PREVIEW: Barnsley -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW: Barnsley -v- Wednesday

Wednesday resume their league campaign after the international break and need to quickly find their mojo.

Only by the grace of Fulham’s similar slump – owed in part to a late goal from Blackburn loanee Lucas Joao – are Wednesday a top six side.

The Owls were then well beaten at Hillsborough by a much tougher Reading side.

Carvalhal has been very unlucky with injuries but his refusal to change his approach despite notable absentees has seen some questions over his management arise.

The international break has allowed the injured time to recover and the unfit some time to train.

Up next, it’s a return to Oakwell for Sam Winnall.

Barnsley aren’t the flaming red beast that had us worried at Christmas time.

With one win in ten, they are cowering behind the bins at the back of Oakwell, hoping Wednesday might forget to turn up.

Against faltering opposition, Carvalhal’s boys have to take full advantage.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Reading (H) L 0-2 22 9 11 0 9 53%
BARNSLEY Norwich (A) L 0-2 15 4 7 0 9 48%

 

A threadbare Wednesday outfit surrendered to Reading at Hillsborough.

The Royals looked slick in the opening stages while Wednesday’s tiredness was evident from the start as a hop-scotch eleven took to the pitch.

Reading took the lead after Wednesday lost possession in midfield. Poor pressing organisation allowed Yann Kermogant to drift into the right channel.

The experienced forward finished it nicely but this was an easily avoidable goal to concede.

Wednesday pressed for an equaliser and Ali Al-Habsi enjoyed a brilliant performance to keep a clean sheet.

Winnall challenges for the ball against Reading

Despite the welcome return of Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens, neither player looked fit at the heart of The Owls’ defence.

Rhodes and Winnall were once again forced to collect the ball from deep and, while Buckley had a steady game, Wednesday missed the craft and creativity of Ross Wallace.

Reading added a second in the final seconds after Westwood moved forward for a Wednesday corner.

Barnsley continued their fall down the table with a defeat by the same scoreline at Carrow Road.

Jacob Murphy notched his tenth of the season before forcing an own goal through an Angus McDonald deflection.

The win for Norwich moved them to within five points of Wednesday, while Barnsley dropped to 11th.

Paul Heckingbottom revealed after the game a pearl of wisdom that shows exactly why he is among the highly-regarded young managers in the Football League:

“The take-away message from that game is hit the target, score goals.”

Ground-breaking.

 

 

LAST 5 Reading (H) Villa (A) Burton (H) Norwich (H) Leeds (A)
WEDNESDAY L 0-2 L 0-2 D 1-1 W 5-1 L 0-1

 

Norwich (A) Ipswich (H) QPR (A) Derby (A) Huddersfield (A)
BARNSLEY L 0-2 D 1-1 L 1-2 L 1-2 D 1-1

 

 

Carlos ponders how to improve his stuttering Owls

Wednesday have now lost four in six, only retaining the final play-off spot at the mercy of other side’s equal incompetence.

Such form cannot mask the insipid football that has come with it.

Wednesday have looked under-prepared and unfit despite having one of the biggest squads in the division.

It’s time for Carlos Carvalhal to utilise one of his tactical master-plans, the like of which has seen us collect three points from St James’, The City Ground, Molineux and The John Smith’s.

The Head Coach has been out-thought by Jaap Stam and Nigel Clough in recent weeks and cannot allow Paul Heckingbottom to do the same.

Fortunately, Barnsley seem to have their attention diverted elsewhere.

The Reds have been as useless as Wednesday in recent weeks; they have joined a clump of sides around the 50-point mark. Could they be the first to be accused of having their summer flip-flops on?

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS BARNSLEY WINS DRAWS
  35 15 22

LAST MEETING

 

13 December 2016, Hillsborough, Att. 27248

(OG 37′, Hutchinson 80′)

Wednesday were comfortable if not spectacular in the return fixture last December.

Barnsley were in terrific form at the time and Wednesday safely negotiated the threat of Sam Winnall by forcing him into deep, ineffectual positions. Sound familiar?

Injuries forced Carvalhal to start Lucas Joao and Steven Fletcher together; the Wednesday midfield struggled to create for them and so it was somewhat fortunate that the home side took the lead.

A Joao knock-down was deflected into his own net by Angus McDonald.

Sam Hutchinson secured the points with a low half-volley during the last ten minutes.

This period of the season was defined by Hutchinson’s determination, as he continually carried a lacklustre side through a series of games.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

I don’t want to labour the point too much, but this international break has been a godsend.

Wednesday looked a ragged, muddled mess by the time Reading came to town.

Fortunately, all of the key players came through the break unscathed. Bannan and Rhodes only picked up a handful of minutes for Scotland, while there was welcome action for Atdhe Nuhiu and several youth players.

Question marks remain over the fitness of Fernando Forestieri, but Sam Hutchinson and Ross Wallace should make the trip to Oakwell.

With two weeks of training and rest, Tom Lees and Glenn Loovens will be looking to get back to their best and sure up a leaky Owls back line.

 

 

WestwoodPreview

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

FOX

WALLACE

BANNAN

HUTCHINSON

REACH

WINNALL

RHODES

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

SAM HUTCHINSON/DAVID JONES – These two players play with a different mindset and have discerning characteristics, but the job they do for the team is remarkably similar.

Both sit at the base of midfield, recycling possession, moving the ball.

While Hutchinson quickly moves into tackles, Jones plays with his head and positions himself to intercept the ball.

Wednesday have struggled going forward recently, and the player in this position can help two-fold. Firstly, by moving the ball quicker and further.

The side has really struggled to move forward from midfield, especially with the ball: driving runs (with possession) and off-the-ball runs are therefore essential from this position.

MATTY JAMES – Played 27 games in the Premier League during Leicester’s first season back, including most of the run which completed the oft-forgotten Act One of The Foxes memorable twelve months.

He sat out the entirety of last season due to a cruciate injury picked up in the final game of 2014/15.

James has made eleven appearances for The Reds, scoring and assisting one. His ability to pick a key pass and smart runs on counter attacks will make him a tricky opponent for Wednesday’s Key Player.

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Reds WIN DRAW
Barnsley score first Winnall any time
BEST ODDS 11/8 47/20 5/2 32/25 21/10
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

Both sides will be fresh and energised after the international break.

Wednesday cannot afford to play the occasion, they must instead focus on containing Barnsley in the opening stages.

Let’s focus first on keeping a clean sheet and try and steal a goal in the second half.

VERDICT: 1-1. Wednesday need to start winning games but Barnsley will have enough here to stop us doing so.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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