PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Cardiff City

PREVIEW: Wednesday -v- Cardiff City

After the joyous victory over Newcastle, Wednesday have an equally tough examination to follow against Cardiff City.

The game will be demonstrably different.

On Saturday, Wednesday again benefitted from a side playing expansively at Hillsborough.

Having said that, this was a confident, attacking display from the home side.

The performance merited nothing less than three points.

Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City will pose a much more compact, frustrating challenge.

It is a challenge that Wednesday are well capable of rising to.

In my last preview, I noted that The Owls have a tendency to ‘turn it on’ for the big occasion.

With just five games remaining, each one is huge for Wednesday’s season; but this Easter weekend will go a long way to deciding who finishes in the top six.

Fulham travel to Norwich – who hit seven at Carrow Road last weekend – before entertaining Villa, another form side.

 

 

Last game Opposition Result Shots On target Corners Cards Fouls Possession
WEDNESDAY Newcastle (H) W 2-1 11 3 3 2 8 48%
CARDIFF Brentford (H) W 2-1 14 10 3 2 16 42%

 

Wednesday turned in one of their best performances of the season against Newcastle.

Gary Hooper enjoyed a majestic return to Hillsborough. The former Celtic man had a superb first half, striking the bar in the early minutes before laying on two gilt-edged chances for Steven Fletcher.

Fletcher’s first chance came as a Barry Bannan pass sprang the Newcastle offside trap: Hooper’s cushioned header was lashed wide by the Scot, before Karl Darlow made a stunning save to deny him yet again this season.

Jonjo Shelvey tested Kieren Westwood from inside his own half – a fantastic effort was cleared to safety by a combination of crossbar and Irish glove-work.

Wednesday took the lead through Tom Lees who rose above four Toon defenders to force a header back across goal and into the bottom corner.

Lees celebrates his opener

Fletcher wasn’t to be denied again, his looping header beat Darlow in front of the Kop to give Wednesday a two-goal cushion.

The two goal cushion was required. Shelvey ensured it would be a nervy last five minutes, prodding home after Westwood spilt the ball in the six yard box.

Cardiff came from behind to beat a tricky Brentford outfit in South Wales.

Sergi Canos had put the Bees ahead in the first half, before a Sean Morrison header and half-volley from Peter Whittingham turned the match on its head.

City have been comfortably safe for a while and find themselves in 14th place.

You can guarantee that Neil Warnock will be well received at Hillsborough.

With little else to play for, you can be sure that helping to deny Wednesday a play-off place will be high on his priority list.

 

 

 

LAST 5 Newcastle (H) Rotherham (A) Barnsley (A) Reading (H) Villa (A)
WEDNESDAY W 2-1 W 2-0 D 1-1 L 0-2 L 0-2
Brentford (H) Barnsley (A) Wolves (A) Ipswich (H) Brum (H)
CARDIFF W 2-1 D 0-0 L 1-3 W 3-1 D 1-1

 

 

Cardiff have lost just two in ten games, a Warnock trait if ever I saw one.

They aren’t goal-shy either, scoring twenty in the same period.

Fortunately, Wednesday seem to have tightened up at the back recently. The Lees-Loovens partnership is worth its weight in gold and both players should be wrapped in cotton wool at every opportunity.

Still, Cardiff scored twice at Elland Road and notched four at Derby. Keeping a clean sheet will be of vital importance for Wednesday.

The Owls aren’t exactly peppering Championship goalmouths, but there is lots to take in and enjoy when you look at Wednesday’s forward options.

Gary Hooper has made the world of difference; Steven Fletcher has discovered where the goal is; Fernando Forestieri is back fit; Sam Winnall has been a good addition and will feel he has a point to prove, having been benched twice after scoring at Barnsley. Oh, and we’ve got the decade’s form striker (is this a thing? Yes, yes it is) pottering about.

Or, just let the defenders get the goals.

In fairness to Warnock, he can change his formations around a bit: playing straight 4-4-2s, packing the midfield with five, or marking specific players out of games.

