There’s going to be a great deal of responsibility falling onto the shoulders of their defensive veterans, the likes of Andrew Drury and Michael Nelson, to ensure whoever lines up alongside them, likely to be a player with very little Championship experience by the looks of it, remains focused throughout. They’ll probably do just enough but we wouldn’t back them as possible promotion candidates.
Manager: Billy Davies
Key Player: Radolsaw Majewski
It will be interesting to see how Nottingham Forest respond after coming so close to promotion last season. An exciting play-off semi-final encounter with Blackpool didn’t go their way and so despite finishing the best of the four play-off sides, Forest still find themselves stuck in the Championship and having to do it all over again.
Whether it’s because funds are tight at the moment we don’t know, but manager Billy Davies has done an awful lot in the transfer window other than bring Radoslaw Majewski back to the club following an impressive loan spell at the City Ground last season. The little schemer troubled defences with his jinxing little runs and sharp efforts on goals, and while the Polish international remains Davies’ only capture of the summer thus far, it’s a positive move nonetheless as Forest aim to go one better in 2010/2011. Billy Davies will however be without one player which played an instrumental role in aiding Forest to a third place finish last season, with James Perch sealing a move to Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee. The club were powerless to keep the centre back at the City ground for another season and it leaves Davies short of a quality centre half for the start of the new season. With the exception of Perch, Forest’s squad remains mainly unchanged.
I’m extremely disappointed that Davies hasn’t added to his squad over the summer, with a classy forward in particular needed. I’m not a fan of Dele Adebola while Nathan Tyson’s form comes and goes, as well as Robert Earnshaw not getting any younger, Forest desperately need to liven up their attack. Retaining the services of Majewski is a positive move from the club as he made a real impact last season, but the problem being Forest were too reliant on Earnshaw’s and Blackstock’s goals last season and if one, both even, don’t dig deep and hit a similar vein of form like they did last season, we see little in reserve which Davies can call upon. There’s no reason why the pair shouldn’t get in amongst the goals once again, while Forest played arguably the most attractive and appealing football of the lot last season. We just have our niggle of concerns, even if they are based on mere assumptions.
Manager: Steve Cotterill
Key Player: Aaron Mokoena
The number twelve shirt has officially been retired at the club because of the loyal and passionate support of the fans has been deemed the equivalent to the 12th man, and yet the irony is Portsmouth couldn’t fill that shirt regardless right now, as manager Steve Cotterill contemplates heading into the 2010/2011 season without any sort of squad and barely boasting eleven players to form a team. The clubs in a right old mess and Portsmouth FC are about to begin their slide down the English ladder it would seem following the departure of yet more of their stars over the summer in a bid to reduce both the size of their overall debts and their bumptious wage bill.
It must have been a rush of blood to the head which made Steve Cotterill leave his post at League One Notts County and take on the managerial role at Portsmouth, as it’s clear for all to see that the south coast side are a team which has already imploded and its he who is left to pick up the pieces. It’s got to the point where no-one actually knows whose at Portsmouth in terms of players and whose heading out the door. David James, Nadir Belhadj, Steve Finnan, Papa Bouba Diop and the most recent being Tel Ben Haim, have all jumped ship midway through the Portsmouth ship sinking. It is a shame as you’ll struggle to find a more passionate bunch of fans than Portsmouth’s, but the club only have themselves to blame and where avoiding the drop last season in the Premiership seemed impossible, the same can pretty much be said about their chances of doing the same despite playing against lower grade sides.
Too much quality has left the club with not a great deal, if anything at all, has come in the other way. It’s actually frightening to see the pace at which this once historic and traditional football club is dying. It’s also pretty uncommon, that is despite the financial unrest at which most clubs are in right now, for a club to drop down a division and not immediately be touted as possible promptipn candidates. That certainly isn’t Portsmouth and if Cotterill does somehow steer the club onto safe ground this season then a minor miracle will have occurred down South.
