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Stuart Dalgleish 6th Apr 2012 - 22:37

Time to start backing the underdogs

Stoke v Wolves preview - 17:30 live on ESPN

It's everyone's favourite time of the season; you're either going for the title, aiming for a top six spot, trying to avoid relegation or just looking to consolidate for another year.

No matter which division your team is in, you're no doubt going through the ringer with emotion and nerves right now as we reach the crunch stage of the campaign.

Stoke (8/13) undoubtedly fall in the 'consolidate' category, while Wolves (4/1, the draw 3/1) are absolutely fighting for their lives, with most people believing that fight will be a fruitless one.

Many of the Molineux faithful were calling for Big Mick McCarthy's head a couple of months ago, but I reckon a sizeable portion of those fans would welcome him back with open arms after seeing how Terry Connor has done so far.

It's fair to say the Yorkshireman's appointment has been an unsuccessful one thus far, but at this time of the season one win could just be the catalyst they need to go on an undefeated run.

I think the Gold and Blacks could get it at the Britannia.

Yes, Wolves have been dire for a while now but they're playing against a team that will be thinking 'job done' for the season.

Tony Pulis will have set out his goals in August; have a good cup run, progress from the group stage in the Europa League and aim for a top-half finish.

They have completed two of those goals, and given their fans some great memories along the way, while there's no doubt Pulis will still be giving his all to get in that top 10, psychologically the players will have just switched off a little and won't be busting a gut as much as they would've done a couple of weeks ago.

The Potters had a great performance against Man City recently and were unlucky not to win, but they were dire at Wigan last time out and haven't triumphed in five matches now.

By the same token, Wolves have now not won in seven games, but at this stage of the season form really does go out of the window.

Wolves' need is greater, and they're actually performing a lot better (Fulham aside) away from home at the minute; having got draws at Arsenal, Tottenham and Newcastle and won at QPR in their last seven road trips, it's not going to be a massive surprise to see them get something from the Potters.

There are some really good odds to tempt you in this game too.

Games involving Stoke have produced fewer than two goals in eight of the last nine, so under 2.5 at 21/20 looks a great shout to me.

One-time England international Matt Jarvis is showing the kind of form that earned him that call-up just now and can be backed at 12/1 for the first goal, or a really tempting 5/1 to score at anytime, he has bagged in consecutive matches and also in four of his last eight.

If Wolves are going to win it, you can't really imagine them cantering to victory, so 1-0 to the away team looks a massive price at 14/1, while a more unlikely 2-0 victory is a whopping 28/1.

Peter Crouch scored one of his best ever goals in their last home outing, and he's got a decent return of 12 for the season, the lanky front-man is 7/2 to break the deadlock.

I just really like the look of Wolves in this game though and I'd have a few quid on Wolves or draw at an attractive looking 5/4 in the double chance market.



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