Portsmouth v Leeds
Crisis club Portsmouth play host to Leeds and their new manager, Neil Warnock, at Fratton Park on Saturday.
Michael Appleton has had to contend with a lot of issues in his short time as manager of Portsmouth and for somebody so inexperienced; it must have been difficult for him. The 10 point deduction for going into administration again has meant that his side have slipped the relegation picture, currently occupying the third and final relegation spot. Their last match was a 2-0 defeat away to Barnsley where their problems were added to with the sending off of Dave Kitson. It means that the experienced striker will now be missing tomorrow and that comprises their current predicament even further as they also lost another forward in the shape of Erik Huseklepp who has been moved off the wage bill for the rest of the season with a loan move to Birmingham. Portsmouth will take heart from the fact they are pretty strong at home with only four defeats this season at Fratton Park. They’ll need that to continue if they wish to remain in the league beyond the end of the season.
Leeds parted company with Simon Grayson last month and took their time in naming the replacement. Neil Warnock was confirmed as the preferred candidate last weekend and he took his place in the stands to watch his new club come back from 2-0 down at home to local rivals Doncaster and win 3-2. It was a dramatic win but it could be pivotal in their quest for a play-off spot. Warnock will take charge for the first time tomorrow and will be determined to get off on the right foot to avoid any issues with the Leeds support, some of whom have questioned his appointment due to his past employment at one of their arch rivals – Sheffield United. Leeds know that in order to achieve their goal of promotion through the playoff’s they need to be far more consistent. They have not managed to win back to back games since December. Away from home their form has been decent, picking up six wins on their travels in the Championship. A win tomorrow would be the perfect tonic for the new manager and could also propel them into as high as 8th and close the gap on the teams occupying the play-off positions.
Portsmouth have won just once in their last eight games so their form before the administration saga was certainly not great and there would have been a decent chance of them encountering problems with relegation anyway. Their last home win was their first game of 2012 so the fans will feel another win is long overdue.
Leeds do have a good record in this fixture and they will, as ever, take a big away support with them in the search for a vital three points. Robert Snodgrass and Ross McCormack will be key to their chances again as the two young Scottish forwards have been in prolific form this season.
The selection is a little more speculative than normal picks but with the state Portsmouth are in, aided by the new manager at Elland Road, I think Leeds are good value to take advantage and help themselves to a welcome three points.
My Selection: Leeds to beat Portsmouth
Best odds available: 7/5 available with Coral