PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Blackburn Rovers

PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Blackburn Rovers

Oh, what a pair of back-to-back wins can do.

Suddenly, all is good.

Wednesday are in the top six, with a game in hand, and a favourable set of fixtures to come.

Unlike last Friday’s opponents, Blackburn Rovers still have everything to play for this season as they seek to avoid an unceremonious drop into the third tier.

Residing in the final relegation spot, and with nine defeats on the road this campaign, this surely is a home banker?

But the second tier is a cruel, unpredictable mistress: the two wins Rovers have managed on their travels this season have come at Derby and Newcastle.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Birmingham (H) W 3-0 17 7 6 0 16 42%
ROVERS Rotherham (A) D 1-1 18 5 9 1 9 54%

 

Wednesday have looked a bit more like the demi-god eleven of last season over the past couple of weeks.

Not because we are playing the free-flowing football that many would have you believe we were treated to on a weekly basis in Carvalhal’s first year.

We are mostly a drab, functional outfit who are successful because of a comparatively tight back five.

We can lose our most consistent player, Tom Lees, shuffle around the full-backs, and still look comfortable.

That we have added a variety of new threats in Rhodes and Winnall, supplemented by McManaman, as well as the returning Hooper and Fletcher, we might even see a few more three-goal performances.

New strike force

Perhaps even the lesser spotted Abdi could get more than ten minutes.

The victory on Friday night was not as convincing as the scoreline suggests. And yet, with new talents catching the eye, it felt different. It felt better. The beginning of the end of the season, if you will.

Rhodes and Winnall got their first in the stripes and Reach came on to notch his first on the banks of the Don.

Rovers scraped a point at Rotherham thanks to an own goal, but could have been level or even ahead, were it not for the crossbar and gloves of Richard O’Donnell.

 

 

LAST 5 Birmingham (H) Wigan (A) Bristol C. (A) Brighton (A) Hudds. (H)
WEDNESDAY W 3-0 W 1-0 D 2-2 L 1-2 W 2-0

 

Rotherham (A) QPR (H) Leeds (H) Birmingham (H) Ipswich (A)
ROVERS D 1-1 W 1-0 L 1-2 D 1-1 L 2-3

 

 

On our way…

Wednesday are on a pretty strong run of eight wins and four draws in the last fourteen league games.

That run also includes seven clean sheets, as Carvalhal looks to better his record-equalling tally from last year.

Wednesday still have a game in hand over those around them and could feasibly consolidate their top-six berth should these patterns continue.

In addition, The Owls have cast aside their old inability to beat those at the bottom – only the top two have a better record this term.

Twelve of Blackburn’s fifteen defeats have been by just a single goal margin; only Rotherham have conceded more in the division; both stats suggesting that remaining tighter at the back could lift them out of trouble.

Hopefully Wednesday’s new look forward line, most strikingly featuring a former Rovers player, can do the damage here.

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS ROVERS WINS DRAWS
  57 38 54

LAST MEETING

 

27 September 2016, St Andrew’s, Att: 12, 844

Rovers 0-1 Wednesday

(Fletcher 22′)

Wednesday climbed back to 7th in the table with a straight-forward away win – the first of the season.

Steven Fletcher gave The Owls an early lead, spinning his man and directing a deflected shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Fletcher puts Wednesday ahead at Ewood Park

Kieran Lee, looking to add to his two goals in a win over Forest, could not add a late second to make the final few minutes comfortable.

Marvin Emnes had a goal ruled out for offside, and he twice tested Kieren Westwood with Rovers’ only shots on target.

Blackburn slipped from 20th to 22nd as a result, a position they have failed to return to since.

Wednesday would follow up their consecutive wins with a home defeat to Brighton.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Sam Hutchinson returned on Friday night with another Man of the Match performance.

Fernando Forestieri has taken a little bit of online flak for his performance which, while not match-winning, was steady enough.

Morgan Fox enjoyed a solid Hillsborough debut and should be comfortable with playing two games in five days.

Expect little in the way of changes, but Tom Lees could feature on his return from injury.

Jack Hunt had his best game for a while – Carvalhal likes to rotate his full-backs, as we know – but surely stocking up on attacking options against a leaky defence will be the order of the day, here.

Rhodes and Winnall should start together despite returning competition for their places.

WestwoodPreview

WESTWOOD

HUNT

SASSO

LOOVENS

FOX

WALLACE

BANNAN

HUTCHINSON

REACH

REACH

RHODES

WINNALL

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

JORDAN RHODES – Gave the crowd a noticable lift with his presence on Friday night, like no other individual player has since Forestieri signed.

He’s got the key, he’s got the secret.

Wednesday have not looked an altogether different side in the last two games, but he has added a further dimension to our approach play.

Can he add to his tally?

Comfortable with the ball into feet, on his head or chest, he always looks capable of retaining possession high up the pitch.

We’ve been longing for a player with his sense of positioning too: Steven Fletcher is capable but has missed a number of chances this season. Gary Hooper is missing in action. Lucas Joao has never kicked on and has been farmed out to our opponents here.

Presumably, he’ll be in the stands watching his new teammates.

CHARLIE MULGREW – Among the better performers for Rovers this season, statistically at least.

The Scot has made 17 Championship appearances, scoring two goals – both winners against Newcastle United.

He is most effective at left-back but has played in the centre of defence and midfield.

Wednesday have a tendency to concede cheap free-kicks around the eighteen yard box – something to avoid with Mulgrew standing over set-pieces.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Rovers WIN DRAW Rhodes FGS  Verdict (see below)
BEST ODDS 13/20 6/1 29/20 15/4 13/2
BOOKIES

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HUGH’S VERDICT:

Pessimism is dead.

Long live optimism.*

The usual patterns will emerge: a tight first half that sees Wednesday go close, before the introduction of fresh legs and impetus gives Rovers a few extra second half problems.

VERDICT: Wednesday 2-0 Rovers

Hugh
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

Images: SWFC, unless stated.

* Don’t blame me if we lose. Thanks.


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