PREVIEW: Preston -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW: Preston -v- Wednesday

Here we go.

Wednesday resume Championship hostilities with a trip to Deepdale, home of Preston North End.

Once again, the teams in this division have chosen revolution. There are six new teams, seven new managers, a raft newly and expensively assembled squads.

And then there is Wednesday.

The summer has been a dreary tale of good and bad.

First, the good: we have retained our best players and the charismatic head coach; we’ve added a player who evidently fits the team ‘dynamic’ and it’s all very stable and very nice.

The bad: the obvious holes in last year’s squad are yet to be addressed; our closest competitors have added quality and quantity to their squads; the club has undergone a period of radio silence, culminating in Jose Semedo leaving the club without so much as a press release to accompany his departure.

It turns out that club are aware of growing online complaints and are reluctant to fuel the fire.

I’m not sure how that equates to ignoring the six year service of a club icon, but there we are.

On the field, pre-season has been solid, if not spectacular: a string of wins against lesser opposition before the Rangers debacle.

The less said about that entire episode, the better.

Preston have seen Simon Grayson depart for Sunderland, with former Norwich manager Alex Neil coming in.

The Scot will be looking to paper the cracks of his reputation, and has made a string of economical signings to bolster his squad.

A sell-out 5,700 away contingent will cross the Pennines for this one.

It’s going to be, erm, rowdy.



Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Glasgow Rangers (H) L 0-2 a few barely any some who- cares? yawn
PRESTON Fleetwood W 5-1 lots obviously a couple a number a lot


Pre-season friendlies, aside from providing valuable fitness, are utterly pointless.

Both sides have beaten local sides from lower down the football pyramid.

Both sides have lost to sides of equivalent or better quality.

What do we know, then?

George Boyd will add a new creative touch to Wednesday’s approach play, while also offering a good defensive contribution.

Question marks remain over Wednesday’s back four: the requisite signings are yet to be made. With Hooper, Flethcer, Rhodes, Winnall, Joao and Nuhiu all included in pre-season, who starts at Deepdale is anyone’s guess.

“Pick me!”

That list obviously omits George Hirst: the only likely S6 departure this summer, should the right fee be tabled?

Our final friendly saw the sycophantic welcoming of Glasgow Rangers, whose fans will find no endearing words here.

The Scots returned north with a 2-0 victory, helped at least in part by a tepid Owls display.

North End tonked Fleetwood at Highbury in their final friendly.

Alex Neil has only been in the job for four weeks and has added three players to the Lilywhites’ squad. Two have signed from Cork City in the LOI, while Darnell Fisher has joined from Rotherham.

Former Manchester United youngster Josh Harrop joined the club the day before Simon Grayon moved north-east.

Former Wednesdayites in the Preston squad include Tommy Spurr and Stevie May, although both are unlikely to start on Saturday.



LAST 5 Rangers (H) Donny (A) Vitoria de Setubal (N) Farense (N) Portimonense
WEDNESDAY L 0-2 W 2-1 D 0-0 D 1-1 W 1-0
Fleetwood (A) Burnley (H) Newcastle (H) Accrington (A) Stockport (A)
NORTH END W 5-1 L 1-2 D 1-1 W 3-2 W 2-0




  41 41 24





North End 1-1 Wednesday

31 December 2016, Deepdale, Att: 14802

(Cunningham 77′ // Reach 90+’)

Scored the equaliser in December

Wednesday enjoyed a solid Christmas period, with consecutive draws against Wolves and Preston the only ‘blots’ on the copy book.

This was a largely lifeless Wednesday display, however, which merited little more than defeat.

North End left-back Greg Cunningham looped the ball past Westwood to seemingly seal the win, but not before Wednesday mounted a late charge.

Adam Reach rescued a point after lashing home at the second attempt, following a string of hopeful punts and penalty-box pinball.





According to Carlos, only Liam Palmer will be absent from this weekend’s squad through injury.

Such news will ease the worries of those concerned about our centre-half partnership.

Kieran Lee and Glenn Loovens have missed portions of pre-season with injury; such is their importance to our side that you can’t imagine them on the bench.

George Boyd should make his competitive debut, but who joins him in midfield is anyone’s guess.

Likewise for the forward line: take your pick of two strikers. Personally, I’d like to see a Hooper-Winnall partnership.

















GARY HOOPER – His spells of absence either side of our end-of-season winning streak serve to illustrate the importance of Hooper to this team.

With the added flair of George Boyd, hopefully Hooper can continue his excellent link-play from last season, and go on an early goal-scoring run.

This team needs confidence after two consecutive play-off miseries and a quiet summer.

An early goal would be just the tonic.

Callum Robinson – Tricky winger who enjoyed a solid campaign last term.

Reportedly catching the eye of Derby, Robinson will be looking to test the Wednesday backline, which looked a little shaky against Rangers.






BET Wednesday WIN North End WIN DRAW
BTTS Hooper FGS; SWFC 2-1
BEST ODDS 13/8 21/10 23/10 19/20 55/1



I’m going, so we’ll lose. Sorry.

To be promoted, Wednesday have to beat teams like Preston. No disrespect, but they’ve hurriedly appointed one of the division’s biggest under-performers from last season. They’ve added a couple of young players on the cheap.

Wednesday cannot afford to drop silly points in August and September, like we have in the previous two campaigns.

Carlos should be aiming to make it a hat-trick of opening day wins.

One thing is for sure, those 5,700 will be right behind him.

See you there.

VERDICT: I’m normally pretty good at these, so let’s go 5-0 Wednesday.

Owls Alive
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

Images: SWFC, unless stated.

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