MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the sole Football League tie from Wednesday night in the search for value.
Nottingham Forest v Wigan Athletic | Tuesday 19.45
The day Stuart Pearce was appointed Nottingham Forest manager, I knew the relationship was doomed. It looked a good fit from the outside but it was the wrong role at the wrong time for ‘Psycho’ and vice versa for the Tricky Trees.
I don’t want to put the boot into Pearce but there’s no doubt he’s flattered to deceive in management/coaching. I said from day one there’s no chance Forest were going up with him in charge and after a promising start, things soon turned sour.
It wasn’t a great surprise to see him leave but it certainly was when the club announced Dougie Freedman as his replacement just 24 hours later. Freedman excelled at Crystal Palace but his reputation took a hit after an unsuccessful spell at Bolton.
But the Scot made a winning impact at Forest with the former European champions grabbing a 3-2 victory at Brighton on Saturday, raising the question amongst supporters of ‘can we make the play-offs?’. It’s far too premature to be running to the bookies with a bet and I’d even suggest rushing to back the 11/10 on a home win against Wigan was a little embryonic.
Why? Well take the result out of Saturday’s game and Forest were actually second best. Freedman adopted a very simplistic approach and it worked. But the Tricky Trees only had 35% of the ball and faced 24 shots on their own goal. Jack Hobbs and Danny Collins were impressive in central defence but Danny Fox and Eric Lichaj struggled to contain the Seagulls down the flanks.
It’s most certainly an area of concern with James McClean likely to be marauding down the flanks in a Wigan side that’s certainly improved in recent weeks, despite their lowly position. The Latics were in the ascendency in the early stages of Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to league leaders Bournemouth before Callum Wilson broke the deadlock with a goal looking suspiciously offside.
Trailing 2-0 at the interval, Malky Mackay’s troops rallied in the second-half, showing the same courage and desire to battle that was evident in their most recent road fixture at Ipswich. And the Wigan boss has been encouraged by his team’s recent lift in performance levels.
It’s quite easy to look at the visitors and see they’ve only won twice since August in Championship football and write them off. True, they’re seven points adrift from safety and getting a little desperate. But this week’s addition of Harry Maguire on-loan should further stabilise their dodgy defence and at least give them a fighting chance at a Forest side that has only won four league fixtures since September themselves!
Neither side particularly attract in the Match Odds market but I’m happy to take the 10/11 from William Hill that Both Teams Score. Wigan have netted in nine of their 14 away days in league football this season and kept just two clean sheets since mid-October; that’s led to six of their last nine road fixtures featuring both sides scoring.
Forest may have scored just once in their last three outings at the City Ground (losing all three) but they have managed to grab a goal in their previous 11 games in front of their home supporters, leading to seven of their previous nine on home soil banking for BTTS backers. Their weak spot remains a shoddy backline that can only boast two clean sheets in league matches since September.
Nottingham Forest v Wigan Athletic – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
Should we snapping Forest up at odds-against quotes? Will Wigan cause an upset at the City Ground?
We’d love to know what your best bet was on Wednesday night so let us know in the comments box below.
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