Manager: Darren Ferguson
Key Player: Chris Brown
Despite guiding Preston to just six wins in 24 games, the club have remained faithful in their relationship with manager Darren Ferguson, who took over at the club following Alan Irvine’s departure midway through last season and Ferguson’s sacking by Peterborough United. The latter fell flat on their face and were later relegated as Darren Ferguson landed on his feet at Preston. But more, a lot more in fact, will be expected from Ferguson this season, from Preston North End as a club and as a team, as this club should be challenging for promotion.
It was only two seasons ago in the 2008/2009 season that Preston were in the promotion play-off’s. They didn’t have much luck however but at least it was a positive step in the right direction for a club which has spent more time contemplating the drop than progression in recent campaigns. They’re in danger of following into a similar kind of lull and it’s down to the Scot to drag Preston North End out of it. He does boast a bigger squad than most but whether he has anything special or meaningful really does remain to be seen. Preston were dreadful at times last season and conceded more goals than any other team in the division last year, with the exception of bottom placed Peterborough and Scunthorpe, and Ferguson has tried to tighten up his defence with the signings of David Gray, Wayne Brown and former Sheffield United stalwart Craig Morgan. The latter looks interesting and useful addition and should settle in just nicely alongside captain Callum Davidson. Neil Mellor has gone out on loan meaning Paul Hayes, who completed his move from Scunthorpe during the summer, will need to form a budding partnership with Chris Brown and the beast, Jon Parkin, right from the off. Chris Sedgwick, Eddie Nolan and Ross Wallace are among those which seeked out employment elsewhere as Matthew James was brought on loan from Man Utd and Andreas Arestidou on a free transfer from Shrewsury.
We don’t feel Preston North End have strengthened enough over the summer to really be considered as promotion contenders this season. Paul Hayes has been brought in to score the goals but he was overshadowed at Scunthorpe by Gary Hooper and it was Hooper which earned himself a deal in the SPL with giants Celtic, as Hayes settled for a move to Preston. Without a regular goalscorer, someone who will account for at least fifth-teen of their goals this season, Preston will struggle to remain competitive, as in previous campaigns they’ve relied too heavily on goals coming from irregular sources. Criag Morgan should be a decent piece of business for them in defence, but their attack is still too weak for our liking.
5th August 2010 / Matt - Category: Championship Betting
Chelsea V Portsmouth
Saturday, 15th May – 15:00 (GMT)
LIVE on ITV1
It was only a few months ago that Carlo Ancelotti and Florent Malouda were joking about the Italian’s weight – all in good spirit of course, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Ancelotti is hungry… for Silverware of course. It was only a week ago, nearly to the day, when Chelsea clinched the Premier League crown with an emphatic 8-0 win at home to Wigan Athletic. Just six days later and they’re aiming to complete an historic double, thus becoming the first Chelsea team in their history to register a league and cup double should they beat Portsmouth at Wembley.
Not only will Chelsea become double champions were they to beat relegated Portsmouth at Wembley, the Blues of London would become the first team since 2002 to successfully defend their FA Cup trophy, with Arsenal being the last team to do so. The irony back then was Arsenal’s first win as part of that back-to-back success was against Chelsea, while their second was against a far weaker opponent in Southampton. It’s virtually the same, if not better, scenario for Chelsea in that Everton were the team they reigned victorious over last year and a cash-strapped, injury ravaged and relegated Portsmouth are the only thing standing in their way of completing the defence of their title.
The Chelsea team will no doubt head to Wembley in high spirit after their 8-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic last Sunday, thus becoming the first side since Tottenham Hotspur in the 60’s so surpass 100+ goals, although they are the very first to do so in the Premiership. It’s a tad strange because Carlo Ancelotti, while he’s always been a very good coach, has never been one to purposely build a formidable attacking unit, but with Chelsea everything seems to have slotted into place. On their day, and there have been more than enough of those ’days’ to keep their fans happy this season, Chelsea are unstoppable, a genuine force to be reckoned with in the final third, and the scary thing is, should Chelsea click right from the off on Saturday, they could spark up another cricket scoreline. The neutrals won’t want to see such a sight in the final of the oldest and most prestigious domestic competition in the world, but it’s safe to say that with Portsmouth current predicaments and Chelsea’s striking prowess, a gigantic scoreline is a possibility.
