Televised FA Cup Matches: Tottenham v Wigan
The inspiration of Harry Redknapp and the goals of Darren Bent have both seemed to dry up in recent weeks and with a semi-final clash against Burnley scheduled for next Tuesday, the last thing they need is FA Cup Premiership opposition in the form of Wigan. It should be a cracker, says "Mystical" Mike Norman.
Arguably the most awaited tie of this weekend's FA Cup third round fixtures will take place at White Hart Lane, where cup specialists Tottenham Hotspur take on Premiership form team Wigan Athletic.
The Match Odds market has Tottenham available to back at [1.9], The Draw at [3.7] and Wigan at [4.8].
Worryingly for Spurs' fans is the fact that 'new manager syndrome' appears to be wearing off faster than the rate of P45s being delivered to retail workers. Harry Redknapp's men have recorded just one Premiership win out of their last six league games, and the goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Darren Bent have quickly dried up. On the plus side (for Tottenham at least), that age old saying 'form goes out of the window' is never spoken more than when an FA Cup game is about to be played.
One man that will certainly be hoping the game goes exactly to form is Wigan manager Steve Bruce. The Latics have won five of their last six Premiership games, with a narrow away defeat to Arsenal being their only reversal in the league since October.
Wigan's last three victories have came virtue of leading at Half Time/Full Time, and a repeat of Wigan/Wigan in that market is available to back at [8.6]. Tottenham/Tottenham is the favourite at [3.3], closely followed by Draw/Tottenham ([5.3]) and Draw/Draw ([5.8]). If you think the game will mirror current league form then you can do a lot worse than back Draw/Wigan - available at an appealing [12.5].
One statistic that Wigan do have to overcome however is the fact that they have never beaten Tottenham in a competitive game, though they can take heart from the 0-0 draw they achieved at the Lane earlier in the season.
Prior to that goalless draw, fixtures between Spurs and Wigan have averaged almost four goals per game, and with a terrific atmosphere under the floodlights guaranteed, more goals are likely on Friday night.
Over 2.5 Goals is available to back at [2.2], and statistically would appear to be a more likely outcome than Under 2.5 Goals ([1.81]) despite the lack of 'Goals For' by the home team in recent weeks. Over 3.5 Goals is available to back at [4.1] and Over 4.5 Goals at [9.2] and these two outcomes should probably be considered in a game that promises to be wide open and difficult to call. Back both, with a view to laying the bet off in-running if an early goal is scored, would be my advice.
Tottenham have no fresh injury worries and Tom Huddlestone remains there only notable absentee. Spurs do have a Carling Cup semi-final to play against Burnley on Tuesday so it's quite possible that Redknapp will use a few fringe players against Wigan.
Steve Bruce has a major concern over striker Emile Heskey, who sustained a hamstring injury during the win against Bolton. Tenacious midfielder Lee Cattermole is suspended for the game, whilst goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is also absent.
For a Correct Score I'd be looking towards the higher priced options like 2-2, available to back at [22.0], and 3-2 either way - [36.0] for a Spurs victory, [65.0] for a Wigan win. There will be plenty of you who disagree and will therefore be backing scorelines like 1-0 to Tottenham ([7.4]), 1-1 ([7.8]) or even the 0-0 ([10.5]).
The First Goalscorer market is yet to materialise at the time of writing, but please check back closer to kick-off and place your bets. I'd fully expect Spurs players Darren Bent and Roman Pavlyuchenko to be amongst the market leaders and both should be available to back at around the [6.5] mark. Midfielders Luka Modric and David Bentley have yet to hit top form for their new clubs but are capable of scoring a goal at anytime - expect them to be priced up at around [12.0] and [14.0] respectively to open the scoring.
For Wigan it's Amr Zaki and Henri Camara who will be trusted with the responsibility of finding the net - [10.0] and [12.0] should be close to the odds on offer for either to score the first goal of the game. Have a great 2009.
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