PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Newcastle United

PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Newcastle United

Somehow it is now April and we have six games of glorious Championship football left.

Five hundred and forty minutes.

Enjoy them, treasure them, indulge in their potential to make a weekend thoroughly excellent.

Celebrate every last moment.

Soon, we will have to return to shopping centres, seeing families; pretending that the summer break is necessary and, worse, tolerable.

For now, relish the fact that Newcastle United are paying us a visit.

Okay, Wednesday haven’t been at their best for a while – some would say the entire campaign – but never under-estimate our ability to turn it on for the ‘big’ occasion.

Wednesday are unbeaten in front of 30,000+ crowds at Hillsborough since our near-neighbours turned us over in February 2006. Two-thousand-and-six.

Let’s hope that the ticket sales pass the seemingly all-important figure.

Taking four points from our last two games has really helped Wednesday’s stuttering cause. If we take three wins from five before Fulham come to town, we may already have sixth place tied up.

Newcastle are particularly dangerous at present and show little sign of relenting any time soon. They need to win the title to make this season a success.

Only Fulham have beaten them since the festive period.

Their away form is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in this division.

Our imperious home record, or their peerless haul on their travels?

Something has to give.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Rotherham (A) W 2-0 8 4 2 0 20 56%
NEWCASTLE Burton (H) W 1-0 22 4 4 1 10 70%

 

Wednesday’s victory over Rotherham United will not feature in any Championship highlights packages.

That is not to say it was not an alomst perfect away performance against a relegated side. The Millers were limp, lifeless and offered next-to-no threat during the second period.

Steven Fletcher’s first half double sealed the points, with the two goals seemingly coming from nothing.

Gary Hooper’s involvement in both goals was noticed by this author: his pass for the first to (an offside) Fletcher was indicative of the edge-of-the-box intricacy we have missed; his flick to Bannan in the build-up to the second was equally good.

Fletcher celebrates the first of his two goals at The New York

Wednesday surrendered too many chances for my liking: Rotherham were hopeless in front of goal and better strikers would have finished such opportunities.

Carlos Carvalhal took his squad to celebrate with the fans at the final whistle in what was one of few truly unifying moments that Wednesday have enjoyed this season.

Now would be perfect time to truly come together.

Newcastle successfully dispatched of Burton Albion, but not without incident.

They moved back to the top of the table with a one-goal victory, but all of the post-match talk centred on a refereeing mistake from Keith Stroud.

Newcastle were awarded a penalty, dispatched by Matt Ritchie, only to see a free-kick awarded to the away side for encroachment by another United player.

The correct action was a retake, as the penalty was scored.

Mistakes happen, it didn’t affect the result, and everyone is giving Stroud a hard time anyway. Give him a break.

 

Newcastle are ten points ahead of Huddersfield, having played a game more, so are at least a couple of weeks away from a top-flight return.

 

 

LAST 5 Rotherham (A) We Hate Winnall FC (A) Reading (H) Villa (A) Burton (H)
WEDNESDAY W 2-0 D 1-1 L 0-2 L 0-2 D 1-1
Burton (H) Wigan (H) Brum (A) Fulham (H) Reading (A)
ROTHERHAM W 1-0 W 2-1 D 0-0 L 1-3 D 0-0

 

 

Wednesday will have to better their last six matches from last season if they hope to make the play-offs in this.

An average of one point per game (W1 D3 L2) will not be enough to beat Fulham to sixth.

We look to have arrested the slide at just the right time. Words cannot express how much a win and a good, positive performance against Newcastle could do for the club and wider fanbase.

It will be difficult, but with returning players – Hutchinson and Forestieri could play this Saturday, too – Wednesday will suddenly look a more rounded, fimiliar outfit.

Sam Hutchinson’s performance at Newcastle was among the best individual displays I can remember from a Wednesday player in years.

A terrific display

If he came back in to the fold and performed at just half that level, we’d have a chance of negating the best attacking side in the division.

Forestieri’s energy and high turnovers are key to our style; Gary Hooper’s impact has already been addressed.

Newcastle are fluid going forward and tight at the back. Their ‘goals for’ and ‘goals against’ columns are the best in the division.

They have utilised the same approach throughout the season to great effect: two narrow banks of four, overlapping full-backs, Shelvey spreading the ball, Diame dropping between the lines and Gayle playing on the shoulder.

Wednesday were caught out in the early knockings of the return fixture by the contrasting movement of Diame and Gayle; be sure that Carvalhal will have remembered this from Boxing Day.

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS UNITED WINS DRAWS
  41 57 31

LAST MEETING

 

26 December 2016, St James’ Park, Att. 52179

(Loovens 53′)

Probably Wednesday’s most complete away performance of the season.

After a shaky first ten, Carvalhal settled on a shape that saw Wednesday keep Newcastle at arms length for the duration.

Fletcher and Palmer both had gilt-edged first half chances, before Glenn Loovens rose to head The Owls into the lead early in the second half.

Karl Darlow made two further saves to keep the score at 1-0, the second of which thwarted Fletcher from six yards after an incisive Wednesday break.

This was one of many games that looked to be the ‘turning point’ in Wednesday’s season. Despite increasing calls for something to change in the approach, we had suddenly won three in three and consolidated our top six berth.

In typical Wednesday fashion, the ebb and flow nature of our time under Carvalhal saw us follow this performance with two lacklustre displays against Wolves and Preston.

Newcastle have only lost twice since in the league since, winning four of eight away matches.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Liam Palmer was picked as a conservative choice at full-back in the return fixture; I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start at the expense of Jack Hunt.

Adam Reach did not have his best game at Rotherham but is likely to stay at full-back if Morgan Fox is out of the squad.

Having our first choice midfield available would be a huge boost: but that that is dependent on the fitness of three players.

Suddenly Carvalhal has a selection headache. Winnall has been our most consistent forward since January; Fletcher scored twice in midweek; Hooper showed us how valuable he can be after the Head Coach has spent the best part of two months inflating his ego.

Will Rhodes be dropped?

WestwoodPreview

WESTWOOD

PALMER

LEES

LOOVENS

REACH

WALLACE

BANNAN

HUTCHINSON

FORESTIERI

HOOPER

RHODES

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

SAM HUTCHINSON – Just keep your head, Sam, think about everything you do, and grow into the game.

Pick the ball up and move it quickly. Stay in the shadows. Stay quiet. Make the tackles.

Win us the game, pretty pretty please.

KARL DARLOW – Frustrated Wednesday in the reverse fixture. Newcastle have only conceded 33 goals all season, and Darlow’s control of the area is key to this.

Should Wednesday engineer any route through the Magpies’ back four, Darlow will provide a stern test of our forwards.

 

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Newcastle WIN DRAW
Loovens any time HT/FT Draw/SWFC
BEST ODDS 21/10 7/5 12/5 18/1 13/2
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

Wednesday haven’t been sparkling at Hillsborough by any stretch. Newcastle favour a largely conservative approach, which won’t help Carvalhal, who has often struggled to find a way around teams who set up in banks of four.

Despite this, I have a feeling that Wednesday might just do it. Newcastle have dropped seemingly random points all season, we found a way to beat them comfortably at their place.

Then there’s the whole atmosphere thing. The ‘big crowd’ conundrum. It would be a massive three points to win.

VERDICT: Wednesday to sneak a last minute 2-1.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


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