Wigan Athletic: are they a punter’s nightmare, or are they actually our best friend?
It is a question that I’ve been struggling with for years now and I’m still at a loss as to the answer. Before Roberto Martinez arrived to manage the club in 2009, the Latics were actually quite predictable in as much as they struggled against the top sides for years and often did enough to get by with wins at home against the Premier Division’s lesser lights.
In fact, after gaining promotion in 2005, it was September 2009 before Wigan beat one of the established ‘big four’ in the league (that was back when Liverpool were considered part of the elite and weren’t the laughing stock they are now), winning 3-1 at home to Chelsea.
But over the last few seasons, betting on Wigan games has been a minefield. Much like Martinez must wonder where the inconsistency comes from, punters have ended up tearing their hair out when backing matches involving the Latics.
Just as likely to go to Arsenal and win as they are to lose at home Southampton, I dare say that nearly everybody reading this will have lost money either backing Wigan to win only for them to throw in a stinker of a performance, or done their money when Martinez’s men have produced a wonder display at long odds against.
Yet statistically, there was no better team to bet on last season than Wigan. If you’d have put a level stake on all 92 Football League clubs, you would have won more profit from Martinez’s side than any other club, which just adds to the confusion and the general mistrust of Wigan from punters everywhere.
Just look at the last week. The Latics did the business at home to West Ham United in the Premier League, playing the Hammers off the park and deservedly winning 2-1. Yet in midweek, they go and do THAT and lose to bottom tier opponents in the cup.
The penalty shoot-out loss to League Two Bradford City at the DW Stadium is typical. Wigan were 7/25 to win that match in 90 minutes and this is further proof that with Wigan, you just never know where you stand.
And yet, their trip to Tottenham Hotspur is just the sort of match that perks your interest. At 6/1 to win, this is the type of price your Wigan profit comes from. But can they do it again? Spurs are 11/25, with the draw at 333/100, and this looks a tough one to get value from.
Everybody remembers the 9-1 hammering Wigan took at White Hart Lane three seasons ago, but Martinez’s side actually won the fixture 1-0 the following year, which again shows what we’re up against. But I am going to be brave and suggest that Spurs are going to do enough to win this, although given everything I’ve talked about, I’m not taking the odds-on quote.
That 1-0 is Wigan’s only win at Tottenham in eight visits, with Spurs winning five, and they have the quality to make it a sixth. Andre Villas-Boas’ side seem to be a bit better on the road than they are at White Hart Lane, where they haven’t found the kind of fluency for which they played for two-thirds of last season, which is making me err towards a narrow-ish home victory.
The 4-2 loss to Chelsea last time out was Spurs’ first home defeat of the season, although draws against Norwich and West Brom are considered disappointing results. But Tottenham have improved since then and were unlucky to lose to the Canaries in the League Cup on Wednesday night.
Spurs boasted a 7-3-0 record against sides in the bottom half last season, scoring 20 and letting in just seven, and I think they can see off Wigan in similar circumstances.
There were 27 goals in the ten games Spurs played at home to those bottom sides and I think the 27/20 that Tottenham win a match that sees under 3.5 goals is a good bet here.
Take the Chelsea match out of the equation and the other five games played at White Hart Lane in all competitions this year have seen three goals or less – four of them two goals or less – while three of Wigan’s away league games have seen three strikes or fewer.
So I think it could be tight, but with Tottenham’s extra quality more likely to get goals, I think they can eventually break through and I like the 27/20 that it isn’t a goal-fest.