SHEFFIELD, UK – Tonight's live Football League action comes from Bramall Lane as two of League One's biggest clubs in Sheffield United and Portsmouth face off. The Blades are the only Football League club who are still unbeaten, although seven draws from their 14 games means they lie in fourth, two points of the early-season pace-setters Tranmere Rovers. Michael Appleton's Pompey must be given credit for their start. The relegation favourites are 15th, hugely impressive given the financial constraints under which the South Coast club are operating.
Sheffield United are 4/5 (bet £50 to win £40) favourites with Coral. Their last home game was a hard-fought 1-0 win over the season's overachievers Walsall. Danny Wilson's men were cruelly denied promotion last year, firstly losing out on the automatic spots to cross-town rivals Sheffield Wednesday, then losing a marathon penalty shootout to another Yorkshire rival, Huddersfield Town. This year they are 5/6 favourites with Boylesports to return to the Championship after two seasons in English football's third tier. You can back them to win the league at 5/2 with Coral, probably the best option for those who rate United's chances highly.
Having started the season with no senior players, Portsmouth have bought a whole squad anew. This squad now includes some notable names, such as League Two's top goalscorer last season Izale McLeod and former QPR midfielder Ákos Buzsáky. Their last game was a 2-1 defeat at Stevenage which ended a run of five league games without a defeat. They are still 1/4 with BetVictor to go down, a bet which must be avoided given their start. The best option for punters fancying a good season for Portsmouth would be to get on them to be the best relegated team. This is 16/1 with BetVictor – a generous price given Coventry's poor start and Doncaster's inconsistency.
Portsmouth's seven away games have so far yielded 26 goals, so backing over 2.5 goals tonight at 9/10 with BetVictor looks a solid bet. For punters interested in the correct score market, 2-1 to the hosts is at 15/2, also with BetVictor, while the best value on a Portsmouth win can be found at the same score in favour of the visitors, which is 18/1, once again with BetVictor.
Many Blades fans worried about the lack of a reliable goalscorer this season following the incarceration of Ched Evans, but Nick Blackman has filled the void well, with seven goals so far this term. He is 9/2 with Paddy Power to break the deadlock this evening. Former Portsmouth striker Dave Kitson is a 5/1 shot with Ladbrokes.
Izale McLeod has already hit the back of the net nine times so far this season, proving that he can punch his weight in a higher division. The former Barnet forward offers good value at 7/1 with bet365 to score first. Wes Thomas will most likely partner McLeod in attack, and the man on loan from Bournemouth is a 15/2 chance with Betfred to open the scoring.
The unpredictability of Portsmouth make betting on the favourites in the half-time/full-time market a bad idea. Much better would be to back Portsmouth/Draw, which is 18/1 with BetVictor or Draw/Sheffield United at 4/1 with the same firm.
The match kicks off at 19:45 and is live on Sky Sports.