The last match of the Super League season takes place on Tuesday, when Wigan host Bradford at the DW Stadium as both sides look to cement their place in the end of season play-o… er hang on, what do you mean this is a football match?
Ah right, we’re talking about the Capital One Cup? Sorry, my mistake. And I was just about to write a great piece about Martin Offiah as well. He still plays rugby league, doesn’t he?
As you can tell, I don’t know much about rugby league, so thankfully we’re on about the round ball (I don’t know much about that either, yes, yes, get that one in while you can) so let’s forget about Steve McNamara (I don’t know who he is, I just heard his name somewhere) and concentrate on the League Cup match between the Premier League Latics and their League Two opponents.
This is the sort of tie that is a great advert for going to the cinema (does anybody know if there is a new James Bond film out anytime soon? I haven’t heard anything about one) and on paper, it should be a huge mismatch. Even though Wigan are wildly inconsistent, they are currently 58 places above City in the league ladder and if they were to turn up with the right attitude, they should win this easily.
Bradford are the lowest-ranked side still left in the competition, reaching the fourth round for the first time in 26 years, and their fans will look at this match and say a game against a Premier League side is a game against a Premier League side, even if it is not exactly the glamour tie they were looking for. I mean, have you ever been to Wigan? When I got the train there once and was due to arrive at 19.57, when I got off I thought that was the year I’d been transported back to.
So odds of 7/25 for a home win are not surprising at all, with the draw at 17/4 and Bradford quoted at 33/4, and those odds are probably a fair reflection of the gap between the two sides.
But who on earth is backing Wigan at those sorts of prices? Roberto Martinez’s men are best backed when they are the sort of price that Bradford are here, as they have shown time and time again when picking up wins at near double-figure prices. In fact, last season you would have won more money backing Wigan to win every week than any other side in the Football League, such were the great prices you were getting when they picked up three points.
By the same token, there is something inherently untrustworthy about the Latics that makes you wince when somebody mentions skinny odds-on prices. Yet are Bradford really good enough to make us interested in that big 33/4? Probably not. Despite their long, overdue improvement under manager Phil Parkinson – the Bantams are fifth in League Two and fighting for promotion – their away form is not great and they have lost four of their eight trips in the league.
They have had some success in the cup, seeing off higher-division sides in the form of Watford and Notts County, as well as Hartlepool in the Football League Trophy, but this should be one step up in class too far. Martinez will make changes to his Wigan side, but he did just that in the previous rounds and he recorded 4-1 wins away to both Nottingham Forest and West Ham United – no mean feat.
So Wigan should have too much, but 7/25 is no price, so we may as well take a chance on a few more goals and take the 33/20 Latics win a match that sees over 3.5 goals. As well as those matches in the previous rounds, two of Wigan’s four home league games have seen at least over 3.5 goals and at the prices, it is the most satisfying call.