PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Villa

PREVIEW | Wednesday -v- Villa

In the Derby County preview, I wrote, ‘It’s difficult to see where that first league victory will come for Jos Luhukay, in truth.’

The Rams duly arrived at Hillsborough and performed like every other poorly organised crop of mid-table division filler that English football has ever seen.

So, in a very obvious repetition and clear attempt to tempt fate:

It’s difficult to see where the next victory for will come Jos Luhukay, in truth.

Aston Villa are the antagonists this time.

Aston Villa, and their frustratingly successful arch-nemesis of a manager.

Aston Villa, and their Championship Galacticos (not a hint of irony, no sirree).

Aston Villa, Prepared. Pfft.

Once again I find myself considering the return fixture and the very little resemblance that this Wednesday team will share with the side that took to the Villa Park field.

Was that game this season? Are we sure?

Barry Bannan (who?) prancing around midfield. Gary Hooper (who?) shoving his fantastic arse into John Terry and knocking him flying. Jacob Butterfield sitting at the base of midfield in schooling Glenn Whelan in the art (really?).

Wednesday have won just twice in the Championship since November 4th, the game that was supposed to mark the beginning of our ascent back into the top six.

Rhodes makes it 2-0 in November

Football tends not to work to scripts as we know, and a run of four draws followed by three consecutive defeats saw Carlos Carvalhal depart the club on Christmas Eve.

Jos Luhukay has arrived and delivered precisely five points from seven games, with a bit of cup progress thrown in to lift spirits.

There is no doubt that, despite a couple of players finding form and the team delivering the odd promising performance, that this club is still too close to the relegation zone to put our feet up and light a Montecristo.

Do we take solace in the fact that our best performances have been reserved for sides in the top six, who were are unbeaten against under Jos?

It’s certainly not worth considering our winless record against sides in the bottom six.



Millwall celebrate

Wednesday fielded an interesting strikerless eleven against Millwall in midweek.

And that, as opposed to the fact that the Owls’ defence persistently gave the ball away or, in the case of the first Millwall goal, elected to not mark a 6ft 5 defender, has been identified as the sole reason for defeat.

Naturally, not fielding a centre-forward will always cause a stir, and Wednesday did lack any sort of presence up front.

With a 1-0 lead after 45, thanks to an absolute beauty from Joey Pelupessy – where did that come from – surely the introduction of Atdhe Nuhiu to retain possession, or Lucas Joao to stretch the game would have been wise?

Alas not, and the aforementioned defensive mistakes saw the lead quickly turned on its head.

We have to talk about Glenn.

For so long the captain has been a rock at the heart of the Wednesday defence. Always prone to the odd mistake – once in eight or ten games, perhaps – he now looks a shadow of his former imperious self.

The mistakes come often, in dangerous positions.

His edginess and general propensity to blunder has created a nervousness in those around him.

His two performances against Millwall go some way to characterising his season. Remember the missed challenge for their goal at Hillsborough? The one where he had the chance to clear man and ball, failed to connect with either, and fell to the floor? Yeah, that one. A season reduced to a two-second cameo.

How on earth do we inspire better from our captain? The man who should be leading this team by example.

I have stared at my screen for ten minutes, written sentences, erased them, written new lines, erased them, considered the meaning of life, and the meaning of Jacob Butterfield. I’ve given it much thought. And I don’t know.

We could do with this Loovens back, please.

Best wishes to Jordan Thorniley, as an aside, the defender spent the night in hospital after quite literally putting his head in the way of a Millwall forward’s boot.

I really like Thorniley and look forward to him featuring in the side in the future. Get the kid on loan to a promising League One outfit next term.

While Wednesday have won twice since the return fixture with Villa, our visitors have lost on just four occasions.

They are winless in two however – oh, the crisis! – having suffered defeat at Craven Cottage before being held at home by Preston.

Snodgrass: one Villa dangerman

North End took the lead in the first half as a half-cleared corner kick fell to Tom Barkhuizen, whose clever overhead kick could only be parried into the Holte End goal by Sam Johnstone.

Villa could have been further behind had either of Paul Huntington’s header or Callum Robinson’s shot gone in.

