PREVIEW | Cardiff -v- Wednesday

PREVIEW | Cardiff -v- Wednesday

Consecutive wins in the space of four days have somewhat changed the complexion of Wednesday’s early season form.

Only four sides have bettered their return of twelve points from seven games, with many of the pre-season favourites enduring all manner of slow starts.

Unpredictable at it’s best, the Championship is home to just three clubs who are unbeaten in five; Wednesday join Leeds (top) and Bristol City (12th) in that group.

Our trip to Cardiff this weekend is equally unpredictable.

The long excursions to South Wales have often been difficult in recent times, with just one win coming across the border since the 80s.

Lee Bullen skippered the Owls on that occasion in April 2007; this time he will be welcoming his Head Coach back to the dugout after his two-game ban.

Our two visits in the Carvalhal era have both ended in stalemate, with Wednesday coming from behind in 2015 and 2016.

The whole ‘coming from behind’ situation is one Wednesday are currently familiar with, having beaten an attractive Bretnford side 2-1 in midweek.

A similar result would, of course, be ideal in Cardiff.

Carlos is more than capable of masterminding such an outcome, but he will be wary of the early pace setters, who are also now the proverbial wounded animal after their 3-0 hammering at Preston in midweek.

Wednesday had been characteristically goal-shy until this week, when five goals in two home games have lifted spirits.

Continuing this little unbeaten run would raise spirits further before the rapidly approaching visit of Sheffield United next week.

And how Neil Warnock would love to derail the Wednesday preparation by beating his beloved Owls this weekend.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Brentford (H) W 2-1 16 7 8 3 12 46%
CARDIFF Preston (A) L 0-3 10 1 4 3 15 45%

 

Wednesday started slowly against a Brentford side whose quality on the ball belied their winless start to the season.

The Bees were well organised, knew how to exploit home weaknesses, and contained Carlos’ lethargic troops well during the first half.

Their lead, unfortunate as it was for Wednesday, was well deserved.

A corner was cleared to the edge of the box, and this column’s ‘key man’ – Nico Yennaris – fired the ball at Westwood who could only spill it into his own net.

Offside was claimed, but to no avail; if any Brentford players were impeding the view of the Irish stopper, they were doing so legally – at least three Wednesday defenders were playing them onside.

Brentford had further chances to increase their lead. A largely woeful Wednesday offside trap was repeatedly beaten with ease, with Adam Reach – whose general play was excellent – often the guilty party.

Gary Hooper popped up to equalise at the second attempt before the break: Reach was excellent in the build-up with a good tackle and quick through ball, before Hooper beat the defender and goalkeeper with four lovely touches.

The covering defenders must have thought they had done enough, but Hooper was there to nudge the ball home for 1-1.

Scrambled in

Wednesday played some good football in the second half: Reach and Hunt looked a threat down the flanks, Bannan was excellent in the middle and Steven Fletcher and Gary Hooper continued to develop their blossoming partnership.

Ross Wallace put The Owls in front after some set-piece pinball, but Wednesday failed to secure the three points by adding a third.

The clock eventually ran past the mystical 100 minute mark after an injury to Henrik Dalsgaard – fortunately, the lengthy treatment administered was just a precaution.

The Bees almost equalised with the very last kick of the match: their lone forward, the Frenchman Neal Maupay, volleyed the ball off the post and wide.

It was going swimmingly for Mrs Doubtfire…

Cardiff lost their unbeaten start as Preston put three past the early pace setters at Deepdale.

Neil Warnock took the rap for his players after the match, saying, “if we hadn’t been undefeated I would have made three or four changes for the game.

“I take a bit of blame because when I looked at them this morning in training they were a little bit jaded.”

Josh Harrop gave The Lilywhites the lead with a 25 yard freekick before half-time.

Sean Maguire and Alan Browne made sure of a comfortable night for the home side, who themselves entered the top six alongside Wednesday.

Expect Warnock to make changes on Saturday: his side could only muster one effort on goal in midweek.

 

 

LAST 5 Brentford (H) Forest (H) Burton (A) Bolton (A, LC) Fuham (A)
WEDNESDAY W 2-1 W 3-1 D 1-1 L 2-3 W 1-0

 

LAST 5  Preston (A) Fulham (A) QPR (H) Burton (H, LC) Wolves (A)
CARDIFF L 0-3 D 1-1 W 4-1 L 1-2 W 2-1

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS CARDIFF WINS DRAWS
  26 26 15

 

 

LAST MEETING

 

Wendesday 1-0 Cardiff

14 April 2017, Hillsborough, Att: 28, 007

Forestieri 84′

Match winner

Wednesday made it three wins in a row to keep hold of their place in the top six.

Owing to Leeds’ late capitulation, both sides would make the top six, but over the Easter weekend it looked like Wednesday and Fulham would be in a straight shootout for a play-off berth.

With the Londoners two-nil up at Norwich, Wednesday needed a late winner from Fernando Forestieri to ensure they kept the all important sixth spot.

Neil Warnock was particularly congratulatory on this ocassion:

“They’re sixth in the league and I don’t know how they’ve come away with a win.”

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Carlos’ rotation policy will no-doubt be utilised once again after his dangerous midweek expedition to a mysterious, murky land: The Land of the Unchanged.

He’d make a poor poker player, would Carlos: his midweek ‘players in doubt’ bluff was easier to read than a Joost van Aken crossfield ball.

Adam Reach is in good form, but he might well move into midfield to allow Daniel Pudil or Morgan Fox a return at full-back.

Liam Palmer could enter the fray to stake his claim for place in the side to face United.

Kieran Lee may also be given the rest after two demanding games on his return from injury.

Steven Fletcher’s knees need managing but, considering Carlos’ comments on Cardiff, he may well get another hour here.

WESTWOOD

PALMER

LEES

VAN AKEN

PUDIL

WALLACE

JONES

BANNAN

REACH

HOOPER

FLETCHER

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

TOM LEES – Wednesday looked shaky in spells during the first half against Brentford.

But in the second half, alongside his new Dutch Deputy, Lees was at his commanding best, even taking inspiration from van Aken by striding out of defence on occasion.

His leadership and organisational qualities will have to come to the fore against a tricky Cardiff front line. Kenneth Zohore had a terrific first full season at this level. He is supported by players who know how to succeed in this division: Hoilett, Gunnarsson, Tomlin, Feeney.

KENNETH ZOHORE – Started the season tremendously, with one goal and two assists, but has since endured a lean spell and was hooked by Warnock at Fulham.

Zohore is an imposing physical presence – 6ft 3, fourteen and a half stone – and uses this frame to protect the ball and win free-kicks for his team.

He is an excellent finisher and has a good record at Cardiff: not too shy of one in two.

He will be JvA’s biggest test yet.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Cardiff WIN DRAW
Joost FGS BTTS Yes
BEST ODDS 3/1 11/10 5/2 40-1 Evens
BOOKIES Various

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

To return to the line about the unpredictable nature of the Championship: who knows?

Beyond the Wednesday/United connections, Carvalhal vs Warnock is an interesting match-up. They have very different tactical approaches, very different approches to the media, and represent the second tiers managerial dichotomy perfectly.

Both sides will be making changes. Carvalhal’s Wednesday are capable of poor performances in the midst of upturns in form.

How will Cardiff react after their heavy defeat? Their squad has quality and experience throughout but looks too thin to maintain their early form.

Maintaining the unbeaten run ahead of next week would be very welcome.

VERDICT: Pessimistic verdicts have been rewarded with better results. Colin’s boys to take it 2-0.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated. Line up images: Getty.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *