PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Fulham

PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Fulham

Wednesday entertain Fulham at Hillsborough knowing their play-off place is secure.

A sixth consecutive win at Ipswich means that Wednesday can finish no lower than fifth, while Fulham need to avoid a historic thirteen goal swing to stay in sixth.

These two are the country’s form sides: the spectacle of a one game shootout would have been incredible.

As it is, we’re faced with the prospect of a reserve side taking to a full Hillsborough.

What Slaviša Jokanović chooses to do with his side remains to be seen, but expect Carlos Carvalhal to follow the same plan utilised against Wolves in last season’s dead rubber.

Wednesday last enjoyed a seven match winning run in the 1992/93 Premier League, a run which would have stretched to nine games had The Owls not let a three-goal lead slip to Manchester United on Boxing Day.

Equalling that seven game run would see Wednesday achieve a record points total in a forty-six team second tier.

Carlos out.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Ipswich (A) W 1-0 14 2 6 0 13 57%
FULHAM Brentford (H) D 1-1 18 7 11 1 8 67%

 

Wednesday overcame another hoodoo by beating Ipswich Town and, more importantly, beating Mick McCarthy.

Carvalhal’s boys were in the ascendancy during the first half but struggled to regularly test Bartosz Bialkowski.

Another defensive masterclass, aided by Ipswich incompetence, allowed Wednesday to initiate the ‘sod-it’ protocol and throw several players forward in search of a winner.

Ross Wallace crashed a long range effort against the post as Wednesday turned the screw, before a flowing team move resulted in a slide-rule pass from Bannan, a neat cross from Pudil, and a lovely finish from Lee.

Carlos said, “we prepare very well for the games and this is a result of a lot of hard work. We deserved to win today. It gives me satisfaction to see people around me happy – the chairman, the players and the fans.”

One happy man

 

Fulham all but secured their top-six spot after matching Leeds’ result.

Talisman Tom Cairney gave The Cottagers an early lead in this London derby, before Nico Yennaris equalised against the run of play for Brentford.

Cairney later had a penalty saved by Dan Bentley – the Bees ‘keeper who enjoyed two terrific displays against Wednesday this season.

 

 

LAST 6 Ipswich (A) Derby (H) QPR (A) Cardiff (H) Newcastle (H) Rotherham (A)
WEDNESDAY W 1-0 W 2-1 W 2-1 W 1-0 W 2-1 W 2-0

 

Brentford (H) Huddersfield (A) Villa (H) Norwich (A) Ipswich (H) Derby (A)
FULHAM  D 1-1 W 4-1 W 3-1 W 3-1 W 3-1 L 2-4

 

 

Just look at that form. Talk about ‘getting the juices flowing’. These are two art forms; both teams masters of their craft. Both form books reveal a lot about our seasons and our approaches.

Wednesday’s most common home result is a 2-1 win (nine) and most common away is 1-0 (five). We’re tight in the first half and then go for it in the second.

Occasionally, it hasn’t worked, but by christ, it’s working right now.

Gary Hooper’s return has been key, as has the involvement of Jordan Rhodes:

Wednesday have kept sixteen clean sheets so far this season, and can tie with the club record for the third consecutive campaign by registering a final shutout against Fulham.

Fulham, frankly, are pissing it right now.

A couple of dodgy results aside (conceding four at Derby, losing to Zola’s Birmingham, a Wolves win at The Cottage) they have been imperious since Christmas.

But, then again, so have we:

The table since Christmas (Statto.com)

The Cottagers have a league-high 83 goals, 38 of which have come on their travels.

They’ve won four and drawn one of their last six away trips, and have the division’s best defensive record away from The Cottage.

They’re not bad, then.

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS FULHAM WINS DRAWS
  31 25 16

LAST MEETING

 

Fulham 1-1 Wednesday 

19 November 2016, Hillsborough, Att: 20255

(Forestieri 10′ // Malone 90+’)

In hindsight, a good point. At the time, after home defeat to Ipswich, this felt like another two points lost in a season that seemed to be meandering towards top-half obscurity.

Wednesday took the lead through a beautifully worked team goal. Bannan and Hooper where instrumental in the build up before Forestieri lashed one into the bottom corner.

Fulham scored a last minute equaliser through defender Scott Malone, meaning Wednesday had already dropped eight points from winning positions before December.

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

In the final game of last season, Carvalhal rotated every player.

This fixture is a different prospect. The psychology is tricky. Will he second guess his opposite number’s selection?

Even a rotated side should give Fulham a game: our ‘second string’ is streets ahead of the players who lost at Molineux twelve months ago.

Both coaches will hope to gleam some insight into the other from this match, should we meet again in the next few weeks.

Kieran Lee, Fernando Forestieri and Glenn Loovens should play some part if they still need match fitness.

Sam Winnall and Jordan Rhodes could return to the starting line-up. Expect Westwood, Wallace and Lees to be rested.

David Jones (illness) could return; if not, Fulham will never get past Semedo.

Only Carlos knows who will play, but this much-changed side looks pretty similar to our full-strength side in the midst of those twenty-three injuries. Not a bad position to be in.

WILDSMITH

PALMER

SASSO

LOOVENS

PUDIL

MCMANAMAN

JONES

LEE

REACH

WINNALL

RHODES

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

GLENN LOOVENS – Club captain, first choice defender since his arrival, played alongside the truly woeful and the truly exceptional in his time at Wednesday.

He deserves to maintain the impressive clean sheet record alongside Tom Lees and Kieren Westwood: both equally important to a more-than-solid three years in the Wednesday defence.

That Loovens was signed as a short term measure to help keep the club from dropping back to the third tier; he has turned his career around remarkably and become one of the bargains of this team.

A thoroughly excellent defender and great bloke.

I’m really rooting for him to do it.

He’ll probably be rested. FFS.

Tom Cairney – Likely to be rested but needs this section of the preview devoting to him nonetheless.

Twelve goals and ten assists: he’s probably the Championship’s most effective player in his position.

Who Scored – the stats bods – are normally spot on with this kind of thing:

 

A Championship Riquelme, then.

 

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Fulham WIN DRAW
BTTS Semedo FGS
BEST ODDS 7/5 21/10 13/5 11/18 33/1
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

God only knows.

It promises to be a bit surreal. Party atmosphere? Check. Lots of Leeds songs? Check. A rotated side? Hmmm.

Any combination of players could play for both sides, and the result could go either way no matter how strong the teams are.

That sounds like a cop-out prediction, but there’s logic to it: Fulham are among the strongest travellers while The Owls are a real home bird. Changing the teams could throw all that out of kilter.

No matter, let’s just enjoy the occasion and add a little extra fire to those Wednesday bellies before the play-offs.

Let’s give the team a cracking send off and really get the juices flowing before the nerves kick in.

VERDICT: 3-2 Wednesday says the heart, 1-2 Fulham says the head.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


One Comment

  1. I doubt we will lose this one. However, irrespective of the outcome, the occasion will be celebrated in true Owls style. Fulham have more to prove than we have, and I am quietly confident that last season’s heartbreaking defeat to Hull will be but a distant memory as we take our place in the Promised Land. This is our year, and we have the momentum to carry us through, and the team to do it!

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