Wycombe Wanderers’ manager Gareth Ainsworth stunned the football world on League One transfer deadline day with the loan signing of Newcastle United winger Rolando Aarons. The Chairboys have really added quality to their squad over the summer. They have come a long way since being the bookies’ favourites for relegation before a ball had been kicked (excluding Bury and Bolton Wanderers).
Wycombe are currently unbeaten in the league and sit fifth in the table, level on points with second place Lincoln City. Only recently relegated Ipswich Town have more points than the Chairboys. Wycombe started the season at 41.0 outsiders for promotion, they are currently 11.0.
What has sparked the drastic drop in odds?
The fall in price for Wycombe to get promoted comes after 12 new signings in the summer transfer window. All 12 have really bolstered the quality that Ainsworth has at his disposal. Along with Aarons, other attacking additions such as Fred Onyedinma, David Wheeler, Paul Smyth and Josh Parker have joined to help to raise the expectations for the season within the Wycombe fanbase. Couple those new players along with the talent already at the club and they have a strikeforce to be feared at League One level.
This Wycombe team looks like it has the strength in depth to potentially mount a challenge for the top six. Ainsworth has tended to favour a 4-3-3 formation since it worked so well during their promotion out of League Two in 2018. He is spoilt for choice with his personnel options for the frontline. As well as all the new attacking signings already listed, he also has Adebayo Akinfenwa, Scott Kashket and Alex Samuel to choose from.
Akinfenwa is a name well known to most football fans. Known as ‘The Beast’ he offers Ainsworth the chance to play a direct style of play should the pace of the other attacking players not be working. This helps Wycombe to be prepared for any situation over the course of the season. All the forwards they have at the club offer their own thing.
The odds for a top six finish have been on the drop. 4.33 could represent excellent value. Should Wycombe beat Lincoln on Saturday, who are now odds on to finish in the top six themselves at 1.91, then that 4.33 is sure to fall even further.
Wycombe have had a superb start to the season and that largely goes down to their very solid home form. Three wins from three at home this season along with a club record six straight home wins last campaign has shown that Adams Park is somewhat of a fortress now. Wycombe love playing on the front foot to help all their quality attackers get involved. Away teams often sit back and wait for chances to counter which plays right into Ainsworth’s hands at Adams Park. Often there are goal-fests at home for Wycombe. They have already won 3-2 and 4-3 at home this season, highlighting the firepower they have which can outscore any team at this level.
The defensive acquisitions have been impressive too. Jack Grimmer and Darius Charles are defenders who are proven at this level. Charles even had to battle back from a career threatening injury to re-sign for Wycombe, which shows the attitude of the man. Young defensive talents Jamie Mascoll and Giles Phillips have arrived from Charlton Athletic and Queens Park Rangers respectively.
One thing that will be absolutely key if they are to finish in and around the top six would be to avoid injuries and suspensions in defensive areas. Just this week former captain and powerful centre-half Adam El-Abd was allowed to leave to move onto a new challenge. The only recognised centre-backs at the club are now Darius Charles, Anthony Stewart, Sido Jombati and Giles Phillips. The former three have all had big injury problems in the past. Whilst QPR loanee Phillips has shown promise in the few games he has played, this is his first season in professional football so it may be too soon to depend on him if the other three start picking up injuries and suspensions.
The defence has been solid for Wycombe so far. They have kept clean sheets in three of the six games. It is early days of the campaign, but it is never a bad recipe for a team to be keeping clean sheets and to be scoring goals.
The market which may be most realistic for Wycombe this season is a top half finish, which can currently be backed at odds of around 1.73.
The Chairboys will have the strength in depth to be able to finish in the top half but may lack the little bit of quality required to take them to the top six. Onyedinma is currently sidelined for a few weeks which is sure to hurt them. He is one of the league’s most talented attackers with his pace, trickery and eye for goal. Another thing which could potentially drag them down is Aarons’ loan deal expiring in January. It is almost certain that he will be heading back to Newcastle or to the Championship for a loan move once this deal has ended.
Wycombe’s most likely route for promotion this season would be through the play-offs. Whilst that still remains unlikely, they are currently priced up at 21.0 to win the League One play-offs. The odds here have Wycombe priced up longer than Oxford United for the same market, who are 19.0. This is despite Wycombe already being seven points further ahead than Oxford in the table after six games played.
Wycombe are 6.0 to finish in the play-offs. These are odds that may be worth a punt on. This market means that they must finish between 3rd and 6th in the table. The 6.0 for this is a bigger price than the 4.33 for the top six. It is pretty unlikely that Wycombe will go all the way to automatic promotion so the extra odds on offer here could be worth a flutter.
It is a long season but after the promising start made, Wycombe could be a very decent outside bet to finish in the play offs positions.