The biggest final win by any side was Bury beating Derby County 6-0 back in 1903. Chelsea have scored 7+ on four separate occasions this season, thus proving they are more than capable of setting further records on Saturday. However, that certainly won’t be the incentive thrown at the players from Carlo Ancelotti. He will give this spirited Portsmouth bunch the respect they deserve, he won’t allow his Chelsea players to show any signs of complacency because this is the FA Cup, a competition which has built a fearful reputation out of shocks. Were Chelsea to suffer a shock defeat on Saturday, it would arguably rate as the biggest upset in the competitions history. Carlos Ancelotti nor Chelsea as a club want that on their CV we can assure you. We expect professionalism from the start, the winning goals will come in due course.
Portsmouth will put their money woes and the heartache of losing their Premiership to one side on Saturday, as the club unites for what looks likely to be their last glamour encounter for quite some time when they meet the newly crowned Premier League champions at Wembley. So, Chelsea await Avram Grant’s players in what will surely be a day to saviour regardless of the final score, and it could be a cricket score in fairness, but can the unthinkable really happen? Can small-time Pompey make it two FA Cup victories in as many years, completing what of the shock FA Cup wins in the process.
If you cast your minds back to the 2004 FA Cup final, where Manchester United clashed with then Championship Millwall, it paints the very same ’David versus Goliath’ picture, with Portsmouth severe cash-flow problems and lack of first team players surely being no match for the might of a Chelsea side which simply can’t stop scoring. Well, I’m sure we all remember the myth that David did beat Goliath, but we also remember Man Utd cruising past Millwall as well. But then again, this is the same Portsmouth side which defied the odds in the semi-final, a team which thrived on their underdog status to overcome a Tottenham Hotspur team which later went on to secure Champions League football.
Were Avram Grant to do a David Blaine and produced something ridiculously wonderful, it would rate right up their in terms of final shocks. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a final shocker which would beat the feat should Portsmouth spring the ultimate surprise. However, while we would love for this Pompey fairytale to have a ’happy ever after’ finish to it, that just isn’t going to happen I’m afraid. Grant could have as many as thirteen players missing for the final showdown with Chelsea, while a number are set to make a brisk return just in time for Saturday’s show-piece event. Jamie O’Hara, who has been a revelation at Fratton Park, will go to the lengths of having a painkilling injection just to play a part, so it really is backs to the wall for Avram Grant, and that’s just with picking a starting eleven.
The positive spin we could put on this is the valiant manner in which Portsmouth closed out what could be their final ever season in the top flight. Since the beginning of April Portsmouth have lost just two competitive games, all Premiership encounters. They were disappointingly beaten on the final day of the season however, Everton scoring the latest of goals to send Portsmouth to their 24th defeat of the campaign. However, once again, as on many occasions this season, Portsmouth played with a lot of spirit, and surprisingly with a lot of confidence. It’s the former though which has seen Pompey make the final of the FA Cup against all odds, and while they lose out in every sense of the word in the quality of player department, there’s no doubting Avram Grant’s men will be more than a match for Chelsea with their spirit, determination and enthusiasm.
As far as we’re aware, Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have any fresh injuries woes other than John Obi Mikel is set to miss the final with a knee injury. Michael Ballack will drop into that holding role one would suspect. Michael Essien will obviously miss the final, as will Jose Boswinga. The only ’maybe’ is whether Ricardo Carvalho will be fit in time, although the likelihood anyway is that John Terry will line up alongside Alex at centre-half.
