Expect Wigan and QPR play-off to be tense and tight
Three of the last four meetings between Wigan Athletic and QPR have been draws. Coral offer odds of 23/10 on their play-off semi-final first leg at the DW Stadium ending level.
Harry Redknapp (13/5 to get his team promoted) will lock tactical horns with Uwe Rosler (11/4), but both are rated equal chances to reach Wembley at 10/11. The latter’s Latics are 6/5 favourites to win the first leg, but lost their unbeaten home record under the German gaffer as they rather limped over the line.
Wigan knew they had virtually done enough to clinch a top six place before contesting the FA Cup semi-final, but then suffered defeat in three of their final five fixtures since. The Hoops, meanwhile, suffered just one defeat to champions Leicester City during their run-in, so may be decent value for victory at 9/4.
Punters should be wary of QPR’s away form, however. They failed to beat any of their fellow top six sides on the road this term. Redknapp’s west London outfit kept more clean sheets (17) than their hosts (16), while the Latics struggled to score during the regular season.
On no fewer than 18 occasions did Wigan draw a blank – a fact further illustrated by how goals have been spread throughout the side. Their last six strikes have all came from different scorers.
Winger Callum McManaman is in-form with two in his last four, so odds of 11/4 on him netting anytime for the Latics are well worth considering. Rosler has clearly been resting Manchester United loanee Nick Powell in recent weeks with these play-offs in mind, so the attacker is a tempting 11/2 to score last.
Striker Nicky Maynard has two in his last three against the Hoops, so don’t rule him out finding the net anytime at 6/4 either. Wigan centre backs Ivan Ramis and Leon Barnett have six between, and are each 8/1 shots to nick something from a set piece.
QPR, meanwhile, must keep their discipline in these play-offs. They have had two players sent off in the last three meetings with the Latics and, with midfield destroyer Karl Henry and Joey Barton (whose reputation precedes him) in their ranks, odds of 3/1 on there being a red card in the first leg are hugely generous.
Redknapp has leading marksman Charlie Austin back and firing – three in his last three. Just to illustrate how vital he is to the Hoops, seven of the 13 occasions when they have failed to score were when he was missing.
Austin has got the first goal on his previous two outings, so odds of 5/1 on him netting the opener again are tasty. Maverick midfield talent Ravel Morrison has been used sparingly by QPR during the closing stages of the regular season – in like fashion to Wigan’s handling of Powell.
Morrison has scored six in a dozen Hoops appearances, so an 11/4 price on him producing at the DW anytime are something for punters to mull over. If involved, diminutive Hoops striker Andy Johnson has five in his last 10 meetings against the Latics. He is 15/8 for a goal.
A draw is definitely the best value though, with a 1-1 scoreline priced at 11/2. Remember punters, away goals do not count in the play-offs.