PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Bristol City

PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Bristol City

Was the international break poorly timed?

With consecutive wins and the bright form of numerous players, you could certainly argue that Wednesday looked something like their best before the lay-off. Will the break help or hinder this momentum – only time will tell.

If we apply that logic to Bristol City, then the break came at the worst possible moment.

Off the back of four straight wins, City sit fourth in the table and five points off the top.

Of course, the break will allow squads to return nearer to their ‘full energy’, to use a Carvalhalism.

The Head Coach will be pleased to have addressed the niggling injuries that have disrupted his team’s progress, he will also be relieved to see City’s march up the table temporarily halted.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough test for Wednesday and our topsy-turvy form.

We can be encouraged by our performance at Villa Park – where our last hosts were unbeaten – Wednesday controlled the first half with ease and took a two-goal lead into the break following two lovely finishes.

The first came inside a minute, as Adam Reach launched a beautifully-flighted half-volley into the Holte End goal.

The second followed a driving run from Bannan and some quick-footed passing with Hooper, laying the ball nicely into the feet of Jordan Rhodes who calmly stroked the ball home.

Welcome back Jordan Rhodes…

Wednesday were resolute in the second half, defending the box (and goal-line) manfully. Liam Palmer had an opportunity to increase the lead, but over-stretched in trying to finish when perhaps Steven Fletcher was better placed.

A late Chris Samba consolation didn’t threaten the overall outcome, but Kieren Westwood was visibly angered to have lost what would have been a hard-earned clean sheet.

As a result of the win, Wednesday returned to the top half and sit just three points off the play-off positions. Crisis? What crisis?

Four weeks ago the Bristol bubble looked to have burst after a 3-0 home reverse to Leeds United.

Since that defeat, City have registered four straight wins, including two on their travels and once against Premier League Crystal Palace.

As a result of that particular win, they will welcome Manchester United to Ashton Gate with a League Cup semi-final place on the line. Unfortunately, with half a dozen matches until that fixture, their attention will be squarely focused on tomorrow’s game.

Last time out, City toppled Cardiff at home; and, before that, took six points from Craven Cottage and The Stadium of Light.

 

 

 

City’s Twitter goal GIFs got another two airings as Cardiff returned across the Severn with nil points.

If anything, we can all root for City’s good form to continue, purely for the continued humour that stems from these images. If you haven’t seen them, check them out.

Irishman Callum O’Dowda netted his first of the season to give them the lead against Cardiff, Aden Flint secured the points after Omar Bogle had levelled – and then been sent off.

Bristol had chances to further their lead, with Joe Bryan, Milan Djuric and Josh Brownhill all going close.

Their manager, Lee Johnson, is revelling in City’s continued unfancied status, and was delighted with his side securing nine points in one week:

“After those [Sunderland and Fulham] matches, to go 12 rounds with a very strong Cardiff side and come out on top showed fantastic commitment and energy levels.

“We deserved to win. Every stat will tell you that.

“I am beaming with pride over the efforts of my players. We are still unfancied by a lot of people in the Championship this season, but we keep surprising them.”

Unlikely contenders they may be, but City have lost only two of their sixteen games this season, the fewest of any side in this division.

 

 

LAST 5 Villa (A) Millwall (H) Barnsley (H) Derby (A) Bolton (A)
WEDNESDAY W 2-0 W 2-1 D 1-1 L 0-2 L 1-2

 

LAST 5  Cardiff (H) Fulham (A) Sunderland (A) Palace (H, LC) Leeds (H)
CITY W 2-1 W 2-0 W 2-1 W 4-1 L 0-3

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS CITY WINS DRAWS
  24 14 16

 

LAST MEETING

 

City 2-2 Wednesday

31 January, Ashton Gate, Att: 17, 438

Last season’s home game against City will live long in the memory: stormy scenes prior to kick off foretold Tammy Abraham’s quickfire double that took the away side into the break in a more than comfortable position.

Wednesday made it 2-1 before a dramatic minute that saw a red card apiece and a missed Bristol penalty somehow hand the initiative back to the home side. Of course, Kieran Lee netted a dramatic 90+243 winner.

The away leg was equally entertaining if a little frustrating from a Wednesday perspective. Carlos’s boys twice took the lead only to twice relinquish it. The points were shared and Wednesday ended the night in 7th place in the Championship table.

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

Jordan Rhodes now has two in two and should keep his place ahead of Steven Fletcher.

For each mistake Glenn Loovens made on his initial return to the side, he corrected in a commanding performance at Villa Park. Barring any injury to Jack Hunt, the back five should be unchanged. Morgan Fox has been terrific since he came into the side for Daniel Pudil.

Sam Hutchinson is back on the long-term injury list, but Kieran Lee is back fit after missing out at Villa Park.

Jacob Butterfield came into the side in Lee’s absence and would be unfortunate to drop to the bench after an assured display in front of the back four. If fully fit, Lee’s extra energy would be worthwhile against a mobile and technically tricky City midfield.

 

 

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

FOX

WALLACE

LEE

BANNAN

REACH

HOOPER

RHODES

KEY PLAYERS

 

BARRY BANNAN – The heartbeat of the Wednesday side, now more than ever.

Having worked on his weaknesses, Bannan is among our most accomplished players at present. His tendency to hide on the biggest stages is still a worry, but for now he looks at his best pulling the strings in midfield.

His driving run and set up for the Rhodes goal at Villa was sublime. In order to beat Bristol, Wednesday will need the Scot to sprinkle some of his fairy dust around the opposition box. City are also among the highest scores in the division, and so his defensive solidity – the aspect of his game which is much improved – will called upon.

BOBBY REID – Might sound like a news reporter for British Pathe, but this Bobby has stepped out of the 1940s and scored nine goals in sixteen Championship appearances this season.

Lightweight, diminutive – originally a winger – Reid has made the transition to centre-forward well and has a list of talents as long as your arm: good in the air, good with the ball into feet, quick, can play off the shoulder of the defender, can strike the ball from range and has Paul Warhurst™ converted striker knack of arriving on the scene at the right time.

Lees and Loovens beware: this Bobby will be on patrol.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Barnsley WIN DRAW
Rhodes any time Rhodes FGS Wednesday 2-0
BEST ODDS 11/10 11/4 51/20 9/4 45-1
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

The Championship is notoriously difficult to predict and Wednesday must sit atop the list of teams you’d ignore in your acca.

I run a Super 6 style prediction league and, while the majority of those who take part are Wednesday fans, only one guessed that Wednesday would win at Villa Park.

I’ve always aired on the side of caution with these verdicts: it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by your team and even more so when you commit your guess to print or the internet.

VERDICT: City to win 6-0.

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

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


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