It’s ridiculous just how many players will miss the final for Portsmouth through injury, while even we are unsure as to whether which players are no longer eligible to play due to their contract clauses. The latter we can do very little about, but Richard Hughes, Hreidarsson and Danny Webber are all definitely ruled out of Saturday’s final; while Tel Ben-Haim, Aruna Dindane, Aaron Mokoena, Jamie O’Hara, Ricardo Rocha, Wilson and Yebda are all either doubts, carrying knocks or will face late fitness tests.
Believe us when we say this, we would LOVE Portsmouth to spring a surprise on Saturday by snatching the FA Cup from out of Chelsea’s grasp, but that’s exactly where the FA Cup is unfortunately, within touching distance for Chelsea. Without trying to set ourselves up for too high a fall, but the simple fact is, Chelsea need only yo turn up, put in a professional display and the FA Cup is theirs for the second year running. Of course, this Portsmouth team has shown bags of spirit and tenacity throughout the competition, their scalp of Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final the evidence to back that up. However, Chelsea are no Tottenham, they rarely do inconsistent and they rarely do slip ups. With Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, there isn’t a chance in hell that Chelsea will fail to turn up on Saturday.
Unfortunately, we don’t see anything less than a Chelsea win. Another unfortunate coming, we don’t see anything other than a comfortable win for Chelsea. We only hope the scoreline doesn’t get ridiculous, that Portsmouth put in a dogged display and make as much of a match of this as they can, for as long as possible. However, in terms of picking a winner, there’s only one and it was very simple – Chelsea.
Didier Drogba has scored in every FA Cup final he has played, two so far, but has never been the FGS. He scored in Extra-Time when Chelsea beat Man Utd in 2007, while he equalised against Everton in 2009. The Ivorian finished the Premier League with the Golden Boot after accumulating 29 goals for the season, but he’s far too short to be taking on. Instead, Frank Lampard, who scored seven more goals than any other Midfielder in the league (22), gets our nod to open the floodgates at Wembley. He scored the winner against Everton in last seasons final, we reckon Lamps will get the party started on Saturday, plus he takes penalties, as Drogba found out last weekend.
13th May 2010 / Matt - Category: FA Cup & League Cup Betting
Everton V Portsmouth
Sunday, 9th May – 16:00 (GMT)
League Position: 8th
Recent Form: DDWDW
Everton’s end of season charge was based upon the small chance of them overhauling Liverpool and stealing seventh position – A position which rewards European football for next season. However, their 0-0 draw at The Brittania last Saturday now means that’s no longer achievable, and so, whereas Everton’s strong finish to the season should have left Toffee fans with plenty of optimism ahead of next seasons campaign, it will will no doubt instead be about the sluggish start this season which, looking back, has cost the club dear.
It’s a real shame that Everton didn’t get what they wished for in Europa League football, as unlike many teams, who down the years haven’t shown the competition the respect it deserves – Europe’s second tier competition – Everton have always shown the tournament the utmost respect and have given their all in every Europa League encounter. They made it as far as the quarter-finals this season when losing out to Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon on aggregate, and the Everton fans which have come to love European life in recent years will now have to wait at least another year before fans can get excited about the prospect of Europe once more, while the fact they missed out this season could have drastic consequences in that now the Everton players have experienced what it’s like to play in Europe, some might consider seeking out a move to a club which will reward them with European football.
David Moyes, a manager who we have the utmost respect and admiration for, could face an uphill struggle in retaining some his best players during the summer especially as a handful are likely to shine in South Africa’s 2010 World Cup, leaving a lasting impression on some big clubs around Europe which, should the glamour clubs across Europa come a calling, could lure Moyes’s stars away from Goodison Park and leave David Moyes himself helpless. Fans will be hoping that isn’t the case but after their failure to finish in the European spots, that does unfortunately look an ever likely scenario.