He’s not Marcelo Bielsa or Pep Guardiola by any stretch (send your Photoshop attempts to @OwlsAlive), but he has a wealth of Championship experience and is more than capable of springing a surprise.

Sean ‘loves an own-goal’ Morrison will organise things at the back. Joe Ralls has been almost ever-present in midfield, while the mercurial Peter Whittingham will be on hand to put twenty-yard free-kicks into the top corner.

Kenneth Zohore, in his second season in English football, has eleven goals from 25 appearances.

 

 

HEAD 2 HEAD WEDNESDAY WINS CARDIFF WINS DRAWS
  25 26 15

LAST MEETING

 

Cardiff City 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday

19 October 2016, Cardiff City Stadium, Att: 15887

(Whittingham 9′ // Pudil 55′)

On reflection, not the worst point in the world, but one really should have been three against a Cardiff side who, at the time, were in the bottom three.

Wednesday enjoyed almost eighty percent of the ball after Whittingham’s early opener – most of this possession was inside the Cardiff half – but, typical of our early-season struggles, The Owls could not find a route through.

The second half saw Wednesday first draw level and then push for the win, Warnock’s side however were resolute and it made for a frustrating result.

Wednesday did return to the top six with the point, within two of Rowett’s Birmingham (!) and six of Norwich City (!!).

 

 

CARVALHAL’S COHORTS

 

I’m tired of predicting Carvalhal’s line-ups. It’s impossible.

Daniel Pudil returned from the cold with a man-of-the-match performance against Newcastle. He looked bollocksed at the final whistle, however, so he could be back out again. I don’t know.

Starts for Westwood, Lees, Loovens, Bannan, Hooper and Fletcher are guaranteed. Sam Hutchinson is injured again so that means David Jones – our form player, to the best of my knowledge – should get the nod.

Will Wallace be rested and will Forestieri be fit? Will it land on heads for Liam Palmer or tails for Jack Hunt?

Could Jordan Rhodes or Sam Winnall come into the side?

WestwoodPreview

WESTWOOD

HUNT

LEES

LOOVENS

PUDIL

WALLACE

BANNAN

JONES

REACH

HOOPER

FLETCHER

 

(mental note: “if in doubt, just stick to ‘no changes’, a common Carvalhal trait…”)

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

 

GARY HOOPER – It is no coincidence that his return has seen an upturn in Wednesday form.

He must feel ten feet tall: his Head Coach and most fans have been willing him to return to action and have been talking up his abilities in linking midfield and attack.

After a shaky start in an Owls shirt, Hooper became one of our most influential players in the second half of last season, and his stock has further increased in his absence from the team.

Cardiff will be narrow, tight and sit deep; gaps will be hard to come by but Hooper has the ability to find them in order to link play and, more importantly, get shots on goal.

SEAN MORRISON – Almost ever-present in a Cardiff side that has improved dramatically under Warnock.

If City keep a clean sheet, it will be through Morrison’s organisation of a hit-and-miss backline.

 

 

 

THE BETTING BOX: 5 OF THE BEST

 

BET Wednesday WIN Cardiff WIN DRAW
Hooper FGS, SWFC 2-1 BTTS
BEST ODDS 10/11 18/5 13/5 35/1 15/16
BOOKIES

 

HUGH’S VERDICT:

*cliché time*

There will be a few swings and unpredictable results before season’s end. Wednesday will probably lose again. Fulham, with their shocking run-in, surely have to lose again.

I can’t see Wednesday throwing this one away completely, but a few gut-feelings lead me to think we’ll draw. The Colin factor, Cardiff’s good form, their ability to score on the road against high-flyers, and Wednesday’s jittery nature at home.

I won’t be there, so give ’em a cheer for me.

VERDICT: Warnock, innit. 1-1.

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

Images: SWFC, unless stated.


One Comment

  1. I find myself in agreement with this analysis. Warnock has rejuvenated Cardiff, who will offer a sterner test than Russell Slade’s anaemic side last season. I hope I’m dining on humble pie at the end of the game, but Warnock seems to take an almost malicious delight in thwarting our plans.
    1-1- would be my expectation.

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