Portsmouth v Arsenal: Pompey chanced to spring huge FA Cup upset

The FA Cup Fifth Round will be played during midweek starting with Arsenal's trip to Portsmouth on Monday night, and Mike Norman fancies the in-form hosts to spring an early cup shock...

Portsmouth v Arsenal
Monday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 1

League One's version of Liverpool

After a slow start to the season Portsmouth were sitting 16th in the League One table following just four wins from their first 14 games. Full credit to the club however, they didn't panic and remained 100% behind manager Kenny Jackett, and that loyalty has since reaped rewards.
Pompey are up to third in the League One table following Friday night's 3-0 home win over Rochdale, which was their 10th league victory from their last 14 matches. Even more impressive is the fact that, including cup competitions, Jackett's men have won 13 of their last 15 games. No professional team in England, including Liverpool, have won as many games since the turn of the year.
Talking of Liveprool, Portsmouth are racking up similar numbers to the Reds when it comes to playing at Fratton Park. They've won their last 10 games on the spin in front of their own fans, won 14 of their last 15 all told, and they're unbeaten on home soil in the league all season.
Confidence is sky high then, and perhaps one of Portsmouth's strengths is that they don't have one or two individual stars that they rely on. No fewer than 21 different Pompey players have gotten on the scoresheet in various competitions this season, though summer recruit John Marquis has really found his feet of late, scoring nine goals since the start of 2020.

One step forward two steps back

Depending on who you listen to or what media outlet you read the level of Arsenal's progression under Mikel Arteta ranges from none to quite a lot. I'm firmly in the camp of the former.
True, the Gunners have lost just one league game since Arteta took charge at Christmas, but there have been plenty of draws in that time and the failure to beat the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley and Crystal Palace is an accurate reflection of where Arsenal are at right now. They're a mid-table side and nothing more.
If a 10-game unbeaten run (all competitions) was a step or two in the right direction however, then that was perhaps all undone with an awful performance against Olympiakos in midweek. Gone is one of their - and some will say only - chances of playing Champions League football next season, and now they must lift themselves for a trip to the south coast on what is expected to be a cold and windy Monday night.
Arteta's team selections will be interesting. Mesut Ozil was once again invisible on Thursday night, Alexandre Lacazette's finishing woeful, and although Nicolas Pepe got into some good positions he was far too wasteful, losing the ball on many occasions.
Don't be surprised if at least two of those three are dropped for the trip to Fratton Park with the likes of Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Martinelli pushing for re-calls.

Pompey on home soil screaming to be backed at this price

The gulf in class between League One and the Premier League is obviously a big one, but it seldom plays out that way in FA Cup ties and I think you could go skint quite quick if regularly lumping on the favourites in these type of clashes.
We've already seen in this year's competition Tranmere Rovers - who are 18 places below Portsmouth in League One - knock out Premier League outfit Watford, and Oxford United push Newcastle all the way over two ties.
So given Portsmouth's incredible home form I can't resist backing them at 8.20 to beat Arsenal, who I have a strong suspicion won't fancy this one bit.
The reality of course is that if both teams play to the best of their ability then Arsenal will easily land the 1.46 Match Odds, and even the Draw at 5.00 will be out of Pompey's reach, but you have to have strong reservations about that happening after Thursday's night's morale-denting defeat.
Confidence, underdog status, nothing to lose, home advantage and form etc, it's all in favour of Jackett's men. Enough for me to press the back button anyway.

Safer ways to support the home side

If unlike me, you're not an 'all eggs in one basket' type of punter but you still fancy Portsmouth to make life tough for the Gunners then you have plenty of options on the Betfair Sportsbook to keep you interested.
Portsmouth or Draw can be backed at 15/8 on the Double Chance market, but a better option is Portsmouth +1 on the handicap, as that also gets the home win and the draw on your side but at slightly betters odds of 2/1.
These type of cup ties have never been my favourite type of game to get heavily involved in because you just don't know how strong the Premier League side will line-up, or whether they'll suffer from complacency against a team they'll feel they should beat. But if you do fancy the Gunners to be on their game then you can back them at 6/5 to cover the -1 goal handicap.
And don't forget that should this game end in a draw after 90 minutes then extra time and penalties will be played to decide the outcome. The Method of Victory market has Arsenal to win in ET at 17/2 or on Pens at 13/1; Portsmouth in ET at 25/1, Portsmouth on Pens at 18/1.

Xhaka your go-to man for a yellow card

Mike Dean will be the man in the middle for Monday night's clash and that's great news for anyone who likes a bet in the Shown a Card market. The madcap referee dishes out an average of 4.5 yellow cards per game, and the four reds he has shown this season is the equal highest.
What's more, Arsenal have the worst disciplinary record in the Premier League with 62 yellows and three reds to their name. Dean and the Gunners look like a match made in heaven for a punt.
Granit Xhaka is your go-to man for a booking; the Arsenal midfielder has received a yellow card once every three games in the Premier League this season, while he's also picked up five cautions in his last eight matches. He is available to back at 13/5 and that's definitely worth a bet.

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