The strong finish to the season just might keep the Everton players interested in what David Moyes has to offer though, as after seeing the way in which Everton finished the season in style; like a steam train, surely their chances of obtaining European football next season look strong. Whether or not the squad is patient enough to wait that long, only time will tell, but a win on the final day of the season won’t just leave a positive, lasting impression with the fans but also with the squad itself. Players will only stay if they know the team has a strong chance of finishing in Europe next season, so should they dismantle Portsmouth on Sunday, which they should in fairness, players likes Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta, Pienaar and Yakubu will all think twice about seeking a move away from Merseyside.
League Position: 20th
Recent Form: DDLDW
It’s been a season of turmoil and strife for Portsmouth Football Club, with their ever increasing and alarming debts the talking point around Fratton Park for most of the season, while the harsh reality of the situation was compounded when the club was docked 9 points for going into administration back in February, effectively killing off Portsmouth’s Premiership relegation status as a direct result. The concern with the fans is how will the club recover, and will they ever embrace the heights of the Premiership again? The Club seems as though it could be doomed, destined to drift away into the shadows of lower league football, so Sunday could represent an emotional day for the fans as they wave goodbye to England’s top flight after a largely enjoyable seven year stay in the Premiership.
It’s expected to be a sell out at Goodison Park, like it was at Fratton Park last Saturday in a game where the fans saw their side put on one final show for their benefit. Portsmouth took on Wolves in their final home game of the season, so it was fitting that they should end a mentally draining season on a genuine high with just their seventh win of the season, their fifth at Fratton Park after a resounding 3-1 victory. It was the ideal result for Pompey, as their FA Cup final encounter with Chelsea rapidly approaches, but more importantly it was the perfect tonic, no better way to wave goodbye to Premiership football at Fratton Park than with an emphatic victory.
We congratulate Portsmouth’s efforts on Saturday but the harsh reality is that could be the last time the Portsmouth fans ever see a Premier League game on home soil. Sunday could also be the last time they make a banter filled trip to see an away game in the Premier League as well, so the emphasis on putting in another spirited display should be huge from Avram Grant and his players, as everyone at the club owe the fans at least a decent display this Sunday. By the same token, we understand that their FA Cup final with Chelsea is of more importance, while their final is now just around the corner what with the season drawing to a close on Sunday afternoon. Even so, the fans don’t deserve another drubbing on Sunday and it’s down to the manager and the players to ensure that doesn’t occur.
We’re expecting a comfortable home win for Everton, but that’s not to say it will actually turn out like that. In fact, Portsmouth’s recent away form would suggest the complete opposite after two successive away draws has put the team on the verge of a three match unbeaten away run, what would be their longest away streak without losing a game should they avoid defeat at Goodison. However, those draws did come against teams not too far off themselves in Bolton and Wigan Athletic, while Everton remains a different kettle of fish altogether. Even so, Portsmouth have only lost one of their last five league games and, while this looks a tricky fixture on paper, the Pompey camp will be surprisingly upbeat about their chances.
Match Verdict: Everton to WIN – 1.30 PaddyPower
While we wouldn’t begrudge Portsmouth a final day celebration at Goodison Park, it’s difficult to oppose David Moyes’s Toffees, a side which has finished stronger than any other team in the league and are determined to end the season in the same vein. David Moyes will know the importance of finishing the season on a high note, as anything less than victory at home against bottom of the league Portsmouth would scupper any chances Moyes has of keeping some of his star players.
Portsmouth, well, they will now have one eye on their dream final, that FA Cup final with Chelsea near the end of the month, and while they’ll be doing their all to ensure they don’t leave the Prmeiership with a whimper, they might have no say in the matter as they make the trip to Merseyside with a vastly inferior team.
It’s Everton for us to end the season in style leaving the Portsmouth fans to ponder why and how they ever got into this mess.
Football-Bookmakers.com Pick: Everton/Everton (HT/FT Betting) – 1.91 bWin
4th May 2010 / Matt - Category: Premiership Betting