Leeds United will hope to record a victory to dedicate to tragic former midfielder Gary Speed when they travel to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday evening.
Wales manager Speed, who was found dead at his home in Cheshire last weekend, made over 300 appearances for the Whites between 1988 and 1996 and was part of their last Premier League-winning side in 1991/92.
Shocked fans of the Yorkshire club have been paying their respects to the 42-year-old, with Elland Road now awash with tributes and messages of condolence for his family.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson signed for the club on the same day as Speed and was on the playing staff alongside him for four years, while the pair also took their coaching badges together.
But for all the grief he must be feeling, Grayson will know that he must now focus on the task at hand, which is picking up all three points at the City Ground.
Forest have not been involved in a goalless stalemate for 17 matches but even more incredibly, they have not recorded a score draw in their past 14 league outings. That run simply has to end at some point.
Forest are the current 13/10 favourites for the win in bwin’s 3Way betting market, with the draw available at 11/5 and an away victory priced at odds of 2/1.
This may seem surprising given that the Reds sit 20th in the table, while Leeds are fifth. But such is the nature of the Championship that there are just eight points separating them.
Factor in Forest’s improved home form under new boss Steve Cotterill – they’ve won three of their past four matches in front of their long-suffering fans – and it’s easy to see why a close encounter can be expected.
There is certainly a case to be made for a Leeds triumph as they have won four of their last six league matches on the road.
On top of that, they are unbeaten against Forest in the last ten clashes between the sides in all competitions – a run which stretches back to April 1996, when Speed was still lining up for them.
Seven of Leeds’ nine away matches thus far have contained three or more goals, so punters looking to back the visitors could do worse than take the 15/4 on them winning in a fixture with over 2.5 goals.
Alternatively, seeing as Leeds have the best second-half away record of any team in the division with five wins and two draws from nine matches, backing them to win the final 45 minutes at 21/10 could also be worth a look.
However, the smartest money could well be on the draw, as has been the case in six of those past ten meetings. Interestingly, four of the last five clashes by the Trent have been drawn and three have finished 1-1 – a repeat scoreline here looks especially tempting at odds of 21/4.
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Another reason to fancy a sharing of the spoils is that old punter’s friend, the law of averages.
Forest have not been involved in a goalless stalemate for 17 matches but even more incredibly, they have not recorded a score draw in their past 14 league outings.
That run simply has to end at some point and the two draws they have picked up this term – the last being against Leicester back in August – have been at the City Ground.
It seems very unlikely that both teams will fire blanks, as Forest’s nine home matches thus far have brought 25 goals, with Leeds’ away fixtures containing a divisional high of 30.
So if we rule out a goalless scoreline, why not back that 1-1 draw and then take a 2-2 result, which is priced at a lengthy 11/1, as a very solid cover bet?
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