League One leaders Portsmouth are 'the real deal'

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Table-topping Pompey have been described as the real deal.

That’s the verdict of the Sky Sports EFL Matters panel following their latest programme on Thursday.

Jamal Lowe has netted six times for Pompey this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jamal Lowe has netted six times for Pompey this season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pundits on the show, George Elek and Ali Maxwell –  both from the Not The Top 20 Podcast – shared a similar view in believing this could be the Blues' year to return to English football's second tier.

Pompey are two points clear of nearest challengers Peterborough at the top of League One and will be looking to extend their fine form on the road at basement boys Bradford City tomorrow.

Speaking on the latest EFL Matters show, Elek said: ‘This Portsmouth team, to me, look like the real deal at the moment but they’ve got to sort out their home form.

‘It’s improved somewhat in the last couple of games – four points in their last two.

'I think given the squad they’ve got and the depth they’ve got as well, and the manager they’ve got, it would be a huge shock to seem them fall away.

‘There seems no real reason why their away form would turn around, why they wouldn’t improve on their home form.

‘They’ve got two top-quality strikers as well – keep hold of the key men in January and there’s no reason why they can’t win the league.'

Fellow pundit, Maxwell, has been similarly impressed by Pompey's start to this season.

He said: 'Every player in this Portsmouth team has a role and sometimes it’s relatively simple.

‘The midfield is box-to-box but primarily they’re there to make sure that the solid base is there, that the exceptional defence that’s there has support, and those attacking players are given the license to do what they do best.

‘In Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis’ cases, that is run at defenders, that is create chances, but also both of them are actually goalscorers.

‘Oli Hawkins is a target man, you don’t see those wingers getting to the byline and winging crosses in, they are running directly at goal.

‘It’s more down to the full-backs to cross in for Hawkins. They’ve just got a few different ways of attacking and I think that’s really important if you’re going be a top team.'

Pompey have the second best away record in the division so far this term, with only nearest challengers Peterborough picking up more points on the road than them so far.

The Blues remain unbeaten away from Fratton Park up until now and EFL Matters panellist Maxwell has a theory as to why Pompey have fared better on their travels.

He added: 'More likely the problem is it can be very hard to break down teams who come and look to get a 0-0 and look to essentially not concede and put 10 men behind the ball. 

'That’s a very difficult thing that a lot of teams have to come up against. 

‘Especially in League One where teams don’t tend to change their game plans drastically on a match-to-match basis, but that’s what they’ve been doing to Fratton Park, opposition teams, and they’ve been able to frustrate Portsmouth. 

'It’s a different game when you don’t have space to run into and that’s why they’ve been more suited to playing away from home. 

'The pace of Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis, who George (Elek) mentioned, in space, is just absolutely deadly. They haven’t quite been getting that space at home.'

- LEWIS MASON & SAM BROOKE