Lewis Grabban – oh, he’s there now? – equalised from the penalty spot just after the hour. This gave the home side the momentum heading into the final twenty minutes as Grabban, Davies and Snodgrass all had chances to win the game.



LAST 5 Millwall (A) Swansea (H) Derby (H) Barnsley (A) Birmingham (H)
WEDNESDAY L 1-2 D 0-0 W 2-0 D 1-1 L 1-3


LAST 5  Preston (H) Fulham (A) Birmingham (H) Burton (H) United (A)
VILLA D 1-1 L 0-2 W 2-0 W 3-2 W 1-0


  53 66 17





Villa 1-2 Wednesday

4th November 2017, Villa Park, Att: 33, 154

Adam Reach scored the quickest goal of the Championship season as he rifled home a dipping half-volley from fully 30 yards.

Wednesday never looked back, easily producing their performance of the season. Eye-catching football, organised defensive work, even the caricatures of Wednesday’s later demise received glowing reports.

Bannan and Hooper moved Villa around almost at will during the first forty-five. Jordan Rhodes finished off a lovely team goal, a one touch move featuring the aforementioned creative duo was laid on a plate for the Scotland international who passed the ball into the bottom corner.

It was all very lovely, to be quite honest.

Reach lashes home the first

Villa were kept at bay for almost the entire duration, until Big Chris Samba tucked away in the sixth minute of added on time.

Carlos Carvalhal said after the game, “We know we can challenge for the play-offs. The quality of our play should ensure we are challenging at the end of the season.”

‘Football, bloody hell.’

You can read Matt’s ramble here.




Jos plucked for Spain’s revolutionary strikerless formation from 2010 in midweek. What’s next? Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan? Totalvoetbal? Or a 19th century 2-3-5?

After midweek rests, Nuhiu, Joao and Reach are in line for returns to the starting eleven.

Tom Lees played again for the Development Squad this week as he nears a return to the first team. Barry Bannan is back training, Gary Hooper and Almen Abdi are also nearing returns.

The manager revealed that George Hirst is slowly being welcomed back into the fold. Who knows what work is going on behind the scenes but the whole sorry episode, if resolvable, needs to be consigned to the past as quickly as possible.

Whatever the cause of the dispute, wasting the entire season of our most promising young player in years will not reflect well on the club.

I’m yet to see a call for his immediate first team call up, so here goes: get him in the side, NOW.















Joao: back in the fold on Saturday?

LUCAS JOAO – Joao is a curious footballer. Capable of anonymity and the extraordinary. A full Portuguese international who has been absent against third and fourth tier opposition in his time at Wednesday.

Lucas had a run in the side, now over two years ago, where the sky really looked the limit.

A menace to every defence, goals from all angles, a full cap for his country.

Then, along with his tooth of mythical power, he sort of… disappeared.

A succession of expensive forwards have been brought into replace him. But he offers something different to any player in the Wednesday squad.

He can combine a trick with a turn of pace, he can stretch defences both vertically and horizontally.

Derby manager Gary Rowett hailed his two-goal match-winning performance as the best he had seen from a forward this season.

Evidently a player who needs the carrot rather than the stick, let’s hope Luhukay has realised and can continue to draw the best out of him towards the end of the season.

Joao’s goals have the potential to make the end of this season much more comfortable.

CONNOR HOURIHANE – Eight goals from midfield this season. A calming presence in midfield.

Good on the ball, gets forward, tracks back, provides assists, good at set-pieces…

Ever wonder if we signed the wrong Barnsley player?





BET Wednesday WIN Derby WIN DRAW
0-0 Joao anytime
BEST ODDS 9/4 6/4 11/5 12/1 19/5
BOOKIES Will Hill UniBet


HUGH’S VERDICT – Probably another draw, Villa haven’t really looked their potent selves of late, and Wednesday do seem to have a knack of raising their game against better opposition.

Let’s return to tempting fate. Here’s something I wrote ahead of our last home league game, as an elusive win evaded us:

‘Stranger things have happened, but surely it will not come against Derby County [Aston Villa]… cut out the mistakes and do the basics right. If every player puts in a good individual performance, we have a chance.’

Fingers crossed.

Owls Alive
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @hugh_wragg

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

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