PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Derby County

PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Derby County

Saturday’s draw with Barnsley extended Wednesday’s winless league run to seven games.

It’s difficult to see where that first league victory will come for Jos Luhukay, in truth.

While acknowledging the obvious caveat that this current crop bear little resemblance to a full-strength side, this team is what we have to deal with for now.

This is the team that is either going to distance itself from a relegation fight or slowly fall into the mire.

Some key individuals within this outfit are so bereft of confidence that only the latter vision of the future looks possible.

The team lacks any clear direction on the field and there is a very little leadership: problems which have blighted Wednesday all season but have become more profound as the technical standard of the team has dipped.

Individual errors are only contributing to the negative mood, with several more on display this Saturday for the Barnsley equaliser. Pelupessy caught on the wrong man. Missed tackles from Joao and Reach. More missed tackles from Jones and Venancio. A weak challenge from Palmer.

The mistakes extended beyond one Reds move. Missed passes aplenty, poor tackles numerous, players petrified to make an error.

These are not traits indicative of a second string Championship team. They are a reflection of a team that has totally bottomed out.

Enter Derby County. Who’ve lost just once in their last nineteen against Wednesday.

Joe Wildsmith: back to his best at Barnsley

There’s a curious, warming sense of familiarity in walking up to Hillsborough in hope rather than expectation. This season – Wednesday reverting to type, namely not being very good at Association football – has almost felt like welcoming an old friend, or returning home after living away.

Any time we welcome Derby to Hillsborough we live in hope, but the two sides are so drastically far apart right now that it’s almost laughable to envisage a positive result and a blue and white goal fest.

One note of promise is that, under Luhukay’s guidance, Wednesday have saved their best performances for teams at the top end of the table.

Sheffield United, Cardiff – both goalless draws – the same result would suffice here, you’d think, but with an FA Cup date at the weekend, if Wednesday don’t secure a win soon it will be getting on for two months since the sweet nectar of league victory was tasted.

 

 

Wednesday recorded another draw on Saturday at Barnsley.

Bright spots included a return to form for Joe Wildsmith, another goal for Atdhe Nuhiu and the continuing promise of Jordan Thorniley in defence.

A makeshift backline, with David Jones splitting Thorniley and Federico Venancio initially looked comfortable. Venancio himself should have given Wednesday the lead, turning a free header wide at the back post.

Barnsley gained a head of steam but it was Wednesday who took the lead against the run of play, Lucas Joao was felled in the box and Atdhe Nuhiu calmly slotted away to make it four goals in six games.

1-0 Wednesday

Our joy was short-lived however as the aforementioned defending gave Oli McBurnie the opportunity to level things up.

Barnsley had the better chances to win the game, with Joe Wildsmith coming to the rescue on more than one occasion.

McBurnie saw a header smartly tipped over the bar, Tom Bradshaw had another effort saved, the former forced Wildsmith into a smart save down low.

David Jones was fortunate not give away a penalty during the second half for an infringement that looked at least as worthy of a spot kick as the foul that brought Joao down in the first half.

Wednesday came closest after the break thanks to a Joel Pelupessy cross-shot that evaded every man and, crucially, the far post.

Derby are flying at the moment and have moved to third place in the table. They are on a remarkable run, having lost just twice since our meeting in October. They have seven wins and five draws from their last twelve games.

Last time out the Rams laboured to a 1-1 home draw with Norwich.

Matej Vydra gave them an early lead – his sixteenth of the season – while James Maddison levelled with twenty minutes to go from the penalty spot.

The same player had earlier been involved in a contentious ‘did he or didn’t he dive?’ scenario that resulted in a missed penalty for the away side.

Naturally, Gary Rowett said it was a dive while Daniel Farke suggested it was a foul. Of course.

Rowett: Impressing at Derby (Image: dcfc.co.uk)

The Derby boss did acknowledge that his side were not at their best on Saturday, hinting that he expects improvements at Hillsborough.

“I was disappointed with that first penalty but had no problem with the second or that Norwich were better than us.

“I think today was the poorest we have been for a while and we were very fortunate to keep our unbeaten run going.”

 

 

LAST 5 Barnsley (A) Birmingham (H) Boro (A) Reading (H) Cardiff (H) Carlisle (H)
WEDNESDAY D 1-1 L 1-3 D 0-0 W 3-1 D 0-0 W 2-0

 

LAST 5  Norwich (H) Brentford (H) Millwall (A) Bristol C (H) Birmingham (A)
DERBY D 1-1 W 3-0 D 0-0 D 0-0 W 3-0

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS DERBY WINS DRAWS
  43 51 39

 

 

LAST MEETING

 

Derby 2-0 Wednesday

21st October 2017, Whatever It’s Called These Days Stadium, Att: 27, 426

Wednesday played with ten men for almost the entire duration of this match as Glenn Loovens was sent off after four minutes.

The skipper’s deliberate foul on Vydra gave the same player the chance to open the scoring from the spot; he duly obliged.

Loovens’ first red of the season

Wednesday then rallied for the rest of the first half, with most of the good play (predictably) going through Hooper, Bannan and Lee. It was Steven Fletcher who had the best chance to equalise, brushing the outside of the post with a downward header and then also going to ground in the box following a push from Craig Forsyth.

Wednesday were denied a spot-kick which would have surely seen Forsyth given his marching orders.

The game became more stretched in the second period and Bradley Johnson added a second with a neat turn and finish to kill of any late Wednesday hopes.

You can read Matt’s ramble here.

 

THE LUHUKAY STARS…

 

Better news came at Jos Luhukay’s pre-match press conference on Monday as the manager revealed a few more players are returning to full fitness.

Daniel Pudil (suspended) is back, David Jones will be fit following his clash of heads at Oakwell, Glenn Loovens has overcome the illness that saw him sidelined over the weekend.

Tom Lees returned to the Development Squad on Monday as he steps up his return to fitness.

Almen Abdi has been training for over a week while Gary Hooper is around a fortnight away.

Barry Bannan sees a specialist this week regarding his long-term lay-off.

Jordan Thorniley could continue at the back despite the return of Pudil and Loovens.

The shadow of the former footballer known as Morgan Fox will play at left wing back.

WILDSMITH

VENANCIO

THORNILEY

LOOVENS

PALMER

WALLACE

PELUPESSY

REACH

FOX

NUHIU

JOAO

KEY PLAYERS

 

FEDERICO VENANCIO – Has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he has the ability to become a competent defender at the top end of this division.

In recent weeks, as the entire fabric of this team has crumbled around him, Venancio has been prone to making mistakes and basic errors of judgement.

Against United and Cardiff, Venancio demonstrated the very best of his qualities. Wednesday stand a much better chance of a good result if he can return to his best form for this one.

CURTIS DAVIES – Derby have become one of the division’s meanest defences this season, no doubt helped in fact by the acquisition of Davies last summer.

The former Hull defender has been ever-present as The Rams have conceded comfortably fewer than one goal a game.

Mobile, with good reading of the game and an imposing natural frame, Davies has consistently been among the top defenders at this level, with more than 100 Premier League starts to his name.

He is Whoscored.com’s best rated second tier player this season across all eleven positions.

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Derby WIN DRAW
Wednesday 2-1 Nuhiu hat trick
BEST ODDS 13/5 13/10 12/5 12/1 100/1
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT – Wednesday need a win and quickly.

Stranger things have happened, but surely it will not come against Derby County.

Derby County and their long unbeaten run.

Derby County and their team stacked with technically excellent players managed by an excellent coach.

Derby County – our long-term bogey side.

Cut out the mistakes and do the basics right. If every player puts in a good individual performance, we have a chance.

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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