By News Team
2nd March 2020
Following a devastating last-gasp Europa League defeat to Olympiacos last week, Arsenal head down to Fratton Park on Monday night for a fixture that Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett has described as “mouth-watering.”
Given Arsenal’s infamously poor away form and Portsmouth’s recent invincibility at Fratton Park, the tie looks to have every ingredient needed for a classic FA cup upset. We preview the match and run through the odds on offer.
Misfiring Gunners look to re-live the past
Reports emerged on Saturday suggesting that Arsenal’s round-of-16 Europa League exit cost the club over £70 million, so Mikel Arteta will be keen to demonstrate that his team have turned a corner, starting against Portsmouth in the FA Cup – a competition the Gunners have won more times than any other club.
Arsenal’s new manager may have improved his side’s performances, but a series of mediocre draws followed by Thursday’s heartbreak will no doubt have focused minds in the Gunners dressing room as the club look to mount a campaign for the season’s only remaining viable trophy.
The team’s injury-hit defence will get a boost in the form of debutant Pablo Mari, with Arteta’s recent comments heavily suggesting that the 26-year-old Spaniard will feature at some point. The tie, though, comes too early for Sead Kolasinac, Kieran Tierney and Cedric Soares, who remain sidelined by injuries, with Calum Chambers a long-term absentee.
History appears to be in Arsenal’s favour. They haven’t lost a cup tie against teams from the third tier or lower since 1992 and Portsmouth have lost their last five FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents when not in the top flight themselves.
Their head-to-head record against the Gunners is even worse, having not beaten Arsenal in any competition since a league match in 1958, drawing eight and losing 13 of their 21 meetings since then.
However, the FA Cup has a habit of disregarding the past and both sets of players will be warned by their managers to expect the unexpected. Arsenal currently stand at 47/100 to claim victory, with a draw rated at 10/3 and Portsmouth at 6/1 to win on the night.
Portsmouth’s home fortress
Portsmouth will be hoping their impressive home form continues as the League One club, who are fighting for promotion to the Championship, have not lost at Fratton Park in the league since last April, also winning their last 10 games played at the stadium.
Indeed, Jackett used his pre-match press conference to emphasise the home advantage enjoyed by his team, lauding the “old-fashioned ground, tight, a passionate crowd and we have to use those assets.”
But while Portsmouth will put up a stubborn fight, Arsenal should have enough and will want to bounce back from their Europa League disappointment with victory here. Back Arsenal to win both halves at the enhanced odds of 9/4, while Eddie Nketiah to score first has been enhanced to 4/1 and could be worth a punt, given the striker is likely to get the nod from Arteta here.