Championship betting preview: Put faith in Foxes at Fratton


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The Independent Football

Michael Appleton endured a baptism of fire in his first game as Portsmouth boss last weekend and we reckon the job facing him at Fratton Park could get a whole lot worse before it's gets better, so take some of the 6/4 about Leicester winning on the south coast this weekend.

Our reason for wanting to be against Pompey are nothing against Appleton or his managerial ability but it has been triggered by his arrival. We sense an undercurrent of doom and gloom setting in among the club's supporters and it could wash up as a backlash against the team in the coming weeks.

We should assume the Pompey faithful have every intention of giving Appleton a fair crack of the whip, although it's fair to say they were distinctly underwhelmed by the club unveiling someone with so little experience given the amount of time it took them to to arrive at the appointment. And the 2-0 defeat at Watford last Saturday might be taken as a significant pointer towards what lies ahead for a couple of reasons.

Pompey were backed by a travelling army of more than 1,700 fans - their biggest away following for some time - yet the team started at a sluggish pace and were a goal down inside two minutes. And despite falling behind so early, at no point did they inject the passion that might have been required to salvage anything from the contest.

The so-called 'new manager syndrome' was nowhere to be seen and the general apathy was evident enough that certain players were booed by sections of the visiting enclosure late in the game, while a chant of 'what a load of rubbish' also surfaced. All of which leads us to believe Portsmouth are there for the taking in the coming weeks.

The case for being with Leicester is already apparent in our feature on the appointment of Nigel Pearson this week.

Pearson finds himself in the same boat as Appleton in terms of time spent on the training ground but when you consider the pedigree of his players, his all-round experience and the level of continuity under which he is operating, you suspect it would take a monumental effort from Appleton to come out on top in any tactical battle.

Meanwhile, Southampton continue to set the pace at the top of the table but we're not convinced they should be such short favourites for the trip to Bristol City and we think there's value to be found in the draw at Ashton Gate.

The Saints have been magnificent on home soil with nine wins out of nine but their away record isn't quite the stuff of champions and they could come unstuck against a City side rejuvenated by the arrival of Derek McInnes.

The Robins are unbeaten in four, winning three and holding West Ham to a goalless draw at Upton Park, which provides an ideal yardstick for the task awaiting them this weekend.

We favour the stalemate over the 18/5 available on the home win because Saints have shown no shortage of character on occasions when they have fallen behind this term, not least when salvaging a point with ten men in front of the television cameras at Reading.

The Hampshire club will always respond to setbacks in a positive manner with Nigel Adkins in charge and his opposite number McInnes will be mindful of how difficult it was to cultivate some confidence on his arrival, so he might be inclined to stick rather than twist in the latter stages of the game to preserve the home side's unbeaten sequence.

Recommended bet:

1pt Bristol City v Southampton draw at 14/5 (Victor Chandler)

2pts Leicester to beat Portsmouth at 13/8 (Victor Chandler)